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Commentary: Maturing mode of "deliberative democracy"--Chinese way to achieve harmonious politics
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08:32, March 15, 2008

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· NPC & CPPCC Sessions 2008
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Unlike in most of the western countries where political attacks and confrontations among different parties are common, China's political advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), has witnessed people from various social strata debate controversial issues and topics concerning highly-diversified social groups in a harmonious political atmosphere.

From business tycoons to university intellectuals, from Han entrepreneurs to artists of ethnic minorities, CPPCC members comfortably share each other's different opinions instead of elbowing each other for a position during the annual session of the advisory body's National Committee, also known as China's biggest democratic forum.

The ancient Chinese saying "seeking common ground while reserving differences" may explain the reason behind this harmonious politics. All these members with different opinions aspire for one common goal, that is, to push China's democracy ahead for the well-being of the people, vitality and stability of the society and unity and prosperity of the country.

"The Chinese political consultation system is similar with the 'deliberative democracy' in the West in many ways," said Li Junru, a CPPCC National Committee member, "But our system has been in practice for more than 50 years."

With a combined membership of more than 700,000, or one percent of the 73 million of the CPC, China's non-Communist parties made their own choice to follow the CPC in their long years of common struggle.

The China Democratic National Construction Association, founded in 1945,followed the CPC even before it became the ruling party as they were fed up with the then ruling Kuomintang and its civil war.

"No other political power in China could have led the country to where we are today," said its member Chen Changzhi.

China's political consultation system, a specific mode of building democracy, is China's major contribution to the world, as the CPC rules the country and the democratic parties participate in state affairs according to law, instead of ruling the country in turn.

This system, mobilizes the enthusiasm of all sectors, pools the wisdom of the people, promotes the scientific and democratic decision-making of the ruling party and the government.

Most important, it ensures that the people are the masters of the state, rather than a democracy for a minority of people.

As the building of socialism with Chinese characteristics has now become the common goal of all parties in China, non-Communist party members are determined to play a larger role.

Many of the political advisors, outspoken and insightful, have made valuable suggestions and penetrating judgment to help the ruling party and government in their work.

As the First Session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) concluded here on Friday, the 11th CPPCC saw political advisors raise 509 proposals on rural development, 389 on health care and medical services, 310 on education, and hundreds of others on energy conservation, environmental protection, employment, social security, food and drug safety and housing.

During the past five years, political advisors filed 21,843 proposals on politics, economy, science and other issues, of which more than 99 percent received responses from relevant departments or were handled in line with China's laws and regulations.

Thanks to the CPC's sincerity in political consultation amid a liberal, stable and harmonious political atmosphere, the non-Communist parties can always speak up in a frank and open manner on some sensitive issues and sometimes confrontation is common at the political advisory body.

When a political advisor named Zhang Yin raised a proposal on amending the Labor Contract Law, which was put into effect on Jan.1 this year, to exempt labor-intensive companies from signing permanent contracts with staff having more than 10 years' service, she faced both criticism on her "pro-rich proposal" and understandings of her being honest among political advisors.

That is indeed the advantage of the political consultation system in promoting democracy in China. It can effectively reflect the interests of all social sectors, broaden the channels for expression, coordinate interest relations and thus maintain harmony and stability.

"As far as democracy is concerned, we should learn from the West but must not underestimate ourselves," observed Li Junru, alsovice president of the Party School of the Communist Party of China(CPC) Central Committee.

However, a broader and more frequent publicizing of the non-Communist parties' work is needed, as most ordinary Chinese are still confused about the name "CPPCC".

The first ever group debut of leaders of China's eight non-Communist parties during the CPPCC National Committee's annual session is a good example of demonstrating their cooperation with the ruling party and further contribution to the country's economic and social development.

"We need to be clear on where we're heading, and find out the most practical way of achieving democracy in China," said Li.

Source: Xinhua

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