Democracy is a common value of humanity, and it is also an important idea that the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese people have always adhered to. On 4th December, 2021, the Chinese government released the white paper “China: Democracy That Works”, which comprehensively expounds the major ideas, standards, the core essence of and China’s major contributions to the whole-process people’s democracy proposed by President Xi Jinping. To help Tanzanian friends better understand China’s democratic development model, I would like to share my views on the whole-process people’s democracy, the ways in which China has realised real democracy, and the right path to advance political civilisation of humankind.
I. Whole-process people’s democracy has enriched and developed political civilisation of humankind.
Since its establishment in 1921, the CPC has always held high the banner of people’s democracy. Since the 18th CPC National Congress was convened in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the core summarised the practice of China’s democratic political construction and put forward the great idea of whole-process people’s democracy. This idea was incorporated into the Organic Law of the National People’s Congress of China and the resolution of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, and became the guiding ideology of the Party and the state.
First of all, whole-process people’s democracy is democracy of the people, and it is a democratic form in which all people can participate, aiming to fulfill the fundamental interests of the maximum number of people. Secondly, the whole-process people’s democracy is a complete institutional chain, which not only has complete institutional procedures, but also has complete participation in practice, realising the unity of process-oriented democracy and result-oriented democracy, procedural democracy and substantive democracy, direct democracy and indirect democracy, people’s democracy and the will of the state, so that people’s wishes and voices can be reflected in all links and aspects of the country’s political and social life, effectively preventing lip service during the election with no fulfillment after the election.
II. Whole-process people’s democratic practice is a miracle in the history of human development.
Democracy is not a decorative ornament, but an instrument for addressing the issues that concern the people. The most basic criterion for democracy is whether people have the right to participate extensively in national governance, whether people’s demands can be responded to and satisfied, and whether people have a sense of gain and happiness. Whether a system is democratic depends on whether it can represent the overall interests of the people and whether the people are satisfied or not. People being masters of the country is the CPC’s initial intention. Whole-process people’s democracy in China is not about formality, but democracy that really makes people happy and benefits people’s livelihood. In the past few decades, China has completely lifted more than 800 million people out of absolute poverty, creating an unprecedented miracle of poverty reduction in the world. China has become the second largest economy and the largest trading country in the world, contributing more than 30 per cent to the world economic growth every year. China has established the largest social security system and nationwide medical security network in the world, covering more than 1.3 billion people. Every year, China has generated over 10 million new jobs for 15 consecutive years, which is equivalent to the total population of a medium-sized country.
Whole-process people’s democracy ensures that people fully enjoy the right to know, express and supervise. In China, major decisions are often made through public opinion solicitation, democratic discussion, extensive listening to opinions and scientific argumentation and democratic decision-making. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has solicited opinions from the public on 187 draft laws, for which about 1.1 million people put forward more than 3 million opinions and suggestions, and many important opinions were adopted. In the process of formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development, the Chinese government extensively consulted the people, and collected more than 1 million opinions and suggestions through online consultation among others.
The People’s Congress system is an important institutional carrier to realise whole-process people’s democracy. All major issues discussed and decided by the People’s Congress and its Standing Committee should be thoroughly investigated in various locations before the meeting, fully demonstrated by various parties, with opinions and suggestions widely listened to from all sides. The warm applause sounded when every vote was passed truly reflects the aspiration of whole-process people’s democracy in China. In July 2020, a political trust survey released by US Edelman Public Relations Worldwide showed that the Chinese people’s trust in their own government reached 95 per cent, ranking the first among the countries surveyed, and China had topped the list for three consecutive years.
III. There is more than one way to realise democracy. Whether the shoe fits or not, only the wearer really knows.
In this world, there has never been a democratic model suitable for all countries, let alone a perfect and superior democratic system. Democracy is the right of the people in every country, rather than the prerogative of a few nations. There are many ways to realise democracy, and it is impossible to apply one form to all. From the gains and losses of political development at home and abroad, the CPC realised that China’s political civilisation and political system must be deeply rooted in the Chinese soil, and the democratic model imposed by external forces will only lead to “unacclimatisation”, and copying other countries’ political systems will even ruin a country’s future.
The human political civilisations are colorful just because different civilisations have their own merits. We always hold that for different forms of democracy in different countries, we should adopt an open and inclusive attitude, seeking common ground while reserving differences; We should fully respect and learn from each other in the exploration and efforts of various countries to pursue democracy. All countries should adhere to the principle of equality and non-discrimination, respect each other’s democratic models, devote themselves to their own exploration while strengthening exchanges and mutual learning so as to jointly promote the development of human civilisations.
Democracy is not a western specialty. Africa has a long tradition of democracy like China. As a unique way of deliberative democracy and the gene of African democracy, Africa’s “democracy under the big trees” runs through African history and flows in the blood of African nations. President Julius Nyerere once said, “Democracy is not a bottle of Coca-Cola which you can import. Democracy should develop according to that particular country.” President Samia Suluhu Hassan said that there is no one-size-fits-all model for democracy, and that democracy depends on different culture, norms and political ideas, which you can not import.
These propositions are consistent with China’s position. After gaining independence, Tanzania independently explored the democratic model with its own characteristics according to its national conditions. The current Tanzanian political system was formulated through unremitting efforts made by several generations of Tanzanians. It has ensured the long-term political stability, social tranquility, and rapid economic development of the country, and set a good example for other African countries to emulate. China is willing to exchange the experience in exploring and developing democratic systems and institutions with Tanzania on the basis of full equality and mutual respect, and make greater contributions to carrying forward the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, enriching and developing human political civilisation, and building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era