A Bit of Background
You probably already know that China has a system of annual university entrance examinations, taken by about 10 million students each year. This set of examinations is quite stiff and perhaps even harsh, covering many subjects and occupying three days. The tests require broad understanding, deep knowledge and high intelligence, if one is to do well.
Any student whose results are near the top of the list, is in the top 2% or 3% of a pool of 1.5 billion people.
Getting a high mark qualifies a student to enter one of the top two or three universities, which will virtually guarantee a great job on graduation, a high salary and a good life. Moving down the scale of results, the prospects become increasingly meager.
You may not know that China also has a system of bar examinations which every graduate lawyer must pass in order to practice law in China.
For these, we can bypass "stiff" and "harsh" and go directly to "severe". Out of about 250,000 graduate lawyers who sit for the exam, only about 20,000 will pass and obtain qualifications to actually be a practicing lawyer in China.
Once again, the exams require broad understanding of all matters legal, deep knowledge of the laws, and high intelligence.
So if you happen to meet a Chinese lawyer, you can be assured you are dealing with someone from top 1% or 2% of a pool of 1.5 billion people.
I mention these two items only to introduce a third - the Civil Service Examinations.Becoming a Government Official in China
The Imperial examinations were designed many centuries ago to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. They lasted as long as 72 hours, and required a great depth and breadth of knowledge to pass.
It was an eminently fair system in that the exam itself had no qualifications. Almost anyone, even from the least educated family in the poorest town, could sit the exam and, if that person did well enough, he or she could join the civil service and potentially rise to the top.
The modern civil service examination system evolved from the imperial one, and today, millions of graduates write these each year. And for these, we can bypass "severe" and go directly to "brutal", because out of the millions of candidates only about 10,000 will get a pass.The Chinese Have High Standards
And that pass doesn't get you a job; all it gets you is an interview. If you meet anyone in China's central government, you can rest assured you are speaking to a person who is not only exceptionally well educated and knowledgeable on a broad range of national issues but is in the top 1% of a pool of 1.5 billion people.
Moreover, China's government officials are all highly-educated and trained engineers, economists, sociologists, scientists, often at a Ph.D. level. Contrast this with the Western system where most politicians are either lawyers or those with no useful education.
We should also remember that the Chinese generally score about 10% higher on standard IQ tests than do Caucasian Westerners, and couple this with the Chinese process of weeding out all but the top 1% from consideration.
When you add further the prospect of doing your weeding from a pool of 1.5 billion people, you might expect China's Central Government to be rather better qualified than that of most other countries. And it is.
The point of this is to bring your attention to the disparity between the quality of 'politicians' in Western countries and China's government officials. The discrepancy is so vast that comparisons are largely meaningless.Friends, Family and 'Connections'
There are some who will tell you that family connections in China can produce a government job for some favored son, a claim that may be true in some places though extremely difficult at the national level.
But no amount of 'connections' will move you into senior positions or to the top of decision-making power; those places are reserved for persons of deep experience and proven ability.
"Of the Communist Party's highest ruling body, the 25-member Politburo, only seven came from any background of wealth or power.
The rest of them, including the president and the prime minister, were from ordinary backgrounds with no special advantages. They worked and competed all the way to the top. In the larger Central Committee, those with privileged backgrounds are even scarcer.
A visit to any top university campus in China would make it obvious to anyone that the Communist Party continues to attract the best and the brightest of the country's youth.
In fact, China's Communist Party may be one of the most meritocratic and upwardly mobile major political organizations in the world - far more meritocratic than the ruling elites of most Western countries and the vast majority of developing countries." (1)Choosing the Nation's Leaders
Consider how it would be if a Western country could identify and assemble the 300 best, brightest, wisest, most educated and experienced people in the nation, men and women of great proportion whose depth and breadth of knowledge and ability were the envy of all. And consider this group selecting some to be their leaders - the Prime Minister, President, Cabinet members.
That's essentially how China does it. On what basis can we tell them their way is wrong? For Westerners to refer to this as a dictatorship is offensive and merely stupid.
In contradistinction to the West, China's system cannot produce incompetence at the top because in a population of 1.5 billion people there are just too many available candidates with stunningly impressive credentials.
In China's system, leaders and officials are evaluated and selected by their peers, not by the unqualified and uninformed 'man in the street'.
It is the only government system in the world that ensures competence at the top, because these people are evaluated on the basis of real credentials rather than public popularity or TV charisma.
Leaders are selected on the basis of true leadership, on their ability to bring together all factions, to create harmony and consensus on their realisable vision for the country, to wisely control and direct the military.
They have a firm understanding of the economy, of the nation, of society and its problems and the best way to meet them. They are not only admired and respected by their peers, but able to draw others to them in order to form that consensus and harmony that are so desirable and necessary for stability.Education and Training of Government Officials
There is another factor to consider, that of education and training. In the West, senior government officials - the politicians - are seldom renowned for competence or even intelligence.
For the Western politicians who who exercise all the real decision power to shape a country, there is no education or training available or required. It is all a kind of 'earn while you learn' system.
In China, those who will become the senior officials and civil servants have entered a lifelong career in a formidable meritocracy where promotion and responsibility can be obtained only by demonstrated ability. Once in the system, the education and training are never-ending.
The system is generally well understood within China, and it meshes well with Chinese culture and tradition as well as conforming to the Chinese psyche in their Confucian overview and their desire for social order and (yes) harmony.
The Western world understands this dimly, if at all, and inevitably forms incorrect and often absurd conclusions about China and its government - especially the mindless references to China being a 'dictatorship'.The President Goes to School
The Central Party School in Beijing has been called the most mysterious school in China, and is like no other university or college anywhere.
Here is a link to an article on this university that will give you more information: Read here
At various times, the most promising young and middle-aged officials attend this university for up to a year at a time, to expand their knowledge and understanding of all issues relating to China.
The Headmaster of the school is often the President of China, and the lecturers are usually foreign dignitaries, high-level officials, and renowned experts on everything from economics and international finance to social policy, foreign policy, industrial policy and even military matters.
The cornerstone of the school's educational policy is that everything is on the table. There are no forbidden topics, and even reactionary, revolutionary or just plain whacky positions are discussed, analysed and debated to resolution.
All manner of planning, problems, solutions, alternatives, will be discussed, examined, debated, explained, with any number of prominent experts available as reference material. When these sessions are completed, all students will have an MBA-level or better appreciation of the entire subject. And this is only one subject of many they will encounter.
When you consider that these officials entered the government with an already high level of education, and with an already demonstrated broad level of understanding and exceptional intelligence, these additional layers of training and education cannot help but produce an impressive level of overall knowledge and ability throughout the government.
Nothing like this system exists in the West, which is why senior civil servants in most Western countries often look on their leader-politicians with a mixture of disdain and contempt for their lack of knowledge and ability.The Functioning of China's Government
Few Westerners have bothered to learn even the simple basics about the form of China's government, preferring instead to parrot foolish Western supremacist nonsense about China being a dictatorship.
China has a one-party government. If you listen to Western ideologues, you will be told this is heresy in the eyes of the Gods of Goverment in 6 galaxies. But it is no such thing, and contains enormous advantages.
Here, there is no forced separation of officials on the basis of political ideology. China's entire social spectrum is represented in government in the same way as in Chinese - or any other - society.
There is no partisan in-fighting. Unlike the West, China's system looks for consensus rather than conflict.
Government decision-making is not a sport where my team has to win. It is simply a group of people with various viewpoints working together to obtain a consensus for policy and action for the overall good of their nation.
From everything I have seen, China's one-party system is superior in many respects to what we have in the West. This is what has produced a growth rate of over 10% per year for 30 years, compared to perhaps 3% in the West.
And how can it be otherwise? China's government doesn't waste its time fighting juvenile ideological battles with 'opposition parties', but instead everyone gets down to the business of doing the best for the nation.
China's government leaders manage by consensus, not by power, authority or bullying. It is their job to create agreement and unified willing participation in the country's policies to meet its goals.
At this level there are no children, and there is no one person with the power to start a war just because he doesn't like someone, or who is free to alienate other nations on the basis of some blind personal ideology.Lobbying and Influence
In China, many people and industries are permitted to present their case, but private or short-term interests will not emerge victorious in this system.
Your proposals will receive support and will succeed only if they are to the long-term benefit of the country as a whole - the greatest good for the nation and for the population. That's how it works.
In the US system, corporations control the government; in China's, the government controls the corporations. And those firms may often not get their way even if they are government-owned.
Consider the introduction of HSR (High-Speed Rail) in China. Some Chinese airlines (especially the state-owned ones), complained like hell, and with good reason, about the inauguration of HSR. Some have had to dramatically scale back their flight schedules because many people prefer the train.
But the wide HSR network was seen as being in the best interests of the entire country and it went ahead. Read more here
That is also why China has the best (and cheapest) mobile phone system in the world. Read more here
.The "Loyal Opposition"
China's system also has an 'opposition', but this body has two major differences from Western governments. Also, it functions intelligently, so let's make that three major differences.
First, it does not function to 'oppose' but rather to consult. This body is charged with the responsibility to consider not only the government's directions and policies but also to devise alternatives and make recommendations. And the government must by law consider and respond to all these consultations - which it does.
Second, this opposition group are not the marginalised 'losers' as in the Western systems but a second tier of extremely competent people who were not selected to the top governing positions. And, rather than lose all this expertise, this secondary group was created to contribute to the development of their country.The Success of Government
Probably the greatest deciding factor permitting China's rise is the political environment. China's one-party government is in for the long term; it makes no short-term decisions for the sake of political expediency.
China makes decisions for the good of the whole country and, having made them, implements them. There is no partisanship, no lobbyists, no special interest groups that skew these important decisions and rob the population of what they might have had.
The benefits of this system can be seen in its results. China has already far surpassed the undeveloped nations that adopted Western democratic governments,and likely has a brighter future than most of them.
Why is the West so eager for China to abandon a centuries-old system that clearly works well, in favor of one designed for ideological battles, conflicts and shouting wars?
Many foreign observers are now, (finally) admitting openly that China's form of government exhibits signs of superiority over Western systems, and that it is largely responsible for China's efficiency, for its rapid development, and for its speed of response in areas like the Sichuan earthquake and the planning and deployment of its high-speed train system.
The "Free World" could learn a lot from China's government system. It works, beautifully. It has transformed the economy and brought hundreds of millions out of poverty.
It has put men into space, built the world's fastest trains, the longest undersea tunnels, the world's longest bridges, the largest dams. It is rapidly creating the world's largest genuine middle class. And it's hardly begun.
(1) From an article by Eric Li.