Regarding your China by the numbers post. On the idea of "grass roots" or village democracy, there has just been an attempt at it in a small village called Taishi. Naturally, the idea of the villagers electing their own outside the authorised channels was squashed. Even more surprisingly, this wasn't really reported in the Western media. Here's some links to give you the background:
Taishi and China loses
It's really over for Taishi
Simon in Hong Kong"
While visiting the second link I noted your comment about the Hong Kong meeting to discuss Mainland politics that was canceled. To read that the mere acts of advertising a meeting and reporting on its cancellation are acts of courage in China is frightening.
Pundita finds nothing surprising in the Western media's reluctance to report on the rout of an attempt at democracy in China and the implications. If the Western media face the truth about China they must also face the truth about Western democracy.
The Western democratic nations didn't create repression in China but by acting as apologists and fellow travelers they did what the Chinese Communist Party could not: vetted China's repressive regime in the eyes of the world.
I wonder what the so-called advanced democracies thought they accomplished by that act? What did they accomplish in Burma? Iran? Saddam's Iraq? In Africa? Pakistan? Saudi Arabia? North Korea? The list goes on and on.
Those who would argue that betraying their most fundamental principles was the only way to open China to the rest of the world -- did they try any other way? Because it was never an either-or proposition.
Now the world is faced with a China who boasts of its economic success to poorer countries and touts repressive government as the way to success. So what can the bastions of democracy say in answer? After they spent decades aiding and abetting China's insistence on anti-democratic government?
One cannot survey the accomplishment of the democratic nations without feeling the horror voiced by the doctor at the end of the Bridge on the River Kwai. Madness. Absolute madness.