China’s democracy to prosperity
Addressing College of Europe students during his state visit to Belgium in April, PresidentXi Jinping said: “In 1911, the revolution led by Sun Yat-sen overthrewthe autocratic monarchy that had ruled China for several thousand years. But once the old system was gone, where China would go became the question. The Chinese people then started exploring long and hard for a path that would suit China’s national conditions. They experimented with constitutional monarchy, imperial restoration, parliamentarism, multi-party system and presidential government, yet nothing really worked. Finally, China took the path of socialism.”
This is a profound summary of China’s historical and practical experience in the search for a development path that suits its national conditions. People’s democracy is the life of socialism, and developing socialist democracy is the unswerving goal of the nation and the Communist Party of China. As an important component of comprehensive reform, political restructuring has been deepening in China along with economic and social development, and wider participation of people in politics.
Socialism with Chinese characteristics is a historical choice for China. Contrary to what someWestern experts say, theWestern-style democratic system does not have universality. Democracy as a part of the sociopolitical superstructure is closely linked with a certain economic base and a certain development level of productivity. As such, the democratic system is not a constant pattern. Western-style democracymay suitWestern countries, but it is not necessarily applicable to all countries and regions.
Instead of opting for a so-called mature democratic model, a country should choose one that reflects its political, economic, social and cultural characteristics. As Xi once said, “only the wearer knows if the shoe fits his foot”. The result of China’s political exploration is thatWestern-style democracy will not help it realize national rejuvenation.
After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the CPC put democratic centralism into practice, mobilized social resources and transformed the country from a backward agricultural society into an industrial power within just a fewdecades. The fact that China has already become the world’s second-largest economy proves that the political system it follows is in no way inferior to that followed by theWest.
Western powers’ attempt to impose their style of democracy on other countries is what led to the so-called Color Revolution in the Caucasus, the “Arab Spring” in theMiddle East and the Ukraine crisis. The “democratic regimes” that theWest helped establish failed to bring stability and prosperity to these countries, with some even falling into the abyss of civil war. It is because of the hypocrisy ofWestern-style democracy that the term “democratization” is losing its charisma across the world.
An article published in The Economist a couple of months ago said that democracy is going through a difficult time and has experienced many setbacks since 2000. ThatWestern-style democracy is not a panacea for all the political, social and economic ills can be seen in the findings of a 2013 Pew Research Center survey which shows that about 85 percent Chinese people are very happy with China’s development direction while only 31 percent Americans are satisfied with the US’.
China has made remarkable progress in democratic politics after the launch of reform and opening-up, especially after the 1990s, which sawa dramatic rise in its economic and strategic strength. Socialist democracy withChinese characteristics includes the people’s congress system, multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the Party’s leadership, and the regional ethnic autonomy and democratic grassroots self-government systems.
To build socialist democracy, China has always combined theMarxist theory of democracy with the realities of the country, borrowed from the useful achievements of successful political systems, and assimilated the democratic elements of the country’s traditional culture and institutional civilization. As a result, China’s socialist democracy shows distinctive Chinese characteristics.
China’s democracy is a people’s democracy under the leadership of the CPC; a democracy in which the people are the masters of State affairs; a democracy with democratic centralism as the basic organizational principle and mode of operation.
The overall goal of deepening reforms is to improve and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics and modernize national governance. The Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee emphasized the task of bringing the people’s congress system in line with the times, promoting wide, multi-tiered and institutionalized consultative democracy, and giving full play to democracy at the community level.
China needs the CPC’s leadership to ensure that the people really become the masters of the State. The CPC is also needed to make the hundreds of millions of Chinese work unitedly to build a beautiful future, promote socialist modernization, and maintain harmony and stability in China, and to safeguard national sovereignty and realize national rejuvenation. Only under the Party’s leadership can China’s reform and opening-up move forward smoothly and socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics make orderly progress.
Therefore, the CPC has to continue to follow scientific and democratic principles, rule the country in accordance with the lawand promote people’s democracy by deepening intraParty democracy. A transparent, service-oriented government is taking shape in China, and the intensified anti-corruption campaign has reassured the people that the Party is determined to fight the “tigers as well as the flies” to safeguard social justice and promote a clean government.
Like most countries China, too, has traveled a long arduous path to find a development path that suits its ground realities, and it should stick to it to achieve ultimate success. The author is an expert with the Institute of Contemporary China Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.