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Freedom of Speech in China and Political Reform Essay

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Updated: Dec 3rd, 2019


Freedom of speech is a human right that is very essential and entails the expression of ideas and opinions freely hence promoting peace and order in a country or even an institution as people feel represented and honored. It is through the expression of opinions that invention and innovation is nurtured and hence there is growth and development.

Freedom of speech enhances free flow of information and ideas hence promoting democracy, creativity and growth. Political reform on the other hand is a social and political movement that makes gradual changes in the society or country and therefore freedom of speech is necessary in the process of political reform.

Freedom of speech is an essential basic human right and each and every individual is entitled to have it. It should however not be misused under any circumstance but used constructively to promote growth rather than rebellion. The introduction of political reform in China ought to be gradual just as the economic reforms so that it can be easily absorbed without interfering with the functioning and continuity of the state (Cuizon 1).

Background Information

China worked on the principles of a political thinker, Confucius, until the start of the twentieth century. He emphasized on the importance of ethics and morals in all undertakings rather than the use of force and violence to make things done. The importance of human rights like the freedom of speech was however not taken into consideration.

Towards the end of the twentieth century, China became business oriented and there were lots of economic and political reforms under the rule of Deng. He believed that for a nation to progress and develop there had to be enlightened people and so he allowed for more open debate and discussions that would enhance exchange of ideas and opinions that lead to development.

There was great freedom of speech, press and movement but this idea was not received well and some people thought that too much freedom was not necessary and that they should have gone back to the earlier days. This was because although the reforms had led to growth and development, it also brought about inflation leading to peaceful and even violent demonstrations as citizens demanded more democracy (Rana 2).

Although the constitution of China has the provision of the freedom of speech, association, press and even demonstration, the freedom is not there in reality since the constitution forbids the undertaking of anything that is contrary to the interests of the states. The rights are not implemented unless a supplementary law is passed by the national legislature.

There are therefore restrictions to human rights and people who are seen to express and advocate for freedom are punished and prosecuted for the offense of inciting others or trying to undermine the state’s powers. Some face penalties like losing their jobs, detention and rebuke.

Freedom of speech and press are vital concepts in attainment of political reform in China. This is because it enhances decision making in regard to the country’s politics through engaging the citizens in the current social and political affairs.

The involvement of the citizens in the nation’s decision making is fundamental as it makes them feel represented and also prepare the citizens socially on all the changes that are bound to happen in their nation and hence avoid resistance as it could be the case when the changes would occur without their consent or knowledge.

Political reform in China is triggered by the widespread corruption in the nation as there are many instances of abuse of public funds and resources for individual gains. Corruption is exacerbated by the fact that the citizens have got no powers and the state is in control of all the aspects involving the citizens for instance, it possesses power over the legislature, judicial and executive arms of the government, the press or media, colleges and universities and even markets.

Democracy is therefore viewed as a solution to this problem and it can only be introduced through political reform. The idea of democracy is however received with a lot of controversies because in however much the leaders desire to eliminate the aspect of corruption, they have the fear of losing the monopoly power prevalent in the communist party. Even with the realization that something needs to be done, allowing for democracy, the Chinese leaders are still resistant on the need for change (Zhao 3).

It is however evident that the process of establishing democracy in China has been slower that that of capitalism. This is because of the monopoly of power of the Chinese Communist Party and the lack of freedom of speech and press and independent government body. Although China is not a democracy, its view on democratic aspects is changing and there is the possibility of the adoption of democracy as a political system in future (Li Viii).

There have been changes in the China’s political ideology due to the urge to have freedom of speech and democracy and as a result, there have been major political changes and developments for instance there has been the emergence of civil society as opposed to the Mao’s era where there was no chance for formation of any independent civil society.

There has been an increase in formation independent and legitimate civil organizations and associations that give the citizens a medium to air their opinions. The political reform has also led to improved national legal system and promotion of the rule of law. This is because the leaders in China have recognized the need to establish and promote a good legal system to compliment the growing market economy. This promotes democracy in the political system in China.

Local autonomy and direct elections is another concept that was enhanced by political reform in China. Democracy was viewed as a stepping stone to political development and the citizens were allowed to make their leadership decisions by directly voting for or electing their leaders. This enhanced peace and order as the citizens felt comprehensively represented. Political transparency is another key aspect.

The political reform emphasize on openness and transparency in all affairs of the government through involvement of the citizens. The government has the obligation to inform the citizens of the policies and regulations and all the government affairs affecting them comprehensively and at the right time to ensure that they are aware of the events taking place or those that are to take place and voice their opinions.

The National Leading Group on Governmental Transparency promotes this by emphasizing openness in governmental affairs as a legal obligation of the government at al levels, adoption of a service commitment and responsibility investigating system, and establishment of a disaster management system.

Due to consideration of the citizens in the government political affairs, there has been an improvement in public services provision as the government become service oriented. This has been achieved through simplification of the administrative examination and approval system and implementation of one stop shopping service model. Incorporation of public hearings and considerations in decision making is another positive factor brought about by political reform.

This has made use of the public to ensure that the services offered by the government are in line to the needs of the citizens hence satisfaction and contentment that promotes peace and order. Although the political reforms have been associated with major positive results, its main goal is to set up a modern system that promotes democratic governance in the nation and hence recognizing and protecting the citizen’s rights under all circumstances (Li 50).

Freedom of speech and political reform in China are directly related and affect one another. When the citizens are given the freedom of speech, they are able to participate fully in the nation’s development and hence contribute positively to the political reforms.

On the other hand, the leaders may consider restricting the freedom of speech of the citizens so as to exercise monopoly and carry out activities the way they desire. This however cannot succeed as the citizens will be rebellious as they feel neglected. It is therefore advisable to allow democracy and freedom of speech to enhance the process of political reform.


Political reform is a positive step in any country when it follows the right direction and procedures. It should always aim at attaining political legitimacy and promoting social welfare and development. It should also cater for the needs of all citizens especially the marginalized and promote political, social and economic stability in the nation.

Works Cited

Cuizon, Gwendolyn. “What is Freedom of Speech?: Importance of Free Speech.” Suite 101.com. 2009, March 6. Web.

Li, Cheng. China’s Changing Political Landscape: Prospects for Democracy. Washington D.C: Brookings Institution Press, 2008.

Rana, Mitter. “A Short History of Free Speech in China: New Internationalist.” FindArticles.com, 2010. Web.

Zhao, Suisheng. Debating Political Reform in China: Rule of Law vs. Democratization. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2006.

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