"Whether a system is democratic depends on whether it can represent the overall interests of the people and whether the people are satisfied. Democracy is not for embellishment; it should deliver," said Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang on September 22.
"At the center of democracy is people," said Qin, elaborating on what democracy is and how to evaluate if a system is democratic in a speech at a virtual conversation jointly held by the Carter Center and the George H.W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations.
Some Americans today "define America's relations with China as democracy versus authoritarianism" and "stoke up ideological confrontation, which has led to serious difficulties in China-U.S. relations," he said.
In fact, both China's people-center philosophy and former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's "of the people, by the people, for the people" are for the sake of the people, said the ambassador, adding that China's socialist whole-process democracy shall be understood as "from the people, to the people, with the people, for the people."
In China, Qin said, the rights and freedoms of the Chinese are fully protected by the Constitution, absolute poverty has become a thing of the past, almost every Chinese has basic medical insurance and old-age pension insurance, and COVID-19 has been basically put under control in China with 1.1 billion people fully vaccinated.
China has also signed 26 international instruments on human rights, provided vaccines to over 100 countries and international organizations, and will supply altogether 2 billion doses by the end of this year, he said. "The Belt and Road Initiative, guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, will take tens of millions of people of other countries out of poverty."
"We never say that our system is the best, because we know only the suited is the best. Whether it is good or not should not be judged by what we say, but what we do," said Qin.
Citing a mayor's hotline that has lasted for 22 years in Changchun, a provincial city in northeastern China, the ambassador provided a brief explanation of why, as a Harvard Kennedy School survey found, Chinese people's satisfaction with the Communist Party of China has been over 90 percent for each of the 10 years.
Citizens in Changchun can use the hotline that works 24/7 to report problems that need the government's attention, said Qin. Over the years, more than nine million problems have been reported and resolved through the hotline, and people's satisfaction rating has remained above 90 percent.
"There are many similar hotlines and high satisfaction ratings across China. If you know about them, is it still hard to understand the results of Harvard surveys?" he asked.
"I'm not saying China is perfect. There are many difficulties and challenges on our way ahead, such as how to make our development more balanced and adequate, and ensure fairness and justice in a market economy," said Qin.
"We are deepening reform, improving socialist democracy, and modernizing national governance. These efforts are to meet the people's aspiration for a better life and make greater contribution to mankind," he added.
"China and the United States are different in history, culture and political system ... Our two countries should not and cannot change each other. Instead, we should break ideological barriers, discard zero-sum mentality, respect other countries, and accommodate each other without losing our own distinctions, so as to get along with each other in peace," said the ambassador.