[Documents menu] Documents menu

Building socialist democracy

By Li Tieying, China Daily, 5 July 2001

During China's socialist revolution and construction, the Communist Party of China has led the Chinese people in many explorations and innovations to establish a socialist democratic system with Chinese characteristics.

The three generations of collective leadership of the Party, represented respectively by Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, integrated the basic principles of Marxism with China's realities, summarized the experiences of the Party and the people, and gradually formulated a theory for the construction of democracy with Chinese characteristics.

Despite the twists and turns during the process - even such blunders as the cultural revolution (1966-76) - we have made unprecedented achievements in the reform and opening-up drive. The people's congress system and the multi-party co-operation and political consultation system have all been strengthened and perfected.

The authority of the Constitution has also been upheld and reinforced. The initial framework of a socialist legal system has taken shape and people's human rights have been championed. The public's awareness of political participation and discussion of state affairs has increased.

In particular, within the framework of one country, two systems, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and Macao SAR have smoothly rejoined the motherland and have retained their stability and prosperity. The rights and freedom of people in the two regions are protected.

All this testifies to the fact that the present socialist democratic system is suited to China's conditions and is effective in practice.

To better highlight the system, I would like to stress the following points.

First, there is a high-degree integration between the CPC leadership and the people's mastership of the country.

In old China, people suffered repeated setbacks and defeats in their struggles for liberation and democracy. A new leaf was turned in China's history only when the CPC mounted the political stage guided by Marxism. Without the CPC there would have been no New China, nor socialism and the people's right to rule the country and be its master.

The establishment of the leadership of the CPC was not only the historical choice of the Chinese people, but also the most practical way to push forward socialist modernization in China and serve the people's basic interests.

China is a country with an enormous population, vast territory and many ethnic groups; it is relatively backward in its overall level of economic and cultural development, and there are dramatic differences in terms of development from region to region. Only under the leadership of the CPC can China rapidly boost its economic strength, achieve prosperity for every citizen, push forward institutional reform, safeguard national unity, and realize the complete unification of the country.

President Jiang Zemin has pointed out that the CPC always represents the development requirements of China's advanced social productive forces, the progressive orientation of China's advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people. This makes clear the basic reason why the CPC is qualified to assume the responsibility of leadership.

The fundamental purpose of the Party's leadership and its assumption of State authority is to ensure the people's mastership of the country.

Second, our political institution is characterized by multi-party co-operation and democratic consultation.

The relationship between the CPC and the non-Communist parties is one between the party in power and those parties sharing power. This is completely different to the relationship between the ruling party and the opposition parties that exists in the West.

Under the leadership of the CPC, multi-party co-operation and political consultation find expression in democratic consultations between the CPC and non-Communist parties on major issues, discussions, mutual supervision between the CPC and the non-Communist parties, and recommendations of members of the non-Communist parties for leading positions in government and judicial bodies.

Third, the system of the people's mastership ensures the masses enjoy genuine human rights. A socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics respects and protects human rights.

The issue of human rights is not for a minority but for all people irrespective of their ethnicity, race, sex, profession, family background, religious faith or education. The Chinese people enjoy rights ranging from political rights to all economic, cultural and social rights.

However, human rights are sometimes restrained by the level of economic development, the social system, and historical, cultural and other conditions.

For the Chinese people who have suffered so much aggression and bullying at the hands of colonialists and imperialists since the first Opium War (1840-1842), the protection of human rights, first of all, requires the safeguarding of the country's sovereignty, and the right to survival and development of the people and the nation.

National sovereignty is a prerequisite for an individual's enjoyment of human rights. This is the historical conclusion the Chinese people have drawn from their own experiences.

In a nutshell, in leading the whole nation in revolution and construction, the CPC has gradually established a socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics.

This is a form of democracy that the Chinese people truly need, a democracy that is universally enjoyed by the people, and which can ensure the nation's long-term stability and prosperity.

The new century certainly will bring more challenges to the construction of democracy. From an international perspective, economic globalization, an inexorable trend, will inevitably be accompanied with economic, political and ideological conflicts among countries.

Then, how should we correctly handle the relationship between globalization and the independent choice of our own development model and cultural diversity?

This is a great challenge.

Still, we should think seriously about how to improve the present socialist democratic system today when science and technology are transforming every aspect of people's lives.

With the reform and opening-up drive further unfolding in China, the construction of democratic politics faces many urgent problems that cry out for solutions. These include how to perfect democratic supervision, eliminate corruption, promote grassroots democracy, strengthen the concept of rule by law and promote greater respect for and protection of human rights.

However, in spite of the complicated international situation and huge domestic tasks ahead, we are confident that we can overcome all the challenges and strengthen our socialist democratic system.