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Part of the reason is that much of the power has been given to certain people who'd gone to the West for tertiary education. Some of these Chinese, especially the scientists, did learn much to benefit the nation. But a lot have gone there just to get a degree - a piece of paper that sometimes don't reflect what they ought to know. And many Western universities are quite happy to please the Chinese students, or to stuff important Chinese institutions with highly credentialed but poorly trained or educated individuals.
We see evidence of this when officials talk about the "market economy" as if it's hard science, as if it's some natural law like the law of gravity. These people have fallen into what is known as "market fundamentalism" - a belief system that's as doctrinaire, as dogmatic, as any other kind of religious, social, or political beliefs. In order to defend pure capitalism, the kind that Einstein abhorred, one writer even cooked up a story about how a group of peasants got together to give up collectivism and became rich as a result. This kind of melodramatic argument can fool only the half-educated, for with every such instance we can find millions of counter-examples in other parts of China and indeed the rest of the world. It's not surprising that the countries most praised by Western financial institutions, countries such as Brazil and Argentina, often ended up in desperate poverty. That's why in recent years much of Latin and South American countries have opted for socialism.
In our part of the world, capitalism has triumphed in Japan, South Korea, the province of Taiwan, and Singapore. The first three are unique and that's because they were the West's frontline states against China. Thus they were not allowed to failed. Western markets and technology were opened to them to help them succeed. The fact that these states are small and thus could never hope to rival the West militarily was also a point in their favor. States that are far from China or Russia were, however, allowed to suffer the full consequences of a dog-eat-dog world, a heartless capitalism that tore their societies asunder. It's questionable that any of these states can ever attain a standard of living comparable with the West , either within the next century or the next.
Singapore is a bit farther from China than the northeast Asian states, but like them it followed a development pattern based on the formation of an oligarchy, often ruled by one party headed by a strong man. For much of its post-war period, Japan was ruled by one party. Korea too was led by a series of dictators until Kim Dae Jung took over. And Taiwan by the Jiang family. What does all this show? It's that in the early years of country formation, state-imposed discipline is necessary. Secondly, in order for certain industries to survive, protection is important. The need for protection was eloquently explained by Andrew Jackson when he told the British that America too would opt for free trade after it has, like Britian, centuries of development .
China, on the other hand, has gone into WTO with very limited protection. As a result, many local industries just cannot compete with Western products. Much of our so-called "made-in-China" products have foreign-made components. As Chairman Mao pointed out, if we follow, we will forever be left behind. We must adopt new ways of doing things, things that no one or very few others have thought about. Thus China discovered a new way of producing insulin in the late 50s, and even had a prototyope jumbo jet not long after that. The jump from atomic to hydrogen bomb was made within three years - a world record.
In order to defend itself and stop being the "sick man of Asia," China had to marshal its national resources for military R&D. It has to take care not only of one part of China, but all parts where external vultures were waiting to pounce upon. This often meant a lot of state planning, with little room left for a market economy.
However, market economy can be useful at a later stage of national development. But the role of the state often remains critical, which is why Singapore's economy is still heavily planned compared with, say, Australia or even Japan. And Singapore is a small island state, without the responsibilities associated with big, continental-sized countries like China. So those who're in love with the "market economy" ought to see its strengths and weaknesses, and not talk in a way that only exposes their ignorance.
Singapore calls its system "democratic socialism." The same party - the PAP - has ruled Singapore since it achieved Independence during the sixties. Though Leninist in structure, it's a people-oriented party, and it has made Singapore richer than many a Western democracy. So the word "democracy" is fine so long as it encourages more voices, more participation in governance. But if it's a codeword for a Westminster democracy or an American democracy, no major non-Western country has succeeded in having that kind of system and continue to be able to feed its people.
What's discussed above seems far away from the idea of media independence, but in reality it's not. The point is that we have to manage news our own way, see problems our own way, and find solutions that fit our society and not that of other countries, East or West. We need to invent a new terminology for what we do, a new language for concepts unique to China. We cannot continue to do things to please the West, as our leaders seem to be doing, and as our media seem to want China to do.