Beware China’s authoritarianism

Regarding the editorial “CCP once again embraces the strongman model” in the March 1 edition, I share the concerns of the editorial staff of The Japan Times over Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power.

The world is different today as compared to the era of Mao. If anything I suspect Xi will assiduously strive to avoid the sort of errors which plunged China into chaos during Mao’s reign. Xi, and his supporters, desire to entrench China’s power and influence before various demographic factors and external forces contribute to a slowing of its ascendancy. For China at this moment, now is the time to push the advantage: “Don’t miss the bus.”

The question before us all is rather simple: Do we desire a world order based on the current Western model or a new world order where a civilization such as China dominates? The Western model has come under valid criticism due to various failed policies of the United States. People are imperfect (primarily selfish) and power elites make mistakes. Nevertheless, several aspects of Western civilization which emerged during its long struggle to deal with human nature are: 1) the value of the individual; 2) institutions designed to mitigate the ambitions of the very powerful; and 3) a willingness to accept and live with diversity.

I lived in Japan for almost 11 years and the experience changed my thinking for the rest of my life. I find Japanese people to be independent and individual in their thinking. They may subsume their personal opinions based on the realities of their situation, but the individual essence remains. I prefer a civilization that affirms that right of choice and flexibility, and worry deeply about cults of personality. Authoritarianism that seeks to mold the future solely to its interests often makes errors that have negative consequences.

ERIC LEWIS
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.