China's democracy and development model ensures its success
Editor's note: China has been exploring its path in terms of finding the right democratic model for its people. How has China's governance system developed over time? In which way has it demonstrated that the Chinese people are the masters of their own country? Zafar Uddin Mahmood, the former special envoy of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, shared his thoughts during the Understanding China Conference hosted by the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
Democracy is considered a common value for humanity, but there is no "one size fits all" model for democracy around the world. Each country can blaze its own path keeping in view its specific social and cultural traditions. Democracy is all about whether the people can truly be the masters of their own country and whether it can improve the living standards of the people.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) at the time of its founding in 1921 pointed out that people would be masters of the country. In the inaugural speech on October 1, 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong while declaring the founding of the People's Republic of China also announced that "from now on people will be the masters of the country." This marked an important turning point in the history of the country. From 1949 to 1978, the CPC united and led the people in establishing the system of people's congresses, multi-party cooperation, political consultations, and the system of regional and ethnic autonomy. The political structure, economic foundation, legal principles, and institutional framework for the people to run their country were all put in place and China's democracy tower has since developed steadily on a strong foundation.
Since the launch of the reform and opening-up, the CPC led the people in advancing socialist democracy and the rule of law. The system of people's congresses was further developed and consolidated. The system of community-level governance and other political systems were improved.
Since the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, which is rooted in human civilization and can brace the challenges of the present. The whole-process people's democracy is a complete system with supporting mechanisms and procedures and has been fully tested through wide participation. It integrates two major democratic models, i.e., electoral democracy and consultative democracy, with distinctive Chinese characteristics.
I've lived in China for about 30 years, and what I've seen with my own eyes is that the whole system is deeply integrated into the governance of the country and society, enabling everyone to participate extensively. It is an important aspect of the comprehensive development of the country.
Since the reform and opening-up, China has conducted 12 direct elections to people's congresses at the township level and 11 direct elections to those at the county level. The whole-process people's democracy has not only ensured the people's status as masters of the country but also improved the participation spirit and inclusiveness to promote reforms and development.
China's whole-process people's democracy is markedly different from the Western democratic system where the political parties become active only during elections whereas, in China, it is an ongoing process of consultations and interaction at every level. As President Xi Jinping said, "Democracy is not an ornament to be used for decoration; it is to be used to solve the problems that the people want to solve." A people-centered system relies on the people, and it must promote social progress and benefit the 1.4 billion Chinese people.
China's rapid development over the past few decades would not have been possible without the participation of all. China has lifted more than 800 million people out of extreme poverty, significantly improved people's living standards, and become the world's second-largest economy. None of these gains would have been possible had China's system not worked. This fully proves the value of the whole-process people's democracy.
China is not copying any models, whether it is a development model or a democratic model, but instead explores its own path created by its people. The whole-process people's democracy has united the whole country and inspired the creativity of hundreds of millions of Chinese people, thus ensuring the success of China's path and consolidating the foundation of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
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