I. An Inevitable Choice in China's Social Development
China has had a long history of feudalism. From 1840 on, when the Western imperialist powers launched aggressive wars against China, the corrupt and weak feudal ruling class buckled, and China was reduced to a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society. For nearly 110 years after that, the Chinese nation was plunged into the most dangerous situation, and the Chinese people had no democratic rights whatsoever.
To change the fate of the country and the Chinese nation, generation after generation of Chinese people rose up and waged heroic struggles to save the country and the people. In the early 20th century, Sun Yat-sen, forerunner of China's democratic revolution, turned his eyes to the West for a road that would save China. In 1911, he led a bourgeois democratic revolution, bringing to an end the autocratic monarchical system that had been in place for several millenniums. With the founding of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen introduced a parliamentary and multi-party system in imitation of that in Western countries. Though historically progressive compared with the autocratic monarchy, the bourgeois political system soon collapsed under the onslaught of domestic and foreign reactionary forces and therefore failed to fulfill the Chinese people's fervent desire for independence and democracy. Mr. Sun Yat-sen later concluded that China could not simply copy European and American politics to govern its own society, as Chinese society was different from that of the West.
Between 1927 and 1949, the Kuomintang headed by Chiang Kai-shek exercised one-party dictatorship and monopolized all state power. It persecuted democratic and progressive forces against the trend of democratic politics and the wishes of the people. It was finally abandoned by history.
The political development of modern China called for a new political party system that suited China's national conditions. Such a historic mission fell on the shoulders of the CPC and its eight partners.
The CPC, founded in 1921, creatively combined the general truth of Marxism-Leninism with the actual situation in China, put forth the revolutionary program of "new democracy," and united all revolutionary classes to fight for national independence, the liberation of the people, the prosperity of the country, and the well-being of the people. The eight democratic parties, mostly founded during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945) and the War of Liberation (1945-1949), were rooted among the national bourgeoisie and urban petty bourgeoisie, as well as intellectuals and other patriots associated with them. These people formed a progressive force who were anti-imperialist, patriotic and demanded democracy.
In the days of tough struggles, the CPC has established and developed close relations of cooperation with the eight democratic parties and joined forces with them to fight for peace and democracy. During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, the democratic parties actively joined the national united front led by the CPC and the democratic movement against the Japanese invaders, and made concerted efforts for national unity and progress, and against the surrendering, splittist and retrogressive activities of diehard elements in the Kuomintang. After the war, they, together with the CPC, continued the fight against the policies of dictatorship and civil war adopted by the Kuomintang and Chiang Kai-shek clique.
While leading the new democratic revolution to victory, the CPC established its core leadership role among the various revolutionary forces. And the democratic parties and democratic personages without party affiliation, through experience in the years of practice and on their own initiative, chose the leadership of the CPC. In April 1948, the CPC's proposal to convene a new political consultation conference and set up a democratic coalition government was warmly endorsed by the democratic parties and democratic personages without party affiliation. They made it public that they were willing to strive to build a New China under the leadership of the CPC. The convention of the first Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in September 1949 marked the formal establishment of the multi-party cooperation system under the leadership of the CPC. It also marked the beginning of the CPC, the democratic parties and the democratic personages without party affiliation working together in building the state power of New China.
After the People's Republic of China was founded on October 1, 1949, the ruling CPC further strengthened its unity and cooperation with the democratic parties and continued to push forward the theoretical innovation and development in practical work regarding multi-party cooperation. After the socialist transformation was completed in 1956, and in light of the profound changes that had taken place among China's social classes, the CPC set forth the principle of "long-term coexistence and mutual supervision," which meant that the other eight democratic parties would exist as long as the CPC exists, and that they and the CPC could supervise each other. Since the CPC was the ruling party, the other eight parties would play more of a supervisory role. Thus, the basic framework of multi-party cooperation in socialist China came into being. But after 1957, especially during the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976), the multi-party cooperation system suffered serious setbacks.
After the reform and opening-up policies were adopted in 1978, the CPC, in light of the changes in the situation and tasks, made it clear that the multi-party cooperation system is a basic feature and advantage of China's political system, and set forth the principle of "long-term coexistence, mutual supervision, treating each other with sincerity and sharing each other's weal and woe" to guide its relations with the other eight parties. It also set forth a complete set of theories and policies regarding the multi-party cooperation system, making sticking to and improving the system an important component of the theory and practice of Chinese-style socialism.
In 1989, the CPC formulated the Opinions on Sticking to and Improving the System of Multi-party Cooperation and Political Consultation Under the Leadership of the CPC, thus institutionalizing the multi-party cooperation system. The First Session of the Eighth National People's Congress in 1993 added to the Constitution the words "multi-party cooperation and political consultation system under the leadership of the Communist Party of China shall continue to exist and develop for a long time to come," providing a constitutional basis for the system. After the 16th CPC National Congress in 2002, the CPC, in its effort to build a socialist political civilization, released two documents -- Opinions on Further Strengthening the Building of the Multi-party Cooperation and Political Consultation System under the Leadership of the CPC, and Opinions on Strengthening the Work of the CPPCC -- to further standardize and institutionalize the multi-party cooperation system.
Since the founding of New China, the multi-party cooperation system has been continuously developing and consolidated, and is playing a significant role in the state's political and social life.
The political history and practice of modern and contemporary China prove that the construction of democratic politics in China must proceed from the country's basic conditions, and blind emulation of the political or party systems of any other country will never succeed; and that dictatorship will also end in failure, as it is against the law of historical development and the people's will. The formation and development of China's multi-party cooperation system was a logical choice of its modern and contemporary history, a product of the combination of Marxism-Leninism and China's own situation, and a crystallization of the wisdom of the CPC and other democratic parties. This system is well suited to China's conditions, the reality of China's revolution, construction and reform, and the essential demands of socialist democracy. It reflects the fine cultural tradition of the Chinese nation, which features all-embracing and harmony while reserving differences. With splendid Chinese features, this system both accords with the trend of the times and embodies the inherent requirements of China's social development.