Mike Ko Personal Portfolio


Home-School Education
Hong Kong

University of Durham
Bachelor of Science
United Kingdom

2017 - 2018
United Kingdom

    Democracy: a Weakened Opposition Against Authoritarianism

         It was with some surprise that the world found China abolishing its constitution’s two-term limit for its president Xi Jinping. While diplomatic channels remained mostly silent on the matter, individuals have expressed reservations or even dismay. Western commentators and local activists already fear the potential rise of ‘Emperor Xi’, a permanent leader who could theoretically bring back the dictatorship and personality cult reminiscent of those notoriously built by Mao Zedong. The simultaneous enshrinement of ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ places further emphasis on the president and will not help allay critics’ concerns. The incumbent Chinese Communist Party has always had comparatively different approaches towards citizen representation in politics or for respecting human rights, particularly when it comes to their opponents. This latest decision to remove a major check for political power may thus seem like a step backward.

         If it was not obvious before, then it should be quite clear now that the Chinese leadership has a very different set of political priorities. What may be basic human rights treasured by liberal democracies may be deemed insignificant or even as obstacle to effective governance. The authoritarian environment may appal Westerners, who may be tempted to field democracy as a better alternative that can protect various personal liberties and entitlements. Yet this position has been rather undermined by the emergences of President Donald Trump in America and Brexit in Britain. These two developments have shown how democracies can wreak havoc when insufficient consensus is used to support controversial changes. These two issues have since hindered governance in their respective nations, as different sides are locked in stalemates over the right course of action. More importantly, whether people’s wishes and rights are truly reflected by policy is very much in question.

         We are effectively left with the uncomfortable if utterly predictable realisation that the world has yet to invent an ideal political system. All approaches – democratic, authoritarian or otherwise – involve imperfect balances between upholding rights and effective governance. The champions of democracy will have to improve their arguments if they want to offer a convincing substitute for what China has implemented today.

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