Consensus building in China and America (2)

14:21, March 12, 2010      

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"Democracy" has many definitions. China has a "Consensus Democracy" dominated by one party that is different from America's "Majority Rule Democracy" dominated by two parties. In 2008, there were 75,931,000 members of China's governing party in 3,710,000 local level party organizations. China's success is the result of exceptional consensus building and problem solving skills within China's governing party, huge population and indigenous system of government. In America 66,862,285 people voted for President Obama and 58,319,442 people voted against him. Problem solving and consensus building are very difficult today in America. What China's government calls "scientific management," which has been so successful in China's political system, is neither the focus nor forte of the American political system.

China's governing party has constructive characteristics that include self-criticism and implementing Deng Xiaoping's policies that pragmatically and incrementally produce major social, economic and political reforms by seeking truth from facts. For example, in 1987 Deng Xiaoping admitted enthusiastically that, "In the rural reform our greatest success—and it is one we had by no means anticipated—has been the emergence of a large number of enterprises run by villages and townships. They were like a new force that just came into being spontaneously.... The Central Committee [of the Chinese Communist Party] takes no credit for this." In 2010 Premier Wen Jaibao stated in his work report at the National Peoples Congress that the government's work still "fell considerably short of public expectations." He said China's modernization drive and economic reform could risk a failure without political restructuring, as the nation's ongoing reforms were across-the-board and that the government would create conditions for the people to criticize and supervise the government, and let news media fully play their oversight role so as to "put the authorities under sunlight." Premier Wen said China will expand primary-level democracy and strengthen primary-level self-governing bodies so that people can better participate in the management of local affairs.

The National Peoples Congress is to amend the Electoral Law, during the session to create equal electoral rights between urban and rural residents. China Daily reported that these remarks won applause from more than 5,000 legislators and political advisors who gathered in the Great Hall of the People to hear and discuss Premier Wen Jiabao's and government leaders' work reports. It stated that there should be less "smilecence" or smiling silence at the National People's Congress.

Prior to 1953, China had little or no experience with voting rights, except an unsuccessful attempt to introduce elections and America style democracy in 1911, which was not able to sustain itself. The draft amendment to the Electoral Law, which the National People's Congress delegates from throughout China are considering contains provisions effecting the election of deputies to people's congresses, citizens' right to vote, and the right to stand for election, as well as providing equal representation in people's congresses to rural and urban people by mandating the same ratio of deputies from urban and rural areas in elections of people's congress deputies. Wang Zhaoguo, vice chairman of the National People's Congress' Standing Committee stated, "The time was right for equal representation," and "conducive to expand democracy."

The rural representatives use to represent eight times the number of people represented by urban representatives because China's population in 1953 was only 13 percent urban. In that situation a 1:1 ratio of urban to rural representation was not conducive to China's modernization. Wang said, "Such stipulations were absolutely necessary and conformed with China's political system and the particular situation at that time." Since 1995 the ratio was 4:1 and under the new law will become 1:1. By 2010 people's congresses at all levels have gone through many terms of elections, accumulating experience with voting and the proportion of China's urban population increased to 46.6 percent. The evolving rules in China's political and legal system and definition of human rights manifest China's historic development and goals. China's governing party and political system is adapting faster than it is atrophying.

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