Leaders from non-communist parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce give a press conference in Beijing on March 6 on the sidelines of the First Session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (XINHUA)
Among all the groups in which Wang Xinqiang participates on WeChat, a popular social networking smartphone app, three are used to collect public opinion and pool suggestions put forward by members of the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang (RCCK), one of China's eight non-communist parties. Wang is chairman of the RCCK Chongqing Municipal Committee.
A former vice dean of the College of Physics at Chongqing University, Wang is also a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body that serves as an important institution of multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The CPPCC consists of representatives of the CPC and non-communist parties, individuals without party affiliation, and representatives of people's organizations, all ethnic groups and various strata of society. It also represents compatriots in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Macao Special Administrative Region and Taiwan, as well as returned overseas Chinese and people by special invitation.
The main functions of the CPPCC are to conduct political consultation, exercise democratic supervision and participate in the deliberation and administration of state affairs. This political consultation covers major principles and policies proposed by central and local governments as well as matters of importance concerning political, economic, cultural and social affairs.
"In this Internet era, it's common to see people connect to the Internet via smartphones. It is so widely used that it has become our best method of collecting public opinions," said Wang.
Each member sends suggestions to a WeChat group chat and together they select an issue to be addressed which then gets researched and is reported to the RCCK Central Committee as a proposal to the CPPCC National Committee. This has become the routine process used by the RCCK Chongqing Municipal Committee to participate in political consultation.
"The CPC-led system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation stresses both the leadership of the CPC and socialist democracy which features political consultation, democratic supervision and participation in the deliberation and administration of state affairs," Chinese President Xi Jinping, also General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said when attending a joint panel discussion on March 4 with political advisors from the China Democratic League, the China Zhi Gong Party, those without party affiliation and returned overseas Chinese during the First Session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee.
Accommodating China's reality and traditional culture, this distinctly Chinese system is "a great contribution to the political civilization of humanity," said Xi.
It is "a new type of party system grown from China's soil," Xi said. "The system is new because it combines Marxist political party theories with China's reality, and truly, extensively and in the long term represents the fundamental interests of all people and ethnic groups and fulfills their aspirations, avoiding the defects of the old-fashioned party system which represents only a selective few or the vested interest."
The Chinese system unites all political parties and people without party affiliation toward a common goal, effectively preventing the flaws that can arise from the absence of oversight in one-party rule, or the power rotation and detrimental competition that can occur among multiple political parties, Xi continued.
He also pointed out that the system pools ideas and suggestions through institutional, procedural and standardized arrangements, and develops a scientific and democratic decision-making mechanism.
"We have actually overcome the defects of the old-fashioned party system," said Wang Xiaohong, a professor at the Central Institute of Socialism in Beijing. He believes that China's own solutions can serve as a model for other political parties of the world.
"China provides a new type of party system for other countries, and we are still innovating and developing our own system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation," said Hao Mingjin, Chairman of the Central Committee of the China National Democratic Construction Association, on March 6 during a press conference in Beijing given by leaders from non-communist parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.
For Ding Zhongli, Chairman of the Central Committee of the China Democratic League and an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi's speech on March 4 brought to mind the historical development of the system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation.
Most non-communist parties in China were established in the 1940s. Once the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, the leaders of these parties were considering the future of their respective political organizations. "It was Chairman Mao Zedong who suggested that non-communist parties and the CPC should coexist and oversee one another," Ding said at the same press conference on the sidelines of the First Session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee.
Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, non-communist parties have made a combined total of 539 proposals to the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, China's cabinet, which justifies "a form of democracy that is broader and more effective," said Xi, according to Xinhua News Agency.
"In both domestic and international affairs, everyone has different opinions, it is normal," said a comment in the People's Daily, China's leading newspaper. Proper solutions are best reached through discussion and communication.
At the beginning of the founding of the People's Republic of China, Chairman Mao said "Our government hears the people's voice in our work. That's our characteristic."
"Today, consultative democracy has penetrated every aspect of development in China and become a way for everyone to participate in public affairs," People's Daily said.
Fulfillment of responsibility
As Premier Li Keqiang mentioned in the Report on the Work of the Government at the First Session of the 13th National People's Congress on March 5, poverty alleviation is one of China's three critical battles and one that has been fought at all levels of governments over the past five years.
In June 2016, the eight non-communist parties were invited by the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee to oversee the implementation of poverty alleviation programs in some regions.
"I'm impressed by the community-level work," said Cai Dafeng, Chairman of the Central Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy (CAPD). "Local officials have carefully implemented their plans." Cai has visited impoverished villagers several times in central China's Hunan Province over the past two years in order to hear their opinions and feedback on the government's work.
The difficulties faced by these villagers were worse than Cai had envisioned. "How to bring confidence to those families suffering from diseases and poverty is something we must think about, particularly when the country as a whole is enjoying the benefits of reform and opening up," he said.
In order to effectively supervise the implementation of anti-poverty programs, the CAPD started by researching the problems reported by its members and other experts before attending seminars for analysis and assessment. Based on their findings from this initial stage, the CAPD Central Committee then exchanged views with the CPC Hunan Provincial Committee and the Hunan Provincial Government, as well as the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee.
After experiencing how local officials devote themselves to poverty reduction, Cai is touched by the work ethic of those involved in the endeavor. "They work day and night," Cai said. "Villagers feel the care of the central authorities through the work of those local officials, and they are so grateful for the policy."
"Those urgently in need of help can be targeted with good policies and receive the assistance they need, which is the responsibility and mission at the heart of our job," Cai added.
The Hunan Provincial Government made arrangements and improvements according to the CAPD Central Committee's feedback. "Our advice has been adopted and now plays an active role," Cai said.
Copyedited by Laurence Coulton
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