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Political Consultation: China's Unique Instrument for Social Consensus and Harmony
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Any relations between dogs shocked to death upon noisy fireworks and Beijing's smelly cabs filled with garlic odor? Does drafting anti-cult law share something with placing Bibles in big hotels during the 2008 Olympic Games?


Well, a day with political advisors at the annual full session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) may provide the answer.


As the CPPCC National Committee, China's top advisory body, kicked off on March 3, political advisors across the country gathered in Beijing to raise suggestions and participate in the discussion of various state issues.


"Whatever suggestions you have made, you are free to express, even shared by few people," said Zhao Zhongxiang, a political advisor.


He expressed his worries on firecrackers with powerful powder, which would "incur heart attacks of the elderly and scare the children," said Zhao, a renowned TV host who earned his fame with the TV program "Animal World".


"Some dogs were shocked to death and birds were forced to quieter places," Zhao said.


Time-test think tank


"The process of political consultation is like the brainstorming of varied social sectors, which contributes to an objective and scientific decision making," said Li Youwei, a CPPCC member.


Known as the government's "think tank", the 2,267-member 10th National Committee of the CPPCC consists of representatives of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and non-Communist parties, personages without party affiliation, representatives of people's organizations, ethnic minorities and various social strata.


It also has the representation of compatriots of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Macao Special Administrative Region and Taiwan, returned overseas Chinese, and specially invited people.


These representatives are invited, usually once a year, from CPC leaders to a national conference, which often runs parallel with the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, according to the constitution of the CPPCC.


During the conference, representatives take part in consultations of the country's basic policies and important issues in political, economic, cultural and social affairs before a decision is adopted and in the discussion of major issues in the implementation of decisions.


This year, some political advisors urged the government to abolish the seven-year-long tax on the interest of bank savings, some called for the adoption of anti-monopoly law at an earlier date, while some members suggested solutions to boosting small and medium-size businesses.


Channel for different voices


In the build-up of a socialist harmonious society, the ruling Chinese Communist Party is aware that the focus should be shifted from merely chasing economic growth to promoting social security, said Zheng Gongcheng, a professor at the Renmin University of China.


"The key task for the government now is to address more concerns from ordinary people while letting all social interest groups share the achievements of the country," said Zheng.


Before the annual sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC, surveys conducted by the media and leading Web sites showed that social concerns, such as inadequate medicare system, soaring housing prices and anti-corruption campaign, were topmost on public minds.


Likewise, these issues have not escaped advisors' attention. Like a bridge, these issues have been brought to the agenda of CPPCC discussions.


Political advisors have stressed a better supervision over social security fund since many elderly people count their life on it. The CPPCC members have called for the proper utilization of medical resources to cover more rural residents. And more attention is supposed to be paid to the education of migrant workers' children.


“Political consultation serves as a channel to voice peoples' concerns from all walks of life, and particularly to bring those once invisible social issues into the spotlight," said CPPCC member Li Junru.


Greater role to play  


As the old Chinese saying goes, "Listen to both sides and you will be enlightened; heed only one side and you will be benighted." The ruling CPC leaders have attached unprecedented importance to the work from political advisors.


The CPC Central Committee issued two documents in this regard in 2005 and 2006 respectively to broaden the political arena for people of non-Communist parties, who are expected to better conduct political consultation, exercise democratic supervision and discuss state affairs.


"It is the right to have our voices heard that really count," said Chen Shuyu, a political advisor.


He said the CPPCC will play a greater role in promoting a harmonious society by executing more supervising power to the ruling Party while fully representing the voices from grassroots people.


"No matter what party one belongs to, no matter what suggestions one raises, as long as they are of significance to the well-beings of the people and to the realization of a harmonious society, we would carry it forward," said Chen.


(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2007)



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