The annual session of two China’s key and top political institutions have just winded down after more than weeklong of vigorous and intense activities leading to strategic decisions that would consolidate China’s march to a new era.
National People’s Congress, top legislative body and the state supreme organ is the big assembly of China’s representative politics, fibre of her open political life and her acutely dynamic platform for creating and re-engineering state institutions.
It is not a gallery for political elite’s grandstanding or theatrics and is completely inaccessible to lobbyists and sundry political influence peddlers. It is neither penetrable nor capturable by special interest groups and does not engage in the pleasure-ride of western liberal parliamentary niceties such as filibustering, the act of speaking to no end but without any substantive value to proceedings.
Because China’s National People’s Congress eschews the conventional political drama of western democracy, the western media dubs it [rubber stamp, partly on account that its consensus-building framework reflects the country’s political process of multi-party consultations and cooperation.
While the rigours of decision-making in China’s consultative and Socialist democracy is not less pluralistic thereby letting all views to freely contend, it is, however, less dramatic, and devoid of theatricals and grandstanding. The National People’s Congress epitomizes the steady and stable flow of the China’s modern state, and in the current 13th session, NPC has demonstrated how it reads the political pulse of the Chinese people by taking measures to institutionalize the core consensus and values representing the latest achievements of the Chinese people and their vanguard political force, the Communist Party of China (CPC) in an open constitutional amendments, to reflect and underline China’s strategic transition to a new era. The political ramifications of these bold moves strategically reinforce the National People’s Congress as the critical and foremost conveyor belt of China’s open society and its representative State institution. With once in a year gathering, the NPC elects its working organ of the standing committees that engage in routine law-making, confirms through democratic elections key state leaders and undertakes reforms of state institutions for optimal performance and service to the Chinese people.
In its current session, the NPC undertook the vital re-structuring of the state council or the cabinet, re-jigging ministries and commissions with a view to reposition them in the wider context of deepening reforms and engaging them to the structural transformations of the economy and the strategic transition to a new era.
While the National People’s Congress is the Supreme structural and institutional expression of state authority, the Chinese People Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a top advisory body, is the boldest framework of China’s inclusive and consultative democracy. Built from the democratic consultations of the Chinese Communist Party in the years of revolutionary struggle in base areas, it captured and occupied, it was essentially a network of rudimentary administration in which the Party offered a platform of broad participation of all Chinese peoples despite party affiliations, ethnic background or religious belief. The practice gave the Chinese revolution a unique character of an inclusive revolutionary united front, eschewing sectarianism and puritanism, which with the benefit of hindsight hobbled most revolutionary communist parties and blighted them from constructing broad and inclusive socialist states.
The CPPCC was the first formal institution of Chinese modern state and actually offered the all-inclusive China platform for the founding of China’s modern state. Performing even legislative roles until 1954, when it gave effect to the National People’s Congress, NPC as top legislative body, the CPPCC has continued to play vital role in China’s political life, shaping and strengthening her consultative socialist democracy, forging national consensus on key issues by providing quality advisory inputs to strategic policy decision. Consisting of the representatives of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and non-Communist Parties, personages without party affiliations, representatives of peoples and popular organizations like trade unions, women groups, etc, ethnic minorities, Chinese from special administrative regions – Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan and even oversea Chinese in Diaspora and other various social strata, the CPPCC is a unique blend of Chinese revolutionary experience and contemporary modern political challenge of accommodation and inclusion of emerging forces and trends in China’s political life.
The CPPCC engages broadly in all key issues of China political life, gives effect to open market of ideas of its diverse actors and channel its top quality advisories to key state organs for effective policy outcomes. Serious and focused, it is no theater of absurdities. Almost the structural representation of the civic conscience of the Chinese people, its work outside the state and the party, however, complements and enriches the party and state in the never ending drive of reform and innovation, the twin engines of contemporary Chinese society.
As a non-state organ of political consultation and democratic cooperation, it has antennas for capturing the diverse Chinese political voices, which it articulates and aggregates as solid inputs to the state. As an all- encompassing platform, its roles in China’s transition to a new era is both pivotal and indispensable. Coalescing with the National People’s Congress (NPC), but never in conflict or competition with it, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), whose annual sitting is almost at the same time with NPC, constitute the “two Session” of China’s famous political season, are the elemental driver of the country’s political life. Coming this year after the successful convocation of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, last October in which far-reaching decisions were reinforced to complete the building of moderately prosperous society in the next four years, the “two session” of the NPC and the CPPCC offers the critical policy inputs and roadmap, for which the state must diligently follow to execute and actualize policies to the material improvements to the living conditions of the people, their cultural advancement and the course of social harmony.
The China’s “two session” is an important season in the country’s political life, a trend setter of its popular socialist democracy, and culmination of a vigorous grassroots democratic process, in which the Chinese people demonstrate unequivocally that they are the masters of their own country. The process on display in both the activities leading to the “two sessions” and the “two sessions” itself proper, are uniquely Chinese but also offers broad lessons in deepening substantive democracy that gives tangible reliefs to the existential needs of the people.
Africa, whose current democratic experience and parliamentary practice, are basically derived from western political value, can examine itself in the mirror, reach out to its historic fine tradition of consultation and inclusion in order to give true meaning to its democratic life and offer tangible relief to the peoples material, social and cultural needs.
Onunaiju, is director, Center for China Studies, Abuja.