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Even if you want to argue that a republican system of government involving universal suffrage is not always successful (and I agree that this is true; many, many Third World nations, including South Africa, provide evidence that corrupt, incompetent and selfish governments can be completely representative and also completely useless), I still think that freedom (including the freedom to criticise one's own government) is a worthwhile value, and one which mainland China still lacks more than almost any nation on earth.|
Even during the darkest periods of recent Western history, basic freedoms of expression have been largely upheld. During the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1960's, criticism of the UK government was not forbidden by Westminster. Publishing politically incorrect books, making critical public statements was not in itself grounds for arrest or censorship. Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams published a number of anti-Crown republican screeds over the decades, thousands of copies of which were printed by London publishing houses.
Whereas in mainland China today, non-violent critics of the Party are routinely placed under house arrest or imprisoned, despite the fact that China faces no organised political uprising.
"Get real, western freedom, what a joke."
At least in the West, we have the freedom to publicly denounce our government, something which is impossible in China. You can criticise corruption, yes, corrupt officials, yes, but if you go out into the town square with a banner declaring "打倒共匪" you will be bundled away in 公安 van very, very quickly.
If a country fails the town square test, it isn't really free.