By Zou Xiang
In China, there are numerous popular and pragmatic grassroots practices of democratic consultation, ranging from courtyard discussion and residents council to consultation room. These down-to-earth and pragmatic forms of democracy are concrete practices of the country’s whole-process people’s democracy as well a vivid demonstration of the Chinese wisdom of making decisions through consultation.
The Chinese people widely exercise their right to vote in elections and undertake extensive deliberations before major decisions are made, which ensure full expression of people’s wishes and needs, and at the same time help enrich democracy by expanding its forms and channels.
Chinese people always carry out consultations before making decisions on matters of significance. Holding deliberations in good faith whenever a problem occurs is a tradition in Chinese culture, one that has been followed by families, neighborhoods, organizations, and even the entire country.
China’s socialist consultative democracy is deeply rooted in the profound fine traditional Chinese culture, which features such ideas as aspiring for the common good, mutual understanding and inclusiveness, and seeking common ground while setting aside differences, and advocates solidarity and cooperation, communication, and consultation.
Only democracy rooted in a country’s unique social environment has proven to be reliable and effective. Consultative democracy has thrived in China because it agrees with China’s cultural traditions, fits the country’s national realities, and is based on solid cultural, theoretical, practical, and institutional foundations.
Democracy comes in many forms and can be achieved in various ways. Past experience across the world has proven that it is important for a country to ensure the people’s status as masters of the country and support the people in running the country as its masters, involve representatives of the people elected according to law in the management of political and social life, and, through systems and methods other than election, encourage the people to take part in the management of political and social life.
China’s practices of democracy lay emphasis on both the role of democratic election in enabling the people to exercise their right to vote in elections and the advantage of consultative democracy—making it possible for the people to manage state and social affairs through extensive consultation.
During the online solicitations of public views and suggestions for the formulation of the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, Chinese people made over one million comments online, based on which relevant authorities sorted out more than 1,000 pieces of suggestions.
China has solicited public opinion on its draft civil code for 10 times, receiving a total of 1.02 million pieces of advice from 425,000 people during its compilation process.
As facts have proven, consultative democracy offers unimpeded channels for the people’s regular, extensive, and orderly participation in state and social governance, and is deeply integrated into the entire process of China’s socialist democracy.
By conducting extensive consultations in all fields and at all levels through various democratic channels, China promotes democracy, draws on the wisdom of the people, builds consensus, realizes scientific and democratic decision-making, and ensures that the people run the country as its masters.
Extensive democratic consultations provide a profound foundation for state and social governance, and make it possible to pool great strength. It is through democratic consultation that China has built consensus and promoted social harmony and stability.
China draws on collective wisdom and promotes full expression and in-depth exchange of different ideas and viewpoints through democratic consultation. Parties to these consultations respect each other, consult on an equal footing, follow the rules, hold orderly discussions, stay inclusive and tolerant, and negotiate in good faith.
In this way, a positive environment for consultation has been cultivated, in which everyone can express their own views freely, rationally and in accordance with the law and rules.