China not following Singapore model: Bill Emmott

Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew says China is learning from Singapore. “When you see Shanghai greening up like Singapore, you know they have studied us,” he told the National University of Singapore Society yesterday.

But former Economist editor Bill Emmott takes a different view. Little Singapore cannot be a model for a vast country like China, he says in his book, Rivals: How The Power Struggle Between China, India and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade, published last year.

Discussing how the Chinese Communist Party could introduce “some form of democracy” and still retain power, he turns to Singapore.

Singapore’s ruling “People’s Action Party has won all the elections held since 1959 by a landslide”, he says, just as the Communists have ruled China since 1949 – but there are  differences, he adds:

But a city state of just 4.4 million people can hardly be a model for a China of 1.3 billion people, and Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father both of Singapore and the PAP, also does not fit the Communist Party’s current pattern: he has founded a political dynasty, with his son now as prime minister, which the Chinese party has shown no signs of doing.

The better model is probably to China’s northeast, in the land of its traditional enemy, Japan…

After a few hiccups in the early 1950s, Japan was a one-party state from 1953 until 1993, when the Liberal Democratic Party briefly lost power.

A decade and a half later, despite wrenching economic times, the LDP is still in power. It is quite impressive, really.