Speech at the Ceremony Marking the 60th Anniversary of the National People's Congress
Sixty years ago, the founders of the People's Republic of China (PRC), together with more than 1,200 deputies elected to the National People's Congress (NPC) convened the First Session of the First NPC, and adopted the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, thus establishing our country's fundamental political system—the system of people's congresses. This was an epoch-making event in the political history of both China and the world, as China, a country with a history spanning 5,000 years and a population numbering in the hundreds of millions, put in place a new type of political system in which the people became masters of their country.
Today, we meet on this grand occasion to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the NPC. We are here to look back on how the system of people's congresses was established and developed, reaffirm our confidence in the path, theories, and system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, uphold and improve the system of people's congresses from this new historical starting point, and better organize and mobilize Chinese people of all ethnic groups in the push to realize the Two Centenary Goals and the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.
After modern times began, the Chinese people were confronted with the historic question of what kind of political system should be established in China. The Chinese people carried out arduous explorations as they searched for an answer to this question.
After the Opium War of 1840, China was gradually reduced to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. At that time, in order to save the nation from subjugation and achieve its rejuvenation, the Chinese people and countless dedicated patriots worked tirelessly in search of a political system suited to China's national conditions. Prior to the Revolution of 1911, a number of initiatives for this purpose had ended up in failure, including the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Movement, the Westernization Movement, the Reform Movement of 1898, the Yihetuan Movement, and the new policies of the late Qing Dynasty. After the Revolution of 1911, China experimented with such political forms as constitutional monarchy, restoration of the traditional monarchy, the parliamentary system, the multiparty system, and the presidential system. Various political forces and their representatives appeared on the scene, but none were able to find the right answer. China was still torn apart and stuck in a state of poverty and weakness, foreign powers were still tyrannizing and plundering China, and the Chinese people were still living in misery and humiliation.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, also General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission, attends discussions of the Inner Mongolia delegation during the First Session of the 13th NPC on March 5, 2018. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER XIE HUANCHI
The facts have proven that self-improvement movements without penetrating social impact, reformism practiced under different names, old-style peasant wars, democratic revolutions led by bourgeois-revolutionaries, and various other schemes that copied Western political systems were neither able to fulfill the historic tasks of saving China from subjugation and combating imperialism and feudalism, nor able to stabilize it politically or socially. It also goes without saying that they were unable to provide the institutional guarantees necessary for China to bring about national prosperity and public wellbeing.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) was born of the Chinese people's tenacious struggle to move forward. Since its founding, the CPC has committed itself to making the Chinese people masters of their country and achieving the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Dedicated to "pursuing an ideal China," the CPC endeavored to "awaken tens of millions of workers and peasants" and called upon them to participate in arduous revolutionary struggle, eventually toppling the "three great mountains" of imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat-capitalism and founding a new China in which control of the country and society was in the hands of hundreds of millions of Chinese people. This great historical event has fundamentally altered the tragic fate that met China at the beginning of modern times when it suffered from both domestic turmoil and foreign aggression and was vulnerable to abuse.
After the CPC led the Chinese people to victory in founding the New China, the fundamental questions concerning the future of the country and the fate of its people became how to organize state power and how to govern the country. Through practical and theoretical inquiries, Chinese Communists found the answer. In fact, as early as 1940, Mao Zedong said, "There is no state which does not have an appropriate apparatus of political power to represent it. China may now adopt a system of people's congresses, from the national people's congress down to the provincial, county, district and township people's congresses, with all levels electing their respective governmental bodies."
The birth of the PRC provided the conditions necessary for the Chinese people to put this idea into practice. In September 1949, the Common Program of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which served as an interim constitution, proclaimed the PRC's implementation of the system of people's congresses. In September 1954, the Constitution of the People's Republic of China adopted at the First Session of the NPC clearly stipulated, "All power in the People's Republic of China belongs to the people. The National People's Congress and the local people's congresses at various levels are the organs through which the people exercise state power."
Mao Zedong poses for a group photo with deputies to the First Session of the First National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China on September 21, 1954. Seated in the front row from left to right are Dong Biwu, Zhou Enlai, Li Jishen, Liu Shaoqi, Mao Zedong, Soong Ching-ling, Zhang Lan, and Lin Boqu. XINHUA / PHOTO BY HOU BO
China's implementation of the system of people's congresses represented a monumental innovation in human political history made by the Chinese people, and reflected all the painful lessons drawn from China's political process since modern times began. It was the result of Chinese society's dramatic transformation and development over more than a century, and the inevitable choice made by the Chinese people who had finally become masters of their country and taken control of their own density.
Over the past 60 years, and particularly in the more than 30 years since the launch of reform and opening up, the system of people's congresses has been continuously consolidated and developed while demonstrating great vitality. Over the past six decades, it has been proven through practice that this system is a sound one that accords with China's national conditions and realities, embodies our country's socialist character, safeguards the role of the people as masters of their country, and guarantees the rejuvenation of our nation. Deng Xiaoping once said, "We have a unicameral legislature, the National People's Congress, which best conforms to China's realities. As long as it keeps to the right policies and direction, such a legislative body helps greatly to make the country prosper and to avoid much wrangling." Jiang Zemin emphasized that the system of people's congresses "is the crystallization of our Party's long experience in developing the state power of the people, as well as a unique feature and advantage of the way the Party directs state affairs." Hu Jintao also pointed out, "The system of people's congresses is an important means and ultimate form which enables the people to fulfill their role as masters of their country, and an important institutional vehicle for China's socialist political culture."
As we embark on new endeavors, we must fully exert the role of the system of people's congresses as our fundamental political system, and continue to use this system as a means of keeping the future of the country and nation safely in the hands of our people. This is a glorious mission entrusted to us by the times in which we live.
In China, in order to develop socialist democracy, guarantee the role of the people as masters of their country, and ensure that the country's political affairs are not only full of vitality, but also stable and orderly, it is crucial that we closely integrate the leadership of the CPC, the supremacy of the people, and the rule of law. The system of people's congresses is a fundamental institutional arrangement for fulfilling this task.
—To uphold and improve the system of people's congresses, we must resolutely uphold the leadership of the CPC. The leadership of the CPC is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Without the CPC, the New China would not exist, nor would the prosperity we enjoy today. Upholding the CPC's role as the strong leading core is key for the future of the Chinese nation. The leadership of the CPC aims to support and guarantee the role of the people as masters of their country. We must uphold the core role of the Party in exercising overall leadership and coordinating overall initiatives, and use the system of people's congresses to ensure that the Party's guideline, principles, policies, decisions, and arrangements are fully applied and effectively implemented in national affairs. We must provide backing and support for bodies of state power so that they perform their functions in an active, independent, responsible, and coordinated manner and in accordance with the Constitution and the law. We must continue to strengthen and improve the leadership of the Party, so that we become more capable of turning the propositions of the Party into the will of the state and making Party nominated candidates assume leadership positions in bodies of state power through statutory procedures, using bodies of state power to exercise the leadership of the Party over the country and society, and using the principle of democratic centralism to uphold the authority of the Party and government and guarantee unity within the Party and throughout the country.
Deputies to the National People's Congress enter Huairen Hall in Zhongnanhai during the First Session of the First NPC, which was held from September 15 to 28, 1954. Huairen Hall was the venue for NPC meetings from the First Session of the First NPC to the First Session of the Second NPC. The Great Hall of the People was completed in September 1959, and became the venue for all plenary sessions of the NPC since the Second Session of the Second NPC in 1960.
PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER QI GUANSHAN
—To uphold and improve the system of people's congresses, we must safeguard and develop the role of the people as masters of their country. The supremacy of the people constitutes the core and essence of socialist democracy. People's democracy represents the life force of socialism. Without democracy, there would be no socialism, socialist modernization, or national rejuvenation. We must uphold the principle that all power in the country belongs to the people, guarantee the people's dominant role, and support and guarantee their exercise of state power through people's congresses. We must expand people's democracy by improving democratic systems, enriching forms of democracy, and creating more channels for the practice of democracy, and enable broader, orderly political participation of citizens at all levels and in all domains, with a view to developing a people's democracy that is wide in scope, full in substance, and refined in practice. In all of the country's initiatives, we must implement the Party's mass line, build close links with the people, reach out to them, respond to their expectations, and resolve problems that are of the greatest, most direct, and most practical concern to them, in an effort to pool the wisdom and strength of the broadest possible majority of the people.
—To uphold and improve the system of people's congresses, we must comprehensively advance law-based governance of the country. To develop people's democracy, we must uphold law-based governance and safeguard the authority of the Constitution and the law, consolidate the institutional and legal foundations of democracy, and ensure that relevant institutions and laws do not change when the leadership changes, or when the leaders adjust their views or shift the focus of their attention. The Constitution is the fundamental law of the country. To uphold the rule of law, we must first uphold the rule of the Constitution; and to govern on the basis of the law, we must first govern on the basis of the Constitution. We must adhere to the rule of law as a basic principle by which the CPC leads the people in managing the country, and law-based governance as the basic method of national governance, in a continued effort to build a China governed by the rule of law. We must promote the spirit of socialist rule of law through the system of people's congresses, launch and advance all undertakings and initiatives of the country in line with laws and regulations formulated by people's congresses and their standing committees, guarantee the rights of the people to participate and to develop as equals, safeguard social equity and justice, respect and protect human rights, and put all of the country's initiatives on a legal footing.
—To uphold and improve the system of people's congresses, we must uphold democratic centralism. Democratic centralism is the basic principle underpinning the organization and operation of China's state organs. People's congresses exercise state power in a unified manner, with the NPC being the supreme body of state power and local people's congresses at various levels being local bodies of state power. We must uphold the following principles: the people exercise state power through people's congresses; people's congresses at all levels are formed through a process of democratic election, and are accountable to the people and subject to their scrutiny; administrative, judicial, and procuratorial organs at all levels are created by people's congresses, accountable to them, and subject to their scrutiny; the powers of decision-making, execution of policy, and supervision are reasonably divided among state organs, which exercise these powers in a coordinated manner; local governments are encouraged to fully exert their initiative and enthusiasm under the unified leadership of the central government, so as to ensure that all undertakings are organized and advanced by the state in an integrated and effective manner.
An election meeting was held in Xigou Township, Pingshun County, Shanxi Province on September 27, 1953. National model agricultural workers Li Shunda and Shen Jilan were elected as deputies to the Xigou Township People's Congress. Newly elected deputies (from left to right) Shen Jilan, Li Shunda, Han Chunlan, and Zhang Qiuquan look at their notices of election with great excitement. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER XIANG HUAGENG
The system of people's congresses is an important component of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the fundamental political system underpinning China's governance system and governance capacity. As we face new circumstances moving forward, we must resolutely uphold the system of people's congresses while improving it in pace with the times. At present and over the coming period, we must focus on the following important tasks.
First, we must strengthen and improve legislative work. As an ancient Chinese saying goes, "No country is strong or weak forever. When those who uphold the law are strong, the country is strong; when they are weak, the country is weak." Through long-term efforts, a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics has been formed, and we now have laws to go by in almost all aspects of our national and social affairs. This is a major achievement we have made and a new starting point from which we can continue to move forward. As circumstances and the times change, our legal system must continue to adapt in line with contemporary and practical developments.
We must strengthen legislation in important areas, ensure that there is a legal basis for national development and major reforms, and better integrate decisions related to development and reform with legislative decision-making. Through a problem-oriented approach, we need to make our legislation more targeted, responsive, systematic, and practicable, and exert the role of legislation in guiding and driving our initiatives. We must focus on the key task of raising the quality of legislation, advance legislation in a more effective and democratic manner, improve legislative systems and procedures, and strive to ensure that every piece of legislation conforms to the spirit of the Constitution, reflects the will of the people, and earns the support of the public.
Second, we must strengthen and improve the implementation of laws. The vitality and authority of the law lie in its implementation. As an ancient Chinese saying goes, "Strict implementation of laws leads to order while lax implementation of laws leads to disorder." As important actors in the implementation of laws, administrative, judicial, and procuratorial organs at all levels must fulfill their legally prescribed duties in implementing laws. They must put an end to situations in which laws go ignored, enforcement is lax, and violations go unpunished; take resolute action against officials who abuse power for personal gain, place their power above the authority of the law, or bend the law to suit their own ends; and strictly prohibit infringement of the legitimate rights and interests of the people.
We must fully implement the basic principle of law-based governance, ensure that all are equal before the law, expedite efforts to establish China as a socialist country under the rule of law, and continue to promote sound lawmaking, strict law enforcement, impartial administration of justice, and observance of the law by everyone. We must advance law-based administration, and accelerate the development of a law-based government in China. Administrative agencies at all levels must carry out their duties in accordance with the law, performing their legally-prescribed functions while refraining from taking action without legal authorization. No organization or individual may be allowed to have extralegal privileges. We must promote the impartial administration of justice, further judicial reform, expedite the establishment of an impartial, efficient, and authoritative judicial system, improve judicial systems for the protection of human rights, strictly punish judicial corruption, and ensure that people feel they are being treated fairly and justly in each judicial case.
Third, we must strengthen and improve supervision. The eyes of the public are everywhere and miss nothing, making the people an important supervisory force. A government can only be diligent when it is supervised by the people, and governance can only be sustained when everyone assumes their responsibility. An important principle of the system of people's congresses and a basic requirement of its institutional design is that the power of all state organs and their employees must be subject to supervision and constraints.
People's congresses at all levels and their standing committees must carry out the supervisory duties entrusted to them by the Constitution and the law, safeguard the unity, dignity, and authority of the country's legal system, strengthen supervision over the law enforcement and judicial work of people's governments, courts, and procuratorates, and ensure that laws and regulations are implemented effectively and that administrative, judicial, and procuratorial powers are exercised appropriately. Local people's congresses and their standing committees must ensure that the Constitution, laws, administrative regulations, and resolutions of higher-level people's congresses and their standing committees are observed and enforced within their respective administrative regions. We must strengthen CPC discipline supervision, administrative supervision, auditing-based supervision, judicial supervision, and various forms of disciplinary supervision within state organs. We must broaden the channels through which the people supervise the use of power, ensuring that citizens have the right to offer criticisms and suggestions on any state organ or state functionary, and to lodge complaints, accusations, or reports with relevant state organs against any state organ or state functionary for violations of laws and dereliction of duty. We must improve mechanisms for lodging complaints, accusations, and reports, and strengthen procuratorial supervision, ensuring that power and accountability go hand in hand, that the exercise of power is subject to supervision, that compensation is provided for the infringement of rights, and that unlawful administrative actions are investigated.
The future of a political party or government is determined by whether it enjoys public support. We must be resolute in preventing and combatting the practices the people oppose and resent. What the people feel most resentful is corruption, so we must resolutely fight corruption. We must ensure that all matters, powers, and officials are governed on the basis of institutions, and step up efforts to form effective mechanisms for ensuring that officials do not have the opportunity, desire, or audacity to commit acts of corruption. We must guarantee public supervision over the exercise of power to ensure transparency, and confine power to an institutional cage. We must work to simultaneously "cage the tigers" and "swat the flies," ensure that all acts of corruption are strictly punished, and see that all acts of embezzlement are cracked down upon. We must devote our utmost effort to fighting corruption, and promote integrity in the Party, government, and society, using our progress in this regard to earn greater confidence from the people.
Voters belonging to the Miao ethnic group cast their ballots at the Longwu Village central polling station in the first electoral district of Jilue Township. Elections were held on October 28, 2016 as both the city and township-level people's congresses in Jishou City, Hunan Province changed terms. PHOTO BY YAO FANG
Fourth, we must strengthen the ties between deputies to people's congresses and the public. The key to the people's congress system's strong vitality and marked strengths is that it is deeply rooted in the people. The name of our country and the names of our state organs at all levels start with "the people," which indicates the basic orientation of China's socialist government. The more than 2.6 million deputies to people's congresses at all levels must faithfully represent the interests and will of the people, and participate in the exercise of state power according to law. State organs at all levels and their employees, regardless of their function, are ultimately working in service of the people. We must ensure that this basic orientation never wavers or weakens.
It is an inherent requirement for implementing the system of people's congresses and a basic demand of the people on the representatives they have elected and delegated that state organs at all levels should strengthen ties with deputies to people's congresses and the general public. State organs at all levels and their employees must exercise power for the people, perform duties for the people, and serve the people; regard their efforts to strengthen ties with deputies to people's congresses and the general public as an important part of them being accountable to the people and subject to the people's supervision; listen to the opinions and suggestions of deputies to people's congresses and the general public; actively respond to public concerns, willingly subject themselves to the supervision of the people, and earnestly rectify shortcomings and errors in their work.
Fifth, we must strengthen and improve the work of people's congresses. New circumstances and tasks have placed higher demands on the work of people's congresses at all levels and their standing committees. In line with the principle of reviewing, carrying forward, refining, and enhancing what we have already achieved, we must promote theoretical and practical innovation in the system of people's congresses, and bring the work of people's congresses to a higher level.
People's congresses at all levels and their standing committees must maintain the correct political orientation, enhance their sense of political responsibility for exercising state power on behalf of the people, and perform the duties entrusted to them by the Constitution and the law. We must improve mechanisms for members of the standing committees of people's congresses to be in contact with deputies to people's congresses at the same level, broaden channels for relaying information about social conditions and public opinion, provide support and backing for deputies to people's congresses to perform their duties in a law-based manner, improve the composition of the standing committees and special committees of people's congresses, and improve the organizational systems, working systems, and deliberation procedures of people's congresses. CPC committees at all levels must strengthen and improve the Party's leadership over the work of people's congresses, and support and guarantee law-based exercise of power and performance of duties by people's congresses and their standing committees.
People's democracy is a guiding principle that the CPC has always upheld. On the road ahead, we must firmly follow the Chinese socialist path of political advancement, and continue to promote socialist democracy and develop a socialist political culture.
The kind of thinking we adopt in planning and advancing China's socialist democracy has fundamental and far-reaching significance for national political affairs. There are numerous examples throughout history and today from around the world that the wrong choice in the path of political development leads to social unrest, crumbling states, and failed governments. China is a large developing country, and therefore choosing the right path for its political progress is a major issue of fundamental and overall importance.
In designing and developing the political system of a country, it is imperative to focus on the integration of history and reality, theory and practice, and form and content. We must take into account our national conditions and realities, carrying on our long-established heritage and remaining mindful of the political experience we have accumulated and political principles we have established over our past course of development, while at the same time responding to current demands and focusing on current issues. We must not break with history or simply copy other political systems. Political systems are used to regulate political relations, establish political order, promote national development, and maintain national stability, and therefore they cannot be one-size-fits-all or abstractly judged without reference to specific social and political conditions. There is a view that we are not as good as certain other countries because we don't practice their political systems, and that we should make up for this deficiency by copying them. Meanwhile, some believe that some of our political systems are superfluous because they are not used in other countries, and therefore we should get rid of them. Both views are simplistic, biased, and therefore incorrect.
Undoubtedly, we need to draw on the achievements of other political civilizations, but we should never abandon the fundamentals of China's own political system. Given that China is such a vast and complex country with more than 9.6 million square kilometers of land area and 56 ethnic groups, whose model can we copy? And who is qualified to throw their weight around and tell us what to do? In this rich and varied world, we should uphold inclusiveness, learn from the strengths of others with an open mind, and digest and absorb what we learn through an objective mindset so that we can turn it into our own strength rather than just blindly copying others. It is not feasible for China to copy the political systems of other countries, since those systems are not suited to our national conditions. Any attempt like this would at best lead to poor imitation, and might even ruin the country's future. The most reliable and effective systems for a country are always the ones that take root in and draw nourishment from their own soil.
No two political systems in the world are identical, and there is no such thing as a political system that is suited to all countries. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius once said, "That things are different is the nature of things." Since conditions in each country are different, their political systems are unique. A country's political system is chosen by its people and is the result of a long-term process of evolution and improvement on the basis of its history, cultural traditions, and economic and social development. The socialist political system with Chinese characteristics is viable, vibrant, and efficient precisely because it has grown out of Chinese soil, and it must remain rooted in this soil so that it can continue to thrive in the future.
The main criteria for judging whether a political system is democratic and effective are whether the country can conduct leadership transitions in a lawful and orderly manner; whether the people can administer national, social, economic, and cultural affairs in accordance with the law; whether people can openly express their demands; whether various sectors of society can participate effectively in national political affairs; whether state decision-making is rational and democratic; whether talent from a variety of sectors can enter systems of national leadership and administration through fair competition; whether the governing party can exercise leadership over national affairs in accordance with the Constitution and the law; and whether the exercise of power is subject to effective constrains and supervision.
Through our long-term efforts, decisive progress has been made in resolving these key issues. We have abolished de facto life tenure for leading officials and adopted limited tenure to achieve orderly transitions within state organs and at the leadership level. We have expanded opportunities for orderly political participation by the people, allowing them to be involved in decision-making on a wide range of issues and at multiple levels. We have developed the broadest possible patriotic united front and a unique socialist consultative democracy, effectively bringing together the wisdom and strength of all political parties, organizations, ethnic groups, social strata, and people from all walks of life. We have worked hard to build decision-making mechanisms that connect with popular sentiment, reflect public opinion, pool the people's wisdom, and value their strength, thereby raising the level of transparency and public participation in decision-making, and ensuring that our decisions conform to the interests and wishes of the people. We have developed dynamic mechanisms for the selection and appointment of exemplary talent, allowing us to enlist outstanding people from a wide range of sectors in the causes of the Party and country. We have pursued coordinated progress in law-based governance, law-based exercise of state power, and law-based government administration, and promoted the integrated development of rule of law for the country, the government, and society, thereby enhancing the rule of law across the board. We have established and refined a multilevel supervision system, and improved systems for ensuring openness in various administrative affairs, so as to guarantee that leading bodies of the Party and government and their employees exercise their power according to legally prescribed limits and procedures.
China practices the state system of a people's democratic power led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and farmers, the system of people's congresses as the system of state power, the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, the system of regional ethnic autonomy, and the system of community-level self-governance, all of which have distinctive Chinese characteristics. Such a set of institutional arrangements has the following strengths: it can effectively guarantee that the people enjoy more extensive and substantial rights and freedoms, ensuring their broad participation in national and social governance; it can effectively regulate the country's political relations through the development of vibrant relations between political parties, ethnic groups, religious sectors, social strata, and Chinese people at home and abroad, thereby boosting national cohesiveness and creating political stability and solidarity; it can pool national strength behind major undertakings, effectively liberate and develop productive forces, advance various undertakings involved in the modernization process, and continually improve living standards and quality of life; and it can effectively safeguard national independence, China's sovereignty, security, and development interests, and the wellbeing of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation.
Thanks to more than 30 years of reform and opening up, China's economic and overall national strengths, and our people's living standards have ascended to new heights. We have consistently overcome uncommon difficulties and obstacles as we have pushed forward. All ethnic groups in China have worked together for common prosperity and development, and social harmony and stability have been maintained on a long-term basis. These facts have proven that China's socialist democracy has enormous vitality and that the Chinese socialist path of political advancement is the right path, as it conforms to China's national conditions and guarantees the position of the people as masters of their country.
A country's political system is determined by and reacts to its economic and social foundations. Among all of a country's various institutions, its political system plays the key role. Therefore, to boost confidence in the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, we must first boost our confidence in the Chinese socialist political system, and enhance our confidence and determination in following the Chinese socialist path of political advancement.
Socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics is something new, and something good. Of course, this is not to say that China's political system is flawless and needs no further improvement or development. That we are confident in our system does not make us smug or complacent, nor does it mean that we are resistant to change and progress. Rather, it demands that we combine this confidence with continued reform and innovation, and that we develop and improve our political institutions on the basis of upholding our fundamental and basic political systems. It has always been our belief that the development of China's socialist democracy and rule of law has yet to fully meet the requirement of expanding people's democracy and promoting social and economic development. Socialist democracy still needs to be refined in terms of its systems, mechanisms, procedures, norms, and specific operations, and our efforts to guarantee the people's democratic rights and give expression to their creativity are still inadequate and need to be further improved. As we work to comprehensively further reform, we must advance political reform in an active yet prudent manner, make safeguarding the people's role as masters of their country our fundamental focus, and work toward invigorating the Party and the country and motivating the people, in a continued effort to develop our socialist political culture.
Developing socialist democracy is an essential part of our efforts to modernize China's governance system and governance capacity. The overall goal of comprehensively furthering reform, which was set at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, is comprised of two parts: improving and developing the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and modernizing China's governance system and capacity. The first part designates the fundamental orientation, which is the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and no other path. The second part makes clear the direction we will take to improve and develop the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics under the guidance of this fundamental orientation. Together the two parts constitute a whole.
The key to developing socialist democracy is to increase and expand our strengths and unique qualities, rather than weaken and reduce them. We must uphold the core role of the Party in exercising overall leadership and coordinating overall initiatives, enhance its capacity to govern in a scientific, democratic, and law-based manner, and ensure that the Party leads the people in governing the country effectively, so as to prevent the Chinese people from becoming aimless like a ship with nobody at the helm or divided like a heap of loose sand. We must uphold the principle that all power in the country belongs to the people, guaranteeing not only law-based democratic elections but also law-based democratic decision-making, democratic management, and democratic supervision, so as to avoid the phenomenon of politicians making wild promises in the elections process that they are unable to deliver later on. We must uphold and improve the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, and strengthen cooperation and coordination of various social forces, so as to avoid factional strife between different political parties. We must uphold and improve the system of regional ethnic autonomy, consolidate socialist ethnic relations of equality, solidarity, mutual assistance, and harmony, and enable people of all ethnic groups to live together happily, work together for a common cause, and develop in harmony, so as to guard against estrangement and conflict between ethnic groups. We must uphold and improve the system of community-level self-governance, develop community-level democracy, and ensure that the people directly exercise their democratic rights in accordance with the law, so as to prevent the emergence of a situation in which the people have nominal but not real power. We must uphold and improve the system and principles of democratic centralism, urging various state organs to become more capable and efficient, enhance coordination and cooperation, and form strong synergy in national governance, so that they do not hold each other back or waste valuable energy on quibbling with each other.
In short, we must continue to underpin socialist democracy with well-def ined institutions, standards, and procedures, give greater play to the strengths of the Chinese socialist political system, and provide better institutional guarantees for the prosperity, development, and enduring stability of the Party and country.
In traditional Chinese chronology, every 60 years marks the beginning of a new cycle. Let us take this moment to revisit Mao Zedong's remarks at the First Session of the First NPC 60 years ago. He said, "We are fully confident that we can overcome all difficulties and hardships and make our country a great socialist republic. We are advancing. We are now engaged in a great and most glorious cause, never undertaken by our forefathers. Our goal must be attained. Our goal can unquestionably be attained."
The Chinese Communists and Chinese people of today must shoulder this lofty mission, work continuously to develop a vibrant socialist democracy, and join hands to create a brighter future for the Chinese people and the Chinese nation in the great struggle to achieve the Chinese Dream. Let us work together, and work hard!
(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 18, 2019)