First off this is a great interview and I would love to be able to read Prof. Zhang’s book. Hopefully an English translation is out there. Prof. Zhang brings up many arguments that may be valid but at the same time show how different the mind set is for Chinese political scientists and Western ones. One example of this is was when the argument for China’s ability provide competent moral leaders without an election process for the general public to choose these leaders. Prof. Zhang told how leaders for the politburo have to have two years of successful leadership at the provincial level. This success most likely in terms of economic success of the province. This implies that economic success equals and equal level of morality. In western eyes, this is not the case all of the time. It would be assumed from the western perspective that morality comes from the basic beliefs that one holds and the values they act on. On the question of foreign diplomacy coupled with relative history of countries, Zhang made the argument that because of China’s title as the longest continuous civilization on the planet they have a better sense of how to operate in the international system. Afghanistan was the example for the lack of acknowledgement towards history in American foreign policy. However, I must disagree with this argument because Zhang is making the assumption that the interpretation of China’s history is a correct one. This aspect can be debatable.
Also the issue of democracy for China’s future was being brought often and Zhang pointed out that most nations pushing for China democratization democratized after their industrialization. Zhang believes that China has not been given this luxury and has been expected to democratize while during their industrialization. This implies that China cannot take on social issues and economic ones at the same time. This hurts the professor’s thesis that China is an exceptional country that most people do not give enough credit to. Also the issue of China’s growing middle class is something that should definitely be taken into consideration. This growing middle class will become a dominate political force in China that I feel the Chinese government will have to deal with in a new way. This way could be democracy or a form of it but either way this huge force could be something that China will have to compromise with in the future.