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The political system of China: a new form of democracy?

News   •   Oct 17, 2012 04:49 GMT

Before asking such questions, are we sure that we know everything about China's political system? Do "they" really want to change it? Do they need to do that?

Between the lines of the Constitution

It is believed in the West that the Communist Party is like a vice clamped onto political structure of the State. That is not exactly like that. Interestingly, the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is not mentioned among the General Principles of the state in the Constitution. Does that mean that the CPC has no special status in the Chinese political structure? Not quite. In the Preamble we read that "[u]nder the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the guidance of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, the Chinese people of all nationalities will continue to adhere to the people's democratic dictatorship and follow the socialist road <...>"

According to the Constitution of 1982, "all power in the People's Republic of China belongs to the people," and "the people administer state affairs and manage economic, cultural and social affairs through various channels and in various ways in accordance with the law."

The bodies through which the people exercise state power are theNational People's Congress (NPC) and the local people's congresses at different levels. The NPC is composed of deputies elected by all provinces and different regions. All of the national minorities are entitled to appropriate representation.

The Standing Committee is the NPC's permanent active body. The National People's Congress and the Standing Committee both deal with issues vital to the State. And still, there is not a word about any direct influence from the Communist Party in State matters.

Thus, the Constitution of China has all essential principles of the state where the people's interest is paramount.

Hidden powers of the Party

The belief about a single-party political system in China is also incorrect. The Communist Party of China is not the only political party in the country. Yes, beyond all doubt, the CPC is the ruling and most powerful political force in China. Nowadays, the CPC has more than 78 million members and over 3.5 million local organizations. After all, it's no secret that about 70 percent of all current NPC delegates are members of the Communist Party of China.

However, besides CPC there are another eight legally recognized parties in China! At the present time these democratic parties consist of more than 700,000 members. The numbers would look impressive by European standards.

The new approach?

Together with the Communist Party, the eight minor parties also participate in the political system as members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Nominally, the CPPCC is a political advisory body in the People's Republic of China. Its resolutions and "opinions" are in no way binding. The CPPCC performs an exclusively advisory role.

At the same time, it does not seem accidental that the Chairman and Party secretary of the National Committee of the СPPCC is the fourth ranking member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China. The president of the People's Republic of China also holds the title of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. The premier of the State Council holds membership in the Politburo Standing Committee of the CPC as well.

Once again, the Constitution says nothing about membership in the Communist Party being obligatory for state officials. The Constitution says that "citizens of the People's Republic of China, who have the right to vote and to stand for election and who have reached the age of 45, are eligible for election as President or Vice-President of the People's Republic of China.”

In any country there is a gap between the laws and their application to real life, i.e. practice does not always match theory. The problem is how wide is the gap. On the other hand, the narrowing of the gap motivates the future development.

Chinese political scientists like Bo Zhiyue from the National University of Singapore define the current state of affairs in China as "the new model of democracy." The main feature of "the Chinese model of democracy" is to ensure close cooperation between the democratic National People's Congress (NPC) and the democratic Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

The word democratic should be given a new light of understanding.

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