Democracy comes from the ancient Greek word dēmokratía, meaning rule of the people. Is Western democracy the only viable form? How can one ensure that people enjoy real democracy? These questions have long been the subject of hot discussion in China. In spite of the fact that many Western critics often criticize China's political system, the Chinese Government consistently practices and seeks to refine its own idiosyncratic form of democracy.
Deliberative democracy has been applied in China since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, with the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which offers the floor for the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) to consult with other political parties, being a telling example.
There are multiple models of democracy. The model which best fits a country's conditions should be the one employed. Electoral or representative democracy suits the conditions of the United States, while deliberative democracy can play a pivotal role in China.
China has made great progress in advancing this system in recent years. Baodi District, north China's Tianjin, has made successful attempts in implementing deliberative democracy. As this issue's cover story illustrates, Baodi is a case study for how this form of democracy works at the community level.
China's system of deliberative democracy has a wide range of applications, from small communities to the governance of the country as a whole. The channels available for consultation encompass that which takes place between different political parties and between the government and the public as well as consultation involving NGOs. As a combination of the systems of deliberative democracy and electoral democracy, China's democracy enables citizens to participate in politics in an orderly fashion and to express their opinions and demands.
The CPC Central Committee published a document pledging to further promote deliberative democracy on February 9. The document posited that deliberative democracy needs to be strengthened in a bid to achieve several objectives. These include making decision-making processes more democratic and promoting the modernization of the national governance. An improved system of deliberative democracy will also provide a better outlet for conflict resolution, thus engendering social stability.
China will continue to develop its own form of democracy in spite of skepticism from the West. Enhancing deliberative democracy across the country will be the priority of the reforms on China's political structure in the future.