Democracy with Chinese characteristics
By Muhammad Asif Noor  ·  2021-12-16  ·   Source: China Focus

The State Council Information Office of China published a white paper titled “China: Democracy That Works” recently. The white paper explains in detail the Chinese governance ideals and democratic values of the Communist Party of China (CPC) which are distinct from Western practice of democracy. The white paper makes a benchmark in redefining democracy in practice maintaining that democratic ideals vary from state to state in relation to its culture, history, tradition, and ideology.

Similarly, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences with partner institution organized an international forum on democracy wherein people from across the globe participated. The White paper and the forum are meant to create an understanding of Chinese democratic values and the people-centered approach towards governance. This also clarifies the myths that have been created by the West that only their style of democracy falls under the definitions of democracy.

At the same time, the United States made a global gathering on democracy virtually on December 9 and 10. Marred with political gambling and false notion of democratic values, this summit by Washington has a flawed approach towards democracy and its ideals. Pakistan as an iron brother to China has withdrawn itself to participate in the summit hosted by Biden Administration. America is again taking the world to next level of conflict of narratives that are based on its “not so democratic way” as this only leads to further chaos in the world.

In order to understand China’s democratic model, the role of the CPC as a unique party system should be well grasped before making any judgements. The party has been fully working to promote a democratic country for the past 100 years. This is the reality that the world needs to understand. If the CPC can realize the will of the people in its leadership and governance and make the country progressive, then that system is democratic. This is also how democracy functions according to the norms, values, and indigenous ways of any country across the world.

Over the past 100 years, the CPC has led China to democratize the social system and governance with socialist characteristics. The Chinese people are empowered to the extent that they really hold their society, country, and their future in their hands. It is an example of a social democracy that embraces all aspects of the democratic process such as participation, inclusiveness, and fundamental freedoms.

A resident takes pictures at an alley during an art season in east China’s Shanghai, on December 4, 2021 (XINHUA)

With a slow fading of the so-called “liberal democratic” world order where we have witnessed the flawed democracy that the US and other allies have tried to impose to the other countries resultant in destruction in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan. The challenges are tremendous to humanity and these challenges required tremendous efforts and wisdom. As the “liberal democratic” order is failing, there is an alternative solution to it that China is offering at the same time. That is to live in harmony, peace, fair play, and development.

Over the past 100 years, the Communist Party of China has led the people to democratize the government and its people with socialist characteristics. The Chinese political system is an embedded ladder of democratic values and principles that make the CPC one of the world’s largest political parties lead the rise of China in a peaceful manner as the world has witnessed.

The Chinese people are empowered and now hold their society, country, and their future in their hands. It is an example of a social democracy that embraces all aspects of the democratic process by including all sectors of society. It is important to remember that democracy in practice is not a uniform approach and democratic ideals vary from state to state in relation to its culture, history, tradition, and ideology. The Chinese Constitution and laws empower Chinese people to have the right of participation in government, which embodies the democracy with socialist characteristics and it fits China’s conditions.

Democracy is not a “glittering blanket with shining surface” but it is a comprehensive and practical tool to mend the problems people are facing through participation. Democracy should not be considered as a handpicked ruling model of a few developed countries but a democratic governance right of every country. It is for the people of the country to decide whether a country is a democracy or not.

The whole-process democracy in China is an amalgam of public participation in community governance, representatives’ election, policymaking, policy implementation, and the whole national effort towards a common goal. The unity of action serves the best definition of democracy which has been made possible by the intensive efforts of the CPC. The leadership of the CPC which represents the will of the public enables the government of the people, a basic tenet of democracy.

The author is a director at the Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, Pakistan.

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