28 December 2021
Zhang Zuo, Ambassador of PR China
The Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) emphasized the development of whole-process people’s democracy. The essence of whole-process people’s democracy is to ensure the people’s status as masters of the country. This is a red line that runs through the major achievements and historical experience of the CPC in the past century. As President Xi Jinping pointed out on many international occasions, China’s whole-process people’s democracy is “the broadest, most genuine and most effective socialist democracy” , contributing Chinese wisdom and solutions to the practice of democratic politics.
First, persisting in advancing the construction of whole-process people’s democracy.
President Xi Jinping pointed out that “ Democracy is the common value of all mankind, and an important concept that the CPC and the Chinese people have consistently adhered to ”. Since its founding, the CPC has always held high the banner of people’s democracy, remained true to its original aspiration and mission of seeking happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation, and made unremitting exploration and struggle to ensure the people’s status as masters of the country. On October 1, 1949, the People’s Republic of China was founded. From then on, hundreds of millions of Chinese people have truly become the masters of the country, of society, and of their own fate. This is a great achievement in the construction of China’s socialist democratic politics and it is also a fundamental prerequisite for the further development of whole-process people’s democracy. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, a set of institutional systems was gradually established to ensure and support people’s status as masters of the country. During a visit to Hongqiao Street in Changning District, Shanghai in 2019, President Xi Jinping pointed out that people’s democracy is a whole-process democracy, leading China on a democratic road to develop whole-process people’s democracy.
The development of whole-process people’s democracy is a new form of political civilization created by China. Firstly, ensuring people’s status as masters of the country is the essence and core of Chinese democracy. The CPC has always adhered to the people-centered principle and the dominant status of the people. It has continuously deepened its understanding of the law of the development of democratic politics, ensuring that the concepts, principles, and policies of people’s democracy are implemented in all aspects of the country’s political and social life, and promoting the development of whole-process people’s democracy. Secondly, making use of institutional systems to ensure people’s status as masters of the country. The CPC has always insisted on governing for the people and relying on the people to govern, continue to promote the institutionalization, standardization and proceduralization of socialist democratic politics, and improve the comprehensive and consistent system of ensuring people’s status as masters of the country. China’s whole-process people’s democracy not only has complete system procedures, but also complete participation in practice. Thirdly, being equipped with the effective operation mechanism of whole-process people’s democracy. With the organic unity of the party’s leadership, the people being the masters of the country, and the rule of law, we integrates process-oriented democracy with results-oriented democracy, procedural democracy with substantive democracy, direct democracy with indirect democracy and people’s democracy with the will of the state. It is a model of socialist democracy that covers all aspects of the democratic process and all sectors of society. It is a true democracy that works. Fourthly, following the path of democratic development in line with the country’s national conditions. Embarking on the new journey of building a socialist modern country in an all-round way, there is a stronger confidence of Chinese people in Chinese democracy. China will continue to promote the building of whole-process people’s democracy, concretely and realistically reflect the principle of the people being masters of the country in the Party’s governance policies and measures, in all aspects of the work of Party and state organs at all levels, and in the efforts to meet the people’s expectation for a better life.
Second, building the all-round democracy involving complete institutional procedures.
People’s democracy is the glorious banner that the CPC has always held high. After a hundred years of hard work, especially since the reform and opening up, the CPC has led the people to form a complete institutional chain for the development of whole-process people’s democracy. China implements people’s democratic dictatorship and adheres to the unity of democracy and dictatorship to ensure the people’s status as masters of the country. In China, the people’s status as masters of the country is the bedrock of all the systems of the country, and underlies the operation of all the systems for state governance. Whole-process people’s democracy involves complete institutional procedures. On September 21, 2021, President Xi Jinping pointed out at the general debate of the 76th United Nations General Assembly that “Democracy is not the patent of any country, but the rights of the people of all countries”. The recent international situation has once again proved that external military intervention and so-called democratic transformation are extremely harmful. The complete institutional chain of whole-process people’s democracy is in line with the essence of people’s democracy, and it has a broad social foundation and great political potential.
China’s political system provides a comprehensive and reliable system guarantee for whole-process people’s democracy. Firstly, China adopts the System of People’s Congress. The National People’s Congress and local people’s congresses at all levels are the organs through which the people exercise state power. The distinctive feature and outstanding advantage of this basic political system of China is that the party’s propositions, the will of the people, and the will of the state are aligned through democratic elections and legislation.Secondly, China implements the System of Multiparty Cooperation and Political Consultation Under the Leadership of the CPC. In addition to the CPC, there are eight other political parties. China’s political party system is not a system of one-party rule. Nor is it one in which multiple parties vie for power and govern in turn. It is a multiparty cooperation system in which the CPC exercises state power. The other parties participate fully in the administration of state affairs under the leadership of the CPC. This system avoids the situation that parties and interest groups compete with each other for their own interests, and even harm each other, leading to the division of the society.Thirdly, China adopts the System of Regional Ethnic Autonomy. This is a great political creation to achieve ethnic equality and unity through democratic channels and forms, and is the fundamental choice of the path and basic system guarantee for solving ethnic problems with Chinese characteristics. The distinctive feature and outstanding advantage of this political system are to forge the sense of community for the Chinese nation and to guide the people of all ethnic groups to firmly establish a community concept of sharing weal and woe, honour and disgrace, life and death, and destiny. Fourthly, China implements the System of Community-Level Self-Governance. China applies a system of community-level self-governance represented by villagers autonomy, urban residents autonomy, and employees congresses. Under the leadership and support of community-level Party organizations, local residents directly exercise the democratic right to manage their own affairs by serving the community, undertaking self-education, and exercising public scrutiny. This effectively ensures that the people’s rights are genuinely respected.
Third, practicing the people-centered democracy that works.
The CPC has led the people to create a new form of political civilization called “whole-process people’s democracy”, which has become a splendid color in human political civilization.On July 6, 2021, at the CPC and World Political Parties Summit, President Xi Jinping pointed out that “There are different pathways toward wellbeing. People of all countries are entitled to choose their own development paths and institutional models. This, in itself, is what wellbeing entails.” Now, the entire Chinese population, almost one fifth of the world’s total, enjoys extensive rights and freedoms. 16,000 new companies are created; 1 billion people surf the internet, accessing news, communicating with other people, and expressing their views. China has become an open and free society, and socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. It is because whole-process people’s democracy has widely united the people’s powerful force to promote reform and development, the great creative spirit, the spirit of struggle and the spirit of unity of the Chinese people has been bursting forth like never before.
Whole-process people’s democracy in China is a complete system with supporting mechanisms and procedures, and has been fully tested through wide participation. Firstly, there is democratic participation in the whole process. Constitution stipulates that all power in the People’s Republic of China belongs to the people. China’s whole-process people’s democracy is a combination of electoral democracy and consultative democracy, and is applied through a combination of elections, consultations, decision-making, management and oversight, ensuring that the people’s voices are heard and their wishes are represented in every aspect of China’s political and social life. Secondly, there is democratic decision-making in the whole process. During its century-long journey, the CPC has always followed the principle of “from the people, to the people”, and has improved the decision-making mechanism that hears people’s voices, acts on their needs, and pools their ideas and strength, which features open-door legislation by the NPC, transparent decision-making by the government and grassroots decision-making. In this way, the country’s policies and initiatives fully ensure the people’s status as masters of the country. Thirdly, there is democratic management in the whole process. Enterprises and public institutions are run under democratic management through their employees congresses. The framework features disclosure of information on the affairs of enterprises, and systems for employees to serve on the board of directors and the board of supervisors. Residents in rural villages and urban communities directly exercise their democratic right to handle public affairs and public services in residential areas to which they belong through congresses. Associations, foundations, social services and other social organizations have become an important area of people’s democratic management in China. Fourthly, there is democratic oversight in the whole process. As the people exercise their rights as prescribed by the Constitution, they supervise state organs and public servants at all levels. With the oversight within the CPC and supervision by non-CPC political parties, people’s congresses, public opinion and citizens, China has established an efficient supervisory network.
Fourth, guaranteeing people’s participation in the most extensive democracy.
The core of electoral democracy is fair competition, and the core of consultative democracy is extensive participation. Elections in China are extensive and cover all aspects of the country’s political and social life. They include elections to government institutions, villagers and urban residents committees, and employees congresses in enterprises and public institutions. All citizens of the PRC who have reached the age of 18–with the exception of those persons deprived of political rights in accordance with the law–have the right to vote and stand for election. In accordance with the principles of universal suffrage, equal rights, multiple candidates, and secret ballot, deputies to people’s congresses at the township and county levels are elected directly by the public. Deputies to people’s congresses at the city, provincial and national levels are elected by people’s congresses at the next level below. Leading officials of state organs at various levels are appointed or elected by people’s congresses at the corresponding levels. Both urban and rural areas adopt the same ratio of deputies to the represented population in elections of deputies to people’s congresses. Since the initiation of reform and opening up in 1978, China has held 12 direct elections to people’s congresses at the township level and 11 direct elections to those at the county level, with a current participation rate of about 90 percent.
Democratic consultation is a special feature of democracy in China. Firstly, the system of democratic consultation has improved. China has explored and expanded consultation channels to include consultations carried out by political parties, people’s congresses, government departments, CPPCC committees, people’s organizations, social organizations, and communities. Democratic consultation involves all parties, organizations, ethnic groups, social groups and people from all walks of life. Various consultations cooperate with each other and complement each other’s advantages. Secondly, democratic consultation takes many forms. In making and implementing decisions on major issues concerning reform, development and stability, and on matters bearing on the vital interests of the people, China conducts extensive consultations in all fields and at levels through various channels, including proposals, conferences, discussions, seminars, hearings, assessments, consultations, the internet, and opinion polls. For example, during the drafting of the Recommendations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China for Formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development and Long-Range Objectives through the Year 2035, President Xi Jinping conducted extensive local inspections and surveys for many times, chaired 7 symposiums and widely solicited public opinions and suggestions in all fields. Thirdly, adhering to the law. Whenever a problem occurs, those concerned should always hold deliberations in good faith. Matters involving many people are discussed by all those involved. And reach the greatest common ground based on the wishes and needs of the whole of society. The CPPCC is composed of representatives from 34 sectors, including the CPC, the other political parties, the non-affiliates, people’s organizations, 56 ethnic groups, and five major religions. This composition highlights the unique advantages of democratic consultation. Fourthly, adhering to extensive participation. Making sure people fully exercise their democratic rights in everyday life. For example, during the drafting of the proposals for the 14th Five-year Plan, relevant authorities set up an online platform to solicit views and suggestions from people from all walks of life. A total of 1.018 million responses from netizens were collected. After the 14th Five-year Plan was passed, all relevant authorities are implemented effectively. The people’s demands can be freely expressed and effectively fulfilled.
Fifth, building the true democracy on the basis of equality.
Socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics has demonstrated its increasing vitality and influence. It has also demonstrated its distinctive characteristics and unique advantages in the competition and comparison with various democratic systems and values in the world. The fundamental reason for its success is that the CPC always committed in building a society in which everyone enjoys equal rights. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, China has been promoting gender equality, occupational equality, and ethnic equality to ensure everyone has the opportunity to achieve their own development through hard work. The Constitution of the People Republic of China states that all ethnic groups are equal, discrimination and oppression of any ethnic group are prohibited. The 56 ethnic groups in China are living a harmonious life. The concept of a shared community of Chinese nationals is becoming stronger. Since the initiation of reform and opening up in 1978, more than 600 million people in rural areas started an urban life, which has profoundly changed their life while promoting the country’s economic and social development. The average per-capita disposable income of both urban and rural residents increased from RMB 49.7 in 1949 to RMB 32000 in 2020. China has risen from an extremely poor and low income country to an upper-middle-income country.
Whole-process people’s democracy is the most authentic democracy built on equality. Firstly, upholding CPC’s leadership. The CPC has no special interests of its own, nor has it ever represented the interests of any individual interest group, any power group, or any privileged stratum. The leadership and governance of the CPC is to support and ensure the people’s status as masters of the country. The CPC has improved the system and mechanism for selecting and employing people, thus bringing together the brightest minds from all corners to make sure that talents in various fields enter the party’s leadership system and national governance system. Secondly, building the most broad and united front to pool the wisdom and strength of all parties and social groups, and promoting harmonious relations between political parties, between ethnic groups, between religions, between social groups and between Chinese people at home and overseas. This is the advantage and essence of Chinese model of democracy. It is also an important foundation for the development of whole-process people’s democracy. Thirdly, comprehensively advancing law-based governance. The CPC has upheld law-based governance and law-based exercise of state power. The CPC ensures that the people’s interests and wishes are reflected, their rights are protected, and their wellbeing is enhanced in every aspect throughout the entire process of law-based governance. The CPC has been strengthening legal protection for human rights, ensuring that the people enjoy extensive rights and freedom, ensuring the inviolability of citizens’ rights including personal rights, property rights, personality rights, and basic political rights. Fourthly, promoting common prosperity. The CPC upholds the people-centered development that fully mobilizes the initiative of the people, relies on their strength, and ensures that all share in the benefits. China has established the world’s largest social security system. The number of people covered by basic medical insurance has surpassed 1.3 billion, and the number of those covered by basic old-age insurance has now exceeded 1 billion. The entire country has shaken off absolute poverty, achieved remarkable successes in the fight against Covid-19, completed the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and steady progress has been made in achieving the free and well-rounded development of the individual and promoting common prosperity.
As the white book < China: Democracy That Works> released by the State Council Information Office of China said, “The answers to the questions of democracy will influence world peace and development and the future of all civilizations.” The Chinese people are willing to work together with all other peoples around the world to carry forward the common values of humanity – peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom. In a spirit of mutual respect and following the principle of seeking common ground while setting aside differences, we will add new elements to the world’s political structure and advance towards a global community of shared future together.
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