SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
Shoes should not necessarily be the same as those of others, but they must fit one’s feet. Likewise the way to govern should not necessarily be the same, but it must bring real benefits to the people. President Xi Jinping made such remarks on Sunday in his speech delivered at the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
No remark more vividly explains why China cannot copy the political institutions of the West. No rhetoric more explicitly conveys why democracy may take different forms, but its core is to have people’s will represented in state affairs and policies.
Xi said that democracy is not decoration and it should be used to solve problems for the people. He also said that we do need to borrow what is good from Western political institutions, but that should never mean that we should give up our own fundamental political system.
What Xi means is China’s CPPCC, as the political advisory body, plays the role of providing political advice for the government to make key policies and its people’s congress, as the legislative body, plays the role of a watchdog over the government.
The two political bodies are not, as some Western politicians and media have described them, decorations of the country’s democracy.
Another dimension of what Xi says may also mean that both the people’s congress and CPPCC are not as good as they should be, not least because people expect much more of them. Also because the political will of the majority of people may not be represented as well as it should be.
The people’s congress and CPPCC political institutions have existed for more than 60 years, however, this is much shorter than the parliamentary political mechanism in the West. So it is natural for them to leave much to be desired in their representation of the voice and will of the majority of the Chinese people.
If such political institutions can be compared to shoes, they are like a new pair of shoes, which will take some time for this country’s authorities and its people to wear until they feel comfortable in them.
No democratic institutions are perfect. China’s people’s congress and CPPCC institutions at the national and local levels are no exception. But they are the choice the Chinese people have made. They will constantly improve and better serve the people’s need for democracy and political freedom.
Before exercising their legal rights to vote and decide matters of common concern, the Chinese people will discuss them through the platform of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference so as to reach some basic consensus first and avoid social disintegration; that’s a special form of deliberative democracy in China. That form is especially important today, because we need the common efforts of the whole society to propel the reform forward for the common good.