The Role of the CPPCC in Forging Unity and Strength

Research Center for the Theoretical System of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, Shanghai

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2013-08-20 15:44
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The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is an organization that unites various political parties, people’s organizations, ethnic groups, social strata, and distinguished personages as one under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The CPPCC serves as an important bridge by which the Party and the government are able to maintain close ties with the general public and unite different sectors of society. It represents an important means by which the great cohesiveness of the Chinese nation can be realized in practice. Therefore, the CPC Central Committee has demanded that the role of the CPPCC in uniting minds and forging strength must be fully exerted. Uniting minds means uniting the thoughts of all people behind the common ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Forging strength, on the other hand, means channeling the endeavors of all Chinese people into a source of great momentum for the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Under new conditions, all initiatives of the CPPCC should be targeted towards achieving these two objectives.

Ⅰ. The organizational attributes of the CPPCC 

Since the emergence of multi-party cooperation and political consultation in China, the CPPCC has always been a part of the united front. The CPPCC not only brought China’s political parties, people’s organizations, and ethnic groups together for the founding of the People’s Republic, but also demonstrated the political advantage of being able to rally various forces behind socialist construction. Later, the CPC expanded the united front, turning it into the “broadest possible union of socialist workers, builders of socialism, and patriotic supporters of socialism and national reunification.” As an organizational constituent of the united front, the CPPCC is the body through which this broad union is manifested in practice. This means that the CPPCC shoulders the mission of closely uniting all socialist workers, all builders of socialism, and all patriots. Such an organization is necessary for China’s socialist modernization and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The organizational attributes of the CPPCC make it a symbol of the great unity and union of the Chinese nation. Moreover, its nature as an organization defines the role it plays in uniting minds and forging strength.

February 28, 2013, Wang Shuping (first on the left), a renowned painter and member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, consults senior citizens at a community center for the elderly in Shuangjie Village, Shuangjie Town, Beichen District, Tianjin City. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Jin Liwang

Ⅱ. The membership of the CPPCC

The CPPCC’s status as an organization of the united front determines the wide range of its membership. Members of CPPCC committees come from various political parties, people’s organizations, ethnic groups, sectors of society, social strata, and religions. This diversified membership is a testament to the broad representativeness of the CPPCC, and to the range of talent that it brings together. Not only demonstrating the huge inclusiveness of the CPPCC and its abundance as a resource, this diverse membership also shows that in China, a large, populous socialist country, all members of society, regardless of their ethnic group, political or social affiliation, social stratum, occupation, or religious views, are able to enjoy equal political rights as prescribed by the Constitution and laws and live in harmony. Therefore, the CPPCC serves as an important bridge allowing the Party and the government to maintain close ties with the general public and unite different sectors of society. Members of CPPCC committees are charged with the task of interacting closely with the groups they represent. Through extensive efforts to solicit public opinions, CPPCC members promptly convey public demands to the governing party and provide accessible channels for citizens to participate in political affairs rationally. By doing so, they serve as advisors to the CPC, sharing its worries and helping it to resolve difficult problems. As a working mechanism of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, the CPPCC plays an important role in integrating resources, conveying public demands, and coordinating relations between various groups, thus exerting a decisive influence on the implementation of the Party’s mass line. The composition of the CPPCC endows it with unique advantages that cannot be matched by other organizations. Broader in coverage and more inclusive than other organizations, the CPPCC is uniquely placed to interact with the general public, stay close to reality, focus on public wellbeing, and lay emphasis on public opinion. Therefore, it is indispensable to the CPC’s efforts to uphold its tenets and implement the mass line.

Ⅲ. The tasks of the CPPCC 

The CPPCC is required by the CPC Central Committee to work conscientiously towards the principal tasks of the Party and the government. In practice, the duties of the CPPCC are manifested in three regards: to uphold the themes of unity and democracy; to perform the three primary functions of political consultation, democratic supervision, and participation in the deliberation and administration of state affairs; and to promote harmony between different political parties, ethnic groups, religions, social strata, and between Chinese people living inside and outside of China. Firstly, unity and democracy constitute the principles by which the CPPCC works to unite minds and forge strength. They are both the historical basis on which the CPPCC was founded, and the mission that it will continue working towards in the future. The themes of unity and democracy are of particular importance to China’s development at present. This is because without unity there will be nothing to hold us together, and without democracy there will be nothing to drive us forwards. Therefore, we need to apply the principles of unity and democracy throughout all aspects of the CPPCC’s work, with a view to underpinning democracy through unity and strengthening unity with democracy. Only by doing so can we give full play to the role of the CPPCC in uniting minds and forging strength. Secondly, political consultation, democratic supervision, and participation in the deliberation and administration of state affairs constitute the means by which the CPPCC works to unite minds and forge strength. Political consultation serves to make policy-making more scientific and democratic, thereby improving the capacity of the CPC to govern; democratic supervision serves to promote the building of clean government, thereby ensuring the just and equitable exercise of power; and participation in the deliberation and administration of state affairs serves to pool the wisdom and strength of various sectors, thereby encouraging orderly participation in political affairs. Thirdly, promoting harmony between different political parties, ethnic groups, religions, social strata, and between Chinese people living inside and outside of China, constitutes the desired effect of the CPPCC’s efforts to unite minds and forge strength. The CPPCC provides us with a stage on which each of these five relationships may be appropriately balanced. The governing party and participating parties, the Han and the ethnic minorities, people from various sectors or strata, different religious groups, and all Chinese people living abroad—each are able to express their appeals through their corresponding CPPCC committee members. On the basis of seeking common ground while setting aside differences, the CPPCC allows us to resolve conflicts, reach consensus, strengthen communication, and further mutual understanding with a view to achieving unity.

Ⅳ. Democracy in the CPPCC

Guided by the principles of long-term coexistence, mutual supervision, treating each other with sincerity, and sharing good and bad times, the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC has become an important form of socialist democracy, playing an irreplaceable role in the development of socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics. Following the launch of the reform and opening up drive, Deng Xiaoping was the first to present the idea that the CPPCC represented a form of democracy, stating that it was an “important model for the promotion of socialist democracy and the exercise of mutual supervision in our political system.” Later, Jiang Zemin expounded on the system of people’s congresses and the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation from the perspective of democratic politics. Introducing the phrase “two forms of democracy,” he asserted that democracy in China was realized through two forms, “one whereby the people exercise their rights by participating in elections and casting their votes; and the other whereby the people from all sectors of society engage in extensive consultations before the holding of elections and votes in order to reach consensus on general issues.” This summarization served to highlight the unique characteristics of China’s socialist path of political advancement. The close integration of these two forms of democracy has had the following effects. Firstly, it has deepened and expanded socialist democracy, allowing the right of the people to act as the masters of their socialist society to be more accurately embodied. Secondly, it has brought about institutions through which democracy can be practiced in an extensive and effective manner, with a view to realizing people’s democratic rights to the greatest possible extent. Thirdly, it has provided a platform on which public consensus can be reached, so that the demands of both the majority and the minority may be taken into account. Fourthly, it allows for the linkage of indirect democracy with direct democracy, thereby making up for the inadequacies of the representative system. Fifthly, it allows for interactions to take place between the exercise of power and the participation of the public, which is conducive to promoting people’s democracy. The report to the Eighteenth National Congress of the CPC emphasized that we must make political consultation a part of the policy-making process, conduct consultations before and when policy decisions are made, and make democratic consultation more effective. Moreover, according to the report, we should conduct intensive consultations on special issues with those who work on these issues, consultations on a sector-by-sector basis, and consultations on the handling of proposals, and actively carry out democratic consultation at the community level. In today’s China, the irreplaceable role of the CPPCC is mainly seen in the unique form of democracy that it represents. By providing a more solid institutional guarantee for the full expression of public opinion, democratic consultation has further expanded the approaches to democracy, enriched the means by which democracy is embodied, and made innovations to the way that democracy is practiced, thus enabling the CPPCC to better play its role in uniting minds and forging strength.


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.6, 2013)

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