SCIO briefing on 'China's Political Party System: Cooperation and Consultation' white paper

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China News Service:

We know that political consultation is a major part of China's political party system. What is the content and form of political consultation? And how does the CPC conduct political consultation with the other political parties in practice? Thanks.

Xu Yousheng:

This question goes to Mr. Sang. 

Sang Fuhua:

Thank you for your question and your interest in China's political party system and political consultation. According to the white paper, political consultation is an important form of democracy in which the CPC and other political parties, on the basis of common political goals, carry out direct consultation on major policies and affairs of the state before making decisions and during policy implementation. It is an important part of the system of socialist consultative democracy. Non-affiliates also participate in the consultation. The above is the full and standard definition of political consultation. Now, with clear content, standard procedures, sound systems, and strengthened protection, political consultation has become a highlight of China's political practice. 

As for the subjects and forms of political consultation that you mentioned just now, the white paper includes a detailed explanation. Since everyone has just received the white paper, and is not familiar with its content, I will briefly introduce it so that you can better understand. There are four aspects of political consultation. The first is the formulation and revision of important documents from CPC congresses and CPC committees. Second, proposals on amendments to the Constitution and on the creation or amendment of important laws and local regulations. Third, advice on the candidates for national leadership posts. Fourth, major issues concerning the united front and multiparty cooperation. We all know that the above four aspects are extremely important issues in China's political life. 

The white paper has stipulated three forms of consultation. The first is forums, including forums on specific subjects, forums on personnel matters, and forums on fieldwork. The second form, talks, involves leaders from CPC committees and leaders from other political parties inviting each other to hold discussions and to communicate, negotiate, and exchange ideas face to face. Third, consultation in writing means that CPC committees solicit written advice on major documents and affairs from other political parties, or other political parties submit proposals on major issues in writing to CPC committees. 

As for how political consultation is carried out in practice, which, in my view, may not be widely known to the general public, I would like to thank you for raising the question so that we can provide an introduction to all of you. I will briefly introduce how forum consultation at the central level is organized and practiced. There are four main steps. 

First, making plans. At the beginning of every year, with the help from the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, the General Office of the CPC Central Committee puts forward an annual plan of political consultation on the basis of soliciting opinions and advice from the central committees of non-CPC political parties and non-affiliates. Then the plan is submitted to a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and executed after deliberation. Second, preparation for consultation. With assistance from the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, and according to the consultation plan passed by the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, the General Office of the CPC Central Committee makes specific plans and takes charge of implementation. That involves a lot of work. For example, the central committees of non-CPC political parties and non-affiliates should be invited in advance and gather to read the documents that need consultation. The drafting group should be invited to interpret the documents. Persons in charge from relevant departments should brief the other political parties and non-affiliates about major issues in China's social and economic development so that they are well informed on China's conditions. We should also support other political parties and non-affiliates to go deep in communities and conduct surveys and research concerning major issues. In this way, they can give more accurate, practical, and helpful advice. That's the second step before the forums. The third and most important part is forum consultation. Every year, at least seven political consultation forums are held at the central level. General Secretary Xi Jinping will host at least four forums, while Comrade Li Keqiang will host one, and Comrade Wang Yang will host two. The CPC Central Committee will also commission relevant departments to host ten to twenty additional forums as circumstances require. The general forum procedure is as follows. Persons in charge from the CPC Central Committee will introduce the consultation issues. Then the central committees of non-CPC political parties and non-affiliates give their suggestions and discuss the issues. Fourth, dealing with advice. Assisted by the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, the General Office of the CPC Central Committee will sort out the views and proposals from the other political parties and non-affiliates before submitting them to the relevant departments for implementation in due time. They should provide an explanation as to why any of the proposals cannot be carried out. Some suggestions given by the other political parties and non-affiliates are valuable but may not be able to be put into practice due to limited conditions, while others may need additional research in order to be more applicable. In a word, if a suggestion is unable to be put into practice in due course, an explanation must be provided. 

That was my brief introduction on the full procedure of forums, one of the forms of consultation between political parties. I hope this will help journalists and the public to understand more about political party consultation. Thank you.

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