Wangchuck is Washington-like
The Beijing News: It's quite rare in history that a king supports democratic reform that would restrain his own power. Generally speaking, people in power will never cease pursuing absolute power, and democracy comes via struggles. So, what about Bhutan? How should we understand it?
Wang Zhanyang: The senior King resembles George Washington. Washington gave up his chance of ruling America as a king. The King of Bhutan has handed over his power; they’re essentially the same.
The secret lies in the senior King's values, i.e. universal eudaemonism: the doctrine that the basis of moral obligations is to be found in the tendency of right actions to produce happiness. His version, called GNH, is a world-class invention. What does kingship mean? No doubt, for most it symbolizes fortune and power but this is clearly devalued from the perspective of eudemonism. The senior King once said: "The rich are not always happy." Happiness is more important than fortune. He said: "Even a good monarchy sometimes can be considered an autocratic government." He felt that he'd be mentally fettered if he continued as king. In his eyes, power is not as important as happiness. Under this situation, the king turned to democracy, a unity of altruism and egoism.
The Beijing News: Aren't you exaggerating the morals of the king? It seems that the theory of "power through struggles" has been subverted.
Wang Zhanyang: Yes. It's an ultimate subversion. If a man always desires power and fortune, then he will hold onto his power tightly, inevitably people have to fight him to wrest it away. For top-down democratic reform, the hardest thing is to free people in power from the grip of the principle of "power is above the law".
: We can't simply label the King extremely noble. Maybe he didn't wish to give up all his powers. What he did was only the result of international and regional influences.
Internationally, the trend of global democratization is impacting many countries. Regionally, a parliamentary democratic system has been set up in India. According to their bilateral treaties, Bhutan should accept the guidance of India, in terms of foreign affairs and safety. Actually, in many fields, including democratic values and political systems, India controls Bhutan.
And Bhutan also feels influence from Nepal. As the democratization wave surges, the call for democracy has forced the king to hand over partial power, thus turning absolute monarchy into constitutional monarchy. It's a wise move for the Bhutan king to change actively instead of passively.
The Beijing News: Do you agree, Prof. Wang?
Wang Zhanyang: I’m afraid I don't think so. Bhutan has its own ways of dealing with India, even though it is rather influential. India started a democratic movement in 1947, but Bhutan did nothing. We can't say that India's influence only began to go into effect 50 years later; that's unreasonable.