BEIJING, Dec. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — An interview with reporter Sun Wanlu from China.org.cn on China’s democracy:
Didn’t expect that I’d have to talk about democracy, such a big and abstract and complicated topic, again, so soon. But what choice do I have, given that democracy has once again become a popular topic among western media.
After the last “democracy” episode, a Facebook user commented: “China has democracy. What a joke.” Well, I’m sorry that I wasn’t joking, but having been in this industry for some time, part of me also understands where that comes from. So, without further ado, let me talk more about this with you.
The word “democracy” is actually a combination of two ancient Greek words: “demos,” which means citizens, and “krats,” which means power or rule. The gist of it is “the power of a country should belong to its people.” But later, some western political economists proposed that, it’s unrealistic to let the common people rule, and “there is no uniquely determined common good that all people could agree on by rational argument.” Instead, they proposed, wise people should wield power. So, there should be some kind of “institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people’s vote.” As such, the theory of “electoral democracy” was invented.
I agree that competitive election is one means of realizing democracy, but we must not forget that the original purpose of democracy is to “let people rule,” or to say, giving people the right to decide. The purpose is not, or at least not limited to “giving people an opportunity to choose who to decide,” right? If regard the process as the sole criteria for defining democracy, or “the end of history,” I think that’s neither free, nor democratic.
All roads lead to Rome…and realizing democracy too. Here, I’d like to share with you a story.
You know, in China, drafting a law requires a lengthy process of consultation, during which the general public can offer suggestions and opinions on the proposed legislation. For example, last year, China formulated a law against food waste. After the draft was deliberated on by the National People’s Congress, local grassroot officials convened a seminar dedicated to food serving industries in Yiwu, yeah, the place where two-thirds of the world’s Christmas supplies come from. Restaurant owners, food providers, customers as well as other stakeholders attended the seminar.
A customer said, the expiration dates on packed food are printed on all kinds of different places on wrappings, which is usually really hard to spot. A school manager happened to have been on this problem for quite long, and he/she also gathered relevant suggestions. Later, “displaying food expiration dates in a user-friendly way” was included in China’s law against food waste.
Voting to elect representatives directly or indirectly, and carry out exhaustive consultations before and during decision-making processes — aren’t these making sure that democracy is upheld and practiced?
As an ordinary citizen, democracy to me means the right to participate in politics effectively. I care about my right to vote, and I also care about how the representatives I elect carry out people’s will, whether the policies are responsive to our needs, and whether institutions are bringing justice to society, and happiness to people.
Of course, there is always room to improve on democracy. But I believe that each country has their own characteristics, and they will choose political systems that work best for them accordingly. Likewise, democracy can be delivered in various forms, and there’s more than one way to achieve it. Let’s just be more inclusive and open-minded.
What do we mean when we talk about democracy?
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