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Promoting development of consultative democracy through Chinese-style discussion

By Wang Chuantao, CNTV Commentator

The closing meeting of the third session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) was held on the afternoon of March 13.

The CPPCC is considered an essential part of Chinese-style democracy. Conference Chairman Yu Zhensheng pointed out in the annual work report that the CPPCC is neither an organization about power nor a body for policy-making, but it is instead an important platform for people from all party groupings, races and walks of life to develop democracy, participate in discussion of national affairs and strengthen unity and cooperation. The CPPCC’s discourse power is also irreplaceable and influential.

Thus the CPPCC is fundamentally not invested with any real power and CPPCC members, different from National People’s Congress deputies, do not have the right to vote on national laws, government regulations or work reports related to certain issues. Nevertheless the CPPCC’s significance is crucial to national democratic operations.

The promotion of new development of national consultative democracy forms the basis for doing a good job at the CPPCC. In the new era and new situation, the traditional terms are redefined for democratic consultation and participation in the management and discussion of state affairs.

In his September 2014 speech at the celebration ceremony of the 65th anniversary of the founding of the CPPCC, General Secretary of CPC Central Committee

Xi Jinping creatively and vividly proposed the concept of “Chinese-style consultation” for the first time.

He stressed that under the Chinese socialist system, consultation is a good solution to problems. Public affairs need discussion. The essence of people’s democracy is to explore the common interest between people’s demands and social willingness. To handle affairs related to people’s interests requires discussion among the people. It is very hard to solve problems well without sufficient discussion. We need to obey the principle of discussions for solving problems, in case of emergency and on solutions to problems. The more we discuss, the deeper we talk, the better it appears.

It can be concluded that the Three Discussions and Four Broad Consultations are the keys to doing jobs well for the CPPCC. As a matter of fact, there have been great achievements in perfecting the operation of the CPPCC. CPPCC Vice Chairman Qi Xuchun mentioned that a total 6,101 proposals were submitted last year, of which 5,857 were proposed at conference and 226 put forward during ordinary times. After examination, 5,052 were registered on file. As of February 20, 5,046 proposals were settled or addressed, 99.8 percent of the total. This percentage is just the latest achievement of Chinese-style discussion.

It is necessary to explain that the discussion is not the decision, but discussion will influence decisions. Yu Zhengsheng has stressed earlier at last year’s CPPCC annual session that the conferences and activities of the CPPCC should be carried out under the policy of Three No Actions: no assailing, no slandering and no entangling.

It was suggested that members advocate warm but not contrary discussion, develop sincere but not impatient talks, encourage sharp but not extreme criticism and try to create a democratic atmosphere in which all can express their ideas freely and individually. It can be concluded that the above principles of participation in the management and discussion of state affairs are helpful to the majority of CPPCC members to express ideas and offer suggestions.

Obviously the level of consultative democracy still needs to be further improved. It can be achieved with the assistance of the CPPCC’s own team building.

On the one hand, it is well known that in recent years, some corrupt “tiger” members were investigated within the CPPCC system. On the other, some individual members including CPPCC members from local governments, still hold down the position without doing a stroke of work. Some are always asking for leave while others attend the meeting without making any proposals. There are some members who propose only for their own field, industry or enterprise rather than for the greater public interest.

In other words, their participation in the management and discussion of state affairs still needs to be strengthened while the quality of many proposals needs to be improved. The above mentioned will seriously hamper our national consultative democratic development.

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