People are the center of democracy, says Chinese ambassador to U.S.

Xinhua Updated: 2021-09-23

WASHINGTON -- "A basic criterion of democracy should be whether the people have the right to govern their country, whether their needs are met, and whether they have a sense of fulfillment and happiness. At the center of democracy is people," said Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang on Wednesday.

"Whether a system is democratic depends on whether it can represent the overall interests of the people and whether the people are satisfied. Democracy is not for embellishment; it should deliver," said Qin in his speech at a virtual conversation jointly held by the Carter Center and the George H.W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations.

"Thanks to generations of Chinese and American leaders and people, China-U.S. relations have made remarkable progress. However, today, some Americans' misunderstanding and misjudgment about China is building up," he said.

"A fundamental one is to define America's relations with China as democracy versus authoritarianism, and to stoke up ideological confrontation, which has led to serious difficulties in China-U.S. relations," he said.

Abraham Lincoln took a people-centered approach to governance understood by his famous saying, "of the people, by the people, for the people," said the ambassador, adding that China's socialist whole-process democracy shall be understood as "from the people, to the people, with the people, for the people."

"The idea of people first has been deep in the genes of the Chinese since ancient times," he said, adding that the Communist Party of China, as the governing party, has remained faithful to its founding mission: people-centered, and serving the people whole-heartedly.

"What China has today is whole-process democracy. China's Constitution prescribes that all power belongs to the people. The people have the right to election, and they can be broadly involved in national governance according to law," said Qin.

The Chinese people exercise state power through the National People's Congress and local people's congresses at different levels, equivalent to America's Congress and state legislatures, he said.

"China also has a unique political consultation system and corresponding institutions, which are important ways for the people to exercise democracy," he said.

Any matters that concern people's interests are broadly discussed by the people's congress, the government, the political consultative conference, social organizations and industry associations, before major decisions are made, to make sure what the people want is reflected in the final decisions, he said.

In China, government officials attend several meetings and carry out field visits. Meetings are for discussing problems and exploring solutions, and field visits are for getting firsthand knowledge of things on the ground, he said.

In China, Qin said, the rights and freedoms of the Chinese are fully protected by the Constitution, absolute poverty has become a thing of the past, almost every Chinese has basic medical insurance and old-age pension insurance, and COVID-19 has been basically put under control in China with 1.1 billion people fully vaccinated.

"I'm not saying China is perfect. There are many difficulties and challenges on our way ahead, such as how to make our development more balanced and adequate, and ensure fairness and justice in a market economy," said Qin.

"We are deepening reform, improving socialist democracy, and modernizing national governance. These efforts are to meet the people's aspiration for a better life and make greater contribution to mankind," he added.

"China and the United States are different in history, culture and political system ... Our two countries should not and cannot change each other. Instead, we should break ideological barriers, discard zero-sum mentality, respect other countries, and accommodate each other without losing our own distinctions, so as to get along with each other in peace," said the ambassador.

Stressing the need for both countries to have a broad vision and shoulder great responsibilities, the ambassador said China and the United States "should look ahead and press forward, and bring China-U.S. relations back to the right track of stable development as soon as possible, for the good of the people in both countries and around the world."

"Let's demonstrate strategic courage and political resolve to chart a new course in China-U.S. relations," Qin said. 

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