Further Developing Multi-Party Cooperation in the New Era

By: You QuanFrom:English Edition of QiuShi Journal July-September 2018|Vol.10,No.3,Issue No.36 | Updated: 2018-Sep-7 17:36
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The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is a uniquely Chinese socialist political party system. The basic features of China’s model of party politics are that, under this system, the CPC leads with cooperation from the other political parties, and governs while the other political parties participate in governance. In governing the country since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, General Secretary Xi Jinping has delivered profound remarks on upholding and improving China’s political system and political party system. These remarks introduced a series of new ideas, thinking, and strategies which have become important aspects of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. The report to the 19th National Congress of the CPC points out that, “In handling its relationships with other Chinese political parties, the Communist Party of China is guided by the principles of long-term coexistence, mutual oversight, sincerity, and sharing the rough times and the smooth, and it supports these parties in performing their duties in accordance with the requirements of the Chinese socialist system for their participation in governance.” This statement further clarifies the basic principle of China’s socialist political party system.

I. The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation: a unique advantage and distinctive feature of China’s socialist political system

China’s system of multi-party cooperation has formed and progressed amid long-term revolution, economic development, and reform, demonstrating the enormous advantages of China’s political system. Being suited to China’s realities, this system has taken root in China, and constitutes a distinctive feature of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The system of CPC-led multi-party cooperation is a completely new type of relationship between different political parties in the history of party politics worldwide, and it boasts unique political advantages. The first advantage is solidarity and cooperation via a shared political foundation. The cooperation between the CPC and other political parties in China and prominent citizens without party affiliation is established on a shared political foundation. Today, this foundation is to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics. The reason why all other political parties and prominent citizens without party affiliation uphold and support the CPC’s leadership is they believe that socialism with Chinese characteristics is the only correct path to follow in developing China and realizing national rejuvenation. The second advantage is being able to coordinate interparty interests and relations. The system of multi-party cooperation fully reflects the interests and demands of various parties, and opens up channels for them to articulate their interests and reach broad consensus. In this way, it balances the interests of all parties thus providing fundamental guarantees for maintaining political sustainability, harmony, and stability. The third advantage is political participation in which the people get to discuss their own affairs. Embodied in the system of CPC-led multi-party cooperation and political consultation is a unique form of democracy – consultative democracy. This form of democracy entails a commitment to carrying out consultation both before decisions are made and as decisions are being implemented by means of consultation in resolving issues, upon encountering problems, and in handling situations. In this way, it ensures the broad and thoroughgoing participation of the people in national political affairs, pools the wisdom of all social sectors, and motivates all parties.

The First Session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference drew to a close at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 15, 2018. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER XING GUANGLI

II. Upholding the leadership of the CPC: a fundamental principle of developing multi-party cooperation

The leadership of the CPC is the most essential attribute of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the greatest strength of this system. It also provides basic guarantees for the sound development of multi-party cooperation. Xi Jinping once stressed that a prominent feature which demonstrates the superiority of China’s socialist political system is the core role of the CPC in exercising overall leadership and coordinating overall initiatives. The leadership of the CPC is the collective choice of all Chinese people of all political parties, organizations, ethnic groups, social strata, and sectors. We must therefore strengthen and improve the system of CPC-led multi-party cooperation and political consultation and enhance the cooperation and coordination of all social forces.

To ensure multi-party cooperation advances in the right direction, achieves common goals, and launches concerted actions, it is essential to remain closely aligned with the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core in terms of political stance, direction, principle, and path. Upholding the leadership core position of General Secretary Xi Jinping is the key for us to overcoming difficulties and advancing from victory to victory; it is also critical for success in improving multi-party cooperation. Only when the core of the CPC is stronger, the cohesive strength of the Party is greater, and multi-party cooperation is more stable will we see the dynamic atmosphere in which all other political parties in China work together around the CPC. The historic changes which have occurred in the undertakings of the Party and the country since the 18th National Congress of the CPC have fully proved that the leadership core position of Xi Jinping in the CPC Central Committee and the Party is the will of the Party and the people and has won the wholehearted support of the entire Party, military, and nation.

III. Increasing the effectiveness of institutions: the key to developing multi-party cooperation

The system of CPC-led multi-party cooperation and political consultation is foundational to the national political system. As such, its effectiveness needs to be further increased through practice in pace with the development of socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics.

Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core has formulated a series of intraparty regulations and policy documents, including “Provisional Regulations Regarding the CPC United Front Work,” “Guidelines for Strengthening Socialist Consultative Democracy,” and “Guidelines for Improving Interparty Consultations.” These regulations and documents provide powerful safeguards for democratic parties and prominent citizens without party affiliation in fulfilling their duties. The central committees of these parties carried out thoroughgoing research and fact-finding tours, offered suggestions and advice, and submitted a total of 539 proposals and suggestions in writing to the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. All of these actions made by the central committees of China’s political parties were aimed at major issues such as the advancement of the “five-pronged” overall plan, the coordinated advancement of the “Four Comprehensives” strategy, supply-side structural reform, the development of a new type of urbanization, the Belt and Road Initiative, and poverty eradication. Entrusted by the CPC Central Committee, the central committees of China’s other political parties carried out democratic oversight through pairing programs over the campaign against poverty in eight provinces and autonomous regions in central and western China whose poverty alleviation burdens are most heavy, putting forward over 40 proposals and suggestions in this regard. In total, the CPC Central Committee convened, or entrusted other departments to convene, 124 consultative meetings, seminars, and briefings, of which 24 were presided over by Xi Jinping. In these meetings, the CPC sincerely conducted consultations and earnestly solicited advice from the participants regarding issues of strategic and overall importance before finalizing the report to the 19th National Congress of the CPC, reports of all plenary sessions of the 18th CPC Central Committee, and the proposal for drawing up the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan, which facilitated a rational and democratic decision making process. Meanwhile, through the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference which is a specialized consultative body, the CPC pools together the wisdom of all other political parties and social sectors in the most extensive manner, discusses national affairs together, thus forming a dynamic atmosphere in which people’s affairs are handled by the people through consultation.

The 19th National Congress of the CPC has made overall plans for securing a decisive victory in becoming a moderately prosperous society and embarking on a journey to build a great modern socialist country. It has also provided great opportunities for strengthening multi-party cooperation. We must support all political parties and prominent citizens without party affiliation in their efforts at carrying out the central task of economic development and serving the overall national interests. These efforts include conducting research and fact-finding tours, and raising suggestions with regard to acting in service of the seven major strategic emerging industries and three campaigns against potential risk, poverty, and pollution. With a view to improving the institutional framework for ensuring that the people run the country, we need to further standardize consultation procedures and develop safeguarding mechanisms, thus advancing the extensive, multi-level, and institutionalized development of socialist consultative democracy. We need to draw on the experience of democratic oversight by other political parties, and enrich the forms of and expand channels for democratic oversight so as to increase the effectiveness of the system of CPC-led multi-party cooperation and political consultation to a higher level.

IV. The development of participating political parties: an important aspect of strengthening multi-party cooperation

Democratic parties and prominent citizens without party affiliation are participants in multi-party cooperation, thus their levels of competence have a bearing on the consolidation and development of multi-party cooperation. Xi Jinping once stressed that all other political parties in China are participants in Chinese socialism in cooperation with the CPC. They and prominent citizens without party affiliation constitute an important force in China’s political life. He further noted that we need to accurately understand the fundamental requirements for the development of participating parties under socialism with Chinese characteristics, carry on our fine traditions, understand the demands of the times, and support these parties to improve their thinking and theoretical competence, organizations, institutions and in particular their leadership. Doing so will enhance their capacity to read political situations, participate in the deliberation of state affairs, organize and lead, cooperate with others, and solve their own problems. These important statements have clarified the nature and position of these parties and prominent citizens without party affiliation in the new era and raised new and higher requirements for their self-improvement.

Since its 18th National Congress, the CPC has made historical achievements in progressing new Party building initiatives. Participating parties also need to become more competent to better fulfill their duties and further raise the standard of multi-party cooperation. At present, there are about 1.1 million members of these parties. As new members recruited after reform and opening up in 1978 have matured to become key members of these parties, and people from new social strata and the non-public sector have joined these parties, there is a greater diversity of members and ideas in these parties. This has brought about many new challenges that require these political parties to improve themselves, especially their thinking and theoretical competence. In accordance with the requirements for participating parties in Chinese socialism, we need to support them in their efforts at self-improvement. With the improvement of thinking and theoretical competence as the overarching principle, these parties shall launch an educational campaign on the theme of “staying true to our commitment to cooperation, and continuing to move forward hand in hand,” and carry forward fine traditions and deepen political exchanges, thus consolidating our shared political foundations. On the basis of improving their organization, these parties need to raise the bar for recruiting members and improve education and management of their organizations and members at all levels. With a focus on bolstering the ranks of their leadership, these parties must uphold the principle of democratic centralism, improve rules and procedures governing their leaders and refine the mechanism that combines collective leadership with individual accountability. In so doing, they will strengthen their capacity to resolve their own problems and maintain their progressiveness and inclusiveness.

V. Offering a Chinese solution to humanity’s political progress: a key aspect of developing multi-party cooperation

No two political systems are entirely the same, and a political system cannot be evaluated conceptually without consideration given to its specific socio-political context, history, or cultural traditions. No one political system should be regarded as the only choice, nor should we just mechanically copy the political systems of other countries. Xi Jinping once pointed out that rather than simply copying the model of modernization of advanced countries, we should follow our own path which is our contribution to humanity. Chinese Communists and the Chinese people have every confidence in our ability to provide a Chinese solution to aid in humanity’s search for a better social system. The success of the system of CPC-led multi-party cooperation and political consultation in practice, and its distinct Chinese character and style, are an embodiment of Chinese wisdom which provide a valuable source of reference for the development of political parties around the world.

Since the launch of reform and opening up four decades ago, China has, under the leadership of the CPC, paved a way of socialist modernization which is profoundly different from that of Western countries, which has shattered the “path dependency” of developing countries on Western approaches to modernization. At present, the institutional designs flaunted by Western-style democracy such as the “separation of powers,” and the “two-party system,” have today devolved into “ballot politics” and “money politics” which have given rise to maladies such as low administrative efficiency, stagnant economic development, and social divisions. Where some developing countries have blindly copied Western-style democracy, it has triggered “color revolutions” and “street politics,” leading to social turmoil, economic downturn, and repeated government shutdowns. In this context, “order in China” stands in sharp contrast with “disorder in the West.” The superiority of China’s system is that, under this system the CPC and other political parties adhere to the principle of long-term co-existence, mutual oversight, sincerity, and sharing the rough times and the smooth, thus forming a formidable cohesive force.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 5, 2018)

You Quan is Member of the Secretariat of the 19th CPC Central Committee and Director of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee.