Toward the rule of law : why China's path will be different from the West

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Book chapter

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Debating political reform in China : rule of law vs. democratization

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M.E. Sharpe


Pan Wei argues that what China needs first is the rule of law, not democracy. According to Pan, there are four kinds of relationships between democracy and the rule of law: democratic government without the rule of law (mostly third world countries); nondemocratic government with the rule of law (Hong Kong and Singapore); democratic government with the rule of law (mostly Western countries); and nondemocratic government without the rule of law (again mostly third world countries). According to Pan, the first combination is actually the worst outcome since a democracy without the rule of law is likely to result in chaos, corruption, and general governance problems. This is why most third world democracies are not successful in terms of political stability and sustainable development. According to Pan, the second pattern, nondemocratic government with the rule of law, has been proven to be a viable political option, especially for countries without democratic traditions. Hong Kong and Singapore are well-governed societies with efficient and clean government. Therefore Pan concludes that at least in the mid-term future, China should focus its political reform on building up the rule of law, since that can best ensure the emergence of successful democracies as in the West. Moreover, Pan even suggests that due to its history and culture, the Singapore option of rule of law without democracy may also suit China in the long run. As a result. Pan prescribes a future polity that embodies the rule of law, but shuns competitive democracy.

Additional Information

ISBN of the source publication: 9780765617316



Recommended Citation

Zhang, B. (2006). Toward the rule of law: Why China's path will be different from the West. In S. Zhao, Debating political reform in China: Rule of law vs. democratization (pp. 122-137). Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe.

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