Deputies attend the opening meeting of the first session of the 14th National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 5, 2023. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)
BEIJING, March 6 (CED) — With a cabinet institutional reform plan, a new state leadership lineup, and policies concerning social fairness and justice for over 1.4 billion people on the agenda, all eyes are on China’s annual key political event, the “two sessions.”
The coming days will witness how these major decisions are made through a democratic process, ensuring transparency, accountability and representation for all.
The annual meetings of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) bring together thousands of national legislators and political advisors.
Their main objective is to align the interests and aspirations of the Chinese people with the development of the Party and the nation. With thousands of attendees, these meetings serve as a platform for meaningful discussion and collaboration, as participants work together to shape the future of China.
Representing and addressing the diverse concerns of a country as large as China is no small feat. However, what is truly commendable is the country’s ability to foster consensus through effective communication and consultation.
Unlike some Western countries where chaos and tensions caused by wrangling between political parties, polarization, or racial issues are common, the two sessions in China present a different picture.
People attending this key political event witness a peaceful and unified gathering where diverse voices are heard and respected. Here, consensus is sought and common ground is reached through constructive dialogue, rather than being divided by partisan politics. The two sessions serve as a shining example of China’s commitment to promoting unity, harmony and progress for its people.
As the Chinese leadership steers the nation through unforeseen circumstances and uncertainties in its development trajectory, the strength and vitality of China’s socialist democracy have become increasingly apparent.
In the midst of current events and ongoing developments, this year’s two sessions hold particular significance.
It is the first such event held since the Communist Party of China (CPC) unveiled its blueprint for building a modern socialist China in all respects for the following five years and beyond at its 20th National Congress last October.
National legislators and political advisors will review the work of the central government, national legislature, supreme court, and top procuratorate. They will also deliberate on a draft amendment to the Legislation Law and engage in in-depth discussions to ensure that Chinese modernization sets sail with a detailed plan.
DEMOCRACY FOR 1.4 BLN PEOPLE
The CPC has led the Chinese people in finding a new form of democracy that suits China’s national conditions, one that Chinese President Xi Jinping has described as “the whole-process people’s democracy.”
China’s whole-process people’s democracy includes election, consultation, decision-making, management and oversight. It distinguishes itself from the Western model of democracy which is often plagued by money politics, elite rule and political polarization.
The newly elected 2,977 deputies to the 14th NPC, who serve a five-year term, come from diverse backgrounds. Nearly 17 percent are workers and farmers, including 56 migrant workers from rural areas; 15 percent are from ethnic minorities, representing all of China’s 55 ethnic minority groups; more than a quarter are women; and 21.3 percent are technical personnel.
It is rare to see a high rate of representation of rural, blue-collar and ethnic minority individuals in the highest level of state power in Western countries such as the United States. This is because the democratic system in these countries tends to favor the elite capture of power rather than the well-being of the general population.
Among the 2.62 million deputies to people’s congresses at the county and township levels, who were directly elected by over 1 billion voters on a one-person-one-vote basis, the proportion of workers, farmers, technicians and women is even higher.
Deputies to the 13th NPC have voted on a range of crucial decisions and policies that have far-reaching significance: they have adopted constitutional amendments and the country’s first-ever Civil Code, and approved the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025).
The CPPCC National Committee has held more than 70 consultative forums for specialists over the past five years, focusing on key issues including promoting the implementation of new childbirth policies. This has provided important references for the decision-making of the central authorities.
TACKLING PRESSING PROBLEMS
Over the past five years, the NPC deputies and national political advisors have filed over 70,000 suggestions and proposals covering various areas such as people’s livelihoods, social governance, modern economic systems, and green development.
On the basis of their advice, China’s cabinet has introduced over 7,800 policy measures.
For instance, Li Li, an NPC deputy who works in central China’s Hubei Province, put forth a suggestion for measures to resolve the difficulties faced by the elderly in going outside due to a lack of elevators in their apartment buildings. It has prompted the allocation of a huge amount of funds from the central budget to subsidize the renovation of old residential buildings nationwide, with 69,000 elevators newly installed.
Democracy in China is an integration of the CPC leadership, the running of the country by the people and law-based governance, which is guaranteed by the effective implementation of democratic centralism, the fundamental organizational principle of the CPC and the principle of China’s state institutions as stipulated by the country’s Constitution.
Under the system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation led by the CPC, the CPC and non-communist parties work in cooperation with each other for the advancement of socialism, striving to improve people’s standard of living. The relationship maintains political stability and social harmony and ensures efficient policy-making and implementation.
DELIVERING EFFECTIVE OUTCOMES
The ultimate goal of democracy is to ensure happiness for the people.
In China, democracy is not reduced to empty slogans. Instead, it prioritizes addressing the most pressing issues faced by the people and meeting their aspirations for a happy life. These include better access to education, greater job security, more decent incomes, improved social security, enhanced medical and health services, more comfortable living conditions, and a cleaner and more beautiful environment.
High-quality democracy in China has enabled the country to achieve rapid economic development and long-term social stability despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
China has remained the world’s second-largest economy with its GDP expanding at an average annual rate of 5.2 percent in the past five years, much higher than the global average.
China’s life expectancy has reached 78.2 years and its per capita disposable annual income has more than doubled in the past decade. Over 13 million urban jobs have been created annually on average during the same period.
There is no one-size-fits-all model of democracy, nor is there a single correct form for others to emulate. Democracy should not be privatized, labeled, or politicized.
China’s socialist democracy is brimming with vitality as it reflects the will of the people, accords with the country’s realities, and enjoys the support of the Chinese people.
China will never blindly copy other models of democracy, but rather make informed decisions based on its unique cultural, social and political context.
Facts have demonstrated that preaching the idea of “human rights above sovereignty” and imposing democratic models on other nations have not yielded stability or prosperity. On the contrary, such approaches have led countries into chaos and disastrous crises.
Now is perhaps the perfect time to champion an open and inclusive philosophy that puts people at the forefront, respects diverse models of democracy, and allows to live and let live. ■