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.