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A new meaning of democracy for 2007


China Newsweek, July 16, 2007

The most recent issue of The Economist noted a June vote by residents of a Beijing community as to whether they should accept a developer's buyout offer:

For the first reported time in the fractious history of China's recent urban makeover, residents on June 9th had a chance to vote on the offer. A month later state-owned newspapers are still poring over that event.

Democracy is all over the Chinese media these days. Pictured here is the latest issue of China Newsweek, which ran a lengthy cover feature about the sensitive word. Earlier this year, two theory-based articles, Yu Keping's "Democracy is a Good Thing" and Xie Tao's "The Democratic Socialism Model and China's Future," spearheaded a major academic discussion on the topic.

The CN feature looks at the various expressions of democracy in common people's lives - propery rights, low-level elections - but a good deal of the discussion is rather insubstantial. As the 17th Party Congress approaches, the effects of this discussion may be more symbolic than real.

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A second story featured on the front cover describes the problems and difficulties facing Shanxi's Governor, Yu Youjun (于幼军). The chart at left (click to enlarge) shows the relative decline in economic growth of Shanxi as compared to other Chinese provinces; the sharply-declining red and green lines show Shanxi's national rank in growth of local government revenue and local GDP, respectively.

UPDATE: Jonathan Ansfield discusses this issue of China Newsweek at China Digital Times.

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