China’s System of Multi-Party Cooperation and Political Consultation under the Leadership of the CPC (Excerpt)

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-12-28 19:22
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 Asuccessful practice derived from the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics has been to maintain and improve the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC. This system provides an important basis on which China’s economic, political and social development can be promoted in a scientific way, and represents a great contribution to human political civilization made by the CPC and the Chinese people.

 I. The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC is an inevitable product of history  

 The political development path and political party system of any one country are determined by the conditions and nature of that country, and are also closely linked to other factors such as the contemporary era, the shape of the world, specific social and historical conditions, political and economic situations, and national cultural traditions. The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC is, to be precise, an inevitable product of China’s social and historical development. 

 Chairman Mao Zedong talking with Lei Jieqiong and other specially invited observers during an intermission at the Third Session of the First CPPCC National Committee, which was held in Beijing between October 23 and November 1, 1951. / Photo by Xinhua

 China’s political party system was born out of the Chinese people’s revolutionary struggle against imperialism and feudalism. In modern history, China was reduced to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. During these years, numerous Chinese patriots with lofty ideals searched for ways of saving China, their goal being national independence and the liberation of the people. It was at this historical juncture that the CPC emerged, when Marxism-Leninism was integrated with the workers’ movement in China. In the struggles that ensued, the CPC realized that for the revolution to succeed, the proletariat would have to unite with the peasant class, the petty-bourgeoisie, the national bourgeoisie, and other revolutionary political parties. Therefore, at its Second National Congress, the CPC clearly defined a programme for the democratic revolution, requiring that the CPC should ally itself with democratic parties, form a united front, and thoroughly oppose imperialism and feudalism. The CPC brought China’s democratic parties, democratic organizations, and people without party affiliation together under its leadership during the long years of revolutionary war. With support for each other, they engaged in a concerted revolutionary struggle against imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat-capitalism; established a close relationship based on mutual respect, mutual trust, and close cooperation; and forged an unbreakable friendship. China’s democratic parties became increasingly aware that only by committing themselves to the leadership of the CPC and enhancing cooperation with the CPC would the revolution succeed. What started as a willingness to follow the CPC became a conscientious decision to do so. On April 30, 1948, the CPC Central Committee issued the “May Day Slogans,” one of which called for the convening of a new political consultative conference free of reactionary participation to prepare for the formation of a democratic coalition government. This call was immediately met with the endorsement and fervent support of China’s democratic parties, people without party affiliation, people’s organizations, and people of all ethnic groups and all walks of life. The First Plenary Session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) was held in September 1949, marking the official foundation of China’s system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC.

 China’s political party system was consolidated and strengthened in the great process of China’s socialist revolution and construction. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, some members of China’s democratic parties questioned the continued need for the democratic parties on the grounds that the revolution had succeeded and their tasks had been fulfilled. The CPC responded by establishing the basic principle of “long-term coexistence and mutual supervision” between the CPC and democratic parties, which demonstrated the political foresight and wisdom of the CPC. The democratic parties fully mobilized their members and people from the classes and strata which they were affiliated with, and engaged actively in all aspects of socialist construction. They played a positive role in rehabilitating and developing the national economy, consolidating the new-born people’s political power, and promoting the socialist revolution and construction. During this process, the national bourgeoisie, petty-bourgeoisie and their intellectuals were gradually remolded as socialist workers, leading to changes in the nature and mass base of the democratic parties. Meanwhile, the united front, which started out as a class alliance, increasingly grew into a political alliance, one built on a single standpoint and a firmer relationship. Thus, the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC was consolidated and strengthened a step further.

 China’s political party system has been improved along with the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics. After China entered a new period of reform, opening up, and socialist modernization, the CPC clearly defined the tasks and nature of the united front and the CPPCC in the new period, and established the principle of “long-term coexistence, mutual supervision, sincere treatment, and the sharing of weal or woe” between the CPC and democratic parties. In this period, the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC was recognized as a fundamental political system of China, and formally incorporated into the Party Constitution, the Constitution, and the basic program of the Party in the initial stage of socialism. Following its Sixteenth National Congress, the CPC set out to bring this system under specifically defined institutions, regulations, and procedures. By enriching and improving the contents of political consultation, democratic supervision, and participation in state affairs, these efforts injected new vigor and vitality into the cause of multi-party cooperation and political consultation. On the other hand, the democratic parties actively responded to the calls of the CPC by convening congresses and revising their respective charters. They continued to focus on the central task and put overall interests first; conducted investigations and studies into major issues concerning the prosperity of the nation and the wellbeing of the people; and actively made proposals and suggestions. China’s democratic parties also underwent further structural changes, becoming political organizations with their own links among socialist workers, builders of the cause of socialism, and patriots in support of socialism. At the same time, their cooperation with the CPC became smoother and more harmonious. With this, China’s system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC had been enhanced yet again.        

 II. The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC has incomparable advantages and powerful vitality  

 The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC is one of China’s most fundamental political systems: it is a socialist political party system with Chinese characteristics. The features of the system are leadership by the CPC, multi-party cooperation, governance by the CPC, and participation by multiple parties. This system reflects the essence of socialist democracy—that the people are the masters of the country—and demonstrates both the features and the advantages of socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics. Born out of the wisdom of the CPC and the Chinese people, it is distinctly Chinese in both its character and its manner. This is a system with incomparable advantages and great vitality.

 This system helps the CPC to achieve greater rationality, democracy and legality in governance. It highlights the principles of seeking common ground while reserving differences, striving for understanding and tolerance, and cooperating with each other, and emphasizes that the CPC should solicit the opinions of democratic parties. This design helps to fully arouse the enthusiasm, the initiative, and the creativity of all sectors of society, and prevents the occurrence of errors in the decision making and work of the CPC, so as to ensure scientific governance. A prominent feature of this system is consultative democracy, which is established alongside electoral democracy to constitute the two basic forms of Chinese socialist democracy. This creates conditions for expanding orderly public participation in the administration of political affairs and maintaining the position of the people as masters of the country, thereby helping to develop the people’s democracy and realize democratic governance. The CPC has long placed a great emphasis on the participation of democratic parties in the deliberation and administration of state affairs. It consults with the various democratic parties while making decisions concerning national policy, important affairs, and the nomination of national leaders, and invites them to participate in the administration of national affairs as well as the formulation and implementation of national principles, policies, laws, and regulations. At present, members of democratic parties and people without party affiliation can be found serving as vice governors, vice chairmen, vice mayors, and assistants in all of China’s 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government. In addition, some ministries and commissions of the State Council have non-Party ministers or deputy ministers. This provides an organizational basis to guarantee the democratic governance of the CPC. This system also places emphasis on mutual supervision between the CPC and democratic parties. The CPC is required to subject itself to the supervision of democratic parties and people without party affiliation, while democratic parties are required to shoulder the responsibility of monitoring the CPC.

 This system is conducive to the promotion of political stability and social harmony. It advocates unity and cooperation, and especially unity in the face of adversity, which helps to reduce internal friction. At the same time, it also prevents squabbling and self-inflicted setbacks, which helps to maintain social unity and political stability. This system ensures that the CPC governs the country as the ruling party in accordance with the law, and that democratic parties participate in the administration of state affairs as coalition partners of the CPC in accordance with the law. The CPC and the democratic parties have established a relationship characterized by democratic consultation, sincere treatment, and the sharing of weal or woe. In this relationship, cooperation and consultation replace the conflicts and attacks that often play out between Western political parties. This helps to maintain social harmony and political stability. Under this system, the CPC represents the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people, and the democratic parties represent the specific interests of the people with whom they are associated. The CPC balances the varying interests of democratic parties and people without party affiliation, safeguarding their interests and the interests of their associated people. Democratic parties guide their members and their associated sectors of society to coordinate their interests and express their claims in accordance with the law, allowing for conflicts and issues to be properly resolved within the framework of the existing system. This mutually beneficial cooperation has promoted harmony between political parties, between ethnic groups, between religions, between people of varying social strata, and between domestic and overseas compatriots, thereby maintaining social stability and solidarity.

 This system helps to give full play to the superiority of the socialist system in concentrating resources to carry out major undertakings. The most fundamental criterion for judging the merits and drawbacks of a political system is whether or not that political system can promote the development of productive forces and social progress. The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, with the Party at the core of leadership, encourages democratic parties and people without party affiliation to participate in the deliberation and administration of national affairs and strive together for common ideals and objectives. This system is able to channel resources and wisdom into major undertakings for the benefit of the people, thereby leading to higher efficiency and giving full play to the characteristics and advantages of the socialist system. It was the institutional superiorities of China’s unique socialist system, characterized by democratic centralism and the ability to mobilize the whole country, that provided the foundation of China’s success in overcoming natural disasters such as the devastating Wenchuan earthquake and the Yushu earthquake; in holding the Beijing Olympics, the Shanghai World Expo and the Guangzhou Asian Games; and in dealing with the impact of the international financial crisis.


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.13, 2011) 

Author: Member of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee, Chairman of the Committee of Culture, History and Study of the CPPCC National Committee   

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