The economic and cultural rise of the People’s Republic of China is the subject of discussion that you will find in many circles: business, law, finance, farming, technology, and human rights, just to name a few. The unique status of the Chinese Communist Party in the PRC’s society means that access to some of the perks of government, and even the right to govern itself, belong to those who are members of Mao’s Communist Party, a feature that many people see as anachronistic given China’s rising status as a world economic power.

Why should government officials draw mainly from the communist list? Why shouldn’t everyone have a chance to aspire to power? Why can’t there be more than one voice, more than one party? While unique in the world, the role of the Chinese Communist Party in the development of modern China cannot be denied but its practice and approach are not entirely foreign to those who have studied the rise of many of the economies of East Asia.

Indeed, in many respects, the Chinese Communist Party’s approach to economics and growth at all costs mirrors the policy approaches of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, a party which governed post-war Japan uninterruptedly from 1955 until a brief 11 month period in 1993, then again taking a break from power between 2009 and 2012. Japanese voters regularly placed LDP politicians in power, and through the use of the “construction state” and other various cartel-like schemes, the LDP maintained its iron grip on electoral success in what was a nominally democratic society. In a mirror to what many say of China’s communism now, it was once said that, “The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan is neither liberal nor democratic.”

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