China is a Democracy, But Not Copy of the West

Zhu Jing – East African Standard (Nairobi)

Copyright The East African Standard
OPINION
6 August 2007
By Zhu Jing [Press Attache, Chinese Embassy]
Nairobi
China practises a unique democratic experience, which
is beneficial, reasonable and fruitful because it
suits the country and has stood the test of time.
The political party system that China adopts is
consultative under the leadership of the Communist
Party of China (CPC), which is different from the
Western two-party or multi-party and the one-party
system practised in some countries.
There are nine political parties in China: The CPC is
the ruling party, but the other eight participate
fully in the exercise of State power and
administration.
The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference
committees, which have been established at national,
provincial, municipal and county levels, comprise
members from all parties, people without party
affiliation, NGO representatives, ethnic minorities
and people of all walks of life.
They exercise the functions of political consultation,
democratic supervision and participate in the
administration and discussion of State affairs. Like
Kenya, China is a multi-ethnic country with 56 ethnic
groups.
To enable all groups, minority ones in particular, to
enjoy equal political, economic, social and cultural
rights, China practises ethnic regional autonomy.
Under the central leadership, organs of
self-governance exercise regional autonomy in areas
where minority groups live. The organs manage the
internal affairs of the ethnic groups independently in
the autonomous regions and in accordance with the law.
The constitution of China stipulates that the State
respects and safeguards human rights and citizens’
basic rights and freedom. After enormous efforts under
the socialist system, the Chinese have improved and
safeguarded survival and development rights.
China has solved the problem of feeding 22 per cent of
the world population with less than 10 per cent of the
world’s arable land.
In less than 30 years, the number of people living
below the poverty line has reduced by 228 million to
21 million. Per capita of GDP has increased from less
than $200 (Sh13,400) to $2,003 last year. The average
life expectancy has jumped from 35 years in 1949 to 72
years today.
Nine-year compulsory education has been popularised
and the social security system established and
perfected.
China’s constitution protect citizen rights to freedom
of religion, speech, Press and association. In China,
there are five major religions – Buddhism, Taoism,
Christianity, Catholicism and Islam, and more than 100
million believers, 300,000 members of the clergy and
more than 100,000 venues for religious activities.
By the end of 2004, there were 290,000 NGOs. In 2004
alone, 26 billion copies of newspapers, 2.7 billion
periodicals and 6.5 billion books were published. At
present, the number of Internet users has reached 150
million.
The livelihood, democracy and civil rights people
enjoy in China are unprecedented in Chinese history.
It is unfair and dishonest to disregard the great
achievements China has made in the economic, political
and social fields in recent years.
The history and reality of human political
civilisation has proved that there is no single and
absolute democratic mode that is universally
applicable.
China’s democracy is different from that of the US and
Europe because our history, economy, culture,
tradition, society and national conditions differ.
China cannot just copy democratic modes of others.
China not perfect
Therefore, it is unreasonable to accuse China of
lacking a democratic environment simply because her
practices differ from those of the US and Europe.
Of course, the democratic mode and practice in China
is not perfect, especially in a country with 2000
years of feudal tradition and 1.3 billion people. It
will be a long way for China to realise its
modernisation. With its economy, society and culture
changing, China will definitely advance, mature and
perfect its democratic mode and practice gradually and
steadily.
More than 2,000 years ago, one of the students of
Confucius, the great ancient Chinese philosopher and
educationalist, asked him how to rule a country.
Confucius replied: “Do not do things in haste and do
not seek petty gains. More haste, less speed. You
cannot accomplish a great cause if you only see small
gains.”
China pursues steady and sustainable development. If
we look at China as a cart on its way to
modernisation, political and economic reform are her
two indispensable wheels.
To move the cart smoothly and unceasingly, China
should try its best to balance two wheels prudently to
avoid overturning or shock therapy. The Chinese
democratic system aims at the long-term welfare of the
people.
China will spare no effort to do appropriate things at
the appropriate time and maximise and sustain the
interest and welfare of her people, and ensure that
democracy brings more benefits.
China has no intention of imposing her political
system and mode of development on others, or even on
Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions or
Taiwan.
Under the policy of One China, two systems, the
country relinquished sovereignty over Hong Kong and
Macao in 1997 and 1999 respectively, maintained their
social system and lifestyle and promoted economic
prosperity and social stability.
Hong Kong and Macao residents enjoy many rights and
freedom than during the colonial rule.
The writer is the Press Attache at the Chinese Embassy
in Kenya
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