China and the United States are one of the strongest economies in the world, and both nations are considered superpowers and have contributed significantly to global politics and culture. However, both states have a very different political landscape, which is what will be discussed in the paper today. It is important to understand the background of the political systems in both China and the United States in order to compare both, especially the theoretical system of governance they follow, whether a pluralist or oligarchical system. Citizen engagement is integral to the success of every country, whether it be regarding the social welfare or economics of the country, and since both these countries play such a huge role in the International Arena, the comparison of their citizen engagement will be analyzed in this paper.
Government Structure of the United States
The United States government structure is one of the largest democracies in the world and has been considered by many as one of the perfect democracies which the country and its citizens have prided themselves over. The United States has a democratic government system with three branches in the system, legislative, executive, and judicial. Each branch of the government plays an important role in providing for the country’s citizens by creating laws and policies that are meant to make the living standards of the citizens better and provide them with safety and rights. The legislative branch of the government is responsible for making laws through the Congress and House of Representatives, both of which hold elected officials that create legislation for their constituents while the Judicial branch of the government is responsible for upholding and interpreting these laws through the highest court in the land Supreme Court and High Courts which tend to follow their own state law. The legislative branch is not only responsible for making laws but is also responsible for the hiring of important figures in central agencies such as the FBI, and it even has the authority to declare war. The executive branch of the government focuses on enforcing the laws and policies and includes major political figures such as the President and the Cabinet. The branches of the government are not only responsible for the laws of the land but are also responsible for ensuring free and fair elections and that the citizens of the country that they represent are being heard (USG, 2020).
Government Structure of China
The People’s Republic of China is still one of the few countries in the world that follow the communist government structure and is led by a one-party system. However, the country does have branches of government that also include the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The executive branch of the government holds the highest position of head of state and the cabinet as well, which is appointed by the National People’s Congress. The positions in this branch can be for either a five-year long term or even an unlimited amount of time. In the legislative branch of the government, the members of the Congress are elected through municipal and regional congresses, which can only have members of the Chinese Communist party which are responsible for the creation of policies and laws that affect the livelihood of the citizens of China which the judicial branch oversees and upholds. The highest court in China is the Supreme People’s Court, which includes the Chief Justice and over 340 other judges, including 13 that are considered grand justices. These officials preside over different tribunals and committees, which can range from civil, administrative to communication, and transport cases. There are other courts in the land such as High Courts and District and County Peoples Courts and Special Courts for military and forestry issues. Even though China has a one-party state, it, however, has eight independent political parties that are controlled by the CCP (CIA, 2020).
Evaluation of Citizen Engagement in American Politics
Citizen engagement is a necessary facet of not just American politics but also a democratic state. A democratic state is supposed to be free and fair, and the President of the country is also chosen by the citizens to lead them through the crisis and to provide them with basic necessities and human rights. As the United States is considered a representative republic, citizen engagement is all the more important and starts with providing the citizens of the country, regardless of gender and over the age of 18, the right to vote for their communities in the form of local elections that can elect congresses that represent their towns and constituencies as well in the Presidential election for the various arms of the executive branch. Civic engagement ensures that the government is serving the people and not the other way around. Civic engagement is not just on an individual basis but is also done through the use of groups and communities. It is also the duty of the representative republic to inform its citizens of their rights, and the candidacy for the elections needs to be transparent since city council members to local judges to mayors, and state legislators are all appointed through voting in the United States. The policies that are discussed in the Legislative Branch on the government are also through the civic engagement process, where the representatives elected by the citizens seek to change the policy or create one to serve them (lumen, 2020). Even though the laws of the United States provide every individual regardless of creed and color to vote, there have been instances of voter suppression reported, especially in relation to minorities, and this oppression has been systemic and has existed throughout the history of the US. Voter suppression has been reported through disenfranchising people of color, through restrictions placed on mail-in voting that can cause irregularities in the system and strict voter ID laws that can contribute to issues that can cause certain people to not place votes (McKeever, 2020).
Citizen Engagement in Chinese Politics
Since China is a communist and one-party state, citizen engagement is lower in comparison to democratic states. The President and the National People’s Congress, which is the main body of the country, are all elected by the People’s Congress. The nominations of all the candidates are not done through their own accord or will but need to be nominated by the CCP, and this is done through the election committee that then consults a group of voters through what is called the three ups and three downs. Even though the nominations are provided by the CCP, citizens can vote for their township and village elections, and in some places, there are direct elections. Eligible voters are chosen through a register for rural and urban voters to make the process easier, and smaller elections have a number of 200 to 300 voters while the larger level can have up to 1000 voters. There are, however, other forms of citizen engagement at a more local level when electing a township government, which can be done through public recommendation or public nomination (郑 (Cheng), 2011). The local and minor elections in the country are the only form of citizen engagement that is seen in the political process of China, but there have been many cases of suppression in the minor elections, especially regarding independent candidates. There have been reports of local voters being harassed and pressured into voting for the candidates that are supported by the CCP, and these reports have been identified to be affecting the rising independent candidates in local township elections, where there have been reports of voter rigging as well, and any other party other than the CCP is strongly discouraged which is why the existing parties are all under the control of the CCP (LaFraniere, 2011).
American Politics in Comparison to Chinese Politics
The main difference between Chinese and US politics is the political ideologies, and one is founded on a democratic yet capitalist system while the other has been led through decades on a Communist and one-party system. There are two political theories that are needed in the discussion, the elite and the pluralist theory. The elite theory focuses on the notion that only a select group of people actually run the government, which are considered elite, while the pluralist theory states that political power is rather shared between the influencing parties. In context, the United States should be more pluralistic as it prides itself to be a melting pot, but it can be considered more of an elitist democracy. The United States is famous for being ethnically and religiously diverse, but most of the branches of the government are made up of Christian and White males who have come from affluent backgrounds and studied from elite universities such as the Ivy Leagues. Half of the representatives in Congress are millionaires with their median net worth reported to be more than a million. Eighty percent of the Senate and House of Representatives are male, while only 20 percent are either women or people of color. The pluralist theory denounces such centralization of power, especially in the hands of the rich or a small percentage reflecting the population, but it does support the idea of groups that control the government such as lobbying groups which are present in the country such as the NRA (OpenStax, 2020). Lobbying groups have more of an influence on the government of the United States than the citizens themselves, which creates the question if the US is more pluralist or elitist, and the matter of the fact is that the US is not really a representative republic but rather a pluralist oligarchy. The Chinese government is, however, much easier to decipher since it is a communist one-party state that is also led by elites even though it goes against the very grain of communism. Even though China is diverse in its ethnic groups, it is still a relatively high homogenous group, which is also reflected in its politics. China is more corporatism, which is the organization of society by corporate groups such as military and agriculture, which can even be seen through its different selective assemblies and congresses. Corporatism also recognizes only one organization as its sole representative, which can be seen through the CCP (Chan, 1994).
The United States and China are different in almost every way in their social norms, administrative policies, economic reforms, and the vastest difference in their political ideology. This paper analyzed the different political structures of both countries and highlighted the stark differences between a democratic state and a communist state, but the analysis also provided one similarity, which was the elitist government structure that existed in both political structures. The paper also highlighted citizen engagement in both countries, either through direct elections in the USA or through the CCP controlled nominations in China. However, it also highlighted the different ways in which people of color in the USA are suppressed through political representation and voter suppression. Even though both countries are different in every way, they are still recognized as each other’s competition in the International Arena.
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