‘Consultative democracy’ China’s latest political buzzword

By Li Changyu, (People’s Daily)
“Consultative democracy” first became a political buzzword in China in 2014.
At a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in September 2014, President Xi Jinping surprisingly highlighted consultative democracy, which immediately attracted widespread attention.
“There are various ways to realize democracy. We should neither stick to one model nor claim that there is a universal one,” Xi said at the ceremony, while pointing out that democracy is not decorative, but a means of solving problems.
As a result, top leadership of the Party realized that new policies would be more rational and their implementation smoother if the public is fully consulted before being introduced.
As China’s main platform for consultative democracy, CPPCC is playing an increasingly important role. The CPPCC consists of representatives of the CPC and non-Communist parties, those without party affiliation, and representatives of people’s organizations, ethnic minorities and various social strata. More than 2,000 political advisers attended this year’s session.
A series of reforms has been introduced to the top political advisory body since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, such as establishing a bi-weekly consultative session, picking out issues the government and the public are most concerned about, as well as consulting the opinions of CPPCC members, related government officials, experts and scholars.
Wang Qishan, head of China’s top anti-graft watchdog, heard the opinions of the advisers and experts concerning the anti-corruption campaign at a meeting of the Standing Committee of CPPCC National Committee in 2014.
Even more platforms are provided for the public to participate in political affairs at the local levels. For example, the government of Pengzhou in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province holds regular consultative dialogues for local residents to express their demands and participate in government decisions.
“I deeply felt the institutional reform that the CPPCC has made to enable its members to better perform their duties since the 18th National Congress of the CPC. Consultative democracy, frankly, is to find the maximum consensus of society,” said CPPCC member Shi Jie, who is attending this year’s two sessions in Beijing.