Confidence in the Political System of Chinese Socialism*
September 5, 2014
People's democracy is a banner that the CPC has always held high. On our way forward, we should keep to the socialist path of making democratic political progress with Chinese features.
The way we plan and accelerate China's socialist democracy plays a decisive, comprehensive, and far-reaching role in our national political life.
At all times and almost everywhere on the planet, evidence can be found showing that the wrong choice in the path for political development leads to social unrest, national disruption, and the fall of the government. China is a large developing country. Choosing the right path for its political progress is therefore a fundamental and vital issue.
Designing and developing the national political system, we must ensure the unity of history and reality, theory and practice, and form and content.
We must take into account the realities and the prevailing conditions in China, focusing on current issues to respond to actual demands rather than copying from other models.
We must keep to the long-established track of historical heritage, cherishing the path of past development, accumulated political experience, and established political principles rather than breaking with history.
A political system works to adjust political relations, establish political order, accelerate national development, and maintain national stability. This is why it cannot be judged without reference to its specific social and political conditions. It can never be all in the same key and follow the same pattern. In our political system, we should not simply imitate others when we see things that we do not have, and neither should we want to get rid of what we believe to be surplus because others do not have it. Neither of these views is correct because they are superficial and reductive.
As an old Chinese saying goes, "To the south of the Huaihe River grow oranges, while to the north grow bitter oranges."1 The purpose of the saying is to highlight the influence of environment. We should draw on the achievements of other political civilizations, but we should never let them outweigh the foundations of China's own political system.
China is a country with a land area of over 9.6 million square kilometers and a population of 56 ethnic groups. Whose model should we copy? And who is qualified to throw their weight around and tell us what to do?
Living in a colorful world, we should uphold the approach of inclusiveness, modestly learn from the best of other civilizations, and digest and absorb them on an independent basis, so as to turn them into part of the best of our own. Never follow others without trying to understand them properly. In attempting to walk like a swan, the crow loses its own gait.
Blindly copying the political systems of other countries will never work in China. They will never adapt to our country. Such a course of action will "turn the tiger you are trying to draw into a dog". It could even spell an end to the independent destiny of our country. Only a system deeply-rooted and fully nourished in our own soil is trustworthy and will serve our purposes.
No two political systems on earth are exactly alike, and no model can fit the political systems of all countries.
The Chinese people recognize that it is natural for things to be different. All countries differ in their realities. Each country is unique in its political system, which is determined by its people and has been developed and gradually refined over a long period of time on the basis of their historical heritage, cultural traditions, and social and economic development.
The strength of China's socialist political system, featuring Chinese characteristics – workable, full of vigor and vitality, and efficient – is that, past and present, it has grown on the Chinese soil. In the future, it will continue to thrive and to be deeply rooted in this soil.
The best way to evaluate whether a country's political system is democratic and efficient is to observe whether the succession of its leading body is orderly and in line with the law, whether all people can manage state affairs and social, economic and cultural affairs in conformity with legal provisions, whether the public can express their requirements without hindrance, whether all sectors can efficiently participate in the country's political affairs, whether national decisions can be made in a rational, democratic way, whether professionals in all fields can be part of the team of the national leadership and administrative systems through fair competition, whether the ruling party can serve as a leader in state affairs in accordance with the Constitution and laws, and whether the exercise of power can be kept under effective restraint and supervision.
Thanks to a long-term effort, we have made decisive progress in addressing such major issues.
We have replaced the life-long tenure of officials with limited terms. Today, all officials serving in government agencies are replaced in an orderly manner.
We have offered greater opportunities for the people to participate in political affairs, so that they are able to play their role as the masters of the country, on a wide range, at all levels.
We have promoted the broadest possible patriotic United Front and developed a unique socialist consultative democracy, which has brought together the wisdom and strength of all political parties, organizations, ethnic groups, social groups, and people from all walks of life.
We have striven to establish a decision-making system that tells us how people are faring, reflects public opinion, pools general wisdom, and values social strengths. We have also maximized the transparency of decision-making and provided further opportunities for the public to take part in the process, so as to ensure that all of our decisions serve the interests and aspirations of the people.
We have established and improved a system for the selection and appointment of exemplary talent, so that outstanding people from all sectors can be drawn to the causes of both the Party and the government.
We have promoted the rule of law, law-based governance and exercise of state power, and a law-based country, government and society, thus enhancing governance by law throughout the country.
We have established and refined a multilevel system for scrutiny and one for open administration system in various areas so as to guarantee that both Party and central government organs, as well as their staff, exercise their power in accordance with proper authorization and procedures.
China has implemented the state system which is a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and farmers, the system of people's congresses as the system of government, the system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, the system of regional ethnic autonomy, and the system of community-level self-governance, featuring distinctive Chinese characteristics.
This institutional arrangement has demonstrated the following strengths:
– It performs well in allowing the people to enjoy more extensive and more substantial rights and freedoms, and share more opportunities to participate in national and social governance.
– It can effectively regulate the country's political relations, promote a vigorous and vital relationship among political parties, ethnic groups, religions, social groups, and compatriots at home and abroad, enhance national cohesion, and form political stability.
– It can pool our resources to accomplish sizable tasks, success- fully accelerate the liberation and development of social productivity, incentivize all sectors during socialist modernization, and upgrade quality of life and standards of living.
– It can effectively safeguard state independence, sovereignty, security, and the benefits of development, and maintain the well-being of both the nation and its people.
Over the three decades since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policy, China has overcome rarely-seen difficulties and removed barriers to progress. As a result it has reached new heights in economic strength and overall national strength, and in people's standard of living. All ethnic groups have worked together for common prosperity and development, leading to a long-term social harmony and stability in the country. Facts prove that China's socialist democracy is bestowed with enormous vitality and the country has made the right choice for its socialist path of making political progress with Chinese characteristics, which suits China's national conditions and reinforces the position of the people as the master of the country.
A country's political system defines and responds to its economic and social foundations. It can even play a decisive role. It is a key link between other systems. Therefore, we must increase self-confidence in our country's political system and strengthen our faith in and determination to follow our chosen political path of development.
Socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics is something new, and good. This does not necessarily mean that China's political system is flawless, beyond improvement and incapable of development.
Having confidence in our political system does not mean being smug or complacent, nor does it mean we know best and we can ignore the outside world. Instead, we should fuse growing confidence in the system with continuous reform and innovation, and be unstinting in our efforts to improve and develop the institutional system, while maintaining the fundamental political system.
As we have always believed, the progress of our democracy and legal system is not quick enough in responding to the requirements of expanding people's democracy and promoting social and economic development. When it comes to socialist democracy, there remain further improvements to be made in its system, mechanisms, procedures, regulations, and specific operations. We should therefore double our efforts to safeguard the people's right to democracy and give full play to their creativity.
While promoting reform in all respects, we should actively and steadily advance political reform, take the people's position as masters of the country as a fundamental principle, enhance the vitality of the Party and the country, and keep the people fully motivated.
Socialist political progress means modernizing the state governance system and capacity.
The general goal of continuing reform, set at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, concluded with two phrases: "improving and developing the socialist system with Chinese characteristics", and "modernizing our national governance system and capacity". The former defines our fundamental orientation – Chinese socialism, rather than anything else. The latter points the distinctive direction to achieve development and progress under the fundamental orientation. Each of the two is essential, and they are interdependent.
The key to socialist democracy lies in maximizing and expanding our strengths and traits.
We should give better play to the Party's core function as a leader that commands the overall situation and coordinates with all other stakeholders. We should improve the CPC's capability for scientific, democratic and law-based governance, ensure that the Party leads the people to govern the country effectively, and guarantee that our country moves forward with the leadership and in a state of unity.
We must uphold the principle that all power of the state belongs to the people, which guarantees not only democratic elections in accordance with the law but also democratic decision-making, democratic management, and democratic supervision, and avoids any risk that pre-election promises will not be kept.
We must uphold and improve the system of CPC-led multiparty cooperation and political consultation, and intensify cooperation and coordination between all social forces, so as to avoid conflicts, disputes, and internal strife among the various parties involved.
We must uphold and improve the system of regional ethnic autonomy, consolidate ethnic relations of equality, unity, mutual assistance and harmony, and achieve harmonious development of all ethnic groups, so as to guard against ethnic conflicts and misunderstandings.
We must uphold and improve the system of community-level self-governance by improving local democracy, and see that the people directly exercise their democratic rights in line with the law, and that their rights are genuine.
We must uphold and improve the system and principle of democratic centralism by enhancing the capacity and efficiency of all government agencies, stepping up their coordination and collaboration, and forming a strong force for managing our state affairs, so as to avoid internal friction.
In short, we should double our efforts in institutionalizing and standardizing socialist democracy to give free rein to the strengths of the socialist political system with Chinese characteristics, so that our Party and nation can thrive and enjoy long-lasting stability
* Part of the speech at the meeting marking the 60th anniversary of the National People's Congress.
1 Annals of Master Yan (Yan Zi Chun Qiu).
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)