What is Good Governance? The Case of China

By Moshi Israel

China’s governance system has long been a source of contention among Western political leaders. This microscopic focus on China has been fuelled by Washington’s excessive fear of everything communist. Many in the West believe that in a world dominated by capitalism and neoliberalism, a so-called communist or socialist country cannot and should not succeed. Capitalism’s entire existence as an infallible economic system is dependent on the public shaming and failure of other alternative economic systems. Furthermore, the West sees itself as having been the most successful democratic experiment since the inception of the democratic idea in Ancient Greece. As a result, unless it is an exact replica of Western conceptions of democracy, any other political system is a sham.

Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the People’s Republic of China (PRC) unexpectedly emerged as the exception to the norm, challenging existing conventional wisdom about how a country should develop and be governed. China’s success lies at the heart of its uniqueness, and it would not have been on the radar of the West if it had failed, as most other countries that have experimented with alternate forms of governance have.

However, China has arrived, demonstrating unequivocally that capitalism and Westernization are not the only roads to prosperity, nor is Western democracy the only good system of governance. There is nothing wrong with Western democracy; the fault is with the Western political class, which believes that their form of government is the only correct one.

To resolve this dispute, people must first ask themselves, “What is governance?” What, more specifically, is good governance?  If, as many in the West believe, China’s system of governance is flawed, we should apply the good governance test to it. To do so, we must first define what good governance is, what it includes, and how China measures up to it. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that China is a democratic and well-governed country; this is not to imply that China’s style of government is flawless, just as it is absurd for the West to argue that their system is the only right one.

Most rational individuals and groups would like to live in a society that is well-governed. Good governance is a continuous process that needs to be pursued consistently. Therefore, no country is perfect because good governance requires constant improvement which adapts to contemporary realities and anticipates future challenges. We can all agree that a well-governed country should be developed or developing, its citizens should be fairly prosperous and well-provided for in most aspects of their lives, its institutions should be efficient, the country’s administration should be inclusive and participatory, the country should be stable and governed by the rule of law, development should be sustainable and environmentally friendly, and the government should have a strategic vision for the future and must be able to build consensus.

China has been governed by a single party, the CPC, since the revolution. The CPC’s manner of governance combines Marxist concepts, traditional Chinese customs, and elements of Western systems to establish a socialist government with Chinese characteristics. The CPC has presided over China’s remarkable economic progress, and one of its major successes has been the emancipation of nearly a billion people from absolute poverty. The CPC has succeeded in establishing political consensus in China, with its policies widely supported and the majority of its inhabitants satisfied with the country’s course. The party is a coherent body that is led from the top but has a strong grassroots core. Every decision is decided by the party, with other democratic parties serving as consultants.

China considers itself a developing country, even though it is the second largest economy in the world, it is a global manufacturing hub with about 28% of global output and is largely known as the world’s factory. This has enabled the country to be relatively rich.

China’s whole process people’s democracy is an effective system of governance that ensures everyone is included and participates in the administration of the country. Cities in China, for example, have suggestion boxes where residents can leave their concerns and recommendations for public officials. These issues are frequently resolved in a timely manner. Within 48 hours after expressing their concerns, the complainant is contacted, and a further 48 hours are employed to examine the issue and uncover viable remedies. Few other governments, if any, can do this, demonstrating the effectiveness of Chinese public institutions and the effective responsiveness of public officials. Public authorities may be promoted or recognized for each problem satisfactorily resolved.

Furthermore, China is a technology powerhouse, with 5G and significant expenditures in renewable energy technologies. The country has committed to reaching carbon neutrality and peaking by 2030, and it is continually cleaning up its air. Chinese society is increasingly being constructed for long-term green growth. China leads in the adoption of EVs, accounting for about 60% of all newly registered electric vehicles in 2022. Moreover, China is very competitive when it comes to the development of AI technology, second only to the United States. Recent US sanctions against China over chip-making technology have mostly backfired, and China is now becoming self-sufficient in the chip-making market. The CPC’s emphasis on green development is the essence of good governance since it shows that the government prioritizes the long-term safety and well-being of its citizens. Because the climate change threat is existential, it demands dedicated political will to address and alleviate and China has shown exceptional readiness.

China is a politically stable country that is secure both internally and externally. Every citizen wishes to live in a mostly crime-free society regulated by the rule of law, which is equitably applied. China’s crime rate is quite low, and I don’t think anyone will feel comfortable invading China very soon. The infrastructure is first-rate and modern, effectively serving the people and contributing to economic development. In comparison to the United States and other European countries, China’s subway system is cutting-edge. It also has well-built, clean roads, airports, and bridges that have boosted connection throughout the country.

China’s population is properly educated, with the government providing 9 years of free education to all Chinese children. Its higher education is centered on graduating as many students as possible in STEM topics, ensuring that the next generation leads the country in science, technical innovation, and mathematics. This exemplifies the CPC’s long-term strategic strategy for its young people.

Overall, China checks the majority of the boxes for excellent governance. As the government’s leader, the CPC qualifies as a legitimate party with the people’s mandate. The right to a dignified life is the most important human right. It makes no sense to be allowed to vote but never receive the services for which you vote. What good is a democracy if it cannot meet the demands of its citizens?  The ultimate purpose of any democratic society is to ensure that its people are prosperous and happy and that they can look forward to the future with hope, assurance, and security. China performs quite well on this parameter, and hence, to any sensible person, the CPC runs a well-governed democratic country, the Chinese way.

The Writer is a Senior Research Fellow with the Development Watch Centre


Global Democracy has a Very Bad Year.


Report by The Economist

Global democracy continued its decline in 2020, according to the latest edition of the Democracy Index from our sister company, The Economist Intelligence Unit. The annual survey, which rates the state of democracy across 167 countries based on five measures—electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of government, political participation, democratic political culture and civil liberties—finds that just 8.4% of the world’s population live in a full democracy while more than a third live under authoritarian rule. The global score of 5.37 out of ten is the lowest recorded since the index began in 2006.

Government-imposed lockdowns and other pandemic-control measures led to a huge rollback of civil liberties in 2020, causing downgrades across the majority of countries. Confronted by a new, deadly disease to which humans had no natural immunity, most people concluded that preventing a catastrophic loss of life justified some temporary loss of freedom. The ranking penalised countries that withdrew civil liberties, failed to allow proper scrutiny of emergency powers or denied freedom of expression—regardless of whether there was public support for government measures. In France for example, severe lockdowns and national curfews led to a small but significant decrease in its overall score and the country dropped into the “flawed democracy” category.

The pandemic did not put a stop to rising levels of political engagement. Turnout in the American presidential election in November was the highest for 120 years and the country recorded its best political participation score since the index began. But public trust in the democratic process was dealt a blow by the refusal of Donald Trump and many of his supporters to accept the election result, and the United States remains in the “flawed democracy” category.

The star performer, measured by the change in both its score and rank, was Taiwan, which was upgraded to a “full democracy” after rising 20 places in the global ranking from 31st to 11th. Taiwan went to the polls in January 2020, and a strong voter turnout, including among young people, demonstrated the resilience of its democracy.

Elections do not always lead to democratic progress. Although Mali held parliamentary elections in March 2020 that were broadly free and fair, the results were nullified when the country suffered a coup in August by military officers aggrieved by a lack of progress against jihadist insurgents. Mali’s drop of 11 places down the rankings is typical of sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, which suffered a terrible year for democracy.

This year is not off to a promising start, with an insurrection in America’s Capitol and a military coup in Myanmar. Democrats will hope that a gradual loosening of covid-19 restrictions will give them more reason to cheer.

To read full report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, click here.


Development Watch Centre

Kampala - Uganda


Plot 212, RTG Plaza,3rd Floor, Office Number C7 - Hoima Road, Rubaga


+256 703 380252


© DWC - All rights reserved - Cookies Policy - Privacy Policy