China's whole-process people's democracy effective, serves interests of people: int'l experts

(Xinhua) 16:40, April 20, 2023

GUANGZHOU, April 20 (Xinhua) -- China's whole-process people's democracy has been in the spotlight at the Understanding China conference that concluded Thursday in south China's city of Guangzhou.

At the parallel session on China's Whole-process People's Democracy, experts from around the globe discussed the notion, calling it both a major factor behind China's success and a type of democracy that truly serves the people.


Roger T. Ames, professor of philosophy at the University of Hawaii and humanities chair professor at Peking University, said the idea of democracy is the "cosmological answer" to how we grow initially in the constitutive relationships of persons in the community to make them optimally productive, and how we optimize the possibilities of the human experience.

As for the Communist Party of China (CPC), it considers whole-process people's democracy the defining feature of socialist democracy, and it is democracy in its broadest, most genuine, and most effective form.

According to Zheng Bijian, head of the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy, one of the biggest features of whole-process people's democracy is its full coverage of various areas including election, consultation, decision-making, legislation, management and supervision, and it has become a multi-level system from central to local authorities.

For Martin Jacques, a British visiting professor at Tsinghua University, the CPC has been "remarkably successful" in its endeavor to achieve a consensus amongst the people on the way forward for the country via its system of democracy.

"A society cannot be successful without a fundamental and overarching consensus," Jacques said.

"The reason why China has been so successful has been its ability to enthuse, involve and mobilize the people in the political process and thereby contribute to the country's future," as a whole-process people's democracy seeks to involve the people in a host of different ways, he said.

In China, democracy takes many different forms including elections, a continuous process of consultation, self-governance at the primary level, popular involvement in the law-making process, and the drawing up of 5-year plans, whereas in some Western democracies, politics is the exclusive preserve of professional politicians, Jacques said.

"Democracy should be a continuous process, not something that happens every four or five years," he said, citing the key mode of Western democracy is elections, which only take place periodically.

The process of "pooling people's wisdom" is realized through various measures such as feedback mechanisms and polling in China, said Robert Lawrence Kuhn, chairman of the Kuhn Foundation.

"There is a good deal of engagement with different constituencies," he said.


"Too many Western politicians seem to think the point of democracy is democracy. It is not. The point of democracy is to 'serve the people,' to deliver a better life for them and to improve the economy and society," Jacques said in his speech.

He noted that while Western countries were faced with stagnant economies and increasingly divided societies, China had achieved an "extraordinary transformation." Now it is the second largest economy in the world and has lifted 800 million people out of poverty. It "hugely out-performed the West" in the fight against COVID-19. The country also has a "clear view of the future" by constantly thinking long-term.

"One can only conclude that Chinese democracy has excelled in its tasks," Jacques said.

Oscar Parrilli, an Argentine national senator, agreed that the Western world needs to "reconsider democracy as a way of coexistence." He believes democracy should guarantee not only freedoms, individual rights, property, freedom of the press, and human rights, but also the possibility for the people to grow economically, socially and culturally.

When there are people who feel that democracy does not respond to their most basic needs, such as food, housing and education, "what is called democratic dissatisfaction begins to appear," he said.

Parrilli said he admires what China and the Chinese people have achieved in economic development over the past few decades, and said that "the most important thing is that the quality of life for millions and millions of Chinese people has been improved."

Kuhn, who has traveled to over 100 Chinese cities, said that poverty alleviation, as well as the ongoing efforts to achieve common prosperity, "exemplifies the outcome of China's democracy and its human rights."

Observers at the session believe such efforts are in line with the CPC's fundamental purpose of wholeheartedly serving the people.

As China's ruling party, the CPC is different from the ruling political parties in some Western systems where political parties represent only a certain group of voters and are time-bound by election cycles, Kuhn said.

"The CPC has a higher and broader obligation to enhance the living standards and well-being of all Chinese people," Kuhn said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Wu Chaolan)


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