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English>>China Politics

13th Five-Year Plan considers grassroots wisdom

(Xinhua)    18:51, March 07, 2016

The fourth session of the 12th National People's Congress opens at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 5, 2016. (Xinhua/Ding Lin)

BEIJING, March 7 -- "Adults should encourage youngsters to be adventurous in thinking up entrepreneurship ideas, rather than being worried that we will fail," said Jiang Mengke, a 12-year-old middle school student.

Jiang's advice was included in Shanghai's Youth Development Plan for the country's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).

Jiang is one of 101 youngsters selected by the Communist Youth League's (CYL) Shanghai Municipal Committee to offer suggestions for the 13th Five-Year Plan. The youngest is only nine years old.

Xu Weiwan, secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the CYL, said the diversified suggestions and opinions offered by the young people could be directly submitted to the Shanghai municipal government or the central government. This grassroots consultation is organized by the CYL and supported by the local people's political consultative conference.

The 12th National People's Congress (NPC), China's national legislature, opened its fourth session on Saturday in Beijing. Nearly 3,000 NPC deputies from across the nation are present to review the government work report as well as the draft outline of the 13th Five-Year Plan.

Li Liancheng is one of the deputies. As secretary of Xixinzhuang Village Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Li is an old hand at raising the wishes and concerns of his community to Beijing during the political session.

"Farmers in my village have 'six hopes'-- their kids can go to good local schools; there is a decent local job market; they can see doctors at hospitals nearby; they live in a clean, safe environment; they have access to well-equipped cultural facilities; and most importantly, they have equal public services to urbanites," Li told Xinhua.

Li said he had proposed the six hopes to last year's NPC session, and would make more detailed suggestions this year. He expressed the belief that their hopes could be realized during this next five-year period.

"A very important part of an NPC deputy's duty is to relay the thoughts and problems of the people to the policymakers. The proposals could work for a certain province or even the whole country," Li said.

In China's political system, the NPC enables ordinary citizens to exercise their power as "the master of State." They are represented by deputies elected by the people's congresses in provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. The NPC deputies can come from any walk of life.

NPC deputies review and vote on legal documents at the annual session. They are also required to interact and communicate with ordinary citizens throughout the year.

This system has expanded to communities across the whole country. Rural people elect those they trust in their villages and townships, who in turn are tasked with gathering the needs and expectations of the people and taking them all the way to the NPC. Urbanites do the same in their communities.

"It is a capillary democracy," wrote Patrik K. Meyer from Peking University, in an article published on March 1 on the Japanese website "The Diplomat."

"The Chinese pyramid of authority and power stands on a foundation of elected grassroots representatives that act as capillaries for a two-way exchange of information between the Chinese people and their government. Then, the decision-making process of the government is guided by the information that has been absorbed through this foundation, which resulted in policies and measures that improve the livelihoods of the majority of the Chinese people," he wrote in the article.

Meyer believes that Western democracies could learn from China's capillary democracy.

Zhou Hanmin, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said China's democracy is a fluid and gradually formed system that keeps pace with the times.

A similar kind of democratic system is present across the villages in Dengzhou City, Henan Province in central China.

All major village issues are proposed by the local branches of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and then sent to the village Party committee and villagers' congress for discussion. After that, the issues are reviewed at a Party meeting, and a villager representative meeting makes the final decision.

In the end, the decision is then published to solicit opinions from the public.

Several years ago, village officials from Yandian Village in Dengzhou floated the idea of constructing a brick factory. However, about two thirds of the villagers voted against the decision over concerns that the factory might take up too much farmland. Thus, the plan was never approved.

Since then, the village continues to use this system, and other villages in Dengzhou have adopted it, too.

Wang Bing, head of the Organization Department of the CPC Dengzhou City Committee, said farmers would want to participate in a system that gave them a say in problems that concerned them.

They are competent, and enthusiastic to exercise their democratic rights, Wang added.

In recent years, some NPC deputies have taken to WeChat, an instant messaging app, to gather public opinion.

Yi Fengjiao, an NPC deputy who represents migrant workers, held a meeting in her workshop. She recorded suggestions and expectations for education and pension from the new generation of migrant workers.

Yi said she would make a proposal at this years' NPC session.

"It is a very democratic and direct way to reflect and resolve grassroots problems," Yi said.

Shi Weimin, a researcher at the Institute of Political Science under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China's grassroots democracy is not only consistent with national conditions and but also has some local characteristics.

That is how the draft outline of the 13th Five-Year Plan comes from grassroots wisdom, Shi said.

In 2020, when the 13th Five-Year Plan will be completed, Jiang Mengke will be 17 years old, Li Liancheng 70, and Yi Fengjiao nearly 40. Their proposals raised at the beginning of the five-year plan period are expected to bring more benefits to people across the nation via the capillary democracy.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Editor:Kong Defang,Bianji)

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