The 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body, and the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, ended their fourth annual sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. President Xi Jinping and other top officials attended the closing meetings of both sessions.
In the concluding speech at both meetings, Wang Yang, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, and Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC standing committee, called for members of the advisory body and lawmakers to converge energy and wisdom for China's further development trajectory by consolidating platforms and channels of both apparatuses from wide angles. These platforms and channels are expected to serve as key institutions for the fulfillment of China's democracy, featuring in all processes.
China is a country that always upholds and promotes people's democracy. Over a long time, Western media and scholarly communities have either seriously distorted or misunderstood China in terms of democracy. Admittedly, as a means of governing a society in a rightful and just way, democracy originated from the Ancient Greek city-state. But in reality, democracy is not a patent invented by and belonging to certain countries.
Through the historical process, it has already become a common value of the entire human being. To realize and practice democracy, there are various approaches, and there is by no means a fixed standard model. By scrutinizing human history, hardly could we deny that true democracy must be rooted in the specific historical and socioeconomic context of a country and must serve its people.
China's socialist democracy has been termed as "whole-process democracy" and has been highlighted in the revised version of the Organic Law of the NPC and the Rules of Procedure for the NPC. Scholars have detected differences in the practice of democracy between the West and China. One of the notable attributes of Chinese democracy lies in the process of "consensus-building", that is reached by extensive consideration of public opinions and intensive deliberation of experts' recommendation.
Comparatively, people have paid too many resources on voting and electing those who can represent them when practicing democracy in the West, which results in fierce competition and aggression between/among political parties who nominate candidates for people to choose. This is the part where misunderstanding of Chinese democracy comes from.
Some Western scholars and China-watchers simply treat competition as the criterion for democracy, but in fact, content is more important than form. Choosing a representative is a democracy, but it is just a part of democracy. Though China does not follow the two-party/multi-party system, there are more details of the practice of democracy in the legislative mechanisms.
The socialist democracy practiced by China upholds the organic unity of the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the running of the country by the people, and the rule-of-law principle. Important legislation and policy-making must go through set procedures and extensive consultation and intensive discussions, and the final decision must be made on the basis of scientific and democratic deliberations.
It is then the most representative democracy where people's matters are widely consulted for the greatest common denominator that suits the will of the whole society. For instance, when drafting the 14th Five-Year Plan and development goals for the next 15-year period, the Chinese authority placed great significance on the views of the people from all walks of life and collected more than one million comments and recommendations through the online channel.
Facts have also shown that China's socialist democracy embodies the will of the people and fits the country's realities. As Premier Li Keqiang noted in the press conference, the Chinese government is people-centered and must respond to people's needs. The essential goal of China's development is to make Chinese people live better lives.
Among all issues, education and healthcare are concerning each and every Chinese family the most, which are bound up with the nation's future. Policies responding to these issues will be carried out in the wake of the Two Sessions. Officials have learned most of the people's needs through an online forum, which consists of China's whole-process democracy. It is therefore endorsed by the people and has made special, important contributions to China's development.
As is noted by the Chinese leader, the new generations of Chinese youth now can view the West with a relatively even perspective, no more heads-up and no more heads-down. Democracy is now viewed as a shared belief and common value of the entire human being; it arrives at China as an achievement of revolution and a sign of progress.
Yet, Chinese people, in fact, people from all over the world, shall enjoy democratic principle and practice in their own ways, as they start to realize that the time when a single country holds the superior moral status and judges others with its own standard has gone with the wind. Perhaps now it's time to get back to the initial meaning and mission of true democracy.