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Mis-modelling Singapore: China's Challenges in Learning from the City-state

  • Mark R. Thompson (a1) and Stephan Ortmann (a2)
Abstract

Singapore exemplifies what China strives for: resilient authoritarianism despite advanced development with good governance and political stability. But lessons Chinese observers draw from the Southeast Asian city-state have been selective, leading to misconceptions. We focus on three key areas in which Chinese observers claim inspiration from the “Singapore model.” The first, Singapore's “Asian values” discourse which is seen to provide an ideological defense of non-democratic rule, overestimates the impact of top-down conservative culturalism while underestimating the difficulty of propagating Confucianism in officially still communist China. Second, while elections in Singapore are seen to bolster the ruling People Action Party's legitimacy in Singapore, they have been implemented to such a limited extent in China that any legitimation gain is unlikely. Finally, the chief lesson derived from Singapore's fight against corruption, the importance of a committed leadership, ignores the importance of the rule of law in Singapore, a legacy of colonialism very different from China's post-totalitarian trajectory.

作为中国所学效的对象,新加坡除了发展先进、治理良好和政治稳定,亦拥有具弹性的威权主义。但中国的观察员却只选择性的从东南亚城市国家中借鉴,而引致了误解。我们现针对三个中国观察员声称由新加坡模式所启发的重点领域。第一,新加坡论述的『亚洲价值观』只被看作为一个提供非民主统治意识形态的思想防线,高估了由上而下保守文化主义的影响,同时亦低估了一个在传播孔儒思想上困难但仍然正式实施共产主义的中国。第二,新加坡的选举仍被看作是支持执政人民行动党在新加坡的认受性,这些选举已经在中国有限度的实施,以使任何从中合法化获得利益都。最后,来自于新加坡主要的学习得到的教训为打击腐败,就是拥有一个坚定领导的重要性。新加坡法治的重要性是一个不容忽视的殖民主义遗产,这是与中国的后极权主义轨道截然不同的。

Copyright
Corresponding author
E-mail: mark.thompson@cityu.edu.hk (corresponding author).
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