BEIJING -- In the Western media, the National People's Congress -- China's legislative body -- is perfunctorily conjoined with the phrase "rubber stamp." This characterization is less and less true every year and does a disservice to understanding the most significant historic shift taking place in China today: the long march toward "rule according to law" from administrative fiat.
The recent announcement in Washington and Beijing that Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to the United States in September underscores the continuing momentum in the improvement of bilateral relations since the landmark U.S.-China climate agreement reached in Beijing last November. In the months leading to President Xi's U.S. visit, however, both countries will need to work hard to create favorable conditions for a productive summit.
The Cultural Revolution days of an autarkic closed information loop when the Communist Party could dictate a narrative for an isolated and impoverished society are over for China. To believe otherwise is to undermine the very links to the rest of the world that have enabled China to become the ever-more prospering world power it is today.
BEIJING -- Corruption in a democracy doesn't mean the political system is not democratic. In contrast, China prides itself on being a political meritocracy that selects and promotes leaders with superior ability and virtue. The value of meritocracy is central to Chinese political culture. The higher the level of political corruption, the less meritocratic the political system. Hence, the regime will lack legitimacy if its leaders are seen to be corrupt.
In the absence of a common narrative shared by the U.S. and China, the two nations are likely to drift more rapidly apart. The relationship needs a new strategic concept for the future that is capable of sufficiently embracing both American and Chinese realities, as well as areas of potential common endeavor for the future, and to do so in language which is comprehensible and meaningful in both capitals. Trust builds on itself just as distrust builds on itself as well, compounding into deep enmity over time.
SEOUL -- With the U.S. economy yet to recover fully from the global economic crisis, and American politics increasingly dysfunctional, there is a global power vacuum that China, with shrewd diplomacy and economic might, hopes to fill -- beginning in Asia. This may not yet mean Asia for only the Asians; but it could mean a reduced regional role for the U.S. -- especially as America turns inward during the presidential election season that starts this year.
As China-watchers were quick to realize, President Obama did not even once mention the "New Type of Great Power Relations" on his recent trip to Beijing. Why is China so keen on a "New Type of Great Power Relations" and on creating perceptions of endorsement by Obama? And why is the U.S. reluctant to adopt it? What are the reasons behind such contrasting views -- Chinese enthusiasm and American cynicism -- towards this seemingly benign concept?
Have human rights principles been consigned to a museum because they prevented the combined forces of China's dictatorship and business community from asserting themselves? That at least is the impression you get from the moral lessons that the Communist Party's censorship apparatus increasingly deliver in no uncertain terms to Internet freedom advocates.
The three picks by Time reflect the very different thinking and ideology of Chinese society, which is generally getting more divided rather than united under Xi's leadership. People just choose to believe in different things -- money, power or the long-awaited "Chinese dream" by some and, perhaps the entire nation, for freedom.