Some sense from Tim Garton Ash.
Practice lags far behind this theory. Any Chinese lawyer can tell you how far away the country is from having an independent judiciary. And its ruling authorities, though no longer communist in anything but name, are in one vital sense still Leninist: that is, uncompromisingly defending their monopoly of political power. Nonetheless, in political reforms too, the direction of travel is encouraging.
If we in the rest of the world have any sense, we will encourage it with every means at our disposal – starting from the aims set by Chinese reformers themselves. Rather than saying, "No, this can\’t work, what you need is western-style multi-party democracy", we should say, "Right, for strengthening the rule of law, here\’s this detailed body of experience; for a more professional civil service, we have this useful method". We will achieve more by offering a complex toolkit for good governance and the rule of law, including human and civil rights, rather than a single template for democracy.
Democracy is, at heart, whether you can throw the bastards out. Sure, it\’s both important and desirable. But nowhere near as important as having the rule of law, not men.