Econintersect: This week we have a Ted Talk by Chinese born American venture capitalist Eric X. Li in which he argues that the current Chinese government system is a clear demonstration that there are alternatives to democracy as a form of government. He does not argue that the present day single-party Communist government of China is the best form of government. Rather, he maintains that, based on performance, the Chinese have shown, over recent decades, that China’s government has effectively “out-adapted” the democracies and thereby created economic growth that far outshone the rest of the world.
Eric Li presents the thesis that China’s system of government is based on China’s cultural heritage and therefore is not exportable. But what is exportable is the idea that government should be based on competency of the governors. And a weakness of democracy, he infers, derives from the incompetency of the electorate reflecting directly through to those that are elected.
1. Eric X. Li is not related to GEI columnist Frank Li, another Chinese born American capitalist who writes extensively on the topic of improving the function of government. Both Li’s do see the same pattern of Chinese government outperformance vs. the rest of the world. Read Frank Li’s columns here and here.
2. Not all agree with Eric X. Li. For example: Sorry, Eric X. Li, Democracy Is Not the Problem (Christian Caryl, Foreign Policy) and Why democracy still wins: A critique of Eric X. Li’s “A tale of two political systems” (Yasheng Huang, global policy)