In a meeting held on October 13 – 14, 2021 in Beijing, President Xi Jinping of China mentioned for the first time the term ‘whole-process people’s democracy’, a term he coined in November 2019 during his visit to Shanghai.
Democracy is a common value of humanity and an important idea that the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese people have always adhered to.
This new democracy concept is what the government of China believes will work best for its country and is different from the Western definition of democracy. For you to better understand if this will succeed, it is best to unpack what it really entails;
The concept is divided into two parts conjoined; the ‘whole-process’ and ‘people’s democracy’. The first part emphasizes involving citizens in the whole process of decision-making and governance. President Xi says China’s democracy should be different from the West where citizens are not fully involved in decision making.
People’s democracy, which is the second part, puts people at the centre of decision-making. It requires people to be served whole-heartedly by state officials and institutions and establish ways that people can use to air their opinions, be heard, and answered to.
Democracy is the government of the people for the people and by the people. Theoretically, the concept could be seen as an innovative method of fully practicing democracy by exploiting the advantages of whole-process democracy.
It wants citizens to be fully involved in the decision-making process hence we have institutions like the parliaments for representatives of citizens from different parts of the country for their needs to be discussed and decided on.
At times rules and regulations and “No” might be mistaken for lack of freedom, hence no democracy which is not right. You are free to do whatever you want as long as it is within the constitutional grounds and it does not threaten anyone.
The definition and application of democracy vary from country to country based on their beliefs, culture, and many other things.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan recently supported these ideas by saying there is no one-size-fits-all model for democracy, and that democracy depends on a different culture, norms, and political ideas.
She is not the only president who believes that as the late President Julius Nyerere defined democracy as “a bottle of Coca-Cola which you can import. Democracy should develop according to that particular country.”
To a certain extent, the concept sounds more political and with time it might be harder to adhere to.
Each country can practice democracy in a way they see fit as long as citizens feel served and happy. From China’s whole-process people’s democracy, the Tanzanian government can add a new way to hear straight from citizens and tackle their issues.
For instance, opening a call centre where citizens can call to report their issues and the centre distributes the received information to the respective sectors to tackle and come up with a way to get feedback from the citizens and send feedback to them as well.