SÂO PAULO — The Chinese government is already making its first plans to celebrate the centenary of two momentous events in the country's history. Seven years from now, in 2021, the nation will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. Then in 2049, the country will celebrate the creation of the People's Republic of China in 1949 by Mao Zedong.

The two dates also help define the horizon of the reforms being implemented by the current government: the establishment of priority areas of development and free-trade zones, the end of the one-child policy, and the investments in the country's infrastructure and urbanization, as well as a series of administrative reforms.

Three aspects of the Chinese method to govern deserve notice by other leaders around the world. Firstly, the fact that government's initiatives are tested via pilot-projects before being implemented on a national scale. This allows Beijing to gain time and valuable experience in assessing the strong points and the shortcomings of a project.

Secondly, China focuses much of its energy in the country's research centers. Such a model of governance is at the root of the concept of scientific development that is ever more central in the public discourse by the country's leaders.

Finally, the reforms are carried out primarily with future generations in mind. "Each generation will reap what the former generation has sown," goes the Chinese saying. This explains why the successive political circles followed, to a certain extent, the *generational logic.

Some will say that the Chinese government is only efficient because it is a dictatorial regime, and thus takes decisions and executes them without any obstacle. Reality however is not that simple.

Democracy's risks

There always are obstacles. Corruption is the one that concerns the current government the most. Besides, China is not a dictatorship in the way that the democratic West usually pictures it. China is governed by a college of authorities, with alternations in power. The current rulers indeed are aiming to improve the judicial institutions as the population is seeing levels of development and openness unprecedented since the founding of the People's Republic.

Favela residential zone Parque do Gato, in Brazil. — Photo: Victor Moriyama/ZUMA

In Brazil, the situation is quite different. True, we are a democracy, we have one of the world's biggest economies — and we are in an election year. The potential candidates for the Presidency speak of nothing else than improving the efficiency in the management of the country's affairs. And right they are. After all, planning and executing projects aimed at improving the living conditions of the population has hardly been Brazil's strongpoint. 

In the debate on the administrations' management of state power, we would do well to learn from China: we could be more open to institutional experiments before implementing permanent changes across the whole territory, which would reduce the risks of wasting resources and having to rewrite bad legislation. 

We could increase the participation of Brazilian research centers in the planning and monitoring of government policies, giving increased legitimacy to the decisions that are taken. And finally, we could take a real pledge to improve our citizens' future with long-term plans protected from the vicissitudes of politics.

But that would still not be enough. The massive demonstrations across Brazil last year sent an important alert to the entire political class, and tensions still vivid today. More efficiency in administration must come with more democracy, so that one favors the other.

An inefficient democracy could instead have the opposite effect, paving the way for authoritarian governments. Not even China is going in that direction anymore.