Why is China different from North Korea
Development in Asia : "China is becoming more and more like North Korea"
China is promoting its state model more and more confidently. The magazine "Qiushi" describes China as "the greatest democracy in the world". How did she come up with it?
Just look at the country next to China, that even has the term democracy in the state name. It's called: Democratic People's Republic of Korea. In fact, China is starting to resemble North Korea more and more, and so do the Chinese. That is why some say for fun: We have become a West Korea.
Why do you say that?
I was in China in early November and watched television. There, the head of state and party leader Xi Jinping now looks like Kim Jong Un: how he waves his hand at the people, how he gives instructions to his people. That is the democracy that you have in China, it is a different kind of democracy. You can talk about democracy in China, you can also talk about democracy, but it is completely different than in Germany. And also a different democracy than the Chinese people want.
How do you know the Chinese people want a different democracy?
I talk to Chinese people a lot. The Chinese intellectuals, of course, admire Western democracy, they also want to have such a democracy. Maybe the ordinary people in China don't understand what democracy means. But what they want is the rule of law. Definitely. You are tired of the abuse of power.
The Communist Party says China has a different culture from the West and a 5,000 year history. That is why Western democracy cannot work in China. Can you understand that?
In a way, yes. Look at the Japanese democracy, is it the same as the western one? Of course not. It is a democracy with Japanese characteristics. But the values we pursue are the fundamental values of democracy: human rights, freedoms, equality, fraternity - all of these values are shared by Japanese democracy.
What role do these values play in China?
They are also in the Chinese constitution. In the past, China always said: We value these values, we have signed the UN human rights treaties. We will all achieve these rights, but please wait a little longer, we need time for this, we are a developing country. That was the common position of the CCP. What is currently causing me great concern: For some years now, there have been increasing voices saying that we do not accept the idea of universal values, we do not accept human rights as our values. Because they are western values. The West calls them universal rights because it wants to impose them on us. President Xi Jinping is also one of the people who say that.
Is it also worrying because many already view China as the world's leading power?
Many Chinese are currently very aggressive, they are self-confident, they say the USA is a falling power, we are a rising power. They claim that their model of development could be a pattern for the world.
Many western newspapers are writing the same in view of Donald Trump's presidency in the United States.
I think the western newspapers don't seriously believe it. Just look at the fact that those Chinese who have the opportunity are migrating from their homeland. If China were the world's leading power, why don't they stay? And why don't people from other nations immigrate to China? Are there many Americans moving to China? No, it's the other way around. Because people understand that their future in China is not secure and involves many risks.
How does the US withdrawal under Donald Trump affect East Asia?
Differently. During Donald Trump's Asia tour, many Southeast Asian countries were disappointed by Trump's lack of interest in their problems. Especially in light of the progress made by China. However, under Trump, the US exercises and actions in the South China Sea have also increased.
The South China Sea was not an issue at all on Trump's trip to Asia.
Yes, but I still don't see the US pulling out of this area. US maritime operations in the areas are increasing. I don't see any US company withdrawing investment from Southeast Asia. Because Southeast Asia will continue to grow, it is a very promising area.
But with North Korea it is also a very unstable one. Recently, Kim Jong Un did not even receive the special envoy from his close ally China. How dangerous is that
Of course, it would be good if China's special envoy had been received. But this time he was not a member of the Politburo. It means that Xi Jinping doesn't like Kim Jong Un. He doesn't like what Kim Jong Un does, and he's shown it.
How big is China's influence on North Korea anyway?
China's relationship with North Korea is like that of a mother and a son who doesn't listen to his mother. The mother keeps him alive, feeds him and so on.
Where does this relationship lead, will the mother throw the son out of the house?
It depends what the son does next. Not only China, but also the US, Japan, South Korea and the others have to judge how they will react to another nuclear test or the test of another long-range missile from North Korea. I do not know the answer. I do hope, however, that Washington and Beijing have good communication about what to do next.
It doesn't look like it at the moment.
We don't know what Donald Trump and Xi Jinping discussed in Beijing. When one side acts without the consent of the other, there is a lot of confusion. I hope, of course, that both of them come up with a peaceful solution, but there is also a small possibility that things could turn out differently. When they use force - be it a military first strike, a murder squad, or organize an insurrection - the Chinese and Americans really have to cooperate very well.
The interview was conducted by Benedikt Voigt.
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