I found this not only a great answer to the question but also an excellent argument against arbitrary regime change, no matter how noble the aims.
Answer by Shuhao Liu:
As a computer science major, I would like to make an analogy.
The Internet architecture is based on TCP/IP protocol stack, right now. At the dawn age of the Internet, the designers didn’t expect to have many users. They assigned 4 bytes to indicate the addresses in, which means 4294967296 addresses in total (some of them are reserved for special use). They thought it would be enough for each Internet user to have a unique address. However, the fact is that the Internet turned out to be a revolution around the world and the small pool of address resources was quickly exhausted. Then the released as a successor standard to replace IPv4 in 1998, when IPv4 was already widely deployed. Now in 2014, 16 years after IPv6’s formalization, IPv4 is still dominating the Internet.
Why? Is it because IPv6 is not good enough? The answer is no. IPv6 seems a great solution to many of the practical problems in today’s Internet, but the major issue of its deployment is the cost. Pushing the entire Internet, which is one of the greatest systems in human’s history, into IPv6 era requires shutting down and replacing all devices that are not compatible. This would incur instability in the Internet. Nobody can promise that the instant upgrading process is safe enough for important businesses that rely on the Internet as an infrastructure. On the other hand, IPv4 works just fine. The intelligent engineers and computer scientists have came up with tons of solutions to overcome its problems without destabilizing the infrastructure, though with performance trade-offs compared with IPv6. It is not the end of world. On the contrary, the Internet based on IPv4 is still evolving, providing users with more powerful services.
OK. Now it is time to get back to our question. “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” VS “Democracy”? In China, the outcome of this contest is even more obvious than IPv4 VS IPv6, provided that nobody is able to prove democracy is absolutely better than “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” in China. Both China’s hard power and soft power is growing rapidly. Why should they “deploy democracy” instantly at the risk of shaking the infrastructure of the society? Though there exist many practical issues, is it already end of the world? I don’t think so. On the contrary, most Chinese people are living a better life now.
If you think democracy is good, that is okay. Revolutionizing the entire system requires real urgency, when the society is ready to pay the cost. But now, the Chinese system works just fine.