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[CGTN]聚焦兩會|Xia Lu and Gao Lei:Why China's whole-process democracy is a genuine institution
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The Two Sessions, China's annual key socio-political affair designated to pass laws and set development agenda, once again have attracted the attention of almost all news outlet in the world, exemplifying particular characteristics of the country's political institution.

When talking about current various political institutions at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations in 2013, President Xi Jinping referred to them with a metaphor of shoes. "'Only the wearer of the shoes knows whether they fit or not.' Likewise, only the people can tell whether the development approaches they choose fit or not." Over the past seven decades, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has led Chinese people in promoting socialist democracy, advancing the integration of the Party's leadership, running the country by the people, and law-based governance. Highly adaptable to China's socio-political conditions, the Chinese democratic institution is extensive, genuine, and effective due to the fact that it guarantees people's participation in all-round affairs and addresses issues concerning the people.

Firstly, China's democracy is alive instead of being in hibernation as noticed by some political scientists. A living and genuine democracy involves more than just campaigning and voting. Rather, it is functioning in every corner in the process of running the country. In China, people don't just have the right of voting or being elected, but also enjoy the rights of consulting, decision-making, supervising, and being involved in governance.

In particular, this mode of democracy has penetrated into every dimension and corner of the grassroots governance in the Chinese society. As Chinese people have shown growing enthusiasm for participating in grassroots governance with increasing attention paid to what is occurring around them, the CPC has been leading reforms and institutional innovation at the micro level to expand the channels for ordinary people's political participation.

For instance, the "Fengqiao Experience," firstly named by Chairman Mao Zedong in the early 1960s after the successful social governance of Fengqiao Township in Zhejiang Province, got promoted again by President Xi Jinping in the new era for its significance in advancing people's political participation while maintaining social stability at the grassroots level. In so doing, the CPC enjoys the wholehearted support of the broadest possible majority of Chinese people.

Second, China's democracy is adaptive as it is in conformity with the country's real and particular circumstances. Adapting to the local condition is an inevitable prerequisite for the existence of various kinds of political institutions. Unlike other regions with a long tradition of "decentralization," to build a state with a modern governing system and strong capability, China's political institutions shall have the capacity to perform massive resource allocation and the efficiency to manage a vast and densely-populated society with uneven resource distribution. The CPC has led Chinese people in designing and formulating such democratic institutions as people's congresses, people's political consultative conferences, autonomous ethnic regions, and self-managing neighborhoods, all of which have adopted China's need for safeguarding national unity, promoting socio-economic development, and improving people's well-being.

The people's congresses have been identified as China's fundamental political institution as they enjoy the powers of enacting laws and regulations, conducting supervision, making decisions, and appointing or dismissing officials according to the law. There are five levels of people's congresses operating in China, namely national, provincial, municipal, county-level, and township-level. The total number of deputies to all these levels surpasses 2.62 million (as of November 2019), of which nearly 95 percent are consisting of deputies to people's congresses at county-level and township-level (as of July 2015). Ordinary Chinese people can take part in politics and public affairs through these institutions, with the aim of preserving their rights and interests and fulfilling their will, as we shall be observing in the next couple of days.

In parallel to the session of National People's Congress (NPC), the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), another major session to perform consultative democracy and a distinctively political institution with Chinese characteristics, is also being held to handle various socio-economic affairs.

Last but not least, China's democracy is functional and effective as it is to be used to tackle the issues that Chinese people wish to tackle, instead of being simply treated as a piece of decoration. Under the comprehensive leadership of the CPC, the legislative, executive, supervisory, and judicial bodies of the Chinese government coordinate and cooperate with each other, rather than jeopardizing their own work. In the process of running the country, the operation of China's democracy avoids holding elections or standing in opposition just for the sake of it, therefore preventing internal meaningless struggles and wasting time and resources due to endless discussions without decisions or decisions without implementation. Unlike some countries, once a resolution has been ratified and a major decision has been made, China's state apparatus will make concerted efforts and mobilize key resources across the country to accomplish the task.

A real case of ecological preservation and environmental protection exemplifies the institution's function and efficacy. The conservation of the Yangtze River is highly related to the well-being of nearly half of the Chinese population. In early 2016, President Xi Jinping presided over a work conference on the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, setting the general agenda of promoting well-coordinated environmental conservation and avoiding excessive development. Progress has since been made in the fields of legislative, executive, and judicial affairs. The NPC Standing Committee has made and adopted the Yangtze River Protection Law. Governments at all levels have been implementing a long-term fishing ban along the Yangtze River. Procuratorial and judicial organs have launched a severe crackdown on illegal sand mining and fishing according to the law. The state apparatus at various levels have performed their duties, taken on due responsibilities and made coordinated efforts to accelerate the high-quality development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt.

(夏璐,中國人民大學國家發展與戰略研究院研究員、馬克思主義學院副教授)

原文鏈接:Why China's whole-process democracy is a genuine institution


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