China’s Five-Year Plan mirrors socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics

Members of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) deliberate on the report of the work of the Standing Committee of the 13th CPPCC National Committee at the opening of the fourth session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee, March 4, 2021. (Photo by Zhang Wujun/People's Daily)

China’s five-year plan is a window from which the international society can seek opportunities for cooperation with China, and learn the achievements of the country’s socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics.

The making of China’s Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 vividly mirrors the country’s practice of the Chinese democracy. It turned from proposals to a draft version, and was delivered this year to the “two sessions,” the annual meetings of China’s top legislature and political advisory body for deliberation.

General secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Xi Jinping remarked that under China’s socialist system, deliberations help when a problem crops up, and matters involving many people are discussed by all those involved; to reach consensus on the wishes and needs of the whole of society is the essence of people’s democracy.

The essence is fully demonstrated by how China made the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035. The process also mirrored a fact that the CPC has always considered people as its top priority, regard as its goal the people’s aspirations to live a better life, and rely on the people to move history forward.

Pooling wisdom and forming synergy, China’s socialist democracy integrates people’s advice into top level design.

During the drafting stage of the Outline, Xi went for multiple inspection tours to different parts of China to listen to the wills of the people, and convened seven seminars to hear advices from different areas and social strata. When the two sessions were held in Beijing, he also deliberated on the draft version of the Outline with deputies and representatives for multiple times.

Last August, China started soliciting online public opinion on compiling the 14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development, and a total of over one million comments were received, 1,000 of which were sorted out. The drafting group analyzed these 1,000 advices piece by piece, and absorbed all that could be adopted. The group made 366 amendments and took 546 advices and proposals from the Chinese society. During the two sessions, the draft version was deliberated on by deputies and representatives and 55 amendments were made.

These figures and facts well explain China’s “whole-process democracy,” which indicates that the Outline, containing 19 parts, 65 chapters and 192 sections, is a combination of the wisdom and aspiration of the whole Party and the people of all ethnic groups in China.

Why does Chinese democracy work? That is a frequently asked question from the international society. Practices, both Chinese and foreign, modern and ancient, prove that it’s important to ensure that the people determine their own future and to have people’s representatives join the management of the country and society. It’s also important to have the people join the management of the country and society through mechanisms other than election.

In some western countries that exercise democracy, people only have the right to vote, but are not allowed to broadly participate in national governance. They are activated during elections, and put into rest mode after voting. Such democracy is formalism, and leads to obvious and even unavoidable restrictions in national governance.

To make democracy work, countries must be committed to the principles of serving the people and relying on the people.

Facts prove that Chinese democracy has not only ensured that the people determine their own future, but also practically turned the wisdom of the people into effective governance. It offered a stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness, and security, and guarantees people’s rights in a more sustained manner.

International observers said that Chinese democracy has overcome the flaws of western democracy, and is the most authentic and effective democracy that safeguards the widest fundamental interests of the people.

Democracy is one of the values jointly cherished by all mankind. There are various forms to practice it. No universal standard shall be adopted to judge whether democracy is implemented.

At present, global challenges, such as COVID-19, are posing a series of tests for governance, which is prompting the world to think deeper the essence of democracy and the ways to achieve it. The vitality shown by Chinese democracy is attracting increasingly more attention from the international society.

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