UNIQUE CIVILISATION: There’s no point judging it by liberal norms

THIS month provided a beauty contest between the two most important powers on the planet right now: America and China. On Nov 6, the United States chose President Barack Obama for a second term in an exciting election that reverberated worldwide.

A week later, the 18th congress of the Communist Party in Beijing began a once-in-a-decade leadership change that lacked for nothing except suspense. Xi Jinping was inaugurated as general secretary on Nov 15. It had been known for some time that he would rise to that pinnacle and become China’s president.

Through narrow Western eyes, the comparison was made as invidious as possible. According to Dominique Moisi, founder of the French Institute of International Affairs, November brought “two victories: not just Obama’s over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the presidential election, but also the victory of America’s democratic system over China’s one-party authoritarianism”.

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