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All governments practise information control. The Chinese government use blatant information control, which is of course inferior to the US system of media-spinned lies. Sure, a handful of activists in US are allowed to write truths on the internet to attest to the "democratic" nature of the country, but the large population of USA was kept in the dark. Even then, some of the activists are marginalized to make them appear ridiculous.
I would like to make a point. You wrote: "Our democratic homeland"....
You did not distinguish between whether you are referring to the government or the people. To say that the government of the US has flaws is probably the biggest understatement (yet) of this millienium. I would submit that the current government of the USA is a total perversion of (your) founding father's constitution. The US Constitution is another story. It is well-intended and in the first few centuries of its execution, did allow for domestic democracy WHEN the economy can support it. I really like it, although it is idealistic, but such is the nature of the american people
You see, that is why I made the comment of a country of that scale NOT suitable to a democracy. During your nation building state, it is possible because there were places to fill in (the west). But when the domestic economy saturate, and when necessary the attention of the government had to turn outward, it create a problem. Either the government had to perverse the constitution so that it can gain more freedom, or it must be shackled by the popular views of the public. That the american public are over idealistic on the issue of moral must have suffocated the government.
You see, on a broad scale, it is all very simple. Democracy + a capitalist demograph allows for rapid domestic economy expansion. But when this economy reach saturation, two options present itself. Either the domestic growth be scaleback, or the government have to look for resource elsewhere. Apparently the US choose the later but soon discover the world a complex place where the welfare of the american people are not always put on the top priorities (and rightly so, the government should answer first to their own people). It inevitably led to interventionism. And because the people back home cannot stomach the concept of invasion or playing fast and loose with the rules, the government is forced to lie to the people. In any case, expansion wouldn't work. All imperialistic ambition always results in the collapse of the empire. The correct option when the two options present themselves is always the scaleback domestically. A revolution or two could be healthy. But anyway...
We don't see the chinese government as any less transparent than the US government. Of course, westerners are hampered by their inability to interpret some of the more subtle naunces of the chinese government gestures, and that can cause insecurity, which is understandable. If it is of any help, I can offer a simple psycho-analisys of how the chinese government (in general) works:
1. Economy first: Hungry peasants make for unpleansant citizens. Nothing is off the table when it comes to keeping the peasantry satisfied and well-fed.
2. Before the media spin skills catch-up, all western media will be filtered (and rightly so) before going to the chinese citizen.
3. Non-interventionist. Do not meddle in anything unless it conflicts with our interests.
That's about it. You might be tempted to ask me the question what will happen when the domestic chinese economy saturated like what happened in a lot of empires. I dare not say for the future generation, but in the past, our ancestors have always scale-back. There will be uprising, wars, etc to set back the population and economy. Sometimes the foreigh invaders do the job (Mongolians and Manchurians).
sockmonkey, if you have the opportunity, return to China. Live in the country a while longer. The silence of the chinese government might need some getting used to, but it can be a soothing non-presence and a liberating experience. The chinese themselves are noisy enough to make up for their government.