By Shakeel Ahmad Ramay
China is gearing up for the 20th National Congress of Communist Party of China (CPC). National Congress, which is held after every five years, is a key pillar of CPC. Leadership from all over the country gather at Beijing and evaluate past performance and deliberate on future course of action. Although, it is permanent feature of CPC, but 20th National Congress is attracting special focus, from within and out of country. It has ignited discussion and renewed the focus on Chinese political and governance system. Liberal democratic countries are criticizing China and CPC, without understanding the system and role of CPC.
Liberal democrats need to recognize that every country has its own societal structure and preferences, which compels countries to search for indigenous system in accordance with their own needs. Thus, a single system, developed by a handful people, cannot acquire status of universality and same is true for the liberal democracy. So, liberal democratic model should not be used as yardstick to measure the democracy or system of any other country. President Xi highlighted it even in more strong word by saying, “it is in itself undemocratic to use a single yardstick to measure the rich and varied political systems and examine the diverse political civilizations of humanity from a monotonous perspective”. Hence, every country has the right to develop their own model of democracy and politics, which can help to achieve good governance and welfare of people.
China by exercising its right to choose or develop, have developed its own model of democracy and political system under the leadership and guidance of Communist Party of China. CPC, has designed its own model with the name of Whole Process Democracy (WPD), by keeping in mind the demography and geography of the country. It is outcome of evolution of Chinese civilization and learning from the wisdom of elders like Confucius and Tao. Besides, CPC also investigated the era of Yellow Emperor for designing practical interventions. Yellow Emperor is famous for his pro-poor and inclusive style of governance that’s why Yellow Emperor has special place in Chinese civilization.
The evolution process of Whole Process Democracy, makes it a unique model. The analysis of WPD indicate that it has four distinctive characteristics, which make it different from liberal democracy. First, it is inclusive in nature for the development and implementation of policies and actions. It keeps the people at the center for each and every policy and engage them extensively.
For example, development of Five-Year plan, starts 2 to 3 years before finalization of plan. CPC and government invite inputs from all units of government, CPC, think tanks, political parties and netizens. It starts from lowest level and culminates at highest level. After compilation of inputs, draft is shared with National Congress, politburo and standing committee of politburo. Final draft is also discussed with other political parties. From 2017, government has started to share draft on internet to get wider inputs. Once the all inputs are incorporated, then plan is final to be implemented. Government (state representative) and CPC (people’s representative) work hand in hand to get the desired results.
Second, Whole Process Democracy gives immense importance to the election and procedures for the appointments of officials. The election process is very comprehensive and extremely rigorous. First of all, CPC make sure that each body should be treated equally and fairly, irrespective of his/her position. Second, people should come through system and ranks, there should not be any shortcut or blue eyed choices. Therefore, process starts with the membership of party, CPC ensures that rules, merit and values must be followed for the acceptance of members, and there is no exception. For example, President Xi had to apply for 10 times to become member of CPC, despite the fact that he is son of former deputy prime minister. Howbeit, after joining the party, due to his determination and hard work, he is now head of CPC and China. It shows that CPC keep merit and values prime not individuals.
It is germane to highlight here that election under whole process democracy is entirely different from liberal democracy. In contrary to liberal democracy, there are no candidates, so there is no contest or election campaign. As, there no candidate, CPC members vote on the basis of the performance of individuals and commitment to socialist values and communist ideology.
It helps to save financial resources and does not create division in the society at the name of political ideology. For example, in 2020 Public Religion Research Institute underlined that more than 35 percent Republicans and 45 percent Democrats in USA, will not be happy if their children marry on family of other political party. It has shown gradually increase since 1960s, as at that time only 5 percent Republicans and Democrats were falling in this category. Dark Side of Democracy; Explaining the Ethnic Cleansing, is another good book to understand the flaws of Western style democracy.
Third, continuity of interaction among all stakeholders, is another distinct characteristic of whole process democracy. President Xi emphasized on the importance of interaction and consultation by saying, “If the people are awakened only for voting but enter a dormant period soon after, if they are given a song and dance during campaigning but have no say after the election, or if they are favored during canvassing but are left out in the cold after the election, such a democracy is not a true democracy”. Thus, President Xi gave a new impetus to consult all segments of society on regular basis. It is responsibility of CPC and government to ensure continuity of interaction among stakeholders. It is entirely opposite to liberal democracy, where politicians consult people during the election days and present their slogans to attract vote. After, getting votes, they ask people to wait till next election, if they are not happy with government policies.
Fourth, whole process democracy model revolves around core socialist values, which are designed to keep the system transparent, accountable, inclusive and pro-poor. It is in line with spirit and goal of CPC that leadership is here to serve the people not rule the people. The key values for the people to sustain their position and grow in system are; collectivism, merit, capacity, selflessness and integrity. These values are compulsory for all the members of CPC and government official. Recently, CPC has also introduced a new set of 12 core values comprising of prosperity, democracy, civility, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity and friendship.
Fifth, CPC is fundamental element, vital pillar, sole designer and guarantee of Whole Process Democracy. CPC acts on behalf of people and make sure that system deliver on its promises of welfare of people, rule of law, security and dignified living environment. It is the driving philosophy and force of CPC. CPC considers, without keeping people’s welfare at center, there is no justification of CPC and whole process democracy. If Chines system/model fails to provide basic ingredients of better life and security, then the CPC should be dissolved. In addition, CPC also provides quality leadership to run the system and required continuity and support to achieve the long term goals.
In the conclusion, we can infer from the above discussion that China’s model of Whole Process Democracy is based on 1) people’s will, 2) quality governance, 3) equal participation and opportunities to grow and move on the ladder of leadership 4) inclusiveness and continuity 5) strong mechanism of accountability. It does not discriminate on the basis of religion, gender or class. It ensures delivery of services and livelihood opportunities to every citizen on equal basis. Thus, it curbs division in society and pave a way for peaceful co-existence, liberty and prosper society.
( Writer is CEO,
Asian Institute of
& Development, Islamabad)