Since the reform and opening-up policy kicked off in 1978, China's economy has enjoyed a rapid growth. In 2010, China became the world's second largest economy with an overall booming development of social works and continuous improvement of people's livelihood, which pulled off applauses from the international community and was labeled as "China Miracle". Accordingly, China's political systems had no chance to avoid a watchful eye from abroad. Some media baselessly criticized that China's political systems lags behind the pace of economic development, and supposed China as an undemocratic, authoritarian and autocratic country ruled by one party. They urged China to abandon the present political systems and adopt the western ones in order to achieve better development.
In fact, such views of media show exactly their prejudice and ignorance on China's social and state conditions. On the contrary, China's political systems are the basis and momentum for "China Miracle". The systems have been engraved by the characteristics of China with a history of civilization for over 5000 years. In general, the systems consist of people's congresses, multiparty cooperation and political consultation led by the Communist Party of China (CPC), regional ethnic autonomy and community-level self-governance. These four crucial elements act as the wheels of a vehicle, which keep China's development smoothly forward.
System of People's Congresses
People's congresses are composed of National People's Congress (NPC) and local people's congresses at all levels. The tenure of office for all the congresses is five years, with one assembly held each year. The NPC represents the will and interests of all Chinese people.
It represents the entire Chinese people and exercises legislative power, and it is the highest mechanism of state power for making decisions on major issues affecting the country's political life, with the Standing Committee of the NPC as its permanent body. The main powers and functions of the NPC is to amend the constitution and supervise its implementation, to formulate and amend the country's basic laws, to elect and depose staff of the state organs, to decide on matters of national importance and to monitor state organs, etc.
Local people's congresses at all levels are local organs of state power. They are responsible for ensuring compliance and enforcement of the constitution, laws and administrative regulations within their administrative areas, adopting and announcing resolutions, reviewing & making decisions on plans for economic and cultural development and the development of public services and electing & deposing local governmental officials in accordance with the limits of their authority as prescribed by law.
NPC deputies and deputies from people's congresses of provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the central government, cities divided into districts and autonomous prefectures are elected by people's congresses at the next lower level. Deputies to people's congresses of counties, cities not divided into districts, municipal districts, townships, ethnic townships and townships are directly elected by the people.
The body of deputies consists of workers, farmers, cadres, intellectuals, patriotic persons from democratic parties, patriotic persons without party affiliation, CPC members, non-CPC members, ethnic minorities and female deputies. The NPC is made up of deputies from the provincial level. The incumbent NPC has broad representation, with every sector of society having an appropriate proportion of deputies. In the almost 3000 NPC deputies, 411 (13.76%) of them belong to ethnic minorities and 637(21.33%) of them are women.
It is mainly through proposals that deputies express the will of the people and participate in the administration of state affairs. A considerable number of proposals related to the vital interests of the common people and were therefore matters of great importance to them. The vast majority of the proposals will be implemented or responded to in some other way. This is so called "Deputies serve the people who elect them."
System of Multiparty Cooperation and Political Consultation Led by the CPC
A lack of understanding of the system of multiparty cooperation led by the CPC can result in the following queries: If the relationship between the political parties is equal, why do they have a leader and led relationship? China's eight democratic parties are not in power, rather they are in opposition, so why are they called participating parties? If one understands China's modern history and culture then these questions are easy to answer: the CPC led the Chinese revolution, and with the cooperation and struggle of democratic parties it jointly established the state political power of the People's Republic of China.
In China's political party system, the leadership of the CPC determined by the constitution refers to the political leadership instead of organizational leadership. In the Constitution, the CPC and all democratic political parties are equal. Members of democratic parties and persons without party affiliation hold important leadership positions in the central government and people's governments at all levels. In terms of the issues of the country's development direction and the election of national leaders, the CPC, democratic parties and persons without party affiliation discuss important affairs of state together.
Compared to the US, the UK, Japan, France, Italy, etc., no other country's opposition parties enjoy a similar political position or play a similar role to China's democratic parties; therefore, China's democratic parties are not opposition parties but rather participatory parties.
The principles for cooperation between the CPC and the democratic parties are, "long-term coexistence, mutual supervision, sincere treatment of each other, and the sharing of honor and disgrace." These are the leading principles that govern relations between the CPC and the democratic parties. This characteristic of China's political party system differs fundamentally from the party relations in two-party and multiparty systems in other countries.
The form of cooperation lies in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). It is an organization of the Chinese people's patriotic united front and an important organ of multiparty cooperation and political consultation led by the CPC. The CPPCC is composed of the CPC; eight democratic parties; persons without party affiliation; people's organizations; representatives from every ethnic group and sector of society; representatives of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau compatriots and returned overseas Chinese; and 34 specially invited people from various sectors, giving it a broad social base.
The CPPCC is often called China's Senate, and the NPC is often mistakenly thought to be China's House of Representatives. In fact, this is incorrect. China does not have a bicameral system, and the CPPCC and the US Senate have fundamental differences. The CPPCC does not exist as a state institution; it is an organization of the Chinese people's patriotic united front and it is a political institution rather than a state institution.
Moreover, the US Senate is a part of congress, which is a state institution. Apart from this, the functions and powers of the two houses of the US government together constitute one legislation branch, and together with administrative power and the judiciary, exercise check and balance. The NPC is the country's legislature and supreme authority, while the CPPCC is an advisory body with the function of achieving consensus during political consultation.
Similar to the NPC, the CPPCC has both national and local organs. Their main powers and functions are political consultation, democratic supervision and participation in and deliberation on state affairs. They launch their work in the ways of holding conferences, submitting proposals, carrying out inspections, investigating on special issues and developing foreign contacts, etc.
The system of political consultation fully embodies the democracy and diversity of China's politics, and makes sure full rights and channels of expressing ideas and suggestions by people from all walks of life.
System of Regional Ethnic Autonomy
The system of regional ethnic autonomy refers to the system whereby regional autonomy is practiced in all areas where ethnic minorities live and organs of self-government are established for the exercise of that autonomy.
In order to allow ethnic minorities to govern on the basis of their historical, regional and cultural characteristics, the Chinese government adopted the system of regional ethnic autonomy in accordance with the realities and the will of ethnic minorities. To date, China has established five ethnic autonomous regions which are Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Tibet Autonomous Region.
If one is unfamiliar with China's history and cultural traditions, then it is very difficult to understand the reason China introduced the system of regional ethnic autonomy. Some people might incorrectly understand theautonomy" aspect of China's regional ethnic autonomy. China's autonomous regions are not autonomous prefectures or united republics under a federal system. Nor are they similar to the system of reservations which the US used to deal with the Native Americans. China's autonomous regions are similar to provinces in the administrative hierarchy, and autonomy means they are flexibly governed and effectively managed based on the particular circumstances of an ethnic area.
All autonomous regions have their organs of self-governments with distinctive ethnic features. According to the law, in standing committees of people's congresses in ethnic autonomous regions, the position of director or deputy director should be held by a citizen of the ethnic group practicing regional autonomy. The positions of chairman of an autonomous region, commissioner of an autonomous prefecture and magistrate of an autonomous county should be held by citizens of the ethnic group practicing regional autonomy.
In the regional autonomous regionÿthe local people's congresses have legislative power of ethnic minorities. The administrative organs have the right to be flexible on orders and resolutions from higher level of state organs. The people have the right of self-management. Besides, all the autonomous regions have autonomy over economy & finance, spoken & written languages, and developing social undertakings such as education, technology and culture.
China fully respects and protects ethnic minorities' freedom of religious belief as well as the habits and customs of ethnic minorities. It shows that the Chinese government actively safeguards the right of ethnic minorities governing internal affairs of their people within their region, which hallmarks the principle of equality, unity and common prosperity of all ethnic groups firmly executed by the country.
The system of community-level self-governance is another China's basic political systems. It gradually evolved in democratic practice after the founding of New China and was first developed in the cities. The system of community-level self -governance includes residents committees of urban communities and villagers' committees of the vast number of villages.
These two types of committees are not considered formal organs of the state, but are self-governed organizations of the masses. And their establishment is based on the place of residence. Residents' committees and villagers' committees are responsible for establishing committees for people's mediation, public security, public health and other matters; handling public affairs and social services in their areas; mediating civil disputes; helping to maintain public order; and reporting the masses' opinions and requirements and making recommendations to the people's government.
The above-mentioned is a brief introduction of four basic political systems with China's characteristics. Of course, there is no any political system without flaw, and it always has potential to be improved. China is, without exception, keeping refining its political systems in practice and further expanding people's democracy.
For instance, the governor of village was previously appointed by higher authorities, while nowadays the governor is directly elected by local villagers, from which the experience got is paving the foundation for more profound and complicated political reform. China has a large population of 1.36 billion. In this context, reforms should be pushed forward cautiously, gradually and smoothly, rather than achieving overnight.
Meanwhile, China recognizes a fact that different countries have different political systems, and there exists neither unified model nor fixed standard worldwide. No matter being large or small, wealthy or poor, strong or weak, one country is endowed with enshrined rights to determine its own political systems, meanwhile avoiding making irresponsible remarks and criticism to others.
China's case shows that a country can realize good governance and social harmony only by adopting suitable and refining political systems in accordance with its own history & culture, religion & tradition, economic development level, and state & social conditions. Any political systems imposed externally or copied indiscriminately are bound to derail the social development of a country and be abandoned by its people and history.