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Strong debates on democracy in Davos
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Wu Jianmin, President of the China Foreign Affairs University, attended two discussions and gave speeches during the five-day World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting that kicked off in January in Davos, Switzerland.

Upon his return from Davos, he wrote an article which was published in the overseas edition of People's Daily on February 4, sharing his insight in democracy, a hot issue of debate in Davos.

The implications of the discussions concern the rise of China and the evolving relations between China and the Western world, according to Wu. Participants expressed anxiety over the possibility that China would "carve up" the world as it grows rapidly. Wu responded that China had never behaved in this fashion and would not do so in the future although it was indeed quickly getting stronger. The expert elaborated upon China's road of peaceful development, open win-win strategy and prosperity for all in his speeches.

Wu's speeches aroused widespread interest from the attendants and democracy became a hot topic during the meetings. The head of the Human Rights Watch argued that China was not a democratic country; Wu clarified his positions against the contention.

"The achievement of democracy symbolizes human progress. We held high the banner of democracy in revolutions. China is now pushing ahead to build Chinese-style socialism and transforming the country with prosperity, democracy, culture and harmony," Wu said.

China and the Western world exist under different conditions, so China's democracy is different from that of the Western counties, Wu continued.

Wu highlighted economic development and historical and cultural backgrounds that promoted democracy. Democratic regimes in the western World required hundreds of years to develop. The United States proclaimed its independence in 1776 and the first presidential election was held in 1789, with only 4 percent of its citizens voting, because women, blacks and non-taxpayers did not have the right to vote. American women were not given the right until 1920. American blacks obtained their civil rights in the1960s, he pointed out.

"'Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity' was proposed during the French Revolution in 1789, but France gave women the right to vote only in 1945, 156 years after the revolution. I am simply stating the facts; I don't want to be hard on the US and France," Wu said.

Wu was the only speaker who won applause during the discussions. Not only many participants from developing countries, but also others from developed countries approved of Wu's views on democracy. The International Herald Tribune published excerpts from his speeches.

The debates on democracy in Davos hold great significance. These talks have proved that the world is reflecting upon democracy while also undergoing profound changes, according to Wu.

( by Yang Xi, February 5, 2008)


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