Editor’s note: 2023 is the first full year for implementing the guiding principles of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Ahead of this year’s Two Sessions, China’s key annual political meetings, CGTN presents “China Marches On,” a special series that takes an in-depth look at the country’s endeavors in advancing Chinese modernization.
In the coming days, nearly 3,000 National People’s Congress (NPC) deputies and around 2,000 members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) will gather in Beijing to perform their duties, which include deliberating on various legislative items and reviewing a series of work reports to find common ground and converge the interests of the Chinese people.
The annual gatherings, known as the Two Sessions, offer observers a window into the ideas and practices of the whole-process people’s democracy, which has become a buzzword in China’s political arena over the past several years.
According to Chinese President Xi Jinping, China’s whole-process people’s democracy “is a democracy that covers all aspects of the democratic process and all sectors of society. It is a socialist democracy to the broadest extent, of the truest nature, and to the greatest effect.”
DEMOCRACY TO THE BROADEST EXTENT
Commenting on China’s whole-process people’s democracy, South African researcher Paul Tembe said, “The voices of the people across the board are factored in, not only during the electoral process, but people’s power is exercised through the National People’s Congress at the county and township levels.”
In the words of the Chinese president, “Whether a country is democratic or not depends on whether its people are truly the masters of the country. It depends on whether the people have the right to vote, and more importantly, the right to participate.”
In China, deputies to county and township-level people’s congresses are directly elected by voters, while deputies to congresses above the county level are elected by deputies at the next lower level.
Till last June, over 1 billion voters had cast their ballots on a one-person-one-vote basis in elections of over 2.6 million deputies to people’s congresses at the township and county levels, according to the General Office of the Standing Committee of the NPC.
Deputies to the NPC are elected by people’s congresses of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government. The armed forces elect their own deputies.
Even the Chinese president’s nomination as a deputy to the 14th NPC was put to a vote at a provincial congress. President Xi was elected to the 14th NPC by a unanimous vote at the first session of the 14th Jiangsu Provincial People’s Congress in January.
For the CPPCC, its members are divided into 34 participating groups, including representatives from the Communist Party of China (CPC), non-CPC political parties, people’s organizations, ethnic minority groups and various sectors of society, compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and the Taiwan regions, and returned overseas Chinese citizens.
As environmental protection continues to be a major focus of work across the country, the CPPCC has set up a new sector on environment and natural resources, comprising 85 names from the 2,172 members of the new CPPCC National Committee for the upcoming Two Sessions.
Among them, 852, or 39.2 percent, are from the CPC, while the remaining are non-CPC members. All of China’s 56 ethnic groups are represented in the nation’s top advisory body.
DEMOCRACY OF TRUEST NATURE, GREATEST EFFECT
Former Tunisian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ounaies said democracy practiced in China is “honest, pragmatic and without showmanship.”
From President Xi’s perspective, “Democracy is not an ornament for display, but an instrument for addressing the issues that concern the people.”
During the Two Sessions, NPC deputies submit motions and are the voice of the people they represent, while CPPCC members offer proposals to participate in the deliberation and administration of state affairs.
During last year’s Two Sessions, the NPC deputies submitted 487 legislative motions along with around 8,000 pieces of advice, criticism and comments, while the CPPCC received 5,979 proposals.
NPC Deputy Ma Yide, who is also a legal researcher at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, said that the whole-process people’s democracy has been put into practice in the country’s legislative work.
The issue of throwing objects from high-rise buildings has aroused widespread concern in the Chinese society. In codifying the Civil Code, Ma proposed that this issue should be investigated by the public security organs, and the relevant content was eventually absorbed into the law.
Last year, CPPCC member Zhu Tao, who is also a chief scientist at CanSino, submitted a proposal calling on the government to approve and adopt second-generation COVID-19 vaccines with improved quality and safety as early as possible in order to enhance national immunization levels.
Last April, the second-generation recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by China National Pharmaceutical Group Co. received approval from Beijing for clinical trials, and in September, China became the first country to green-light an inhaled COVID-19 vaccine.