Why Chinese actually envy the US government shutdown

10/14/13
 
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from NBCNews.com,
10/13/13:

Perhaps the only people who have managed to find a silver lining in the ongoing U.S. government shutdown are Chinese intellectuals.

Of course, Americans view the impasse as a sign of political dysfunction. But to many Chinese commentators, it also reveals certain strengths. Since the shutdown began nine days ago, Chinese social media have been full of wistful, almost admiring remarks about how the shutdown could only happen in a democratic country with a resilient economy and responsive political representation.

“The government’s closed — is this bad?” wrote Chen Zhiwu, a user on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo. “In the American system, arguments among Republicans and Democrats and the president are normal and should happen because levying taxes, incurring debts, and paying expenses involves the taxpayer’s interests and their money. So, elected representatives and the president should not treat these things lightly. To take these matters seriously is their responsibility and duty.”

Many posts discussed how such a shutdown could never happen in China, because the country would immediately be plunged into chaos. The fact that many state and local government functions have continued despite the shutdown was a particular object of marvel. One Chinese author who resides in the U.S. expressed wonder that “in the days since the government closed, everybody is unconcerned.”

“The reason is simple,” he continued. “Just because the federal government shut down, that doesn’t mean the local government is shut down. The various levels of government do not depend on each other.” Alluding to Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” he concluded that “by understanding local autonomy, you understand America.”

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