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Despite Western skepticism, democracy thrives in China

By Andre Vltchek | China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-28 08:03
Red flags on the Tian'anmen Square and atop the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. [Photo/Xinhua]

Almost every year, just before the annual sessions of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committe, the country's top political advisory body, some people have claimed the two great institutions play the role of rubber stamps, and China's democracy cannot truly represent the people.

Criticism of the Chinese system comes mostly from abroad. But even some Chinese critics have been, from time to time, influenced by these foreign perceptions.

China is often analyzed and judged strictly according to Western norms and rules, which is chauvinistic and amazingly patronizing, to say the least. However, China, with thousands of years of history and culture, deserves to be defined and judged by its own people and according to its own measures.

The term democracy is derived from the Greek language. It loosely means "rule of the people". But it doesn't stipulate that a truly democratic country has to follow a Western multi-party/corporate model, or more concretely, a model in which big corporations and "powerful individuals" finance political campaigns (while backing particular candidates), and to all intents and purposes select the government.

There should be different models of democracy-different models of "rule of the people". And good democracy means the government should serve the people.

In the West, and in its "client states", most of the ordinary people are destined to serve the interests of corporations, with the government making sure they do not break "the rules". For instance, the United States is often cited as the "perfect model" of Western democracy. But under the US style of democracy, vested interest groups often play a bigger role in people's lives. For instance, shootings in schools have wreaked havoc in US society and ordinary US citizens have been strongly advocating gun control. But such contentions always fall on deaf ears, because the powerful gun lobby can block gun-control bills in the Congress.

China simply cannot and should not follow such a model of democracy. Chinese citizens have fought hard for their independence, and they have struggled during the great revolutionary war, in order to create a system that has been serving the people. After great sacrifices, the people of China have achieved their goal. The system is theirs, as it works to improve their lives and livelihoods. It is evolving into a system that is truly "of the people" and "for the people".

And Chinese leaders are listening attentively to their people.

When the Chinese people needed a stronger economy and better livelihoods, the Communist Party of China headed by late leader Deng Xiaoping launched sweeping reforms four decades ago. And when problems such as growing inequality, environmental degradation and other negative by-products of rapid economic growth emerged, the Party addressed people's call again. The CPC with Xi Jinping as its core has put great emphasis on the environment ("ecological civilization"), on the great Chinese culture, and above all on improving the lives of all Chinese people by eradicating extreme poverty. The powerful and progressive model of "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" has stepped into a new era.

China has developed a different development path from that of the West, but it still has made great contributions to world peace and prosperity through programs such as the Belt and Road Initiative and a "shared future for humankind", which shows China's democracy is not only serving the Chinese people but also the peoples of the rest of the world by facilitating regional and global development for the improvement of human lives, while at the same time respecting local cultures and differences.

The author is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist.

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