Hi, IMO this a question which can have too many answers and opinions. I think the best way to tackle it is to look at the basic requirements of the democratic systems and how they relate to early republican China.
Here's what I think.
I. Democracies need commitment from the overwhelming majority to support the democratic process. From all sectors of society including ethnic and political divisions. Democracy is most difficult to apply where there are deep ethnic, social and political divisions.
2. Losers must accept the mandate of winners.
3. Winners must respect the aspirations of the losers.
4. Democracies require maturity in political thinking.
5. Democracy is like a piece of iron. Once exposed it will slowly rust away to nothing unless protective measures are in place. Like the absolute rule of law and human rights. Democracy can be easily exploited if not protected.
6. Empowerment of all stratas of society in both the political and economic sense.
I don't think any of these points I make were in place when China first became a Republic or managed to develop. Old attitudes were too entrenched. Democracy never really had a chance and all too difficult. The two major political forces(KMT and Communists) that developed during this period were never commited to democracy. At best it would have become one of those phony democracies that are all too common these days. Russia is a prime example.
There still is a chance democracy will appear in China. And the current political climate is perhaps the best it has ever been for this to happen. But still a long way to go.
generally agree with this.
the problem with democracy in china is that people just don't understand and respect democratic process, and most important of all - rule of law. democracy requires a solid system of rule of law and people's tolerance for dissenting views, these two benchmarks fail miserably in china, whether back then or now. another major factor is the chinese culture, people have simply been under imperial rule for too long there is little to no sense of individualism or personal rights, the submissive attitude to rulers is ingrained in the genes.
if you watched 走向共和, Mr. Sun had to travel around the country and educate everybody on voting and rights and stuff but still no one gives a d****. I know its just a film but it mirrors perfectly the main issues with democratization.
and I am not too obsessed with the term "middle class", long as people abide by laws and understand the process there need not be enough middle class, and vice versa.
so it all boils down to the people, think of it as a software release, besides the hard work on the core programming the developer usually has to put equal amount of efforts into beta testing and patching, on top of that they need to attach a complete documentation and make tutorial videos and such so that users can accept this particular software to be their everyday tool.
I believe theres a consensus amongst the leadership on progressive approach, I can see this in Mr. Hu's latest speech. given china's huge population and cultural and ideological diversity, grand plans would be nigh on impossible to implement let alone work, copy-paste a foreign system would likely have catastrophic result (I too thought this was bullshit propaganda but the more I inspect and analyse the chinese society the more I trust this to be quiet correct).