IV. The System of Multi-Party Cooperation and Political Consultation Under the Leadership of the CPC
What kind of political party system to adopt is determined by the nature of the country, the national conditions, as well as the demands of national interests and social development. The political party system China has adopted is multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, which is different from both the two-party or multi-party competition system of Western countries and the one-party system practiced in some other countries. This system was established and has been developed during the long-term practice of the CPC and democratic parties in the course of the Chinese revolution, construction and reform. It is a result of the united struggle of the CPC and the democratic parties through thick and thin and is a basic political system in contemporary China.
There are nine political parties in China at present. Besides the CPC, there are the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang (founded in 1948), the China Democratic League (founded in 1941), the China National Democratic Construction Association (founded in 1945), the China Association for Promoting Democracy (founded in 1945), the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party (founded in 1930), the China Zhi Gong Dang (founded in 1925), the Jiusan Society (founded in 1945) and the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League (founded in 1947). Since most of these political parties were founded during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945) and the War of Liberation (1946-1949) in the pursuit of national liberation and democracy of the people, they were given the joint name of "democratic parties." In present-day China, these democratic parties are political alliances of the socialist working people, builders of socialism and patriots who support socialism, among whom they have maintained ties respectively. Another important force in China's political life is the personages without party affiliation, or people who have not joined any political party but have certain public influence coupled with positive contributions. The majority are intellectuals.
The salient characteristics of China's political party system are: multi-party cooperation under the leadership of the CPC, with the CPC holding power and the democratic parties participating fully in state affairs. These democratic parties are close friends of the CPC. They unite and cooperate with the latter in their participation in state affairs, instead of being opposition parties or out-of-power parties. They participate in the exercise of state power, the consultation in fundamental state policies and the choice of state leaders, the administration of state affairs, and the formulation and implementation of state policies, laws and regulations.
In China, the CPC and the democratic parties share the same goal of struggle. The Chinese Constitution states that "under the leadership of the Communist Party of China multi-party cooperation and the political consultative system will continue to exist and develop for a long time to come." The cooperation between the CPC and the democratic parties is based on the basic principle of "long-term coexistence, mutual supervision, treating each other with sincerity and sharing each other's weal and woe." The national conditions and the nature of the state determine that the leadership of the CPC is the first and foremost prerequisite and fundamental guarantee for the multi-party cooperation. At the same time, such a leadership is not one of simple monopoly, but one of political leadership, that is, leadership in terms of political principle, political orientation, and major policies and programs. Both the CPC and the democratic parties take the Constitution as the basic norms of their conduct, and shoulder the responsibility to uphold the dignity of the Constitution and ensure its implementation.
The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is an organization of the patriotic united front of the Chinese people. It is an important organ of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, and an important instrument of democracy in the country's political life. The CPPCC National Committee is composed of members of the CPC and the democratic parties, personages without party affiliation, representatives of people's organizations, ethnic minorities and all walks of life, representatives of compatriots of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Administrative Region and Taiwan, as well as of returned overseas Chinese and other specially invited people, who are divided into several circles. The CPPCC National Committee has one chairperson, a number of vice-chairpersons and one secretary-general, serves for a term of five years, and holds a plenary session once a year. The provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the central government establish CPPCC committees of the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. The autonomous prefectures, cities divided into districts, counties, autonomous counties, cities not divided into districts and districts under the jurisdiction of cities, where there are suitable conditions for setting up local committees, may establish CPPCC committees in the corresponding areas. The tenure of these committees is five years, and a plenary session shall be held at least once a year. The CPPCC conducts its work centering on the two themes of unity and democracy, and exercises the functions of political consultation, democratic supervision, and participating in the administration and discussion of state affairs. The CPPCC plays an important role in the state's political life, social life and overseas friendship activities, as well as the country's modernization drive and the struggle to safeguard national reunification and unity. The CPC and the governments at all levels consult the CPPCC on fundamental policies and important issues in political, economic, cultural and social affairs before a decision is adopted and during the implementation of such decisions, so as to heed and canvass a wide range of opinions. This is a key link for the CPC and the governments at all levels to ensure that decision-making is scientific and democratic.
The increasing importance of the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC in the state's political and social life can be specified as follows:
- Political consultation between the CPC and the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation has been gradually institutionalized and standardized. The CPC Central Committee routinely invites leaders of the democratic parties and representative personages without party affiliation to consultative conferences, small-scale meetings and forums at which CPC leaders inform the participants of major events, hear their opinions and suggestions, and discuss state affairs with them. In addition to these consultation meetings, the central committees of the democratic parties may submit suggestions in writing to the CPC Central Committee. Consultations may cover important documents of the CPC National Congress and the CPC Central Committee; proposed amendments to the Constitution and important laws; candidates for senior offices of the state; important decisions concerning the reform and opening-up program; the medium- and long-term plans for national economic and social development; major issues that have a bearing on the overall situation of the country; circulation of information about important documents and situations, and soliciting of opinions; as well as other major issues that need to be discussed with the democratic parties. In 2003 and 2004, 36 consultative conferences, forums and briefings were convened by CPC leaders or entrusted by them to be convened by relevant departments, 13 of which were presided over by the General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee.
- Members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation play an important role in the people's congresses. Members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation hold an appropriate proportion in the deputies to the NPC, the Standing Committee and the special committees of the NPC. Through their activities in the people's congresses, they reflect the wishes of the people, participate in decision-making on major state issues and in the formulation of laws, and supervise the work of the government. In 2003, when a new term of office began, 176,000 members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation were elected deputies to the people's congresses at various levels nationwide. Among them, seven are vice-chairpersons of the NPC Standing Committee and 50 are members of the NPC Standing Committee; 41 are vice-chairpersons of the standing committees of provincial-level people's congresses and 462 are members of such standing committees; and 352 are vice-chairpersons of the standing committees of municipal-level people's congresses and 2,084 are members of such standing committees.
- Members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation hold leading positions in government and judicial organs at various levels. At the end of 2004, over 32,000 members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation held leading positions in government and law-enforcement departments at and above the county level. Among them, 19 held leading posts in the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate as well as the various ministries and commissions under the central government; 27 served as deputy governors, vice-chairpersons or deputy mayors in the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the mainland of China; 354 served as deputy mayors in the people's governments of 397 cities (prefectures, leagues or districts); 19 were vice-presidents of courts or deputy chief procurators of procuratorates at the provincial level; and 87 were vice-presidents of courts or deputy chief procurators of procuratorates at the prefecture level. Engaging in mutual support with CPC officials, they play a significant role in the organs of state power.
- Members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation play an important role in the CPPCC. As deputies to the CPPCC, members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation can air their opinions, put forth bills and motions, and participate in the administration and discussion of state affairs. They also hold a fairly big proportion in the members, standing committees members and leaders of the CPPCC at various levels. The latest CPPCC election, held in 2003, saw 337,000 members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation elected CPPCC members at various levels nationwide. About 60.1 percent of the members of the Tenth CPPCC National Committee and 65.2 percent of the members of its Standing Committee were members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation; and of 24 vice-chairpersons of the vice-chairpersons of the Tenth CPPCC National Committee, 13 are members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation.
- Members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation exercise democratic supervision over the work of the party in power and the state organs through diversified channels and means. Such supervision mainly covers the implementation of the Constitution, and laws and regulations of the state; the formulation and implementation of major principles and policies of the CPC and the government; and the performance and honesty of the CPC organizations and CPC members who hold leading posts. In recent years, government departments and judicial organs have appointed members of democratic parties and personages without party affiliation as special inspectors, invited and organized members of democratic parties and personages without party affiliation to examine the work style of the CPC, and to take part in other special checks and supervision over law enforcement, thus further opening up the channels of, and constantly strengthening, democratic supervision.
- Members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation actively participate in the country's reform and opening-up and modernization drive, and make suggestions to promote the reunification of the motherland and overall social progress. Since 1989, the central committees of the democratic parties have submitted to the CPC Central Committee, the State Council and departments concerned nearly 180 important proposals on the overall work of the CPC and the state, as well as on issues that are key to the national economy and the people's livelihood, especially the two major tasks of economic construction and peaceful reunification, on the basis of investigations they have conducted, and their local organizations have submitted more than 80,000 proposals and motions. Many of the proposals and motions have been adopted. The local organizations of the democratic parties at various levels have devised more than 40,000 consulting programs, run more than 1,000 schools of various kinds and trained about 3 million people in various special skills.
In February 2005, the CPC promulgated the "Opinions of the CPC Central Committee on Further Strengthening the Building of the System of Multi-Party Cooperation and Political Consultation Under the Leadership of the CPC," which, on the basis of summing up historical experience and successful operations in multi-party cooperation and political consultation, further clarified the principles, contents, ways and procedures of the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation, and pointed the direction for improving the socialist political party system with Chinese characteristics.
The political advantages of the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC lie in the fact that it can both achieve wide democratic participation, pool the wisdom of the democratic parties, mass organizations and people of all walks of life and promote the scientific and democratic decision-making of the party in power and the governments at all levels, and realize centralization and unity and draw up unified plans with due consideration given to the interests of different sections of the people. Moreover, it can avoid both the problem of insufficient supervision common under one party rule, and political chaos and a lack of stability and unity that may be caused by the disputes and strife of several parties.