China's Political Party System
Official statements asserted that “the political party system [that] China has adopted is multiparty cooperation and political consultation under” CPC leadership. However, the CPC retained a monopoly on political power, and the government forbade the creation of new political parties. The government officially recognized nine parties founded prior to 1949, and parties other than the CPC held 30 percent of NPC seats. The establishment of new parties is functionally prohibited, and activists attempting to support unofficial parties were arrested, detained, or confined.
The CPC retained a tight rein on political decision-making and forbade the creation of new political parties. The Government continued efforts to suppress the CDP, an opposition party that had attracted hundreds of members nationwide within a few months of its founding in 1998. Public security forces had previously arrested nearly all of the CDP's leaders: Xu Wenli, Wang Youcai, and Qin Yongmin were sentenced in 1998 to prison terms of 13, 12, and 11 years respectively. Xu Wenli was released on medical parole to the United States in December 2002, but Wang and Qin remained in prison. At the time of the 16th Party Congress in November 2002, authorities targeted many remaining activists for signing an open letter calling for political reform and a reappraisal of the official verdict on the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.
\ 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.
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.
The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is a patriotic united front organization of the Chinese people, an important institution for multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, and a major form of socialist democracy in China.
Members of democratic parties are important constituent parts of the CPPCC. In the composition of the CPPCC, they form a relatively large percentage of members, standing committee members and leaders. They also make up a considerable proportion of the CPPCC's special committee members and leaders, including in the CPPCC working organs.
The political party system is an important component of modern democratic politics. What kind of political party system to adopt in a country is determined by the nature, national conditions and social development of that given country. The diversity of political party systems in different countries reflects the diversity of human civilizations.
The political party system China has adopted is multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (hereinafter "multi-party cooperation system" for short), of which the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is an important institution to conduct political consultations and democratic supervision, and organize its member parties, organizations and personages from various ethnic groups and walks of life to discuss and manage state affairs. This system is different from both the two-party or multi-party competition systems of Western countries and the one-party system practiced in some other countries.
Under China's multi-party cooperation system, there are the CPC and eight other political parties. The eight democratic parties are: Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang, China Democratic League, China National Democratic Construction Association, China Association for Promoting Democracy, Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party, China Zhi Gong Dang, Jiu San Society and Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League. Based on the principle of "long-term coexistence, mutual supervision, treating each other with sincerity and sharing each other's weal and woe," the democratic parties of China are different from the ruling party and the opposition party. They are under the leadership of the Communist Party, and devote themselves to the socialist construction.
This system was established and has been developed during the long-term practice of the Chinese revolution, construction and reform. It is a basic political system that suits the conditions of China. It is a socialist political party system with Chinese characteristics, and a key component of China's socialist democratic politics.
According to the Chinese Constitution, "The People's Republic of China is a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants." The government system that accords with such a form of state is the system of people's congresses, and the political party system that accords with it is that of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC. The systems of people's congresses, multi-party cooperation, regional ethnic autonomy, and self-governance at the primary level of society together constitute the kernel and fundamental framework of China's political system, and are the embodiment of socialist democracy.
One major feature of China's socialist democracy is the combination of democratic election and democratic consultation. In China, the people's congress system and the multi-party cooperation system under the leadership of the CPC supplement each other. That the people exercise their democratic rights through election and voting and that consultation is conducted among people of all walks of life to achieve consensus as much as possible before any significant decisions are made are two important ways to realize socialist democracy. The combination of democratic election and democratic consultation has extended the width and depth of socialist democracy. Full political consultation both takes into account the opinions of the majority and shows respect to the reasonable requirements of the minority, thus guaranteeing democracy of the widest scope and promoting the harmonious development of society.
The multi-party cooperation system opens up an institutionalized channel for the political participation of democratic parties, incorporates various social forces into the political system, and consolidates and expands the foundation of the people's democratic dictatorship.
China is a large, populous country of over 1.3 billion people with a variety of social classes, strata and groups. On the basis of common fundamental interests, differences and contradictions in specific interests exist among the people. In particular, as the socialist market economy progresses, the reform of the economic system deepens, the social structure and the pattern of interests undergo great reshuffles, and people's ideas also change profoundly. The multi-party cooperation system can effectively reflect the interests, wishes and demands of all social sectors, clears and broadens the channels for the expression of interest, coordinates interest relations, gives due consideration to the interests of allies, and thus maintains social harmony and stability.
China's arduous and complicated modernization task requires a political system that has a strong function in social integration. Combining the firm leadership of the CPC with extensive cooperation with democratic parties, the multi-party cooperation system has forged a mighty power of social integration. Aiming at the paramount objective of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, the CPC cooperates closely with democratic parties, creates strong political identification, facilitates optimized allocation of political resources, mobilizes the enthusiasm of all sectors, and leads and organizes the society to move continuously toward modernization.
Mutual supervision between the CPC and the democratic parties is conducive to strengthening the supervision function within the system and avoiding various drawbacks arising from lack of supervision. The democratic parties represent specific interests and demands of relevant groups of people, reflect complaints and suggestions from all walks of life, and provide all-round supervision apart from the self-supervision of the CPC. This facilitates the scientific and democratic decision-making of the ruling party, so that it will resist and overcome bureaucracy and all sorts of negative and corruptive phenomena more consciously, thus reinforcing and improving the work of the ruling party in all aspects.
The multi-party cooperation system replaces confrontation and contention with cooperation and consultation, effectively avoiding political instability and frequent changes of regime resulting from discord among political parties, thus reducing internal frictions of the society to the maximum, and safeguarding social and political stability and solidarity. Combining the firm leadership of the CPC with the extensive participation of democratic parties, the system is able to effectively resolve various social contradictions and conflicts, and maintain political stability and social harmony.
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