The Information Office of the State Council published a white paper titled “China’s Political Party System” here Thursday. Following is the full text:
China’s Political Party System
Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
I. An Inevitable Choice in China’s Social Development
II. A Basic Political System for China
III. Major Manifestations of Socialist Democracy
IV. Political Consultation in the Multi-party Cooperation System
V. Multi-party Cooperation System and Building of State Power
VI. Multi-party Cooperation System and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference
VII. Multi-party Cooperation System and Modernization
Appendix A Brief Introduction to China’s Democratic Parties and Personages Without Party Affiliation
The political party system is an important component of modern democratic politics. What kind of political party system to adopt in a country is determined by the nature, national conditions and social development of that given country. The diversity of political party systems in different countries reflects the diversity of human civilizations.
The political party system China has adopted is multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) (hereinafter “multi-party cooperation system”), which is different from both the two-party or multi-party competition systems of Western countries and the one-party system practiced in some other countries. This system was established and has been developed during the long-term practice of the Chinese revolution, construction and reform. It is a basic political system that suits the conditions of China. It is a socialist political party system with Chinese characteristics, and a key component of China’s socialist democratic politics.
The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China states that “the multi-party cooperation and political consultation system under the leadership of the Communist Party of China shall continue to exist and develop for a long time to come.” Both the CPC and the democratic parties must take the Constitution as the basic norm of their conduct, and uphold the dignity of the Constitution and ensure its implementation.
Under China’s multi-party cooperation system, there are the CPC and eight other political parties. The eight democratic parties are: Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang, China Democratic League, China National Democratic Construction Association, China Association for Promoting Democracy, Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party, China Zhi Gong Dang, Jiu San Society and Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League. The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is an important institution of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC. Based on the principle of “long-term coexistence, mutual supervision, treating each other with sincerity and sharing each other’s weal and woe,” the CPC and the eight democratic parties work hand in hand in developing socialism with Chinese characteristics, thus giving rise to the basic feature of “multi-party cooperation system under the leadership of the CPC, with the CPC holding power and the other eight parties participating fully in state affairs.” The multi-party cooperation system shows unique political advantage and strong vitality, and plays an irreplaceable role in China’s political and social life.
I. An Inevitable Choice in China’s Social Development
China has had a long history of feudalism. From 1840 on, when the Western imperialist powers launched aggressive wars against China, the corrupt and weak feudal ruling class buckled, and China was reduced to a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society. For nearly 110 years after that, the Chinese nation was plunged into the most dangerous situation, and the Chinese people had no democratic rights whatsoever.
To change the fate of the country and the Chinese nation, generation after generation of Chinese people rose up and waged heroic struggles to save the country and the people. In the early 20th century, Sun Yat-sen, forerunner of China’s democratic revolution, turned his eyes to the West for a road that would save China. In 1911, he led a bourgeois democratic revolution, bringing to an end the autocratic monarchical system that had been in place for several millenniums. With the founding of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen introduced a parliamentary and multi-party system in imitation of that in Western countries. Though historically progressive compared with the autocratic monarchy, the bourgeois political system soon collapsed under the onslaught of domestic and foreign reactionary forces and therefore failed to fulfill the Chinese people’s fervent desire for independence and democracy. Mr. Sun Yat-sen later concluded that China could not simply copy European and American politics to govern its own society, as Chinese society was different from that of the West.
Between 1927 and 1949, the Kuomintang headed by Chiang Kai-shek exercised one-party dictatorship and monopolized all state power. It persecuted democratic and progressive forces against the trend of democratic politics and the wishes of the people. It was finally abandoned by history.
The political development of modern China called for a new political party system that suited China’s national conditions. Such a historic mission fell on the shoulders of the CPC and its eight partners.
The CPC, founded in 1921, creatively combined the general truth of Marxism-Leninism with the actual situation in China, put forth the revolutionary program of “new democracy,” and united all revolutionary classes to fight for national independence, the liberation of the people, the prosperity of the country, and the well-being of the people. The eight democratic parties, mostly founded during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945) and the War of Liberation (1945-1949), were rooted among the national bourgeoisie and urban petty bourgeoisie, as well as intellectuals and other patriots associated with them. These people formed a progressive force who were anti-imperialist, patriotic and demanded democracy.
In the days of tough struggles, the CPC has established and developed close relations of cooperation with the eight democratic parties and joined forces with them to fight for peace and democracy. During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, the democratic parties actively joined the national united front led by the CPC and the democratic movement against the Japanese invaders, and made concerted efforts for national unity and progress, and against the surrendering, splittist and retrogressive activities of diehard elements in the Kuomintang. After the war, they, together with the CPC, continued the fight against the policies of dictatorship and civil war adopted by the Kuomintang and Chiang Kai-shek clique.
While leading the new democratic revolution to victory, the CPC established its core leadership role among the various revolutionary forces. And the democratic parties and democratic personages without party affiliation, through experience in the years of practice and on their own initiative, chose the leadership of the CPC. In April 1948, the CPC’s proposal to convene a new political consultation conference and set up a democratic coalition government was warmly endorsed by the democratic parties and democratic personages without party affiliation. They made it public that they were willing to strive to build a New China under the leadership of the CPC. The convention of the first Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in September 1949 marked the formal establishment of the multi-party cooperation system under the leadership of the CPC. It also marked the beginning of the CPC, the democratic parties and the democratic personages without party affiliation working together in building the state power of New China.
After the People’s Republic of China was founded on October 1, 1949, the ruling CPC further strengthened its unity and cooperation with the democratic parties and continued to push forward the theoretical innovation and development in practical work regarding multi-party cooperation. After the socialist transformation was completed in 1956, and in light of the profound changes that had taken place among China’s social classes, the CPC set forth the principle of “long-term coexistence and mutual supervision,” which meant that the other eight democratic parties would exist as long as the CPC exists, and that they and the CPC could supervise each other. Since the CPC was the ruling party, the other eight parties would play more of a supervisory role. Thus, the basic framework of multi-party cooperation in socialist China came into being. But after 1957, especially during the “cultural revolution” (1966-1976), the multi-party cooperation system suffered serious setbacks.
After the reform and opening-up policies were adopted in 1978, the CPC, in light of the changes in the situation and tasks, made it clear that the multi-party cooperation system is a basic feature and advantage of China’s political system, and set forth the principle of “long-term coexistence, mutual supervision, treating each other with sincerity and sharing each other’s weal and woe” to guide its relations with the other eight parties. It also set forth a complete set of theories and policies regarding the multi-party cooperation system, making sticking to and improving the system an important component of the theory and practice of Chinese-style socialism.
In 1989, the CPC formulated the Opinions on Sticking to and Improving the System of Multi-party Cooperation and Political Consultation Under the Leadership of the CPC, thus institutionalizing the multi-party cooperation system. The First Session of the Eighth National People’s Congress in 1993 added to the Constitution the words “multi-party cooperation and political consultation system under the leadership of the Communist Party of China shall continue to exist and develop for a long time to come,” providing a constitutional basis for the system. After the 16th CPC National Congress in 2002, the CPC, in its effort to build a socialist political civilization, released two documents — Opinions on Further Strengthening the Building of the Multi-party Cooperation and Political Consultation System under the Leadership of the CPC, and Opinions on Strengthening the Work of the CPPCC –to further standardize and institutionalize the multi-party cooperation system.
Since the founding of New China, the multi-party cooperation system has been continuously developing and consolidated, and is playing a significant role in the state’s political and social life.
The political history and practice of modern and contemporary China prove that the construction of democratic politics in China must proceed from the country’s basic conditions, and blind emulation of the political or party systems of any other country will never succeed; and that dictatorship will also end in failure, as it is against the law of historical development and the people’s will. The formation and development of China’s multi-party cooperation system was a logical choice of its modern and contemporary history, a product of the combination of Marxism-Leninism and China’s own situation, and a crystallization of the wisdom of the CPC and other democratic parties. This system is well suited to China’s conditions, the reality of China’s revolution, construction and reform, and the essential demands of socialist democracy. It reflects the fine cultural tradition of the Chinese nation, which features all-embracing and harmony while reserving differences. With splendid Chinese features, this system both accords with the trend of the times and embodies the inherent requirements of China’s social development.
II. A Basic Political System for China
According to the Chinese Constitution, “The People’s Republic of China is a socialist state under the people’s democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants.” The government system that accords with such a form of state is the system of people’s congresses, and the political party system that accords with it is that of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC. The systems of people’s congresses, multi-party cooperation, regional ethnic autonomy, and self-governance at the primary level of society together constitute the kernel and fundamental framework of China’s political system, and are the embodiment of socialist democracy.
As one of China’s fundamental political system, the multi-party cooperation system identifies the status and functions of the CPC and the eight other political parties in the political life of the state, and the relations between the parties.
— The CPC holds the leading and ruling position. The CPC’s leadership position was formed and consolidated during the long years of revolution, construction and reform, and it is the choice of history and the people. During its more than 80 years of struggle, the CPC led the Chinese people through the new democratic revolution to realize national independence and the people’s liberation; established state power with the people as the masters of the state, and safeguarded national unification and the solidarity of all ethnic groups; established the socialist system and completed the most profound social transformation in Chinese history; and pioneered the Chinese-style socialist cause and blazed a correct road toward national prosperity and a happy life for the people.
China is a developing country with a territory of 9.6 million sq km, 1.3 billion people and 56 ethnic groups. To push forward modernization in such a populous country with such a vast landmass, it is imperative to have strong core of leadership. The CPC represents the development trend of China’s advanced productive forces, the orientation of China’s advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people. The strong leadership of the CPC is the fundamental guarantee for China’s socialist modernization, for national unification and social harmony and stability, and for the unity of over one billion people as they work together to create a bright future. This has become a political view shared by people of all ethnic groups formed in the long years of revolution, construction and reform.
— The eight democratic parties participate in and deliberate on state affairs. The inherent requirements of the people’s democratic dictatorship and the actual role played by the eight democratic parties in China’s political life determine their role as participating parties. As the political alliances of socialist working people, builders of socialism and patriots who support socialism with whom they maintain ties, these parties are within the scope of the people, and their participation in state affairs under the leadership of the CPC is a major indication of people’s democracy.
Their participation in state affairs mainly takes the following forms: participating in the exercise of state power, consultation on fundamental state policies and the choice of state leaders, the administration of state affairs, and the formulation and implementation of state policies, laws and regulations. Their status and rights as participating parties are protected by the Constitution and other laws.
— A new relationship of unity and cooperation has been established between the CPC and the eight democratic parties. The CPC has made friends with the eight democratic parties in their long years of common struggle. Its fundamental theory, line, program and experience have been agreed by the democratic parties, and the building of socialism with Chinese characteristics has become the common goal of all parties in China. In a liberal, stable and harmonious political atmosphere, the CPC maintains wide political cooperation with the democratic parties, attends to their political and material interests, and unites with them in the march forward.
— The cooperation of the CPC and the democratic parties is rich in content. First, the CPC consults the democratic parties on major principles, policies and issues, and they supervise each other. Second, members of democratic parties hold an appropriate number of posts in state power organs and they can perform their duties according to law. Third, members of democratic parties hold leading posts in central and local governments and judicial organs; the people’s governments at various levels keep contacts with, through diverse means, the democratic parties to bring into play their role of participation in and deliberation on state affairs. Fourth, the democratic parties participate in consultation on major state issues through the CPPCC. Fifth, the CPC supports the democratic parties to participate in the country’s reform, opening up and socialist modernization drive. To serve economic and social development is the main function of the democratic parties as participating parties, and also a distinctive feature of China’s multi-party cooperation system.
— The CPC and the other eight democratic parties supervise each other. Such supervision is political supervision exercised through exchanging views and airing criticisms and suggestions. Since the CPC is the leading and ruling party, it needs particularly supervision from the democratic parties more than the other way round.
This democratic supervision mainly covers the implementation of the Constitution, laws and regulations; the formulation and implementation of major guiding principles and policies of the CPC and the government; and the work of CPC committees at various levels, as well as CPC-member officials’ performance of duties and clean governance. The supervision from the democratic parties is unique yet important for strengthening and improving the CPC’s leadership and improving the socialist supervision system.
The multi-party cooperation system has created a new form of political party system in the world, a unique system by itself. Under this system, the CPC and the democratic parties work closely together and supervise each other, instead of opposing each other. The CPC rules the country and the democratic parties participate in state affairs according to law, instead of ruling the country in turn. This system accords with the system of people’s congresses to ensure that the people are the masters of the state, rather than a democracy for a minority of people.
III. Major Manifestations of Socialist Democracy
Without democracy there can be no socialism, let alone socialist modernization. It is an unswerving goal of the CPC and the democratic parties to realize and develop people’s democracy in China. China’s multi-party cooperation system, with its unique structure and functions as well as operational mechanism, gives expression to the intrinsic demands of socialist democracy and guarantees the full exercise of the people’s democratic rights. It is a major manifestation of socialist democracy.
The leadership of the CPC and full exercise of socialist democracy are the essential requirements of the multi-party cooperation system. The CPC aims to serve the people wholeheartedly, and represents the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people. The CPC’s leadership and rule is to lead and support the people to be the masters of their country, mobilize and organize the people as extensively as possible, to manage state and social affairs as well as economic and cultural programs in accordance with the law, and safeguard and realize the basic interests of the people. The multi-party cooperation system gives expression to both the firm leadership of the CPC and extensive democracy, maintains both consistency and diversity, and exhibits both order and vigor.
One major feature of China’s socialist democracy is the combination of democratic election and democratic consultation. In China, the people’s congress system and the multi-party cooperation system under the leadership of the CPC supplement each other. That the people exercise their democratic rights through election and voting and that consultation is conducted among people of all walks of life to achieve consensus as much as possible before any significant decisions are made are two important ways to realize socialist democracy. The combination of democratic election and democratic consultation has extended the width and depth of socialist democracy. Full political consultation both takes into account the opinions of the majority and shows respect to the reasonable requirements of the minority, thus guaranteeing democracy of the widest scope and promoting the harmonious development of society.
The value and functions of China’s multi-party cooperation system are manifested as follows:
— Political participation. The multi-party cooperation system opens up an institutionalized channel for the political participation of democratic parties, incorporates various social forces into the political system, and consolidates and expands the foundation of the people’s democratic dictatorship; mobilizes the enthusiasm of all sectors, pools the wisdom of the people, solicits proposals widely, and promotes the scientific and democratic decision-making of the ruling party and the government; and advances the positive and steady development of socialist democracy on the premise of maintaining social stability.
— Expression of interests. China is a large, populous country with a variety of social classes, strata and groups. On the basis of common fundamental interests, differences and contradictions in specific interests exist among the people. In particular, as the socialist market economy progresses, the reform of the economic system deepens, the social structure and the pattern of interests undergo great reshuffles, and people’s ideas also change profoundly. The multi-party cooperation system can effectively reflect the interests, wishes and demands of all social sectors, clears and broadens the channels for the expression of interest, coordinates interest relations, gives due consideration to the interests of allies, and thus maintains social harmony and stability.
— Social integration. China’s arduous and complicated modernization task requires a political system that has a strong function in social integration. Combining the firm leadership of the CPC with extensive cooperation with democratic parties, the multi-party cooperation system has forged a mighty power of social integration. Aiming at the paramount objective of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, the CPC cooperates closely with democratic parties, creates strong political identification, facilitates optimized allocation of political resources, mobilizes the enthusiasm of all sectors, and leads and organizes the society to move continuously toward modernization.
— Democratic supervision. Mutual supervision between the CPC and the democratic parties is conducive to strengthening the supervision function within the system and avoiding various drawbacks arising from lack of supervision. The democratic parties represent specific interests and demands of relevant groups of people, reflect complaints and suggestions from all walks of life, and provide all-round supervision apart from the self-supervision of the CPC. This facilitates the scientific and democratic decision-making of the ruling party, so that it will resist and overcome bureaucracy and all sorts of negative and corruptive phenomena more consciously, thus reinforcing and improving the work of the ruling party in all aspects.
— Maintenance of stability. The multi-party cooperation system replaces confrontation and contention with cooperation and consultation, effectively avoiding political instability and frequent changes of regime resulting from discord among political parties, thus reducing internal frictions of the society to the maximum, and safeguarding social and political stability and solidarity. Combining the firm leadership of the CPC with the extensive participation of democratic parties, the system is able to effectively resolve various social contradictions and conflicts, and maintain political stability and social harmony.
China’s multi-party cooperation system gives expression to the intrinsic requirement of socialist democracy that people are the masters of their own country, as well as the characteristics and advantages of China’s political system. In the new historical circumstances, one of the key jobs for developing socialist democracy is adhering to and improving the multi-party cooperation system under CPC leadership, which entails expanding the orderly political participation of citizens, broadening the channels for the expression of social interest and fostering harmonious social development.
IV. Political Consultation in the Multi-party Cooperation System
Political consultation is a major aspect of China’s multi-party cooperation system. The CPC consults with the various democratic parties and personages without party affiliation on major state guidelines and policies and key state affairs before making decisions and in the process of implementing the decisions. This is a vital link in the scientific and democratic decision-making process as well as an important means for the CPC to enhance its governance capability. After many years of practice, two basic modes of political consultation in the multi-party cooperation system have been formed: the CPC’s consultation with democratic parties, and the CPC’s consultation with democratic parties and representatives from all circles at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The CPC Central Committee consults the central committees of democratic parties on important documents of the CPC National Congress and CPC Central Committee, proposed amendments to the Constitution and major laws, candidates for state leaders, significant decisions on pushing forward reform and opening-up, medium- and long-term plans for the national economic and social development, and issues having a great bearing on the state as a whole. Moreover, the CPC canvasses comments on key documents and events, and consults widely on other important matters.
The major forms of political consultation between the CPC Central Committee and central committees of the eight democratic parties are: The CPC Central Committee invites leaders of democratic parties to attend democratic consultation conferences and discuss state policies to be announced by the CPC Central Committee; top leaders of the CPC Central Committee hold high-level, small-scope talks with leaders of democratic parties to exchange views and ideas when the situation requires it; the CPC Central Committee or an agency entrusted by the CPC Central Committee convenes seminars participated by democratic parties and representative personages without party affiliation, at which important issues are briefed or certain topics are discussed, and policy-related proposals from democratic parties are solicited. Apart from consultation meetings and conferences, the central committees of democratic parties can put forward written proposals on state policies and other important issues to the CPC Central Committee.
Their political consultation proceeds in the following steps: The CPC Central Committee brings forward an annual plan for political consultation according to the priorities of work of that year; the central committees of democratic parties and personages without party affiliation are informed of the topics for consultation and are provided with relevant materials in advance; the central committees of democratic parties make arrangements for relevant people to read the documents, conduct surveys and research, discuss the topics and bring up suggestions and proposals; democracy is fully exercised in the course of consultation, suggestions and proposals widely solicited, and common ground sought while reserving differences; and the CPC Central Committee studies the collected suggestions and proposals carefully, and gives prompt feedback to the central committees of democratic parties and personages without party affiliation about the follow-up actions on their suggestions and proposals.
Since the early 1990s, the CPC Central Committee’s consultation with democratic parties has been covering more and more topics while the procedures have been gradually standardized. From 1990 to the end of 2006, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, and their entrusted agencies, organized more than 230 consultation conferences, seminars and briefings, of which 74 were presided over by the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. Over the past three years, democratic parties and personages without party affiliation have raised suggestions and proposals on the opinion-solicitation drafts of many important documents, such as the Decision of the CPC Central Committee on the Enhancement of the Party’s Governance Capability, Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Some Major Issues Regarding the Building of a Harmonious Socialist Society, and Opinions of the CPC Central Committee on Further Strengthening the Building of the Multi-party Cooperation and Political Consultation System under the Leadership of the CPC. The CPC also listens to their opinions and suggestions on candidates for leaders of the National People’s Congress and the CPPCC, amendments to the Constitution and a good number of drafts of state laws, including the Legislation Law, Anti-Secession Law, Law on Supervision of the Standing Committees of the People’s Congresses at All Levels, Property Rights Law, the medium- and long-term plans for China’s national economic and social development, such as the Outline of the 11th Five-Year Plan for the National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China, as well as important matters bearing on the national economy and the people’s livelihood, e.g., the building of a new socialist countryside and the reforms of the financial, healthcare and educational systems. Many of their suggestions and proposals have been adopted by the CPC Central Committee, the State Council and departments concerned.
Furthermore, the central committees of democratic parties and representatives of personages without party affiliation have submitted to the CPC Central Committee over 200 important written proposals. These proposals cover a wide range of subjects, including economy, politics, society, education, science and technology, culture, health, national defense, diplomacy and affairs regarding Chinese in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, such as those addressing issues of economic and social development of the Yangtze River Delta region, the Bohai Sea region, the economic zone on the west coast of the Taiwan Straits and the Beibu Gulf region, those addressing reforming the compensation mechanism for exploiting the resources of the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers as well as underdeveloped regions, and those addressing the deepening of the reform of the cultural system and the promotion of traditional Chinese culture. Their proposals are highly valued and accepted by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, and have produced good social effects.
The system for local CPC committees at various levels to consult the leaders of local committees of democratic parties at the corresponding levels on major issues of respective regions has also been institutionalized. The extensive consultation conducted by the CPC committees with democratic parties at various levels has vigorously enhanced the scientific and democratic decision-making of the ruling party.
The CPC’s consultation with democratic parties, personages without party affiliation and representatives from all walks of life at the CPPCC is another important way of political consultation. The CPPCC comprises members from 34 sectors, including the CPC, democratic parties, personages without party affiliation and representatives from all sections of society. Strengthening political consultation at the CPPCC is an essential aspect of developing socialist democracy and building socialist political civilization. Giving further play to the role of the CPPCC helps manifest and give full play to the characteristics and advantages of China’s socialist political system and political party system, and contributes to the consolidation and development of a political situation characterized by democracy, solidarity, liveliness, dynamism, stability and harmony.
V. Multi-party Cooperation System and Building of State Power
As the party in power, the CPC has persisted in ruling the country scientifically, democratically and in accordance with law. As participating parties, the democratic parties also take part in running government and state affairs. In exercising state power, the CPC unites and cooperates with all the democratic parties and encourages them to play their functions by participating in and discussing government and political affairs and in democratic supervision, so as to improve the building of state power.
The National People’s Congress (NPC) is the organ through which the Chinese people exercise state power; it is also an important place where the roles of the democratic party members are brought into play. A certain proportion of the membership of the people’s congresses, their standing committees and special committees at various levels is taken up by members of democratic parties. Since the First Session of the 10th NPC in 2003, a total of 177,000 members of democratic parties and personages without party affiliation have been elected as deputies to the people’s congresses at various levels, among whom seven have served as vice-chairpersons of the Standing Committee of the NPC and 50 served as Standing Committee members; 41 as vice-chairpersons of the standing committees of the people’s congresses at the provincial level and 462 as their members, and 357 as vice-chairpersons of the standing committees of the people’s congresses at the municipal level and 2,084 as their members. Performing their duties as representatives of the people, they have played an important role in participating in the enactment and amendment of the Constitution, state laws and local regulations, in electing, deciding on and dismissing state and government leaders, in examining and approving national economic and social development plans and reports on their implementation, as well as state budgets and reports on their implementation. They also play an essential role in reflecting the people’s wishes by submitting motions, addressing inquiries and taking part in inspection tours and law-enforcement examinations.
It is a key part of the multi-party cooperation system under the leadership of the CPC that democratic party members take leadership positions in government and judicial organs. By the end of 2006, 31,000 democratic party members and personages without party affiliation took government official posts at and above the county (division) level. In the areas of work they are put in charge, they have commanding power, the power to make decisions as well as the power to nominate and remove personnel. Among these officials, 18 served as deputy leaders in the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, and the various ministries, commissions, offices and bureaus directly under the State Council; 24 served as deputy provincial governors, vice-chairpersons and deputy mayors in the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government; 356 served as deputy mayors or deputy governors of the people’s governments of 397 cities (prefectures, leagues, districts); 35 served as vice-presidents of provincial courts or deputy attorneys-general of provincial procuratorates; and 141 serve as vice-presidents of courts and deputy attorneys-general of procuratorates at the prefecture/city level. In addition, many members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation hold leading positions at institutions of higher learning, people’s organizations, scientific research institutes, and state-owned enterprises. For instance, 69 of them assume such posts at the 93 research institutes under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and 38 at the 72 universities or colleges directly under the Ministry of Education. In 2007, two of them take up the positions of Minister of Science and Technology and Minister of Health, respectively.
The State Council and governments at all levels put great emphasis on strengthening contacts with democratic parties, opening up new channels for them to participate in and discuss state affairs. The major ways to keep in contact with them include: the State Council convenes forums attended by leaders of democratic parties to solicit ideas and suggestions from them on government’s work reports to be submitted to the NPC for examination and approval, and on major state policies and administrative measures to be adopted, as well as informing them of the latest situation of national economic and social development; the State Council invites leaders of democratic parties to attend, as nonvoting delegates, plenary meetings and related meetings of the government when necessary; the government invites representatives of democratic parties to join inspections on anti-corruption work, overall improvement of public security and regularization of the market order; relevant government departments establish and strengthen contacts with the democratic parties in line with their given fields of work and invite leaders of the parties to attend important specialized meetings and take part in the formulation of key policies and plans when necessary. At present, all the democratic parties, in accordance with their specialties, have established contacts with relevant departments under the State Council, and cooperated with the government departments in joint research on promoting aptitude education, building a “Spark” science and technology belt (“Spark” is the name of a state program for scientific and technological development, and it is derived from the saying that “a single spark can start a prairie fire.” –tr.), developing modern agriculture, popularizing the eco-homestead plan, strengthening the protection and development of marine resources, improving financial and taxation policies to encourage scientific and technological innovation, reforming the system of reward for scientific and technological work, implementing the state intellectual property rights strategy, and dealing with the shortage of water resources. The State Council and governments at all levels have also invited 767 members of democratic parties and personages without party affiliation to work as counselors in the counselors’ offices of the governments, and invited 1,393 as staff members of the central and local research institutes of culture and history.
Members of democratic parties have been invited to serve as special consultants in more and more fields. It is an important measure and institutional arrangement for them to play their role in democratic supervision to the full when the government departments and judicial organs concerned invite them to serve as special consultants. So far, 87 democratic party members and personages without party affiliation are working as special prosecutors, educational supervisors, special supervisors, special land resources inspectors, special auditors and special taxation supervisors at the invitation of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Supervision, Ministry of Land and Resources, National Audit Office and State Administration of Taxation. Local governments at different levels have also engaged 17,000 democratic party members and personages without party affiliation for similar purposes. These special experts serve as consultants and a bridge between the government and the people, and perform their democratic supervising duties by participating in law-enforcement inspection and supervision, in researches for the enactment of relevant laws and regulations, and in the investigation of major cases. For example, the National Audit Office organized special auditors to join in the major projects of auditing and investigating the implementation of the central budget, the fund for resettling residents in the Three Gorges Dam area, the fund for comprehensive agricultural development, funds for projects of investment, funds from World Bank loans and funds for grain bought on credit. In the last five years, the special supervisors of supervision departments at different levels received and brought to the attention of the authorities concerned 13,600 letters of complaint from people of all walks of life, and received 23,800 visitors, playing a special role in increasing the contacts between the supervisory bodies and the ordinary people.
As institutional arrangements for democratic parties to participate in key state and foreign affairs become more standardized, they are playing a greater role in these aspects. In recent years, central committee leaders of the democratic parties have attended important activities in foreign affairs on more than150 occasions, and led more than 60 delegations on overseas visits. Central committee leaders of democratic parties are invited to attend meetings between state or CPC Central Committee leaders and visiting foreign leaders. They are invited to attend major celebrations, visits conveying regards and appreciation, and commemorative activities.
VI. Multi-party Cooperation System and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference
The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is a patriotic united front organization of the Chinese people, an important institution for multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, and a major form of socialist democracy in China.
Members of democratic parties are important constituent parts of the CPPCC. In the composition of the CPPCC, they form a relatively large percentage of members, standing committee members and leaders. They also make up a considerable proportion of the CPPCC’s special committee members and leaders, including in the CPPCC working organs. When the First Session of the 10th National Committee of the CPPCC was held in March 2003, for instance, 1,343members of democratic parties and personages without party affiliation served as members of the CPPCC National Committee, accounting for 60 percent of the total; of them 195 served as members of the standing committee, accounting for 65.2 percent of the total, and 13 were elected vice-chairpersons of the CPPCC National Committee, accounting for 54.2 percent of all vice-chairpersons. Altogether, 336,000 democratic party members and personages without party affiliation served as members in CPPCC provincial, city and county committees. In the name of the irrespective parties, members of democratic parties express their ideas at CPPCC meetings, and their rights for conducting inspections, putting forward motions, reporting on and reflecting public opinions, and participating in investigations and inspections are fully respected and guaranteed. The major roles of CPPCC members from democratic parties are as follows:
— Participating actively in political consultation. Representatives of democratic parties make full use of various consultative forms provided by the CPPCC to conduct discussions and air their views and suggestions on major state and local policies, as well as significant issues relating to politics, economy, culture and social life, on CPPCC work participated in and shared by all democratic parties, and on major CPPCC internal affairs and patriotic united front work. Every New Year’s Day and during the annual plenary session of the CPPCC National Committee, major CPC Central Committee leaders would discuss state affairs with democratic parties. All CPPCC members, including those from democratic parties, are entitled to attend major conferences of the National People’s Congress as nonvoting delegates to discuss major state issues and air their views and suggestions on important issues relating to major state policies and people’s livelihood. The continuously enriched content of the meetings of the CPPCC standing committees, of the chairpersons, of secretaries-general and of special committees has created favorable conditions for democratic parties to participate more widely in the work of political consultation. In recent years, democratic parties have taken an active part in special consultative conferences focusing on major topics of economic and social development held by the CPPCC and government departments concerned. For instance, in 2006 they participated in special conferences focusing on “Further Promoting the Strategy for the Development of the Western Region” and “Implementing the State’s Mid- and Long-term Scientific and Technological Development Plan,” during which they pooled their wisdom and voiced their expert opinions extensively, giving substantial support to the government’s work in the related areas.
— Exercising democratic supervision. Democratic parties exercise their supervisory role on the implementation of the Constitution, laws and regulations, the implementation of major guiding principles and policies, and the work of state organs and their functionaries through CPPCC inspections, speeches at CPPCC meetings or in other ways. CPPCC members from democratic parties also exercise democratic supervision by participating in investigations and inspections organized by CPC committees and relevant government departments, or as special supervisors of judicial organs and government departments. From 1997 to 2006, central committee representatives of the democratic parties spoke (including handing in written speeches) 370 times at meetings of the CPPCC National Committee, addressing a series of significant issues relating to reform, development and social stability, such as accelerating the optimization and upgrading of industrial structures, promoting the development of cyclic economy, paying due attention to the management of disasters and the establishment of an emergency response system, safeguarding and guaranteeing the legitimate rights of migrant workers, improving the social security system, strengthening cultural construction in rural areas, securing inputs into education, especially basic education, proactively promoting education run by private sectors, accelerating the construction of the public health system, promoting reunification of the motherland and opposing secession, and developing cross-Straits economic and trade exchanges. Commenting freely on state affairs at the political forums of CPPCC conferences, their speeches represent the pooling of the wisdom of their parties, and many of their views and suggestions have been adopted.
— Participating in and discussing state affairs in a deep-going way. CPPCC members from democratic parties have conducted investigations and research into key issues in Chinese political, economic, cultural and social life, and on problems of common concern to the people. Reflecting public opinion and sentiment, they have made a large number of comments and suggestions to the CPC and state organs by way of investigation reports, motions and proposals, or in other ways. From 1990 to 2006, more than 2,400 proposals were raised by democratic parties and their CPPCC members at national conferences of the CPPCC, dealing with such issues as the early legislation of an “anti-secession law,” taxation reform in the rural areas, working hard to create a sound environment for the development of the non-public-owned economy, establishing a supervision mechanism for social security funds and setting up a social security system in rural China. Many of these proposals have either been adopted and implemented, or given rise to the enactment of relevant laws, or provided important reference for policy-making.
VII. Multi-party Cooperation System and Modernization
All democratic parties persevere in promoting development as the first priority. Focusing on the country’s central work, they have earnestly performed the functions of participating in and deliberating on state affairs and exercising democratic supervision, actively promoting the development of socialist economy, politics, culture, and society.
— Carrying out thorough investigation and research, and actively proffering ideas and suggestions. All democratic parties actively participate in the formulation and implementation of state policies. They carry out investigations and surveys on important issues of overall, strategic and perspective importance in the country’s politics, economy and social life, and then make constructive proposals. In recent years, they have successively carried out investigations and surveys on such issues as the Three Gorges Project, the protection of arable land, the “Three Direct Links” across the Taiwan Straits, the development of the western region, the rise of central China, the resurgence of the old industrial bases (particularly those in Northeast China), the building of new socialist rural areas, the development of the regions along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the state-level comprehensive and coordinated reform pilot zones, the implementation of the sustainable development strategy, the formulation and implementation of the 11th Five-Year Plan, and so forth. Their proposals regarding these issues put forward to the CPC Central Committee and the State Council have been highly valued, and many of them been accepted. The local branches of all the democratic parties have also conducted investigations and research into local economic and social development issues; some places have adopted the effective working method in which “the CPC committee commissions the democratic parties to conduct surveys on certain topics and make proposals; if the proposals are adopted by the government, the related departments will fulfill them.” In this way, the role of the democratic parties as policy and intelligence consultants has been efficiently brought into play.
— Carrying out the work of poverty alleviation and promoting public welfare undertakings. With the advantage of a high concentration of talented people, all democratic parties actively launch activities to promote the development of the country’s economy and society, and the coordinated development between rural and urban areas. They also work hard to promote and implement the program of intellectual support for the border areas, the “Guangcai (Glory) Program” and the “Warmth Project,” as well as some public welfare undertakings, such as vocational training, setting up schools, natural disaster relief and donations, and poverty alleviation. All these endeavors have produced good economic and social effects. Many democratic party members worked in the forefront of the fight against SARS in 2003. Since the “Warmth Project,” aimed at helping the poor, was initiated by the democratic parties over ten years ago, they sponsored free training courses in 27 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government), from which some one million farmers benefited, and more than 300,000 unemployed and handicapped people have received help. The “Siyuan (Think-of-the-Source) Project,” which called on democratic party members to give back to society, has received donations totaling some 31.65 million yuan since its launch in 2005. In 2006, the central committees of the democratic parties organized leaders of related departments and various specialists to conduct 1,270 investigations regarding the work of intellectual support for the border areas and poverty alleviation, made 144 policy suggestions concerning the development of poverty-stricken areas, helped establish 101 projects for poverty alleviation, introduced nearly 500 million yuan in various project funds and donations, trained 25,000 people in different skills, and established 210 “Hope” primary schools. All these have won high praise from the general public.
— Reporting social conditions and public opinions to the higher authorities and safeguarding stability and unity. All the democratic parties make full use of their important role as coordinators and problem solvers to do a good job of reporting social conditions and public opinions to the higher authorities and to help the CPC committees and governments at all levels in scientific and democratic decision-making. They not only conduct investigations and research on some major, difficult and topical problems that have drawn wide attention from the public, but also hold forums to find solutions to these problems, and make proposals on how to improve and solve them. These problems include uneven distribution of incomes, gap between the rich and the poor, establishment and improvement of the medical insurance system, inadequate medical service, reform of state-owned enterprises, loss of state-owned assets, the production and sales of fake, shoddy and pirated products, building up social credibility, urban housing shortage, soaring housing prices, safeguarding fairness and justice, and help for the poverty-stricken. The democratic parties work hard to promote democratic supervision, and actively participate in the inspection of anti-corruption, finance and taxation, prices and environmental protection work, and the overall improvement of public security organized by the CPC committees and governments at all levels. On the principle of treating each other with all sincerity, they conduct thorough investigations and analyses, and candidly point out, without reserve, all problems they know existing in CPC committees and governments, thus continuing to enhance the quality and level of their supervisory work. Moreover, they report on issues relating to the people’s interests after looking deep into these issues and going down to the grassroots, and strengthen the ideological guide for the democratic party members and the ordinary people they are in contact with, to smooth communications, answer complaints and eliminate elements that affect social stability. By doing so, they have played a positive role in promoting social harmony.
— Strengthening international connections and engaging in exchanges. By making full use of their rich resources of contacts, all democratic parties have made active efforts to expand their connections with compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as overseas Chinese and international friends to spur the exchanges, cooperation and visits in the fields of economy, science and technology, culture, health, sports, and so on, and to bring into China foreign capital, technology, expertise and management experience. In addition, they help and support qualified enterprises to “go global” by utilizing resources from both domestic and international markets, so that these enterprises can better participate in international economic and technological cooperation and competition. Meanwhile, the scale, scope and content of exchanges continue to expand, and international ties are being strengthened through various forms of exchanges, such as academic communications, and paying and hosting visits.
While uniting the democratic parties in their struggle, the CPC has also established close cooperation with personages without party affiliation. These personages — having emerged in the historical circumstances of the Chinese revolution — refer to those who, most being intellectuals, are not affiliated with any political party but have considerable influence on account of their positive contributions to society. An important force in China’s political life, a constituent part of the multi-party cooperation system and a major sector of the CPPCC, they have played a significant role through all the stages of China’s revolution, construction and reform. Personages without party affiliation are invited to all democratic consultation meetings and talks with democratic party members convened by the CPC Central Committee. For decades, these people have, with the overall public interest in mind, earnestly performed their functions of participation in the deliberation and administration of state affairs, and democratic supervision, conducted in-depth investigations and research, and put forward many important suggestions and proposals to the CPC and the government. The CPC supports their positive role in people’s congresses, governments, CPPCC organizations and judicial organs at all levels.
A large number of outstanding people have appeared from among the ranks of the members of democratic parties and personages without party affiliation, among whom 7,142 have won national or international commendation and/or awards. One good example is WangXuan, former vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Jiu San Society and inventor of the computerized laser typesetting system for Chinese characters. Another is Yuan Longping, an outstanding man without party affiliation. Known as the “father of hybrid rice,” Yuan has made great contribution to helping China to be self-sufficient in food supply with his high-yield hybrid rice. The members of all democratic parties and personages without party affiliation are an important force in developing advanced productive forces, promoting socialist democratic politics and advanced socialist culture, and building a harmonious socialist society. They are playing an irreplaceable role in building a comparatively well-off society in an all-round way, and in accelerating the socialist modernization.
China’s multi-party cooperation system has undergone a glorious history of 58 years. It has been proved through practice that the multi-party cooperation system, as a basic political system of China, is inevitable, innovative and superior.
At present, the Chinese people are striving with confidence for building a comparatively well-off society in an all-round way, and endeavoring to build a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and modern socialist country. Pursuing and improving the multi-party cooperation system is conducive to promoting the sustainable development of the social productive forces, realizing the overall progress of society, further fulfilling and developing the people’s democracy, facilitating socialist political civilization, expediting the development of socialist culture and socialist ethical progress, maintaining political stability and social stability and unity in the country, and boosting the construction of a harmonious socialist society.
With the continuous development of the reform of political system and socialist democratic politics in China, the multi-party cooperation system will continue to develop. In order to pursue and improve this basic political system, we must unswervingly follow the road of developing socialist politics with Chinese characteristics. At the same time, we must actively learn from the useful fruits of the political civilization of mankind without mechanically copying other countries’ political party systems. In the great cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, the multi-party cooperation system established and developed by the CPC and all democratic parties, will continue to be consolidated and improved to play a more and more important role.
A Brief Introduction to China’s Democratic Parties and Personages Without Party Affiliation
Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang (RCCK)
In November 1947, the sect of democrats in the Chinese Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) held its first joint meeting with patriotic democratic personages in Hong Kong. On January 1, 1948, the meeting declared that the RCCK had been officially founded.
RCCK recruits members mostly from people who have relations with the former Chinese Kuomintang, those who have historical or social relations with the RCCK and those who have ties with Taiwan. The RCCK also recruits members from other sources, especially those of the middle and upper social strata, and seniorand leading intellectuals.
The successive chairpersons of the RCCK in the past were Li Jishen, He Xiangning, Zhu Yunshan, Wang Kunlun, Qu Wu, Zhu Xuefan and Li Peiyao. The present chairwoman is He Luli.
The RCCK currently has branches in 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government. Party membership numbers 81,000.
China Democratic League (CDL)
The China Democratic League was secretly established on March 19, 1941 in Chongqing, and was then named China Democratic Political League. On November 16, Zhang Lan officially declared the founding of the China Democratic Political League in Chongqing. In September 1944, the China Democratic Political League held a national congress in Chongqing and decided to rename itself the China Democratic League.
The CDL is mainly made up of senior and leading intellectuals in the fields of culture, education, and science and technology.
The successive chairpersons in the past were Huang Yanpei, Zhang Lan, Shen Junru, Yang Mingxuan, Shi Liang, Chu Tu’nan, Fei Xiaotong and Ding Shisun. The present chairman is Jiang Shusheng.
The CDL now has branches in 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government. Party membership numbers more than 181,000.
China National Democratic Construction Association (CNDCA)
The China National Democratic Construction Association was founded by a number of patriotic industrialists and business people, as well as some intellectuals in Chongqing on December 16,1945.
The members of the association are mainly business people.
The successive leaders and chairpersons in the past were Huang Yanpei, Hu Juewen and Sun Qimeng. The present chairman is Cheng Siwei.
The CNDCA has branches in 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, and more than 108,000 members.
China Association for Promoting Democracy (CAPD)
Founded in Shanghai on December 30, 1945, the original members of the China Association for Promoting Democracy were mainly intellectuals in the fields of culture, education and publishing, together with a group of patriotic personages in the fields of industry and business.
Its present members are mainly senior and leading intellectuals in the fields of culture, education and publishing.
The successive chairpersons of the past were Ma Xulun, Zhou Jianren, Ye Shengtao and Lei Jieqiong. Its present chairman is Xu Jialu.
Currently, the CAPD has branches in 29 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, with a membership of over 103,000.
Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party (CPWDP)
Deng Yanda, a leader of the left wing of the Kuomintang, held the first national cadres’ conference of the Kuomintang in Shanghai on August 9, 1930, and at the conference the Provisional Action Committee of the Kuomintang of China was founded. On November 10, 1935, it was renamed the Chinese Action Committee for National Liberation. On February 3, 1947, it was renamed the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party.
Its members are mainly senior and leading intellectuals in the medical field.
The successive leaders and chairpersons of the party were Deng Yanda, Huang Qixiang, Zhang Bojun, Ji Fang, Zhou Gucheng and Lu Jiaxi. Its present chairman is Jiang Zhenghua.
The CPWDP now has branches in 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, with more than 99,000 members.
China Zhi Gong Dang (CZGD)
The China Zhi Gong Dang was founded in October 1925 in San Francisco, USA, under the sponsorship of some overseas Chinese societies. In May 1947, the party held its third congress in Hong Kong, and reorganized itself into a new democratic party.
Its members are mainly from the middle and upper social strata of returned overseas Chinese and their relatives.
The successive chairpersons of the party were Chen Qiyou, Huang Dingchen and Dong Yinchu. Its present chairman is Luo Haocai.
The CZGD now has branches in 19 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, with more than 28,000 members.
Jiu San Society
At the end of 1944, a number of progressive scholars organized the Forum on Democracy and Science, to strive for victory in the Anti-Japanese War and political democracy, and to develop the anti-imperialist and patriotic spirit of the May 4 Movement of 1919. In commemoration of victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and in the world anti-Fascist war, on September 3, 1945, it adopted the name Jiu San Society (“Jiu San” means September 3 in Chinese). On May 4, 1946, the Jiu San Society was formally founded in Chongqing.
Its members are mainly senior and leading intellectuals in the fields of science and technology.
The successive chairpersons of the past were Xu Deheng, Zhou Peiyuan and Wu Jieping. Its present chairman is Han Qide.
The Jiu San Society currently has branches in 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, with more than 105,000 members.
Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League (TSL)
The TSL was founded in Hong Kong on November 12, 1947 by a number of Taiwan personages engaged in patriotic campaigns after the February 28 Uprising of the Taiwan people that year.
The TSL is composed of people from Taiwan.
The successive chairpersons of the past were Xie Xuehong, Cai Xiao, Su Ziheng, Cai Zimin and Zhang Kehui. The present chairwoman is Lin Wenyi. From 1987 to 1992, the Fourth Central Committee of the TSL adopted the presidium system. The executive chairmen were Lin Shengzhong (1987-1988) and Cai Zimin (1988-1992).
The TSL now has branches in 13 provinces and municipalities directly under the central government, with a membership of over 2,100.
Personages Without Party Affiliation
During the New Democratic Revolution (1919-1949), the famous personages without party affiliation were generally called prominent public figures. Since the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference was founded in 1949, the category of “democratic personages without party affiliation” has been set up. Currently, those who do not belong to any party but have made positive contributions to and have a positive influence on society are categorized as personages without party affiliation. They are mostly intellectuals.
The representatives of this group included Guo Moruo, Ma Yinchu, Ba Jin, Miao Yuntai and Cheng Siyuan.