China’s Whole-process People’s Democracy: A New Model to International Political Spectrum

Ma Xinmin
Chinese Ambassador to Sudan

Democracy is a common value of humanity and also a sovereign subject that should be determined independently by each country. Countries have different ways to achieve democracy. There is no orthodox model of democracy, and no democracy is superior to others. Only the suited is the best. Through a century of exploration and experimentation, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has led the Chinese people in finding a new form of democracy that suits China’s national conditions, one that President Xi Jinping described as the whole-process people’s democracy. The essence of China’s whole-process people’s democracy, a new model to the international political spectrum, is to ensure the people’s status as masters of the country.

Whole-process people’s democracy is a model of mass democracy that engages all people. It is the broadest democracy that entitles all people, regardless of their ethnicity, race, gender, occupation, birth, religion, education, and property, to the most extensive democratic rights and enables them to practically participate in state governance. By setting up an array of democratic institutions, including the system of people’s congresses, the system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the CPC’s leadership, the system of the patriotic united front, the system of regional ethnic autonomy, the system of community-level self-governance, and the system of social groups, China has had the whole people covered by the democratic process. This enables them to participate in every aspect and area of state governance at various levels, making them masters of the country and institutionally providing possible ways for the disadvantaged and marginalized groups to participate. In particular, the system of people’s congresses, serving as an important institutional support to the whole-process people’s democracy and committed to people-centered development, ensures that the legislative, enforcement, supervisory, and judicial agencies could hear the voices of the masses.

Whole-process people’s democracy is a holistic democracy that covers all aspects of the democratic process and all sectors of society. It is the most comprehensive model of democracy. As a result of its coverage of all aspects of the democratic process, people have democratic rights not only in democratic elections but also in other links like democratic consultations, decision-making, management, and oversight. It ensures people’s rights to elect, to be informed, to participate, to express views, and to supervise the exercise of power and enables them to manage state and social affairs and economic and cultural undertakings. This leaves no room for politicians to shower promises while campaigning and break them all once elected.

Whole-process people’s democracy is applied through people’s participation in state governance in the economic, political, cultural, social, eco-environmental, and other fields. Thus, it ensures that the people’s voices are heard and their wishes are represented in every aspect of China’s political and social life.

People’s status as masters of the country is reflected in policies and measures for state governance. More importantly, it is ensured in the process of forming state organs of all levels and in their decision-making process for all work. In China, deputies to people’s congresses at five levels, be it national or county-level ones, are all elected via democratic elections. The leaders of state organs of a particular level are elected by the people’s congress of that level. At the community level, villagers (residents) exercise their democratic rights directly by electing regularly and in accordance with law the members of villagers (residents) committees who will administer public affairs and provide public services at the grassroots level. For enterprises and public institutions, they have in place the system for democratic management in the form of workers congresses, whereby workers could play a positive role in the major decision-making process and major issues concerning their immediate interests.

Whole-process people’s democracy is a true democracy that aims to ensure the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people. It is a CPC-led socialist democracy that seeks to safeguard the fundamental interests of the vast majority of the people. Unlike Western political parties that represent certain groups of voters only, or some western political parties and interest groups that uphold zero-sum democracy, the CPC, as the governing party of China, represents the interests of the whole Chinese people, bears in mind the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people, and has no special interests of its own. The CPC-led socialist democracy focuses on democratic governance for win-win results on the premise that the fundamental interests of the vast majority of the people are ensured. It advocates the principle of co-governance and joint contribution for shared benefits. What it centers on is the common interests and public consensus of the great majority of the people.

Whole-process people’s democracy is truly able to bring sustained benefits to the people. Different from Western democracy that overemphasizes formalities at the expense of substance and procedures at the price of outcomes, China’s whole-process people’s democracy integrates process-oriented democracy with results-oriented democracy, procedural democracy with substantive democracy, and direct democracy with indirect democracy. It is also a better combination of citizens’ democratic rights with effective state governance. So far, China has over 2.62 million deputies to people’s congresses at national, provincial, city, county, and township levels, all elected by the people. The people in China are enabled to participate extensively in state affairs, especially local-level governance, to exercise their constitutional rights. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the public has been called on to comment on 187 draft laws. Around 1.1 million comments were collected, with more than 3 million suggestions. When compiling the Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese government has asked the public for advice for ten times on the official website of the National People’s Congress, receiving over 1.02 million opinions and suggestions from 425,000 persons, many of which were later adopted. In this way, the voices of Chinese people are fully accommodated, and they are genuinely made masters of the country.

Whole-process people’s democracy is a democracy that works to address the practical problems of the people. President Xi Jinping pointed out that democracy is not an ornament used for decorative purposes. Rather, democracy is about solving issues for the people. China’s whole-process people’s democracy is not a show or an empty promise. It truly makes people happy and improves their well-being. In the past decades, Chinese people could participate in state political affairs effectively and thoroughly every step of the way. They could voice their concerns. From something as small as everyday needs to something as big as national reform and development, the Chinese people’s wills are reflected the fullest extent. With a democratic system that is well-coordinated and effective at different levels, the CPC has led the Chinese people in achieving fast economic growth while maintaining long-lasting social stability. More than 800 million Chinese have been lifted out of extreme poverty, which means that China has succeeded in building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects and is now on the journey toward common prosperity. China has also built the world’s largest social security system and healthcare system, covering more than 1.3 billion people. More than 10 million new jobs were created each year for 15 consecutive years, a number equivalent to the population of a mid-sized country. After the COVID-19 broke out, China put people and their lives in the first place and was the first in the world to bring the virus under control. What’s more, China has so far made 1.08 billion Chinese fully vaccinated against COVID, building a strong line of defense for the Chinese people.

Whole-process people’s democracy is a successful democracy that gains great approval of the people. History and reality have fully proved that China’s whole-process people’s democracy fits in well with its national conditions, and is recognized and supported by people of all ethnic groups. China’s model of democracy has boosted national development and social progress and ensured the wellbeing of the people who have gained a stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness, and security. The Chinese people have shown with their concrete actions that the whole-process people’s democracy is high-quality democracy. In July 2020, a survey initiated by Edelman, a well-known American public relations consultancy firm, found that trust in government in China has surged to 95 percent from 90 percent after the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic. This number has been the highest in the world for three consecutive years. In May 2021, Chinese citizens’ trust in its government rose to 98%, according to a Washington Post piece by a scholar from York University.

The whole-process people’s democracy suits China’s national conditions and is highly democratic in terms of both quantity and quality. As a new model to the international political spectrum that has distinctive Chinese characteristics while inheriting the common values of humanity, it has a profound and far-reaching impact on the world and will provide useful experience for other countries in their efforts to explore the democratic system. China stands ready to deepen exchanges and mutual learning of good practices in state governance with Sudan and other nations across the world, to promote the common values of humanity which are peace, development, equity, justice, democracy, and freedom. This will make an even greater contribution to the diversity of democratic systems in the world.

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