How does China practice whole-process people's democracy at grassroots?

2024-03-05 14:47:16 , Source : CGTN

Sheng Hong (4th R), an NPC deputy and Party chief of a residential community in the Hongqiao subdistrict, listens to comments and suggestions of a draft revision to the Charity Law at a civic center in east China's Shanghai, February 7, 2023. /Xinhua

Since a legislative outreach office was set up in Shanghai's Hongqiao subdistrict by the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) in 2015, residents from all walks of life, from high schoolers to retired pensioners, have been getting involved in China's lawmaking process.

Through this office, the opinions of local residents gathered by legislators were relayed to higher levels and taken into consideration during the legislation process.

"The office acts as a direct link between ordinary people and China's top legislature," said Sheng Hong, an NPC deputy and Party chief of a residential community in the Hongqiao subdistrict.

By the end of 2023, Hongqiao's legislative outreach office has completed the collection of opinions on 87 draft laws, and summarized and reported 2,747 opinions and suggestions of various types, 247 of which were adopted by the NPC.

The Shanghai neighborhood has come to epitomize the country's whole-process democracy following a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping in November 2019, when he coined the term for the first time.

"We're marching on a political development road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and our people's democracy is a whole-process democracy," Xi said during a consultation meeting at the Gubei civic center.

The legislative outreach office in Shanghai's Hongqiao subdistrict holds a meeting to solicit opinions from the public, Shanghai, November 26, 2021. /Xinhua

Grassroots voices heard

In July 2015, the commission approved the establishment of four local legislative outreach offices in Shanghai's Hongqiao subdistrict, Jingdezhen in east China's Jiangxi Province, Xiangyang in central China's Hubei Province, and Lintao in northwest China's Gansu Province.

Since then, a new form of democratic legislation in which the people directly participate in national legislation, has emerged.

Take Lintao as an example. Its legislative outreach office has established 43 legislative contact stations, 100 information collection stations, 104 legislative outreach officers, and legal practice bases such as Lanzhou University, bringing national democratic legislation into villages, communities, enterprises, institutions, and social organizations.

So far, 32 local legislative outreach offices have been established by the commission, covering 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities in China.

As a bridge between the public and the top legislature, local legislative outreach offices bear fruitful results. Since 2015, the commission has solicited more than 22,000 opinions and suggestions from the public on 172 draft laws and legislative plans through legislative outreach offices, and more than 3,100 of them have been incorporated into legislative studies.

Of the 299 laws currently in force in China, 142 of them have solicited opinions from legislative outreach offices.

A polling station at a local community in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, May 9, 2021. /CFP

Democratic practices

There are more than 2.77 million deputies to people's congresses at all levels, including 2.62 million deputies at the county and township levels, and they play an important role in the grassroots governance system.

After learning that the elderly there were having difficulties using the toilet in the small garden square in Zhongxian County, southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, Fan Rong and Luo Fengying, both deputies to the people's congress of Zhongxian, collected opinions from the residents and reported the situation to relevant departments. 

Thus, the proposal to build public toilets was included in the list of important and difficult issues, and the plan of the county's urban management bureau.

Under the supervision of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of Zhongxian County, a set of fully equipped smart waterless public toilets was put into use in the square, providing a better environment for residents and improving their living standards.

This is an example of Chongqing's efforts to promote the role of deputies to the people's congresses and advance the building of whole-process people's democracy.

In 2023, members of the Standing Committee of Chongqing Municipal People's Congress contacted deputies to the people's congresses at various levels a total of 2,978 times, proposing more than 6,700 opinions and suggestions, and assisting in solving nearly 900 problems reported by the people.

In China, the establishments of stations of deputies to the people's congresses and deputies' feedback day offer important platforms for them to get in touch with the people and effectively help solve their urgent, difficult and anxious problems.

Residents participated in all kinds of matters from the making of national laws to community affairs like installing new elevators and solving parking problems. "This is what we call 'whole-process people's democracy,' which has become an inseparable part of people's everyday life," said Zhu Guoping, a 66-year-old resident of downtown Shanghai.