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Whole-process democracy an ideal system

By Liu Dongchao | China Daily | Updated: 2021-06-22 07:24


As the country marks the 100th year of the founding of the Communist Party of China, let us take a look at the history of the Party and China's democracy. During his inspection tour in Shanghai in November 2019, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said that people's democracy followed by China is "whole-process democracy" and in line with socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics.

The amendments to the National People's Congress Organization Law and the National People's Congress Rules of Procedure were adopted at the Fourth Session of the 13th National People's Congress, the top legislature, in March. And whole-process democracy was written into both the amendments, showing that Chinese-style democracy has been advancing in a whole-process democratic direction.

Democracy in China has developed according to the country's national conditions, drawing on historical lessons and the experiences of other countries. Whole-process democracy is a new form of democracy that the Chinese people found best suited their national conditions.

First, whole-process democracy transcends Western-style democracy in that the latter represents only the rights and interests of a small number of people, especially the upper class. By contrast, whole-process democracy is geared toward safeguarding the rights and interests of all the Chinese people, thus making it truly representational in nature.

A typical example of such representation is that the deputies to the NPC and members of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee are selected from all over the country, covering various industries, ethnic groups, social groups and regions. The NPC is the highest organ of State power in China and the CPPCC National Committee is the highest political advisory body which promotes multi-party cooperation and political consultation.

Second, an important characteristic of Western-style democracy is that it becomes highly representational during elections, but once the elections are over, democratic practices start declining. In comparison, whole-process democracy tries to integrate democracy into the whole process of public life, including the electoral, decision-making, management, supervision and consultation processes, all of which are different but combine to form an integral chain.

Third, whole-process democracy has greater authenticity, as it promotes diverse consultation activities, which are conducted by the people at the community level, and community-level opinions are directly transmitted to the top legislature and executive organs. Also, deliberations and discussions are held before major decisions are made.

Fourth, whole-process democracy is more efficient than other forms of democracy. All forms of democracy have an instrumental aspect that safeguards public interests and public services, and the level of efficiency with which it provides those services is closely related to the design and organization of democratic institutions.

Whole-process democracy is aimed at improving the operational efficiency and results of those services and thus guarantees the people a better life. It also focuses on protecting some details and dispensable links to improve work efficiency, and tries to play as big a role as possible in decision-making and other important areas to realize better outcomes.

The basis of whole-process democracy is the democratic system formed under the leadership of the CPC during the war years and the 28 years after the founding of the People's Republic of China. But its operational achievements have been mainly formed through repeated practice and long-term explorations after the launch of reform and opening-up. As such, deliberative democracy is an important part of whole-process democracy.

Way back in the 1980s, the 13th National Congress of the CPC put forward the idea of "establishing a system of social consultation and dialogue". And in 2017, the 19th National Congress of the CPC proposed to "give play to the important role of socialist consultative democracy". After more than 30 years of exploration, deliberative democracy, as an important part of Chinese-style democracy, has gained a solid institutional recognition in Chinese society. It has played an active role at all levels of society, and helped the country make great democratic achievements in multiple fields.

The core concept and specific design of a democratic system should be in line with the national conditions of a country, in order to facilitate the progress of the entire society and improve the well-being of the people. And whole-process democracy is very much in line with China's national conditions.

Given China's huge population and complex population structure, to protect the rights and interests of people from all walks of life, the country should have a real people-centered political system while carrying out extensive and effective multilateral and multi-level consultations to find the common denominator so as to ensure people's interests are fully protected. And whole-process democracy does exactly that.

China's political system has developed from the Chinese people's long struggle, and multi-party cooperation system is one of its basic features. And whole-process democracy is a form of democracy that emerged thanks to the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, fits in with China's political system and is being successfully practiced in China, and continues to develop along with socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The author is a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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