The Communist Party of China and the Country's Fundamental System
The year 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Over its century-long history, the CPC has always upheld people's democracy and has experimented with, established, developed, and refined a new kind of political system in which the people run the country. It has thus promoted socialist democracy and guaranteed, via institutions and systems, the country being run by its people. As General Secretary Xi Jinping has said, "Being suited to China's national conditions and reflecting the nature of the socialist state, the system of people's congresses is a good system for ensuring that the people run the country and that China realizes national rejuvenation; it is a great creation of the people under our Party's leadership and a brand-new political system with great significance in the history of political development in this country and the rest of the world.... The system of people's congresses upholds the leadership of the Communist Party of China, adheres to the basic principles of Marxist state theory, is suited to a people's democratic dictatorship, and effectively ensures that our country advances along a socialist path." Under CPC leadership, the system of people's congresses has been consolidated, developed, and improved continuously over the years. The system has demonstrated great vitality and immense strength, and has served as an important institutional guarantee for the CPC to lead the people in creating miracles of rapid growth and long-term social stability.
I. The CPC's tireless search for a political system that is suited to our national conditions and ensures the people run the country
The founding of a communist party in China was an epoch-making event. It deeply altered the trajectory of our country's development in modern times, transformed the fate of our people and nation, and gave direction to our people, who had been searching since the dawn of the modern age for a political system that would fit their national conditions. When it came to making choices about the future, the Chinese people shifted from passivity to taking the initiative. Mao Zedong once summed up this process as follows: "From the time of China's defeat in the Opium War of 1840, Chinese progressives went through untold hardships in their quest for truth from the Western countries.... The Chinese learned a good deal from the West, but they could not make it work and were never able to realize their ideals." As it led the people in the great struggle for national independence and liberation, the CPC came to the profound realization that the fundamental issue of the revolution was that of political power. The self-improvement movements, reformism, the old-style peasant wars, and the democratic revolutions led by bourgeois revolutionaries, all of which failed to rock feudalism's foundations, and every solution that aped Western political systems—none could accomplish the mission of saving the nation or the historic task of overthrowing imperialism and feudalism; none could make China's political landscape and society stable; and none could provide institutions that guaranteed a prosperous nation and a happy people. In order to end feudal autocratic rule and realize people's democracy, the CPC was fully committed from the very start to the goals of building a new country, one run by the people, and founding a political system that suited our national conditions and ensured that the people ran the country.
Deng Xiaoping (first from right) delivers an explanatory report on the Law of the People's Republic of China on Election of Deputies to the National People's Congress and Local People's Congresses at the 22nd meeting of the Central People's Government Committee, Beijing, afternoon of February 11, 1953. Seated on the platform (from left) are Soong Ching Ling, Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, Zhu De, Li Jishen, and Zhang Lan. XINHUA (FILE PHOTO)
The Program of the Communist Party of China adopted in 1921 stated that our Party recognizes the Soviet management system, organizes workers, peasants, and soldiers, and takes social revolution as the main purpose of its policy. In leading the new-democratic revolution, the CPC established base areas and revolutionary governments and accumulated valuable experience in local governance, all of which provided the conditions for its exploration of political systems.
In November 1931, the First National Congress of the Chinese Soviet Republic opened in Ruijin, Jiangxi Province. The congress formulated the Outline Constitution of the Chinese Soviet Republic, elected the Central Executive Committee, and proclaimed the founding of the Provisional Central Government of the Chinese Soviet Republic. The Chinese Soviet Republic was in essence a democratic political power of workers and peasants. In January 1934, the CPC Central Committee convened the Second National Congress of the Chinese Soviet Republic. These two congresses served as a trial for the system of worker, peasant, and soldier congresses. They were the beginning of the CPC's endeavor of leading the people in developing political power and the starting point for the formation and development of the people's congress system.
During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, the democratic resistance governments established by the CPC implemented a representative assembly system based on the "three-thirds" principle, which stated that Communist Party members, non-CPC progressives, and middle-of-the-roaders would each take up one third of the positions in assemblies and government departments at all levels. This democratic system was used to develop political power in base areas behind enemy lines during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. It effectively developed democratic base areas, and attracted the progressive Chinese youths of the day to Yan'an, a sacred place for democracy. Mao Zedong pointed out that democratic government based on a popularly elected representative assembly and the "three-thirds" system was the best political model for uniting all classes to fight against Japanese aggression.
In January 1940, Mao Zedong put forward the concept of "people's congresses" in a piece called "On New Democracy." He wrote, "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." In April 1945, Mao Zedong expanded on this point in "On Coalition Government," stating, "We propose the establishment, after the thorough defeat of the Japanese aggressors, of a state system which we call New Democracy, namely, a united-front democratic alliance based on the overwhelming majority of the people, under the leadership of the working class. The organizational principle of the new-democratic state should be democratic centralism, with the people's congresses determining the major policies and electing the governments at the various levels. This is the only system that can give full expression to democracy with full powers vested in the people's congresses at all levels and, at the same time, guarantee centralized administration with the governments at each level exercising centralized management of all the affairs entrusted to them by the people's congresses at the corresponding level and safeguarding whatever is essential to the democratic life of the people. Without a genuinely democratic system this cannot be attained and the system of government and the state system will be out of harmony."
The conception of the people's congress system charted the course for the development of China's political system after victory was won in the new-democratic revolution (1919-1949), and it was greatly effective in uniting and mobilizing people from all walks of life and all political parties. During the War of Liberation (1946-1949), the Communist Party of China established people's congresses at all levels in all liberated areas, and the Party's experience in developing political power increased dramatically. In August 1948, when the North China Provisional People's Congress convened in the northern city of Shijiazhuang, it became the highest-level local authority with the name "People's Congress" prior to the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. In terms of organization, procedures, and functions, this congress possessed all the major features of the people's congresses established after the founding of the new state. The congress formulated measures for elections and elected the Committee of the People's Government of North China, the executive organ of power; it stipulated that the People's Congress would exercise legislative and oversight powers, hear the work reports of the border region governments, and make relevant resolutions; and it also formulated procedural rules and other meeting procedures. In his speech at the opening of the congress, Dong Biwu called the North China Provisional People's Congress the prelude and earliest iteration of the National People's Congress (NPC).
In June 1949, Mao Zedong pointed out in "On the People's Democratic Dictatorship," "To sum up our experience and concentrate it into one point, it is the people's democratic dictatorship under the leadership of the working class (through the Communist Party) and based upon the alliance of workers and peasants." In September 1949, the First Plenary Session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) was convened. In the opening address to the conference, Mao Zedong said, "The present Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference is convened on an entirely new foundation; it is representative of the people of the whole country and enjoys their trust and support. Therefore, the conference proclaims that it will exercise the functions and powers of a National People's Congress." The conference adopted the Common Program of the CPPCC, which stipulated that the state power of the People's Republic of China belonged to the people and that the organs through which the people exercised state power were the people's congresses and people's governments at all levels. This important document, which served as a provisional constitution, made clear the arrangements for implementing the system of people's congresses in New China and laid a solid foundation for the formal establishment of such a system.
II. The establishment and development of the system of people's congresses under CPC leadership following the founding of the PRC
When the PRC was founded, politics in China took a great leap toward people's democracy. As hundreds of millions of Chinese people truly became the masters of their country, their society, and their destiny, the conditions were created for applying the concept of people's congress system. This was a watershed moment in the history of political development in China which was also of great significance in the world.
In the first three years of the People's Republic, the CPC led the people in consolidating their new power and successfully completing systemic reform, economic recovery, and social transformation under new democracy. In 1953, the CPC Central Committee proposed a general line for the transition period. Due to the new situation, it became an urgent need to strengthen China's political, legal and other superstructures to better serve the work of establishing the socialist economic foundation. In January 1953, the Central People's Government Committee issued a resolution, which determined that people's congresses at the township, county, provincial, and municipal levels, which were to be elected by universal suffrage, would begin convening in 1953, and on this basis, a National People's Congress would then be held. In February 1953, the Central People's Government Committee passed the Law of the People's Republic of China on Election of Deputies to the National People's Congress and Local People's Congresses. Beginning in the second half of 1953, more than 210,000 primary-level electoral units and a total of 323 million registered voters around the country elected more than 5.66 million deputies to local people's congresses. On this basis, 1,226 deputies to the National People's Congress were elected from 45 electoral units nationwide.
On September 15, 1954, the First Session of the First National People's Congress opened. On September 20, the congress passed the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, which stipulated, "All power in the People's Republic of China belongs to the people. The organs through which the people exercise state power are the National People's Congress and local people's congresses at all levels. The National People's Congress, people's congresses at all levels, and all other state organs shall all practice democratic centralism."
After the First National People's Congress, the NPC and its Standing Committee successively formulated the Organic Law of the National People's Congress, the Organic Law of the State Council, the Organic Law of the People's Courts, the Organic Law of People's Procuratorates, and the Organic Law of the Local People's Congresses and Local People's Governments, all of which laid the foundation for the basic framework of the people's congress system and the country's organizational foundation. Specific systems, such as the NPC deputies inspection system and the system for maintaining contact between the NPC Standing Committee and deputies, were also gradually established. A series of laws and decrees such as the Agrarian Reform Law, the Marriage Law, and the Electoral Law were promulgated, which provided institutional guarantees for consolidating the new government and ensuring that the people ran the country. By 1956, the socialist transformation of the privately-owned means of production and the transition from new democratism to socialism were completed, providing solid political conditions for the system of people's congresses.
In September 1956, the Eighth National Congress of the CPC was held in Beijing, the Party's first national congress since the founding of the new state in 1949. The meeting initiated the exploration of a socialist development path suited to China's national conditions and put forward many good policy propositions for improving the Party and state system. The meeting emphasized the need to expand people's democracy, strengthen the supervision of government work by people's congresses, and systematically formulate comprehensive laws to improve the socialist legal system.
The reform and opening up period, which began in 1978, marked a great awakening for the Communist Party of China and became the genesis for some of the Party's great theoretical and practical creations. For the system of people's congresses, it provided a new historical opportunity for improvement and development. The Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held in December 1978 stated, "In order to safeguard people's democracy, it is imperative to strengthen the socialist legal system so that democracy is systematized and written into law in such a way as to ensure the stability, continuity, and full authority of this democratic system and these laws.... Legislative work should have an important place on the agenda of the National People's Congress and its Standing Committee." Deng Xiaoping pointed out in his speech "On the Reform of the System of Party and State Leadership" that "Our Constitution should be made more complete and precise so as to really ensure the people's right to manage the state organs at all levels as well as the various enterprises and institutions, to guarantee to our people the full enjoyment of their rights as citizens, to enable the areas inhabited by ethnic minority groups to exercise genuine regional autonomy, to improve the system of people's congresses, and so on."
Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee, on December 4, 1982, the Fifth Session of the Fifth NPC adopted China's current Constitution, which further strengthened the system of people's congresses. First, it improved the institutions and systems of the state. The powers of the NPC Standing Committee were expanded, so that the NPC and its Standing Committee exercise state legislative power, with all legislation to be enacted by the NPC Standing Committee (except for basic laws, which are enacted by the NPC). The Constitution also put forward the principle of disqualification for NPC Standing Committee members, forbidding them from holding office in administrative, adjudicatory, or procuratorial organs of the state. To develop the organizational system of the NPC and its Standing Committee, the Constitution stipulated that the NPC could establish special committees as necessary. To improve the state apparatus, it restored the offices of the president and the vice president and stipulated that the state would establish a Central Military Commission (CMC) to lead the country's armed forces and implement the system of the CMC chairman assuming overall responsibility. Second, the Constitution also improved the system of local political power. It stipulated that local people's congresses at and above the county level shall establish standing committees. It also empowered the people's congresses of provinces and large cities and their standing committees to make local regulations, and further expanded the autonomy of ethnic minority autonomous areas. The Report on the Draft of the Revised Constitution of the People's Republic of China emphasized that the reform of China's political system and the establishment of state institutions should ensure both politically and organizationally that all people control state power and truly become the masters of the country. When discussing China's socialist democratic system, Deng Xiaoping noted: "The democracy in capitalist societies is bourgeois democracy—in fact, it is the democracy of monopoly capitalists. It is no more than a system of multiparty elections, separation of judicial, executive and legislative powers and a bicameral legislature. Ours is the system of the people's congresses and people's democracy under the leadership of the Communist Party; we cannot adopt the practice of the West."
The 14th CPC National Congress held in 1992 proposed to further improve the system of people's congresses by strengthening the functions of people's congresses and standing committees at all levels. The 15th CPC National Congress in 1997 defined law-based governance as the Party's basic strategy for leading the people in governing the country. It proposed that, under CPC leadership and with the people as masters of the country, China would advance law-based governance, develop socialist democracy and the rule of law with Chinese characteristics, and build a socialist country under the rule of law to meet the goal of building a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics by the year 2010. During this period, the NPC made significant progress in putting work related to legislation, oversight, and deputies on a stronger institutional and procedural footing. In 1992, it formulated the Law on Deputies to People's Congresses, which stipulated in a systematic fashion the principles of work for deputies, the rights and obligations of deputies, the work of deputies during meetings, and their activities when congresses are not in session. In 1993, 1999, and 2000, the NPC Standing Committee successively formulated regulations on strengthening inspection and oversight of law enforcement, a decision on strengthening oversight over execution of the central government budget, and a decision on strengthen oversight over economic work to further standardize NPC oversight. In 2000, the NPC formulated the Legislation Law based on its many years of lawmaking experience, which marked a further improvement in the legislative system .
Residents of Hong Kong show their support for the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on a street in Causeway Bay, June 30, 2020, the day when the law was voted through at the 20th Session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER WANG SHEN
At its 16th National Congress in 2002, the CPC proposed that an organic unity existed between CPC leadership, the running of the country by the people, and law-based governance, and that China must adhere to the path of socialist political advancement with Chinese characteristics and further strengthen the system of people's congresses. In May 2005, the CPC Central Committee circulated the Guidelines of the CPC Leadership Group of the NPC Standing Committee on Giving Further Play to the Role of the National People's Congress and Strengthening the NPC Standing Committee System. These guidelines clarified how the system of people's congresses should be upheld and improved and how the NPC's objectives, tasks, and key work should be accomplished. At its 17th National Congress in 2007, the CPC proposed to apply the same ratio of deputies representing the electorate in both urban and rural areas in elections for people's congresses, and it emphasized the need to ensure lawmaking is well-conceived and democratic, so as to improve the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics and steadfastly develop socialist democracy. In March 2010, the NPC revised the Electoral Law to apply the same ratio of deputies representing the electorate in urban and rural areas. For the first time in the history of the People's Republic, every vote in urban and rural areas carried the same weight. At the end of 2010, the NPC Standing Committee announced that a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics had been created on schedule, marking the completion of the political task set forth by the 15th CPC National Congress. This legal system provided the rules and guidance needed for China's reform, opening up, and modernization, and gave rise to a new rule-of-law model different to that of Western society. This has been the legal basis on which the country's governance system and governance capabilities have been developed; it embodies the political advantages of the CPC-led system of people's congresses and the country's remarkable achievements in institutionalizing socialist democracy and grounding it in law.
III. The development of socialist democracy by the CPC Central Committee led by Xi Jinping and the historic achievements of the system of people's congresses
After the Party's 18th National Congress in 2012, socialism with Chinese characteristics entered a new era. Based on the laws underlying communist party governance, socialist development, and human social development, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core actively developed socialist democracy, strengthened the guarantees for ensuring that the people run the country, and promoted innovation of the institutions, theories, and practices of the system of people's congresses. These efforts yielded historic achievements.
General Secretary Xi put forward a range of new concepts, thinking, and strategies concerning many important issues, including: upholding Party leadership over the work of the people's congresses and steadfastly promoting socialist political advancement with Chinese characteristics; upholding and developing the system of people's congresses and ensuring the organic unity of Party leadership, the people running the country, and law-based governance via this system; continuing to use institutions and systems to ensure that the people run the country, supporting the people in exercising state power, and guaranteeing they do so via people's congresses; practicing law-based governance in all respects to effectively guarantee social fairness and justice and the rights of the people, and to ensure all work of the nation is grounded in law; upholding democratic centralism and ensuring that state agencies exercise authority in accordance with their statutory powers and established procedures; ensuring full adherence to the Constitution and using good laws to promote development and ensure good governance; and carrying out oversight in a correct and effective way, staying in close contact with deputies to people's congresses and the general public, and responding to each and every one of the people's concerns.
These concepts, thoughts, and strategies have enriched the connotations of the people's congress system and expanded its basic characteristics and requirements. They have defined the major principles, ideas, measures, and tasks involved in accomplishing the work of people's congresses in the new era, thus charting the course for developing and improving the system and work of people's congresses.
At its Fourth Plenary Session, the 19th CPC Central Committee issued the Decision on Major Issues Concerning Upholding and Improving the System of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Advancing the Modernization of China's System and Capacity for Governance. The decision called for clear results in making all our systems more mature and well-defined by the time of the CPC's centenary in 2021. The Central Conference on the Work of People's Congresses held in October 2021 put forward the guidelines, principles, and tasks for strengthening and improving this work in the new era, thus providing the basic requirements for socialist democracy and socialist political advancement. Under the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee, the system of people's congresses has indeed become more mature and well-defined. This is reflected in the following respects:
The system for strengthening CPC leadership over the work of people's congresses
The system of people's congresses is the institutional vehicle by which the CPC supports and guarantees the people's efforts to run the country. The NPC and its Standing Committee have upheld the centralized, unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee, fully implemented all its major decisions and plans, and created a set of systems to ensure the CPC's leadership is upheld in NPC's work. The NPC has timely enacted and revised laws and issued resolutions based on the major decisions of the Central Committee, thus turning the CPC's propositions into the will of the country. Adhering to the principle of the Party overseeing officials, the NPC has ensured that candidates recommended by Party organizations become officials of state in accordance with legal procedures. It has also reported major issues and important situations in NPC's work to the Central Committee in good time. Since 2015, General Secretary Xi has chaired meetings of the Standing Committee of the Central Committee Political Bureau for seven consecutive years to hear work reports from the CPC Leadership Group of the NPC Standing Committee. This practice has now become an important institution.
The organizational system of the NPC and its Standing Committee
The organizational system of the NPC and its Standing Committee is well-designed, rigorous, coordinated, pragmatic, and efficient. The report of the 19th National CPC Congress and the decision of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee called on the NPC to improve its organizational system, work system, and procedural rules. In March 2021, the Fourth Session of the 13th National People's Congress passed the revised versions of the Organic Law of the National People's Congress and the Procedural Rules of the National People's Congress. The revised Organic Law includes a new chapter on General Provisions. This section defines the political principles underpinning the NPC's and the Standing Committee's exercise of power in accordance with the law, as well as improvements to the systems regarding the functions and powers of the Presidium and the Chairperson's Council and refinements to the systems relating to NPC special committees. The revised Procedural Rules have improved the meeting system, tightened meeting discipline, and appropriately streamlined meeting procedures to improve the quality and efficiency of discussions.
The system of state institutions
The Constitution specifies the system of state institutions and their working principles. The 2018 amendment to the Constitution added provisions on supervisory commissions. Under the system of people's congresses, the administrative, supervisory, judicial, and procuratorial organs of the state are created by people's congresses. They are responsible to people's congresses and subject to their oversight. In the allocation of state power, people's congresses exercise unified state power, while governments, supervisory commissions, courts, and procuratorates exercise the functions and powers of their respective roles in accordance with the law. State agencies have a rational division of labor and enjoy close coordination, thus forming a unified and efficient whole under CPC leadership. This has enabled us to eliminate, on an institutional and systemic level, the pitfalls of discussing matters without making decisions and of not taking action when decisions are made.
Lawmaking institutions and systems
Lawmaking is a noble undertaking that sets the rules for a country and defines the limits in society. As the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics has been formed and improved, our lawmaking institutions and systems have also been improved. In March 2015, the Third Session of the 12th National People's Congress revised the Legislation Law, based on the key task of improving legislation set forth by the CPC Central Committee. This helped to further refine basic principles, lawmaking powers and procedures, legal interpretations, and legislative plans, putting lawmaking on a sounder and more democratic footing while ensuring the people's right to participation. Local legislative powers have been accorded to those cities that are formed by districts, strict boundaries have been defined to distinguish between central department regulations and local government regulations, standards have been set for delegating lawmaking authority, and the recording and review system for normative documents has been strengthened. All of this has ensured that the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics is well-regulated, harmonious, unified, and authoritative.
Oversight systems and mechanisms
People's congresses and their standing committees oversee enforcement of the Constitution and the law and the work of state agencies; this is an intrinsic requirement of the system of people's congresses. Focusing on the overall situation, the people's wellbeing, and key priorities, the NPC Standing Committee has comprehensively strengthened oversight of law enforcement and of the performance of the State Council, the National Commission of Supervision, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate. To fulfill the major reform tasks entrusted to it by the CPC Central Committee, the NPC Standing Committee issued the Decision on Strengthening Oversight of the Management of State-owned Assets and the Implementation Guidelines for the Opinion on People's Congresses Expanding the Focus of Budget Review and Oversight to Cover Expenditure Budgets and Policies. These documents have helped systemically improve the working mechanisms and strengthen the oversight functions of people's congresses. The recording and review system and working mechanism have also been improved, thanks to the Interim Regulations on Recording and Reviewing Administrative Regulations and Judicial Interpretations by the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, as well as the Measures on Recording and Reviewing Administrative Regulations and Judicial Interpretations. These documents have served as an effective guide for the work of recording and reviewing administrative regulations and judicial interpretations.
The primary-level democratic system
The development of a primary-level democratic system is an important element in developing socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics and an urgent requirement for building a broader, fuller, and more complete people's democracy. In June 2015, the CPC Central Committee circulated the Guidelines of the CPC Leadership Group of the NPC Standing Committee on Strengthening the Work and Development of People's Congresses at the County and Township Levels. These guidelines clarified that the development of primary-level government and community-level self-governance would be the starting point for strengthening county-level people's congresses and their standing committees, the working institutions of community-level people's congresses, and the presidiums of township-level people's congresses. This was a major measure taken by the CPC Central Committee to strengthen socialist democracy in the current era. In accordance with the unified arrangements of the Central Committee, the NPC Standing Committee revised the Organic Law of the National People's Congress and the Procedural Rules of the National People's Congress to include the term "whole-process people's democracy." The Organic Law of the Local People's Congresses, the Electoral Law, and the Law on Deputies to People's Congresses were also revised to provide legal and institutional guarantees for the development of socialist democracy at the primary level. The NPC Standing Committee and the standing committees of local people's congresses have established systems for staying connected with local communities on legislative matters and budget reviews, so they can hear the opinions of the people and ensure the smooth functioning of whole-process democracy.
The institutional mechanisms for ensuring the principal position of deputies
The National People's Congress and its Standing Committee have improved the way the proposals of NPC deputies are put forward and handled, refined the system by which Standing Committee members directly contact deputies, and established mechanisms for discussions with deputies invited to Standing Committee meetings. They have expanded the scope of deputies' inspections and investigations, supported the State Council, the National Commission of Supervision, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate in strengthening contact with deputies, and improved the conditions for deputies to perform their duties. Local people's congresses have actively promoted the local deputy liaison offices, which serve as the work platforms for deputies to build a presence at community level and get close to the public in both urban and rural areas. In 2019, 35 specific measures to strengthen and improve the work of NPC deputies came into effect. These have provided institutional guarantees for maintaining the principal position of deputies to people's congresses and giving better play to their role in the new era.
IV. Upholding and improving the system of people's congresses under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee led by Xi Jinping
General Secretary Xi has pointed out, "The world today is going through momentous changes not seen in a hundred years. Institutional competition is an important part of the overall competition between nations, and institutional advantages are important for countries in gaining strategic initiative. History and the present reality show that strong and stable institutions make a strong and stable country." As China's fundamental political system, the system of people's congresses embodies the basic principles of scientific socialism, conforms to our national conditions, and is compatible with a people's democratic arrangement. On our new journey, we must give full rein to the role of the people's congress system as the fundamental political system, and use it to keep the future of our country and our nation firmly in our people's hands. This glorious task, entrusted to us by the new era, places the following requirements upon us.
We must bolster confidence in the system of people's congresses and ensure the CPC leads the people in effectively governing the country through this system.
The Party led the people in exploring the system of people's congresses and in establishing, consolidating, and developing it. It is imperative that under CPC leadership, we uphold this system over the long term, ensure it is fully implemented, and work ceaselessly to improve it. At every level, people's congresses and their standing committees should firmly follow the leadership of the CPC, and especially the centralized, unified leadership of the Central Committee, turn the CPC's propositions into the will of the country through legal procedures, unify the propositions of the Party with the will of the people, and ensure that the guidelines, policies, decisions, and plans of the Party are enacted in full and effectively enforced.
We must improve the systems and guarantees for ensuring the people run the country.
People's democracy is the lifeblood of socialism. The people running the country sits at the very heart of our socialist democracy; it is where the great vitality and obvious strengths of the people's congress system lie. The Resolution adopted by the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee states, "We must uphold the unity between Party leadership, the running of the country by the people, and law-based governance. Efforts must be made to actively develop whole-process people's democracy, and advance comprehensive, extensive, and coordinated development of the systems and institutions through which the people run the country. We must establish diverse, unimpeded, and well-organized democratic channels, diversify the forms of democracy, and expand the people's orderly political participation at all levels and in various fields, so as to ensure that China's governance and institutions in all sectors give full expression to the will of the people, protect their rights and interests, and spark their creativity."
We must implement the basic strategy of law-based governance and improve the system of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics.
Comprehensively advancing the rule of law is a strategic issue that concerns the CPC's governance and national rejuvenation, the happiness and wellbeing of the people, and the long-term stability of the Party and the country. It is important for developing the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and advancing the modernization of China's system and capacity for governance. The Resolution adopted by the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee states, "Comprehensively advancing law-based governance is an essential requirement and important guarantee for socialism with Chinese characteristics; it is also a profound revolution in China's governance." As the legislative organs of the state, the National People's Congress and its Standing Committee are irreplaceable in the endeavor to advance the rule of law. As we build the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, we must ensure that legislation comes first, that it provides guidance and impetus, and that it is well-conceived, democratic, and compliant with the provisions of law. This will ensure we have legal guarantees for implementing the new development philosophy, creating a new development dynamic, and achieving high-quality development.
We must strengthen and improve oversight to ensure it is carried out correctly and effectively.
As the ancient saying goes, "When the law is well-enforced, the country will be well-governed; when law enforcement is lax, the country will fall into chaos." People's congresses at all levels and their standing committees must assume the oversight responsibilities entrusted to them by the Constitution and the law and safeguard the authority of the Constitution and the unity and dignity of our country's legal system. It is imperative that we strengthen oversight of the State Council, the National Commission of Supervision, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate to see that these agencies exercise their respective powers in accordance with the law, that the Constitution, the law, and administrative regulations are observed and enforced, and that the legitimate rights and interests of citizens, legal persons, and other organizations are effectively protected.
The history of the system of people's congresses has been the history of our Party leading the people in establishing a socialist democratic system with Chinese characteristics and in working tirelessly to ensure that the people run the country. At the historic meeting point of the Two Centenary Goals, the system of people's congresses will continue to show its vitality in the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. We will follow the new requirements for developing socialist democracy in the new era, steadfastly uphold the system of people's congresses, and improve this system in step with the times to provide a more effective institutional guarantee for building a modern socialist country in all respects.
Xin Chunying is Deputy Secretary-General of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 23, 2021)