Full Text: China: Democracy That Works

Xinhua Updated: 2021-12-04

BEIJING - China's State Council Information Office on Saturday released a white paper titled "China: Democracy That Works."

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Full Text: China: Democracy That Works

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China: Democracy That Works

The State Council Information Office of the

People's Republic of China




I. Whole-Process People's Democracy Under CPC Leadership

II. A Sound Institutional Framework

III. Concrete and Pragmatic Practices

IV. Democracy That Works

V. A New Model of Democracy



Democracy is a common value of humanity and an ideal that has always been cherished by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese people.

This year marks the centenary of the CPC. Since its founding in 1921, the Party has taken wellbeing for the Chinese people and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation as its abiding goals, and has made continuous efforts to ensure the people's status as masters of the country. China is a country with a feudal history dating back several thousand years that descended into a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society after the Opium War of 1840. Over the past hundred years, the Party has led the people in realizing people's democracy in China. The Chinese people now truly hold in their hands their own future and that of society and the country.

The people's status as masters of the country is the essence of people's democracy. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, with a deeper understanding of China's path to democracy and the political system, the Party has developed whole-process people's democracy as a key concept and striven to translate it and relevant democratic values into effective institutions and concrete actions.

Whole-process people's democracy 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.

Democracy is a concrete phenomenon that is constantly evolving. Rooted in history, culture and tradition, it takes diverse forms and develops along the paths chosen by different peoples based on their exploration and innovation.

The best way to evaluate whether a country's political system is democratic and efficient is to observe whether the succession of its leaders is orderly and in line with the law, whether all the people can manage state and social affairs and economic and cultural undertakings in conformity with legal provisions, whether the public can express their requirements without hindrance, whether all sectors can efficiently participate in the country's political affairs, whether national decision-making can be conducted in a rational and democratic way, whether people of high caliber in all fields can be part of the national leadership and administrative systems through fair competition, whether the governing party is in charge of state affairs in accordance with the Constitution and the law, and whether the exercise of power can be kept under effective restraint and supervision.

Democracy is not a decorative ornament, but an instrument for addressing the issues that concern the people. Whether a country is democratic depends on whether its people are truly the masters of the country; whether the people have the right to vote, and more importantly, the right to participate extensively; whether they have been given verbal promises in elections, and more importantly, how many of these promises are fulfilled after elections; whether there are set political procedures and rules in state systems and laws, and more importantly, whether these systems and laws are truly enforced; whether the rules and procedures for the exercise of power are democratic, and more importantly, whether the exercise of power is genuinely subject to public scrutiny and checks.

Democracy is the right of the people in every country, rather than the prerogative of a few nations. Whether a country is democratic should be judged by its people, not dictated by a handful of outsiders. Whether a country is democratic should be acknowledged by the international community, not arbitrarily decided by a few self-appointed judges. There is no fixed model of democracy; it manifests itself in many forms. Assessing the myriad political systems in the world against a single yardstick and examining diverse political structures in monochrome are in themselves undemocratic.

In the richly diverse world, democracy comes in many forms. China's democracy is thriving alongside those of other countries in the garden of civilizations. China stands ready to contribute its experience and strength to global political progress through cooperation and mutual learning.

I. Whole-Process People's Democracy Under CPC Leadership

China is a diligent and wise nation with a long history. It has created a brilliant political civilization. All of five thousand years ago, ancient Chinese began to explore the concept that people are the foundation of a state. Their ideas contained the seeds of what we know today as democracy. However, over the centuries of feudal autocracy, the people were always the oppressed and exploited underclass.

After the 1840s, China gradually descended into a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society. There was no popular democracy at all and the country was on the verge of collapse. The people stood up and fought to salvage their country. Revolution and reform were attempted, and many plans for saving the country were introduced, none of which succeeded.

Following the Revolution of 1911, the Chinese people made numerous attempts to introduce the Western political systems, including the parliamentary system, multiparty system, and presidential system, all of which ended in failure.

The rise of the New Culture Movement championing democracy and science, the victory of the October Revolution in Russia, the May 4th Movement, and the spread of Marxism in China, began to awaken the Chinese people, and progressive individuals gained a deeper understanding of democracy and came up with new ideas.

The founding of the CPC in 1921 was like a beacon, illuminating the way towards democracy in China.

During the New Democratic Revolution (1919-1949), the Party led the people in their tenacious fight for democracy, resisting oppression and exploitation in the course of their struggle. Ultimately, victory was secured in the revolution.

On October 1, 1949, the People's Republic of China (PRC) was founded. This marked the ultimate transformation of the country from the rule of feudal autocracy, which had been in existence for several thousand years, to a people's democracy. It proclaimed that the Chinese people had stood upright. It ushered in a new era for democracy in China. It turned a dream into reality – the people running their own country.

During socialist revolution and reconstruction (1949-1978), the CPC united and led the people in:

•building and consolidating state power;

•completing the socialist transformation of the means of production;

•promulgating the first Constitution of the PRC;

•establishing the system of people's congresses, the system of CPC-led multiparty cooperation and political consultation, and the system of regional ethnic autonomy.

The political structure, economic foundation, legal principles, and institutional framework for the people to run their country were all put in place and have since developed steadily. China's tower of democracy was built on strong foundations and stands tall.

In the years of reform, opening up and socialist modernization after 1978, the Party led the people in advancing socialist democracy and the rule of law, sticking to the path of socialist political progress with Chinese characteristics.

It ensured the Party's leadership, the people's status as masters of the country, and law-based governance, and advanced reform of the political structure in an active and steady manner. The system of people's congresses was consolidated and developed. The system of CPC-led multiparty cooperation and political consultation, the system of regional ethnic autonomy, the system of community-level self-governance, and other basic political systems were improved.

The political and institutional guarantees and material conditions for developing democracy were reinforced.

Since the Party's 18th National Congress in 2012, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. The CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core has built a keen understanding of how the principal challenge facing Chinese society has changed. It has worked hard to respond to the people's new requirements and expectations for democracy. After drawing on past experience in maintaining order and stability across the world, and reviewing China's progress in democracy, the CPC decided to develop whole-process people's democracy, beginning a new stage of democracy. Some of the most important achievements are:

•strengthening the CPC's overall leadership, reforming Party and government institutions, and reinforcing the Party's leadership over the development of whole-process people's democracy;

•modernizing China's governance system and capacity;

•establishing and upholding the fundamental, basic, and important systems of Chinese socialism, with a more complete institutional framework to ensure the people's status as masters of the country;

•advancing democratic elections, consultations, decision-making, management, and oversight, progressing electoral democracy and consultative democracy side by side, and expanding the people's orderly political participation and the scope of democracy;

•consolidating the people's principal position in the country's political and social life;

•leveraging the institutional strengths of Chinese socialism;

•promoting political stability, unity and vitality;

•building a nationwide force towards the country's goals in the new era;

•achieving a strategic success in the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic;

•ending absolute poverty, and completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

China has addressed major risks and set out on a new journey towards a modern socialist country and common prosperity, demonstrating the viability and strength of whole-process people's democracy. The Chinese people have greater confidence in China's democracy, and can now look forward to a bright future.

Whole-process people's democracy is a creation of the CPC in leading the people to pursue, develop and realize democracy, embodying the Party's innovation in advancing China's democratic theories, systems and practices. The Party's history of struggle is a course of rallying the people and leading them to explore, establish and develop whole-process people's democracy. It is a logical outcome of history, theory and practice based on the strenuous efforts of the people under the leadership of the Party. It is a requisite for maintaining the very nature of the Party and fulfilling its fundamental purpose.

Whole-process people's democracy, giving full expression to the socialist nature of the state and the people's principal position, serves to better represent the people's will, protect their rights and fully unleash their potential to create. Whole-process people's democracy has formed and developed in a nationwide effort, led by the CPC, to strive for national independence, the country's prosperity, and the people's liberation and wellbeing. It is rooted in this vast land, nourished by the culture and traditions of the Chinese civilization, and draws on the achievements of human civilization. Suited to the conditions in China and embraced by the people, it has solid foundations and a bright future.

Whole-process people's democracy is a complete system with supporting mechanisms and procedures, and has been fully tested through wide participation. It integrates two major democratic models – electoral democracy and consultative democracy. It operates a democratic system covering a population of more than 1.4 billion from 56 ethnic groups of a vast country, making possible the wide and sustained participation of all its people. Whole-process people's democracy has distinctive Chinese characteristics; it also exemplifies common values and contributes China's ideas and solutions to the political progress of humanity.

CPC leadership is the fundamental guarantee for whole-process people's democracy. It is no easy job for a country as big as China to fully represent and address the concerns of its 1.4 billion people. It must have a robust and centralized leadership.

Committed to people-centered development and ensuring their principal status to run the country, the CPC governs for the people and by relying on the people. The CPC plays to the full its role as overall leader and coordinator in all areas of endeavor in every part of the country, to ensure that the people run the country effectively and that the people's democracy is an overarching philosophy, principle and policy in the country's political and social life.

The CPC follows the mass line – it is committed to doing everything for the people and relying on them, and follows the principle of "from the people, to the people". It maintains close ties with the people and pools their wisdom and strength.

The CPC upholds democracy within the Party and practices democratic elections, decision-making, management and oversight, to better serve the development of people's democracy. The CPC has improved its mechanism for selecting and appointing officials, enabling outstanding individuals in all sectors to enter the Party leadership teams and the government, and ensuring that the leadership of the Party and the state rests in the hands of those loyal to Marxism, the Party, and the people.

The CPC upholds law-based governance of the country. It exercises leadership over legislation, guarantees law enforcement, supports judicial justice, and plays an exemplary role in abiding by the law. Through advancing the rule of law, the Party ensures that its policies are effectively implemented and that the people run the country as its masters.

II. A Sound Institutional Framework

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. These well-coordinated and comprehensive institutional procedures serve to put into place diverse, open, and well-organized democratic channels to ensure that the Party's policies and the state will are integrated with the people's aspirations, and that the people are masters of the country.

1.The Governing System of the People's Democratic Dictatorship

The Constitution describes China as a socialist country governed by a people's democratic dictatorship that is led by the working class and based on an alliance of workers and peasants. The fundamental nature of the state is defined by the people's democratic dictatorship.

China upholds the unity of democracy and dictatorship to ensure the people's status as masters of the country. On the one hand, all power of the state belongs to the people to ensure that they administer state affairs and manage economic and cultural undertakings and social affairs through various channels and in various ways in accordance with the Constitution and laws; on the other hand, China takes resolute action against any attempt to subvert the country's political power or endanger public or state security, to uphold the dignity and order of law and safeguard the interests of the people and the state. Democracy and dictatorship appear to be a contradiction in terms, but together they ensure the people's status as masters of the country. A tiny minority is sanctioned in the interests of the great majority, and "dictatorship" serves democracy.

2.The Governing Structure of the System of People's Congresses

The system of people's congresses, an organizational form of political power compatible with the governing system of the people's democratic dictatorship, is China's fundamental political system, and the ultimate approach and optimal solution to guaranteeing the people's status as masters of the country. It is also an important institutional support to whole-process people's democracy. Under this system, all power of the state belongs to the people to guarantee their status as masters of the country. At the same time, it integrates the Party's leadership, the people's principal position, and the rule of law, to help the country avoid the historical cycle of rise and fall of ruling orders apparent through the centuries of imperial dynasty. Under this system, all the major political relationships with a bearing on the nation's future are properly managed, and all social undertakings operate under the effective centralized organization of the state. This maintains national unity and ethnic solidarity, and ensures that vigor, stability and order prevail in the country's political life.

The people exercise state power effectively through people's congresses; people's congresses exercise state power collectively on behalf of the people. The National People's Congress (NPC) is the highest organ of state power. Local people's congresses at all levels are local agencies of state power. All administrative, supervisory, judicial, and procuratorial organs of the state are created by the people's congresses, to which they are responsible and by which they are supervised.

The people's congresses have four main functions and powers:

•Legislation. The NPC and its Standing Committee exercise the legislative power of the state. The NPC exercises the powers and functions to amend the Constitution and enact and amend basic laws governing criminal offenses, civil affairs, state agencies and other matters;

•Appointment and removal of officials. The NPC exercises the powers and functions to appoint or remove the president and vice president(s) of the PRC, the premier, vice premier(s) and other members of the State Council, the chairperson and other members of the Central Military Commission, the chairperson of the National Supervisory Commission, the president of the Supreme People's Court, and the procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate;

•Decision-making. The NPC exercises the powers and functions to examine and approve major issues significant to national development and the interests of the people, such as the plan for national economic and social development and the report on its implementation, and state budget and the report on its implementation;

•Supervision. The NPC and its Standing Committee exercise the right of overseeing the enforcement of the Constitution and the work of the State Council, the National Supervisory Commission, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

Local people's congresses and their standing committees exercise corresponding powers and functions as prescribed by law. The system of people's congresses makes extensive democracy possible by empowering people's congresses at all levels, to ensure that the people hold and exercise state power, and that they keep the nation's future firmly in their hands.

The deputies to people's congresses are fully representative of the people. They come from all regions, ethnic groups, sectors and social groups, and function at national, provincial, city, county and township levels. At the end of 2020, 2.62 million people were serving as deputies to people's congresses at all levels nationwide. Among them, those at county and township levels accounted for 94.5 percent of the total. Making full use of their close connections with the people, these deputies diligently fulfill their duties by soliciting and submitting the people's suggestions and advice through various forms and channels.

The annual people's congresses are first held from the grassroots upwards at township, county, city, and provincial levels and then at the highest national level, to take full cognizance of the people's aspirations and report them to upper levels. Since the launch of reform and opening up in 1978, about 3,000 NPC deputies have gathered in the presence of the Party and state leaders at the NPC session each year to discuss plans for national development and problems affecting people's lives, and to put the people's expectations at the top of the agenda on state matters. Many of the motions and proposals put forward by deputies have been carefully reviewed and then included into policy decisions of state organs.

The system of people's congresses has provided institutional guarantee for the CPC to lead the people in effectively running the country. It enables the Party to turn its proposals into state policies, and to place the candidates recommended by Party organizations into positions as state leaders through statutory procedures. It also empowers the organs of state governance to exercise the Party's leadership over the country and society, to uphold the authority of the Party and the state, and to safeguard the unity and solidarity of the Party and the country. The system of people's congresses is the optimal choice, in accord with China's national conditions and realities. It embodies the socialist nature of the state and guarantees the people's principal position and national rejuvenation. It must be fully implemented, further enriched, and maintained as a long-term institution.

3. The System of Multiparty Cooperation and Political Consultation Under CPC Leadership

The system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC is a basic element of China's political framework. The Constitution stipulates, "The system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China will continue and develop long into the future." A new model grown out of the soil of China, it also learns from other countries and absorbs the fruits of their political achievements.

In China, there are no opposition parties. But 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. In addition to the CPC, there are eight other political parties. [The eight other political parties are the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang, the China Democratic League, the China National Democratic Construction Association, the China Association for Promoting Democracy, the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party, the China Zhi Gong Party, the Jiusan Society, and the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League.] The other parties participate fully in the administration of state affairs under the leadership of the CPC.

Under the shared banner of people's democracy, and respecting the principles of long-term coexistence, mutual oversight, sincerity, and sharing the rough times and the smooth, the CPC and the other parties have created a new political party system with distinctive Chinese features and strengths.

The CPC is the governing party, and the other parties accept its leadership. They cooperate closely with the CPC and function as its advisors and assistants. Through forums, talks, and written and other forms of consultation, the CPC consults with the other parties and prominent individuals without affiliation to any political party (non-affiliates) on major national and local policies and matters. It willingly accepts the democratic scrutiny of the other parties and the non-affiliates. In the exercise of state power, the CPC works together with the other parties and the nonaffiliates. Members of the other parties and the non-affiliates account for a certain percentage of the total numbers of deputies to people's congresses, the standing committees of people's congresses, and the special committees of people's congresses at all levels. Some of them occupy leading posts in state organs. The other parties and the non-affiliates actively deliberate on and participate in the administration of state affairs. They are valued advisors on key national programs and contributors to the development of the country.

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The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) serves as a key element of the multiparty mechanism. A specialized body for socialist consultative democracy, the CPPCC promotes unity, strengthens multiparty cooperation, and practices people's democracy in the process of political consultation. It maintains the traditions of the past, and keeps pace with the times. It reflects the distinctive features and strengths of China's socialist democracy – problems are solved through consultation. It is a key component of the state governance system, and a distinctively Chinese political institution.

Through the institutions of the CPPCC, representatives from all political parties, people's organizations, ethnic groups, and social sectors engage in political consultation. They carry out their routine duties through mechanisms such as plenary sessions, meetings of the standing committee, meetings of chairpersons, meetings of special committees, forums on specific subjects, and consultative seminars, and make proposals, conduct inspections and field surveys, and report on social conditions and public opinions on a regular basis. In this way, they conduct extensive, constructive consultations on an equal footing and in an orderly manner, and put forward opinions and suggestions on important national strategies and policies and major economic and social matters. The CPC collects these opinions and suggestions and adopts those which are sound, while the other participants accept the Party's propositions and promote its guidelines and policies. In doing so, they increase trust and dispel doubts, convey the will of the people and draw on their wisdom, and build the broadest consensus, so as to form a shared ideological foundation for collective endeavors.

When the annual sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC National Committee (Two Sessions) are held concurrently each year, members of the CPPCC National Committee submit proposals for deliberation. They also sit in on NPC sessions to participate in the discussions on the amendments to laws and on the work reports of the central government, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate. This mechanism ensures that all the people can play a part in overseeing the work of the government, and forms China's own model of democracy based on the Two Sessions.

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The system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC is an extensive and reliable means of representing and fulfilling the interests of the maximum number of people of all ethnic groups and social sectors. It avoids the drawbacks of the old political party system that stood for only a small number of people and interest groups. It unites all political parties and the non-affiliates towards a common goal, effectively mitigating the risks of inadequate oversight in one-party rule, and the problems of continual transfers of governing parties and destructive competition in multiparty political systems. Through standardized institutional procedures and arrangements, it pools ideas and suggestions to ensure informed and democratic decision-making. It avoids the weakness of Western-style political party systems: When making decisions and exercising governance, political parties act in their own interests or the interests of the classes, regions and groups they represent, provoking division in society.

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