Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yao Yang: The Disinterested Government and the Promotion of a Country’s Political Elites, 2015.6.18

Published on Aisixiang on June 4, 2015

1, In the past, the threat of Western democratic society comes from the Outside: in the beginning it was the Natzi, and then the Soviet Union; right now the threat is from the inside. After the financial crisis, there is huge clash in Western societies. There is opposition from the working class and the extreme wealthy class; there is opposition between ordinary people and multinational corporations; there is opposition between the conservatives and the liberalists.
1, 在过去,西方民主社会的威胁来自外部:起先是纳粹,后来是苏联阵营;现在,威胁来自内部。金融危机之后,西方社会发生大分裂,工薪阶层和极少数富人对立,普通人和跨国公司对立,保守派和自由派对立。

2, The enemy of Western democracy is not the challenge of dictatorship anymore, but rather from its internal populism and extremism. In terms of political governance, there is a lack of leadership in Western societies.
2, 西方民主的敌人不再是独裁体制的挑战,而是来自其内部的民粹主义和极端主义。在政治治理层面上,西方社会就出现了缺乏领袖的局面。

3, The promotion system: rule of the Party replaces the democratic system
Under this circumstance, there is special significance of China’s promotion system. Chinese officials are not voted by each individual person, but rather promoted by their superior organizational departments. If a person wants to get promoted in the Party’s political system, they must start from the basic level, and get promoted many times to reach a high level. There are rounds after rounds of competitions among officials. Only those who are lucky enough to be on the front all the time could get promoted. This system replaces the democratic election system and encourages officials.
3, 选拔体制:以党治代替民主制度

4, There are two sets of structure of the Constitution in China. One exists in legal texts; the other exists in reality. In legal texts, the Party’s leadership is only represented in the prelude of the Constitution; in reality, the Party’s governance in our country is the hub and its functions are twofold: one is to draft important political guidelines; the other is to promote its officials. The latter is the replacement of democratic election and encourages officials.
4, 中国存在两套宪法架构,一套是法律文本意义上的,一套是现实意义上的。在文本意义上,党的领导只体现在《宪法》的引言中;在现实意义上,党在我国国家治理结构中处于枢纽地位,其作用包括两个方面:一是制定国家的大政方针;二是选拔干部。后者是对民主制度选拔和激励官员功能的替代。

5, The Communist Party could win power is mostly related to its sophisticated network. After the reborn of the Republic, this tradition was well kept. The Party’s network was permeated in each pore and corner of the society. During the time of planned economy, because the Party overly stressed on the characteristics of ideology, the overall coverage of the Party made the whole Chinese society over politicalized. After the reform and open-up, the characteristics of the Party’s ideology has gradually faded. It is generally believed that after the “Three Representatives” was written in the Declaration of the Party in 2002, the Party has finished its transition from the Revolutionary Party to a Civil Party. Actually, “Three Representatives” also indicated a more important shift, which is that the Party was no longer a political organization consisted of a group of people with the same political agenda, but it had become a system - an indispensable part of our country’s governance structure. Wang Hui considers this process as a “de-politicalized” process and has analyzed its negative consequences. However, taken into consideration of China’s historical environment, this kind of de-politicalization is more of a progress; besides, from the perspective of a country’s governance, it makes the Party’s functions more obvious and opens the doors for the Party to play more roles within the framework of the Constitution.
5, 中国共产党能够取得政权,和它严密的组织有很大关系;建国之后,这个传统得到保持,党的组织深入到社会的各个层面,全国的各个角落。在计划经济时代,由于党过分地强调其意识形态特征,党的全覆盖导致了中国社会的过度政治化。改革开放之后,党的意识形态色彩逐步褪去;一般认为,到2002年将“三个代表”写入党章之后,党完成了从革命党向全民党的转变。事实上,“三个代表”还包含比这个转变更为重要的转变,这就是,党不再是由一群具有相同政治主张的个人构成的政治组织,而是一种制度,是我国国家治理架构中不可分割的部分。汪晖将这一过程看作是“去政治化”的过程,并对它的不良后果进行了分析。但是,在中国的历史环境下,这种去政治化更多的是一种进步;而且,从国家治理的角度来看,它让党的职能显性化,为党在宪法架构下发挥作用打开了大门。

6, If we could realize that the Party is not the political Party in the Western sense, but rather a part of the country’s governance structure, then we won’t question why the Party’s position should not be challenged by other political power. Western scholars generally don’t understand this - this is the main reason that they misunderstand China’s political structure. On this point, Chinese scholars have our responsibilities. Many scholars in Party construction can’t really look beyond the so-called traditional discourse and their discussions can’t be understood by international scholars, let alone being accepted. Many of the political scientists care more about using the Western discourse, and deep down they have their arrogance of “starting everything from Greece”. It is the responsibility of Chinese scholars to use the language that the international society understands to articulate China’s issues clearly.
6, 如果意识到党不再是西方意义上的政党,而是国家治理架构的一部分,我们也就不会再去质疑为什么党的地位不可被其他政治势力所挑战。西方的学者往往没有理解这一点,这是他们误解中国政治架构的主要原因。在这方面,中国学者是有责任的。多数党建学者无法突破所谓的正统学说,其话语无法被国际学者所理解,更不用说去说服他们了。政治学者中的多数则专注于引进西方话语体系,骨子里仍然是“言必称希腊”的傲慢。中国学者的责任是用国际社会能够听懂的语言,把中国的事情说清楚。

7, China’s promotion system is set up on two political bases, one is a disinterested central government, the other is division of economic power. The general situation of developing countries is either the government is controlled by few powerful interest groups, or it is constrained by populism, or somewhere in between the two. In this case, the government is either in the service of a small number of people, or in a non-manageable situation. Democracy in developing countries generally doesn’t really work, and this is the reason. A disinterested government is a government that does not belong to any interest group and does not service any interest group. “Being disinterested is often misunderstood as the government does not have any interest of its own, which is wrong. A disinterested government - or more precisely, its main officials - of course have their personal aspirations. Its disinterested nature is compared to the general society.
7, 中国选拔体制建立在两个政治基础之上,一个是中性的中央政府,另一个是财政分权。发展中国家的普遍情况是,政府要么被少数强势集团所控制,要么被民粹主义所裹挟,要么是两者的混合。在这种情况下,政府要么为少数人服务,要么陷入不可治理的境地。发展中国家的民主往往无法工作,原因概在于此。一个中性政府是一个不属于任何利益集团、也不为任何利益集团服务的政府。“中性”一词往往被人误解为政府没有自己的利益,这是不对的。一个中性政府——或者更确切地,它的主要官员——当然有自己的个人追求,它的中性只是相对于社会而言的。

8, Over the past three decades the Chinese government has basically played a role of a disinterested government. Here we say “basically” because at certain time, at certain points we could always see that the government has their preferences - in the beginning of the reform and open-up they favored the peasants and special economic zones. In the 90s the reform in state-owned enterprises made the working class shoulder lots of consequences of the reform, etc. But in the long term, the government basically has been in the middle way. A disinterested government is not only good for economic growth, it also provides solid foundation for the promotion system.
8, 中国政府在过去三十多年里基本上扮演了一个中性政府的角色。这里说“基本上”,是因为在某个时期、某个局部,我们总是能发现政府是有偏的——改革初期偏向农民和经济特区,在90年代国企改革中又让工人阶级承担了绝大多数的改革成本,等等。但长期而言,政府基本上走了一条中间道路。一个中性政府不仅有利于经济增长,还能为选拔体制提供坚实的基础。

9, To make promotion a system there must be two conditions: one is openness, the other is coherence. Openness means that government positions are opened to all classes in the society, without it we can’t start talking about promotion.Coherence requires the standard for promotion be applied everywhere. A disinterested government does not pre-determine their preferences of social classes. Therefore it does not care which class its promoted officials come from. So it will not be interfered by any political forces. Its policies and standards for promoting officials have more coherent logic.
9, 要让选拔成为一种制度,它必须具备两个条件:一是开放性;二是一致性。开放性意味着政府职位向所有阶层开放,没有它,选拔无从谈起。一致性要求选拔的标准是放之四海而皆准的,否则,官员之间就失去了可比性,选拔就不能持续。一个有偏的政府显然不可能保证这两个条件。一个中性政府不预先设定自己对于社会阶层的偏好,因此并不介意被提拔的官员出自哪个阶层;又因为不受政治势力的干扰,其政策、包括官员的选拔标准也就更可能具有内在的逻辑。

10, Therefore we could see, our current fiscal system is actually very divided; actually, it might be the most divided system in the world.

11, However, in the US in each level of government there is no budgeted income, which means that the profit making capacity of local government in the US is much lower than their Chinese counterparts. Besides, the US federal government has relatively little leverage on the income of each state’s income; the federal government spend money from their own gains. Therefore, from the spending perspective China’s division is more obvious than the US.
11, 但是,美国各级政府没有预算外收入,这意味着,美国地方政府的收入能力远低于中国的地方政府。另外,美国联邦政府对各州的转移支出较少,多数收入是联邦政府自己花出去了,这样,从支出方面来看,中国的财政分权也远甚于美国。

12, Currently there are two ways for the Central government to control local governments: one is financial maneuver, the other is assigning positions. The two work well together. Assigning officials is the core method for the Central government to control local government and it is a main representation of the promotion system. But this needs the backup from a central government with financial power, otherwise local government officials could refuse the orders from the central government because of their own financial independence.
12, 就目前而言,中央控制地方的方式有两个:一是财政转移,二是干部任命。两者是相辅相成的关系。干部任命是中央控制地方的核心手段,也是选拔体制的主要表现方式,但这需要一个具有一定财力的中央政府的支持,否则地方官员就可能因为财大气粗而抗拒中央的调遣。

13, As we have discussed before, China’s promotion system has replaced the democratic election system. How are its effects? Could it promote outstanding talents? From what we could see in the news, it is prevalent that people do buy political positions. What we could learn from anyone is also that network is a key reason for an official to get promoted. However, excellent officials could still get promoted. There are two reasons: first, a disinterested central government aspires to promote the most capable officials, because it cares about the development prospect of the country and it needs capable officials to manage economics and the society; the second, if every lower official gives gifts to their superiors then everyone will be more or less come back to the same beginning line. In the short term, those who could bid a very high price might have more chances to win, but in the long term, this will just raise up the prices.  
13, 如前所述,中国的选拔体制代替了民主制度下选拔和监督官员的作用,那么,其效果如何呢?它是否能够选拔出优秀的人才呢?从报纸杂志披露的情况来看,买官鬻官的现象是比较普遍的;口耳相传的消息也告诉我们,关系是决定一个官员能否得到升迁的关键因素。但是,优秀的官员仍然可能得到提拔,原因有二:第一,一个中性的中央政府希望提拔有能力的官员,因为它自身十分关注国家的发展前景,需要有能力的官员来管理经济和社会;第二,如果每个下级官员都到上级那里送礼、跑关系,那么,每个人就或多或少地回到同一起点上。在短期内,那些能够出很高价格的人可能更容易胜出,但在长期,这只会起到抬高价格的作用。

14, Though it is a thorny issue to evaluate the capability of an official - the capability to develop economy is very easy to measure. Meanwhile, at this stage, it is the most valued capability from the upper government. Though the GDP-oriented theory is criticized by the government and media, but we could see that in practice, GDP is still the main goal of the government.
14, 尽管衡量官员的能力是一个棘手的问题,但一个官员发展经济的能力是比较容易衡量的,而且,在目前情况下,这也是上级政府最看重的能力。虽然“唯GDP论”受到官方和大众媒体的一致批判,但在实践中,GDP仍然是政府追求的主要目标。

15, A local official face many assignments from their superiors. However, none of these assignments - unless those that could be vetoed, like the previous family planning, the current big environmental disasters or production accidents - could be measured so precisely like GDP. Therefore it is natural that they care about GDP growth. It is futile for the upper level to make their promotion standards more sophisticated.
15, 一个地方主官面临上级交代的许多任务,但是,没有一个任务——除了那些一票否决的任务,如过去的计划生育、现在的重大环境和生产事故——能够像GDP那样精确度量,所以,他关注GDP增长是理所当然的,上级即使把提拔标准搞得无比精巧也是枉然。
16, The challenge presented to China scholars, based on its reality, is that though corruption is so omnipresent and severe, how come China could still maintain such high-speed of economic growth? There could be many reasons. One of them might be related to the promotion system. Though the promotion system may not supervise officials, and that’s the reason for so much corruption, it puts capable people on key leadership positions. Though they are corrupted they have done many meaningful things to the society. One example is Liu Zhijun, who was one of the most corrupted officials. But China’s railway could develop to today’s level is directly related to his previous leadership in the Ministry of Railway. Corruption is a persistent disease for developing countries. If a developing country wants to gain economic growth, perhaps it needs to learn to grow with pain. China’s promotion system actually provides a possible path.
16, 中国经验给学者们提出的挑战是:既然官员的腐败如此普遍、如此猖狂,为什么中国还能够保持如此高的经济增长速度?原因可能很多,但其中之一可能和选拔体制有关。选拔体制可能没有起到监督官员的作用,因而才有这么多的腐败,但是,它能够把有能力的人提拔到关键性的领导岗位上,让他们在腐败的同时也为社会做有益的事情。一个例子是刘志军。他是最腐败的官员之一,但是,中国高铁能够发展到今天的模样,和他在铁道部的领导分不开。腐败是发展中国家的顽疾,发展中国家要想取得经济进步,可能就要学会带病成长,中国的选拔制度为此提供了一个可能的方式。

17, Obama was elected the president because of his slogan of “change”. He had the chance to become a great president like Franklin Roosevelt, but right now it seems he might be the worst president since the Second World War. There might be many reasons, but Obama’s personal capability might be largely responsible. In comparison, senior Chinese officials have rich governance experience from the lower level to higher level, which is helpful to increase their confidence and make them brave enough not to make very populist decisions.
17, 奥巴马因为“改变”的口号当选美国总统,本来有机会成为富兰克林·罗斯福一样的总统,但现在看来要成为二战以来美国最差的总统了。尽管其中的原因很多,但奥巴马有限的个人能力可能要负大部分责任。相比之下,中国的高级官员具有丰富的从基层到高层的管理阅历,这有利于提高他们的自信心,敢于做出不那么民粹的决策。

18, Towards the conclusion of this article I would like to highlight again that the promotion system is not a perfect system and it might not be possible for it to become China’s ultimate political system. However, its essence might serve as some beneficial guidance for the reconstruction and redesign of democratic system.

19, Perhaps, readers could understand the conclusion better after reading the comparison of India and China written by two Indian scholars:
“It is well worth remembering that the difference in the economic performance between China and India is not the extent to which each has turned to markets, because both have. Rather, the Chinese Communist Party-state, as an economic institution, is more responsive, more meritocratic, and more skilled in human capital than the Indian state. Rebuilding the Indian state on firmer foundations may well determine not just what future India will have, but whether it has a future.”
(From Rebuilding the Indian state, written by Devesh Kapur and Arvind Subramanian at the Business Standard in September 2013).
   ——Devesh Kapur和Arvind Subramanian,Business Standard,2013年9月6日

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