China’s democ­racy to pros­per­ity

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

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.

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