China must avoid 'trap' of Western-style democracy: State media

BEIJING (AFP) - China must beware the "trap" of Western-style democracy, the ruling Communist Party's flagship newspaper said on Monday, days after the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

"'Street politics' often leads to civil unrest and even civil war," the paper warned in a Chinese-language commentary signed by Mi Bohua, a senior editor at the paper.

"From West Asia and North Africa to Ukraine and Thailand, each one without exception was led astray onto the path of 'Western-style democracy' - and each has seen street politics escalate from rallies and demonstrations to armed conflict," it said.

"In most of these countries' street politics, whether openly or behind the scenes, American and Western forces have been involved," the party mouthpiece added.

"If we remain on guard against the trap of Western-style democracy, persist in reform and opening-up, and continue on the path of political development with Chinese characteristics, no one can stop China's peaceful rise." While the paper made no mention of Tiananmen, the editorial comes days after the 25th anniversary of the June 1989 crackdown.

Hundreds of people - by some estimates, more than a thousand - died after the Communist Party sent tanks to crush demonstrations in the heart of Beijing.

The crackdown followed a peaceful seven-week sit-in staged by student-led protesters demanding democratic reforms.

China has forbidden all public discussion of Tiananmen, and any references to the crackdown are swiftly censored from the country's popular online social networks.

Beijing swept up dozens of Chinese rights campaigners, lawyers, journalists and victims' relatives in the weeks leading up to the anniversary, and even private efforts to commemorate the date have triggered detentions.

The Communist Party's powerful 1980s leader, Deng Xiaoping, pursued economic reforms while keeping tight restrictions on any political dissent - a path followed by subsequent leaders to this day, including current President Xi Jinping.

In a speech during a trip to Germany in April, Xi said that while China had experimented with parliamentary and multi-party systems in the past, "none of them worked".

"Finally," Xi said, "China took on the path of socialism." The People's Daily echoed that sentiment, contrasting China's political development with the "colour revolutions" that have taken place in other countries in recent years.

"Happily, we have adhered to socialism with Chinese characteristics," it said. "Otherwise, how could China have peace and prosperity?"

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