China has banished Bo but not the ‘bad emperor’ problem.

An article worth reading written by Francis Fukuyama: “China has banished Bo but not the “bad emperor” problem.

“For more than 2,000 years, the Chinese political system has been built around a highly sophisticated centralised bureaucracy, which has run what has always been a vast society through top-down methods. What China never developed was a rule of law; an independent legal institution that would limit the discretion of the government. What the Chinese substituted for formal checks on power was a bureaucracy bound by rules and customs that made its behaviour reasonably predictable, and a Confucian moral system that educated leaders to look to public interests rather than their own aggrandisement. This system is, in essence, the same one that operates today, with the Communist party taking the role of emperor.

The issue Chinese governments have never been able to solve is what was historically known as the “bad emperor” problem: while unchecked power in the hands of a benevolent and wise ruler has many advantages, how do you guarantee a supply of good emperors?

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