BEIJING, Oct. 18 — How is democracy defined? What makes a system democratic or not? Is China’s political system democratic? President Xi Jinping addressed these questions at a central conference on people’s congresses earlier this month. His answers offer insight into how democracy works in the country.
In a democratic political system, people should administer national, social, economic, and cultural affairs in accordance with the law, various sectors of society should participate effectively in national political affairs, and state decision-making should be rational and democratic, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, noted.
“Democracy is not an ornament to be used for decoration; it is to be used to solve the problems that the people want to solve,” he stressed.
China’s application of democratic principles follows an approach Xi has termed “whole-process people’s democracy.” The concept was put forward about two years ago, during a visit by Xi to a civic center in Shanghai.
Earlier the same year, Xi had visited residents of a traditional “hutong” courtyard community in central Beijing and joined them for a “courtyard meeting hall” session. The “courtyard meeting hall” provides a platform for residents to discuss and debate public affairs. Residents’ discussions that time focused on the renovation and preservation of the traditional architecture and heritage.
“When the residents enjoy the right to discuss and decide their affairs, they will have a stronger sense of belonging and being masters, and community governance and service will be more accurate and meticulous,” Xi noted after talking with the hutong residents.
Whether a country is a democracy or not depends on whether its people are really the masters of the country, Xi said at the October conference.
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, he added.