There is greater democracy in China than in many self-proclaimed democratic countries

We are pleased to republish this article from China Daily featuring a selection of opinions about the China: Democracy That Works white paper released at the beginning of December 2021.

Dispelling a universal type of democracy, China’s latest white paper on the issue presents Chinese whole-process people’s democracy as a true and most suitable form in the country’s context, political analysts say.

The document, titled “China: Democracy That Works”, was released by the State Council Information Office on Saturday. Democracy is a common value of humanity and an ideal pursued by ancient civilizations including China and cherished by the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people, it said.

Carlos Martinez, co-editor of Friends of Socialist China, said that the white paper provides a detailed insight into China’s own democratic system at a time when the United States and its allies are making a big push to promote Western capitalist democracy as the only legitimate form of governance.

“Many in the West, having been told for so long that China is ‘undemocratic’ and ‘authoritarian’, will be surprised to find out that China has an extensive system of electoral representation at every level of society,” said Martinez, whose organization along with others will hold a virtual Summit for Socialist Democracy on Saturday.

Dennis Munene, executive director of the China-Africa Center at the Africa Policy Institute, said that the white paper “captures China’s principle of democratic centralism that demystifies the naysayers and liberal democrats who have a narrow and misconceived understanding of what a people-centered and progressive democracy within a civilization state entails”.

As a blueprint that’s “timely, factual and one rooted in history”, the white paper underscores China’s working democracy that integrates both the electoral and consultative systems of democracy to meet the aspirations of its 1.4 billion people representing the 56 ethnic groups, he said.

“There is much greater democracy in China than in many countries that claim to be democratic countries,” said Munshi Faiz Ahmad, former chairman of the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies and a former Bangladeshi ambassador to China.

“Why? That’s because democracy is measured in terms of people’s consent, people’s supervision, people’s participation and people’s welfare. Looking at all these criteria, I think China is perhaps more democratic than many of the so-called democracies.”

Karori Singh, an Emeritus Fellow at the University of Rajasthan in India, said the paper defines China’s governance pattern as whole-process people’s democracy based on “sound institutional framework” and “concrete and pragmatic practices”, which efficiently operates in the Chinese context.

He said the Chinese people’s democracy is the composite of five main aspects-expanding democratic participation, efficient national governance, social stability and harmony, effective constraint and supervision of the exercise of power.

“Besides the elections and democratic consultation, there are adequate mechanisms for democratic decision-making, democratic management and democratic oversight, including supervisory commissions and judicial supervision,” he said.

“That is why the people’s democracy works effectively to enable people’s rights and overcome extreme poverty in a time-bound framework.”

Unlike in the West, China’s electoral democracy is not manipulated by financial interests, said Martinez. “Electoral campaigns are not high-budget marketing exercises; and people get elected on the basis of their record of serving the people.”

He noted that the white paper says there is no one-size-fits-all approach to democracy. “It therefore does not attempt to universalize China’s democratic model, but it does forcefully reject the attempts by the Western capitalist countries to universalize their model.”

The paper also says whether a country is democratic should be judged by its people, not dictated by a handful of outsiders. Whether a country is democratic should be acknowledged by the international community, not arbitrarily decided by a few self-appointed judges.

To think that democracy is an invention of the West is erroneous, Singh said. “It is rather an institutional evolutionary process in the long history of human civilizations.”

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