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Multiparty cooperation a panacea to woes of West

By ZHANG YI | China Daily | Updated: 2022-03-07 06:57
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Like a woodpecker searching for bugs, environmental law expert Lyu Zhongmei has been poring over piles of documents provided by authorities in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River to address their problems in protecting the river basin.

Lyu, a member of the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party, one of the eight non-Communist parties in China, has been promoting legislation to protect the country's "mother river" for many years.

When the Yangtze River Protection Law, China's first watershed law, came into force on March 1 last year, Lyu, a major promoter of the legislation, rejoiced that her ideas had become law.

"As a non-Communist party member, I have many political platforms to participate in the country's policies and decision-making," said Lyu, who is attending the fifth session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body, in Beijing.

Born and raised in Hubei province's Jingzhou, a city on the north bank of the Yangtze River, Lyu has a deep attachment to the river. Since the late 1990s, she has submitted reports and suggestions on Yangtze legislation through various platforms.

She says the legislation is like her own child as much of its content is based on investigations and research reports done by her and members of her party. These reports were submitted through a "fast channel", a system designed for non-Communist parties' central committees to give opinions and advice to the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the Party's central decision-making body, and be given a response within 24 hours.

Lyu, 59, also head of the China Law Society's environmental resources research, has participated in the development of other legislation through this channel, including writing the green principle into the Chinese Civil Code, which aims to improve environmental protection, and the 2014 amendment to the Environmental Protection Law.

"If I were just a legal expert and not a political party member, I wouldn't have such a channel to speak to the CPC leadership directly. Such consultation is party-to-party political dialogue, which is equal," she said.

The system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC is a basic element of China's political framework. On many occasions over the years, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has called for efforts to uphold and improve the system.

On March 4, 2018, while having discussions with national political advisers from some non-Communist parties, Xi encouraged them to take an active role in giving advice and reaching more consensus.

On Jan 29, at a gathering with leaders of the non-Communist parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, as well as prominent figures without party affiliations, Xi said the past year has seen fruitful results in multiparty cooperation.

"Practices have proved that you are good advisers, helpers and colleagues of the CPC," Xi said to them during the meeting.

A law graduate of Peking University, Lyu was recruited to join her party in 1991 when she was teaching at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.

Over the years, Lyu says, the most common question she gets asked is why her party is called the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party when its members are neither workers nor farmers.

The answer dates back to August 1930. The left-wing Nationalist Deng Yanda initiated the establishment of the forerunner of the party in Shanghai. It was established on the basis of defending the democratic rights of China's peasants and workers. "The initial aspiration of our party was to realize socialism, and experience has shown it can only be achieved by following the CPC," Lyu said.

On April 30, 1948, the CPC made a call for non-Communist parties to convene a political consultative conference to build the New China together, while the country was in the midst of a liberation war. The Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party expressed its support for the "May 1 Slogans".

Members of various parties gathered in Beijing in September 1949 to hold the first national meeting of the CPPCC, and to prepare for the founding of the People's Republic of China. Issues such as deciding the location of the capital, the national flag and the national anthem were discussed.

"The forming of such a close cooperative relationship is not a historical coincidence, but the democratic 'gene' of China's political path," Lyu said.

Over the decades, the eight non-CPC political parties have made important contributions to China's revolution, development and reform.

"Members of the parties are patriotic and willing to devote themselves to the country," Lyu said. "They are intellectuals, who have certain achievements in their own professional fields, who are capable of putting forward valuable suggestions for the country."

Today, each party has its own specialists. For example, the vast number of Lyu's party are from the sectors of healthcare, population, resources and ecological protection.

"Politically, we accept the lead of the CPC. We stand, think and work together with the CPC. With our wisdom and strength, we strive for a strong and beautiful socialist country together," she said.

This closeness and unity between the CPC and other political parties continue to this day. The general secretary of the CPC Central Committee presides over several meetings each year to personally hear opinions from leaders of the non-Communist parties on major issues.

Consultation, supervision

Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, the CPC leadership has issued regulations to improve the channels and procedures for the non-Communist parties' involvement in political consultations.

The CPC Central Committee has organized or entrusted relevant departments to organize more than 170 consultative forums with other parties and non-affiliates, and solicited their opinions on important matters such as CPC Central Committee reports, according to a white paper on China's democracy released by the State Council Information Office in December.

The CPC has called for their advice on amendments to the Constitution, the drafting of medium and long-term plans for economic and social development, candidates for positions as leaders of the State, to ensure more informed and democratic decision-making on major issues, the white paper said.

Other parties' central committees, together with non-affiliates, have conducted in-depth field work and made more than 730 written proposals since 2012, many of which have become major State policies, it said.

Lai Ming, vice-chairman of the Jiu San Society, whose members are mainly from the science and technology fields, said making proposals is an important way for non-Communist parties to perform their functions.

Last year, the CPPCC National Committee listed 77 key proposals, with 31 coming from non-Communist parties, he said at a CPPCC meeting on the proposals last month.

His party has researched major issues in the fields of science and technology, employment, education, medical care and other concerns of the people.

"Quality is the lifeblood of a proposal," he said, adding that his party chooses about 75 proposals from a total of 300 each year.

Its members have made carbon peak and carbon neutrality a key research topic and will put forward proposals on the issues at this year's two sessions, he said.

Non-CPC political parties also play a role in the supervision of implementing major national decisions, a typical practice under China's multiparty cooperation system.

This differs from Western systems where there is little the public can do about whether the ruling party lives up to its campaign promises, Lyu said.

"In China, non-Communist parties and people can supervise the ruling party's policies, build consensus through consultation and promote the achievement of long-term goals," she said.

Through consultative democracy or democratic oversight, opinions, suggestions and criticisms can be expressed and discussed so more people can be involved in the decision-making process, she said.

"People have different ideas, but in the process of discussion and communication, we constantly seek common ground while reserving differences so as to find the suitable solution for the majority," she added.

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