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He Jiahong: How to Establish the Coordinate System of “Chinese Democracy”


  First, the coordinate system of “Chinese Democracy” should be right-based.


  As the product against despotism, the top priority of democracy is to restrict power. Western democracy systems represented by the USA are designed for state power. It means the coordinate system of “American Democracy” is power-based. Its vertical axis is political parties’ taking turns in power and its lateral axis is the separation and balance of powers. To control power from the beginning, the person who wields the power is decided through periodic elections in western democracy systems. Two or more parties compete with each other and take turns in power, which remains the people’s restriction on the power-holder. As a result, the “one-man, one-vote” general election and the opposition party become the elements of “American Democracy”. In addition, western democratic theories put emphasis on the separation and balance of powers. Therefore, separation of powers and check and balance of powers are also elements of “American Democracy”.

  On the basis of Chinese historical and cultural tradition and current social system, the political system of China is dominated by the people’s congress regime and supplemented by the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation led by the Communist Party of China (CPC). Judging from the coordinate system of “American Democracy”, China is not a democratic state apparently because China has neither the “one-man, one-vote” general election nor the separation and balance of powers. However, the coordinate system of “American Democracy” is not the only evaluation standard of democracy systems.

  China is a socialist state, whose essence is to be people-oriented and put the people’s rights first. However, as economy is developing rapidly in China, the construction of democracy falls behind the development of society and the needs of the people. In 2007, the report of the 17th CPC National Congress put forward that the people’s four rights (rights of information, participation, expression and supervision) should be guaranteed, which have had significant meanings. The people’s rights of information and expression are the basic ones in the four rights. Therefore, the coordinate system of “Chinese Democracy” should be right-based. Its lateral axis is the people’s right of information and its vertical axis is the people’s right of expression. The progress of democracy in China is to improve these two rights.


  Second, the lateral axis of “Chinese Democracy” is the people’s right of information.


  In democratic states, the people are the masters of the country, so they are certain to have the rights to know the government information. In direct democracy, it is self-evident that the people have the right to be informed because they can make decisions or express their own will only when they know relevant information. In indirect democracy, the main problems of the people’s right to be informed includes two aspects as follows: What are those who represent us to decide the state affairs? How do they represent us to do that?

  The democracy system of China is based on the National People’s Congress system. So the improvement of the democracy system shall begin with the National People’s Congress system too. In terms of the people’s right of information, the top priority is to ensure the people to know the deputies to the National People's Congress, including what they are and how they do it. More specifically, the relevant information that the people have the right to know can be divided into four parts on the lateral axis of “Chinese Democracy”: personal information of the deputies to the National People's Congress; family property information of the deputies to the National People's Congress; the decision-making process of the National People's Congress; the background of the policies made by the National People's Congress. The realization of the people’s right of information cannot be accomplished at one stroke. It shall follow the principle of doing from the easy parts to the difficult ones and be implemented gradually.


  Third, the vertical axis of “Chinses Democracy” is the people’s right of expression.


  In any democratic states, right of expression is one of the fundamental rights of the citizens. The power-holder’s attitude to this question is the boundary between a democratic state and a despotic state. The CPC raised freedom of speech and freedom of the press as early as the Anti-Japanese War. Article 35 of Constitution of the People's Republic of China provides for: “Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.” In essence, the main idea of right of expression is to ensure the people’s freedom to express different opinions and criticisms. Needless to say, the people’s right to express has not been fully guaranteed in present China.

  The ways of the enforcement of right to express are various. According to different ways and scopes, the citizens’ right to express can be divided into four levels: freedom to express through governmental channels; freedom to express through nongovernmental group activities; freedom to express through traditional mass media; freedom to express through new mass media. These four levels can be four scales on the vertical axis of “Chinses Democracy”. We can improve and realize the people’s right of expression in accordance with the four levels.

  To achieve the grand rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and build our motherland into a powerful country in the world, it is essential to carry out democracy. Since the People’s Republic of China has been established for nearly seven decades, the Chinese people have accumulated experience and lessons in exploring democracy and also made some progress, but there are still defects and deficiencies. We must take the current problems seriously and explore how to realize “Chinese Democracy” so that we can create a better social system for the descendants of the Chinese nation.


(Editor: XU Jing)

 
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