II. The Chinese People Have Gained
Extensive Political Rights

While struggling for the right to subsistence, the Chinese people have waged a heroic struggle for democratic rights.

The people did not have any democratic rights to speak of in semi-feudal, semi-colonial China. The Revolution of 1911 led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the great forerunner of bourgeois-democratic revolution, overthrew the feudal Qing Dynasty and gave rise to the Republic of China. He hoped to establish a Western-style democratic system in China, but the fruits of the revolution were snatched by Yuan Shikai, a feudal warlord. Then parliament became a mere instrument for warlords in power struggle, and there occurred the scandal of the "parliament of pigs" and bribery in electing a president. His dream unfulfilled, Dr. Sun died in sorrow and indignation, which found expression in his famous admonition: "The revolution has not yet succeeded." Many Chinese had cherished illusions about the US-supported Chiang Kai-shek government. However, Chiang turned out to be just another warlord under whose fascist rule millions of democracy-seeking people perished in bloody massacres. He adopted a non-resistance policy towards the Japanese invasion while stepping up the civil war, ignoring opposition from the Chinese Communists, patriots and democrats from all walks of life and the broad masses of the people. He launched the all-out civil war after the victory of the War of Resistance Against Japan, again violating the ardent wish for peace, democracy and reconstruction of the Communist Party, the democratic parties and the people throughout China. Driven beyond the limits of forbearance, the people rose up in arms and in the end toppled Chiang's reactionary rule.

Since the very day of its founding, the Communist Party of China has been holding high the banner of democracy and human rights. It encouraged and assisted Dr. Sun in reorganizing the Kuomintang, effected the cooperation between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party and launched the Northern Expedition against the reactionary rule of the warlords. After Chiang Kai-shek betrayed the democratic revolution, the Party united all patriots and democrats and led the people in a struggle against civil war, hunger, autocracy and persecution. In the liberated areas it established democratic governments, drew up laws which guaranteed the people's democratic rights and resolutely implemented its own democratic program. The democratic system in the liberated areas attracted numerous patriotic and democratic fighters and became the hope of the entire people. Under the Party's leadership, the Chinese people overthrew the Kuomintang reactionaries' dictatorial rule and founded the democratic and free People's Republic of China.

The Chinese people gained real democratic rights after the founding of New China. In explicit terms the Constitution stipulates that all power in the People's Republic of China belongs to the people. That the people are masters of their own country is the essence of China's democratic politics. By stating that the People's Republic of China is a socialist state of the people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants, the Constitution has established the status of the workers, peasants and other working people as masters of the country and thus invested the laboring people who were at the bottom rung of the social ladder in old China with lawful democratic rights. Equality of men and women, as provided by the Constitution, has enabled women, who account for half of the Chinese population, to gain the same rights as men in politics, economy, culture, society and family life. The stipulation that all nationalities in China are equal has ensured that all the nation's minority nationalities enjoy equal democratic rights with the Han people.

To guarantee that the people are the real masters of the country with the right to run the country's economic and social affairs, China has adopted, in light of its actual conditions, the people's congresses as the state's basic political system. Deputies to the people's congresses at all levels are chosen through democratic elections. The Constitution stipulates that all citizens of the People's Republic of China who have reached the age of 18 have the right to vote and stand for election, regardless of nationality, race, sex, occupation, family background, religious belief, education, property status, or length of residence, with the exception of persons deprived of their political rights by law. Taking into consideration its vast territory, large population, inconvenient transportation and relatively low economic and cultural development, China has adopted an election system appropriate to its actual conditions. That is, deputies to people's congresses at the county level or below are elected directly, while those to people's congresses above the county level are elected indirectly. This election system makes it possible for the people to choose deputies whom they know and trust. The election system has been improved in recent years on the basis of past experience. For instance, more candidates are posted than the number of deputies to be elected, instead of an equal number as before. The right to vote has been widely exercised by the Chinese people. According to statistics from the 1990 county- and township-level direct elections, 99.97 percent of the citizens at 18 years of age or above enjoyed the right to vote. Generally speaking, upwards of 90 percent of the voters participate in the elections held in the various provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. The most striking characteristic of China's electoral system is that elections are not manipulated by money and that deputies are not elected on the basis of boasting and empty promises but according to their actual contributions to the country and society, their attitude in serving the people and their close relations with the people. It is clear from the election results that the elected are broadly representative, that is, representative of people of all social strata and all trades and professions. Of the 2,970 deputies to the Seventh National People's Congress, 684, or 23 percent, are workers and farmers; 697, or 23.4 percent, are intellectuals; 733, or 24.7 percent, are government functionaries; 540, or 18.2 percent, are democratic party members and patriots with no party affiliations; 267, or 9 percent, are from the People's Liberation Army; and 49, or 1.6 percent, are returned overseas Chinese.

The National People's Congress is the supreme organ of state power. It has legislative power. It elects or removes president and vice-president of the People's Republic of China, chairman of the Central Military Commission, president of the Supreme People's Court and procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate; and appoints or removes premier, vice-premiers, state councilors, ministers, ministers in charge of commissions, auditor-general and secretary-general. All administrative, judicial and procuratorial organs of the state are created by the National People's Congress, responsible to it and supervised by it. Following the principle of democratic centralism, the National People's Congress adopts major policy decisions after full airing of opinions; and once adopted, these policies are carried out in a concerted effort. In this way, the People's Congress can not only represent the people's common will but also become instrumental for the people in running state, economic and social affairs. Coming from among the people, the people's deputies are responsible to the people and supervised by the people; their close contact with the masses and wide knowledge of the actual situation enable them to fully reflect the people's wishes, formulate laws suited to reality and supervise the work of government organs.

The Chinese Communist Party is the ruling party of socialist China and the representative of the interests of the people throughout the country. Its leadership position has been the result of the historical choice made by the Chinese people during their protracted and arduous struggle for independence and emancipation. The leadership of the Party is mainly an ideological and political leadership. The Party derives its ideas and policies from the people's concentrated will and then turns them into state laws and decisions which are passed by the National People's Congress through the state's legal procedures. The Party does not take the place of the government in the state's leadership system. The Party conducts its activities within the framework of the Constitution and the law and has no right to transcend the Constitution and the law. All Party members, like all citizens in the country, are equal before the law.

The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party is the basic political system that gives expression to people's democracy. It guarantees that all social strata, people's organizations and patriots from various quarters can express their opinions and play a role in the country's political and social life. There are in China eight democratic parties apart from the Communist Party; they are the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang, the China Democratic League, the China Democratic National Construction Association, the China Association for Promoting Democracy, the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party, the China Zhi Gong Dang (Party for Public Interest), the Jiu San Society (September 3rd Society) and the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League. Cooperation between the Communist Party and these democratic parties took shape during the democratic revolution before 1949, the year New China was founded. The leading role of the Communist Party in the cooperation is recognized by the democratic parties as it has been evolved in long years of common struggle. These democratic parties shared with the Communist Party the same basic political ideas whether in the struggle for overthrowing the "three big mountains" or during the period of building New China. Enjoying political freedom and organizational independence, all these democratic parties have developed greatly. They are neither parties out of office nor opposition parties, but parties participating in state affairs. As China's ruling party, the Communist Party repeatedly asks these democratic parties for their opinions on every major state affair and consult with them for solutions. Relations between the Communist Party and the democratic parties follow the guideline of "long-term coexistence and mutual supervision, treating each other with full sincerity and sharing weal or woe." Full play has been given to the role of the democratic parties in participating in and discussing state affairs, democratic supervision and uniting all the people. Many members of the democratic parties have assumed leading posts in organs of state power, government departments and judicial organs. Of the 19 vice-chairmen elected by the Seventh National People's Congress at its First Session, seven are members of democratic parties. Nearly 1,200 members of the democratic parties and personages with no party affiliations are holding leading posts in governments above the county level.

The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) consists of representatives of all the political parties and people's organizations and from among patriots and democrats who support socialism and the reunification of the motherland. New China's first Central People's Government was elected by the First Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. After the establishment of the National People's Congress as the supreme organ of state power, the CPPCC became an organization of the patriotic united front. It provides a forum for discussions on major state policies and principles and big issues in social life and plays a supervisory role through suggestions and criticisms. The CPPCC usually convenes simultaneously with the people's congress at the corresponding level. The system of political consultation has played an important role in promoting democracy.

China attaches great importance to the promotion of democracy at the grass-roots level so as to guarantee that citizens can directly exercise their political rights. Neighborhood Committees are the grass-roots democratic organizations in urban areas, and their counterparts in rural areas are Village Committees. As self-governing organizations established by the people, these committees deal with matters concerning public welfare and residents' well-being while assisting local governments in mediating family and neighborhood disputes, conducting ideological education and maintaining public order. Most Chinese enterprises have adopted the system of workers' congress, which is the basic form of democratic management through which workers participate in the decision-making and management of the enterprises and supervise the enterprise leaders. Over the last few years, virtually all directors and managers of large and medium-sized state enterprises have been examined and their work appraised with the participation and supervision of the workers' congresses.

The Constitution provides for a wide range of political rights to citizens. In addition to the right to vote and to be elected mentioned above, citizens also enjoy freedoms of speech, the press, assembly, association, procession and demonstration. There is no news censorship in China. Statistics show that of all the newspapers and magazines in China, only one-fifth are run by Party and state organizations, and the others belong to various democratic parties, social organizations, academic associations and people's organizations. By law citizens have the right to intellectual property, such as copy-right, and the right to publication, patent, trademark, discovery, invention and scientific and technological achievement. It is a matter of personal freedom for a citizen to decide what book he will write, what point of view he will use in writing it and which publishing house he will choose to have his book published. Statistics show that an overwhelming majority of the 80,224 titles of books printed in 1990 with a total impression of 5.64 billion copies were signed by individual authors. As to the freedom of association, the 1990 statistics showed that there were 2,000 associations, including societies, research institutes, foundations, federations and clubs. All these associations operate freely within the framework of the Constitution and the law.

The Constitution also rules that citizens have the right to criticize and make suggestions regarding any state organ or functionary and the right to make to relevant state organs complaints or charges against, or exposures of, any state organ or functionary for violation of the law or dereliction of duty.

The Constitution provides that freedom of the person of citizens of the People's Republic of China is inviolable. Unlawful detention or deprivation of citizens' freedom of the person by other means and unlawful search of the person of citizens are prohibited; the personal dignity of citizens is inviolable, and insult, libel, false accusation or false incrimination directed against citizens by any means is prohibited; the residences of citizens are inviolable and unlawful search of, or intrusion into, a citizen's residence is prohibited; freedom and privacy of correspondence are protected by law, and those who hide, discard, damage or illegally open other people's letters, once discovered, shall be seriously dealt with, and grave cases shall be prosecuted.

The Constitution provides that China implements the system of people's democratic dictatorship, which combines democracy among the people and dictatorship against the people's enemies. To guarantee the people's democratic rights and other lawful rights and interests, China pays great attention to improving its legal system. It has promulgated and put into effect a series of major laws, including the Constitution, the Criminal Law, the Law of Criminal Procedure, the General Provisions of the Civil Law, the Law of Civil Procedure and the Law of Administrative Procedure. During the 1979-1990 period, the National People's Congress and its Standing Committees made 99 laws and 21 decisions on legislative amendments and passed 52 resolutions and decisions on legal matters; the State Council formulated more than 700 administrative laws and regulations; and the people's congresses and their standing committees of various provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and provincial capital cities formulated numerous local laws and administrative rules and regulations, of which more than 1,000 were about human rights.

The unity between rights and duties is a basic principle of China's legal system. The Constitution stipulates that every citizen is entitled to the rights prescribed by the Constitution and the law and at the same time must perform the duties prescribed by the Constitution and the law, and that in exercising their freedoms and rights, citizens may not infringe upon the interests of the state, of society or of the collective, or upon the lawful freedoms and rights of other citizens. Legally citizens are the subjects of both rights and duties. Everyone is equal before the rights and duties prescribed by the Constitution and the law. No organization or individual may enjoy the privilege of being above the Constitution and the law.

Practice of the past 40-odd years since liberation proves that the socialist democracy and legal system adopted by China are suited to the country's actual conditions and that the people is satisfied with it. It goes without saying that the building of this democratic politics and this legal system is no smooth sailing. There were times when democracy and law were seriously violated, such as happened during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76). Nevertheless, the Communist Party, backed by the people, corrected these mistakes and set the nation's socialist democracy and legal system back to the course of steady development. Upholding the general policy of reform and opening to the outside world and giving great attention to building socialist democratic politics, China is striving to improve and strictly enforce the socialist legal system and continuing the work to reform and improve the political system -- all for the purpose of ensuring that the people can fully enjoy their civic rights and better exercise their political right of running the country.