Beijing, December 8 (Xinhua): New China Research, the think tank of Xinhua News Agency, on Tuesday released a report on China’s approach to democracy, freedom and human rights in the context of common values of humanity.
The report, titled “Pursuing Common Values of Humanity — China’s Approach to Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights,” provides a perspective on the logic of China’s democratic practice of “the people running the country,” its whole-process democracy, the touchstone for institutional effectiveness, as well as useful insights China’s exploration has provided for realizing the common values of humanity.
The world is experiencing changes unseen in a century, including the raging COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the enlarging wealth gap, polarized politics and governance failure in some countries. What has China done right in its exploration of the practice of democracy and the protection of freedom and human rights for pursuing the common values of humanity?
People Run the Country
Based on its own reality, China is exploring a path of inheritance and innovation in realizing democratic values and is pursuing a “substantial democracy” in which the people are the masters of the country.
China’s democratic development combines the “goal-oriented” realization of people’s happiness, national prosperity and national rejuvenation, the ground “reality” of the world’s most populous developing country, and the “historical dimension” of 5,000 years of civilization. By remembering its roots, absorbing outside ideas, facing the future, continuous integration, summarizing, refining and sublimating, China has formed a new form of democracy, stated the report.
The three basic political systems — CPC-led multi-party cooperation and political consultation, regional ethnic autonomy and community-level self-governance — and the fundamental political system of people’s congresses, underpin the institutional framework for the running of the country by the people, the report added.
In China, the people’s congress system puts into action the constitutional principle of “all power in the People’s Republic of China belongs to the people.” The general public elects deputies who represent their will and interests to form organs of state power at various levels. Broad representation is the hallmark of the system, noted the report.
n the current National People’s Congress, 15.7 percent of the deputies exercise state power on behalf of workers and farmers, and 55 ethnic minority groups have deputies from their respective ethnic groups.
The very design of the democratic institutions of the People’s Republic of China incorporates foresight to prevent chaos, stated the report, adding that the pursuit of democracy, freedom and human rights also serves as the driving force behind China’s development and prosperity.
Whole Process Democracy
The democracy China practices is a “whole-process democracy” that covers all aspects and all procedures, and pursues the unification of process and results-based democracy, procedural democracy and substantive democracy, direct democracy and indirect democracy, as well as people’s democracy and the state’s will.
The Chinese people have the right to participate extensively in state governance, a right which is embodied in all aspects of China’s democratic elections, democratic consultations, democratic decision-making, democratic management and democratic supervision.
China’s whole-process democracy is a new form of implementing people’s sovereignty, which can be described in electing officials, deliberating state affairs, making policies, and overseeing the use of power.
For example, in the Chinese mechanism of selecting officials, moral integrity, professional ability and past governing performances are the basic requirements for selection involving a democratic election to determine qualified officials, according to the report.
The whole-process people’s democracy emphasizes citizen participation in the entire process of public policy-making, which allows citizens to participate before, during, and after the decision-making, and safeguards people’s right to be informed, participate, be heard and oversee in order to find the best solution while drawing on the pooled wisdom of the people, the report stated.
Outlines of the five-year plan for national economic and social development and other policies well illustrate democratic decision-making procedures, it added.
Meanwhile, China uses a series of institutional arrangements such as intraparty oversight, oversight by the National People’s Congress, democratic oversight, administrative oversight, judicial oversight, public oversight, and oversight through public opinion to set up, regulate, restrain, and oversee the exercise of power by law.
Touchtone of Effective Democracy
Democracy must be real and effective. If it cannot translate into good governance and benefit the people, it must be viewed with suspicion no matter how attractive it looks, the report noted.
What is a democracy that works like? The report provides four dimensions of China’s approach — “governance democracy,” “efficient democracy,” “democracy as driving force,” and “systematic democracy.”
“Governance democracy” emphasizes not only the democracy of the political process but also the results of democratic politics, or good governance. China’s democracy is centered on governance rather than on elections, the report stated, noting that the country has maintained long-term social stability along with rapid economic growth.
Medical workers head for the isolation wards at the Huoshenshan (Fire God Mountain) Hospital in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province, Feb. 4, 2020. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)
China’s “democratic centralism” gives the country both dynamism and solid execution. The system gives full play to democracy in order to stimulate the enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity of the people. It also attaches value to proper centralism — pooling wisdom based on democracy, making scientific decisions, and putting these into practice.
China is committed to empowerment through development and “investing in its people” to expand their free development. In parallel, the expansion of freedom brings about the further liberation of productive forces and the increase of human and social capital, helping boost national development.
China has proposed eight criteria for measuring democracy, including whether the succession of its leaders is conducted in an orderly way and whether government affairs and social, economic and cultural affairs are managed by all the people in accordance with the law.
Pursuing Common Values
The common values of humanity — peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom — are the key to solving the problems of the present time, and the greatest common denominator in building a better world.
What useful insights has China provided for pursuing the common values of humanity?
The report summarized the three “leading features” of China’s approach to sound governance — an advanced non-partisan party, a people-centered philosophy, and a development-focused worldview.
As a prominent feature of an advanced political party, the CPC has always acted in the interests of the people, followed the trend of the progress of humankind and the times, taken charge of the overall situation, coordinated with all parties, united and organized all political forces and resources, and striven for the happiness of all the people and the rejuvenation for the Chinese nation.
Unlike the so-called “one-party dictatorship” misinterpreted by the outside world, China’s new political party system can be perceived as a democratic practice of “1+8+N.” There are eight non-CPC political parties, those without any party affiliation and members of the general public, who can participate in the country’s democratic agenda through a variety of means.
Staff members provide service for citizens at an administrative service center in Taizhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, March 28, 2018. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)
It is a credo of the governing party in China that people’s support is the highest political priority, stated the report. For more than 70 years, the CPC and the government have focused on development, enabling the Chinese people to gain more and more freedom and democratic rights.
China, a faithful and innovative practitioner of democracy, has also provided inspiration for the world, with four principles — result-oriented, self-determination, steady-paced and ever-progressing, according to the report.
The path of democracy, freedom and human rights must be chosen based on national conditions. The effectiveness of democracy must be tested and perfected by solving the practical problems of the vast majority of people.
To promote democracy, safeguard freedom and protect human rights, a country needs to proceed in a gradual and orderly fashion, rather than rapidly shift beyond its current stage of social development.
The pursuit of democracy, freedom and human rights never ends, and a country should always strive for betterment.
The exploration of people of different countries will enrich and improve the practice of democracy, freedom and human rights, and make the common values of humanity more vivid, instead of being gradually hollowed out, the report noted.