|Promoting True Democracy for a Better Future of Humankind|
Your Excellency Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi,
It gives me great pleasure to join you at the Bali Democracy Forum. I have visited Indonesia many times. I have been to Bali as well. Its unique landscape and culture have left me with many fond memories. I still recall a local flower, rafflesia. It is the world’s largest blossom, and can only grow in the tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia. Just as plants are unique to the land they grow on, democracy, as a major fruit of human progress, is also rooted and nurtured in the history, culture, ethnic traditions and social environment of the countries concerned.
The theme of today’s Forum, “Democracy for Humanity”, highlights the essence of democracy. Our forefathers’ tireless pursuit of democracy over thousands of years of human history has been aimed to, all in all, find better systems and political structures so that humanity could be free from war, hunger and poverty, live happy lives, and enjoy equity and justice. And we are carrying on their pursuit even today.
As we meet, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage our societies, and the international landscape is undergoing major changes unseen in a century. At such a critical historical juncture, how to properly perceive, practice, improve and develop democracy so as to tackle challenges more effectively and promote world peace, stability and prosperity is indeed a “question of the century”, a question that bears on the future of humankind.
There are different approaches and attitudes toward this question. Some regard Western democracy as the only correct answer. They seek to forcibly transplant and impose it onto the whole world. Some attempt to take one country’s model as the criterion, provoking tension between different political systems and ideologies and creating division and confrontation in the world. Undoubtedly, none of these is true democracy, but fake democracy using democracy as a cover.
Then what is true democracy? What should be the standards of democracy? President Xi Jinping underscored that democracy is a common value of humanity. Democracy is not a special right reserved to a certain country, but a right for the people of all countries. The key criterion for whether a country is democratic or not is whether its people are truly the masters of their own fate.
Over the years, the United States and certain Western countries have been labeling China and other developing countries as non-democratic. What is behind this is the arrogance and bias of the West against other civilizations. Since its founding, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has been upholding the banner of democracy, setting as its goals to found a New China where the people are the masters of their own fate, and taking as its obligation to realize true and effective democracy in China. Through a century of exploration and experimentation, the CPC has led the Chinese people in finding a new form of democracy that suits China’s national conditions, one that President Xi Jinping described as the whole-process people’s democracy.
The whole-process people’s democracy centers on the interests of the people. President Xi Jinping pointed out that democracy is not an ornament used for decorative purposes. Rather, democracy is about solving issues for the people.Based on this belief, we have integrated all the links of democracy, including democratic election, democratic consultation, democratic decision-making, democratic management, and democratic oversight. By so doing, we are able to prevent the problem that the people are given numerous promises during elections but are ignored entirely after elections. We are able to ensure that the Chinese people can voice their concerns effectively and thoroughly in every step of the way. They can participate in state political affairs. From something as small as everyday needs to something as big as national reform and development, the Chinese people’s wills are reflected to the fullest extent.
China’s whole-process people’s democracy features a full set of institutional procedures and full participation and practice by the people. We seek to bring out the best of both election democracy and consultative democracy. And we move to integrate all elements of democracy— process and outcome, procedural and substantive, direct and indirect. Our democracy has distinctive Chinese characteristics, and at the same time, it has also enriched humanity’s political civilization.
As an ancient Chinese saying goes, “people can reach the same destination viamultiple paths, and achieve the same goal through different means.” Countries have different ways to achieve democracy. There is no single correct form of democracy for others to worship, and no democracy is superior to others. We have full confidence in our democracy, and we also fully respect other countries’ democracy. We will not export our democracy. We are ready to have dialogue and exchangeswith others on an equal footing, learn from other civilizations, and provide useful experience to other countries as well.
Democracy is not only a way of domestic governance, but also a principle in global governance.
President Xi Jinping pointed out that world affairs should be managed through consultation by governments and peoples of all countries. This is the democratic principle in handling international affairs. The world today faces a combination of changes and turmoil, and problems emerge here and there. A deep-seated cause is that the democratic principle in international relations has not been upheld and observed by all. Therefore, we need to vigorously advocate the spirit of democracy in state-to-state interactions, promote the correct approachessuch as respect for sovereignty, equal-footed consultation, solidarity and cooperation, and make unremitting efforts for greater democracy in international relations.
We need to respect national sovereignty and defend the basic norms of international relations.The preaching of“human rights superseding sovereignty” and willful democratic transformation of other countries did not bring about stability or prosperity. They put countries into chaos and rubble, displaced their people, and caused many refugee crises. We must learn a lesson, resolutely uphold the central role of the United Nations, defend the authority of the UN Charter, and oppose acts that undermine sovereignty or interfere in the internal affairs of other countries under the pretext of democracy or human rights.
We need to advocate consultation on an equal footing and promote democratic concepts with Asian features. Asia, with a time-honored history, has the tradition of embracing diversity, and cultivated the democratic culture of consultation. Sixty-six years ago, Asian, African and Latin American countries gathered in Indonesia for the renowned Bandung Conference. All parties conducted consultation as equals, sought common ground while shelving differences, and made a call of justice for global democratic governance. ASEAN has successfully practiced consultation-based democracy. In China’s interactions with ASEAN, we always uphold the principle of addressing issues through amicable consultations, setting a fine example of joint consultation and contribution for shared benefits. We should actively advocate consultation as equals and make it an important part of more democratic international relations.
We need to uphold solidarity and cooperation and jointly tackle global challenges. COVID-19, extreme weather, terrorism, heightened inflation and supply chain crisis show that humanity is a community with a shared future and common interests. However, a certain country still views the world of the 21st century with the already obsolete Cold War mentality. It is keen to form small groups and circles in the name of democracy. This in fact tramples on the spirit of democracy, and is turning back the wheel of human history. In this globalized era, democratic governance is by no means creating a small yard with high fences, decoupling or cutting off supply chains. Nor is it pursuing protectionism or confrontation through alliance. Rather, democratic governance should be upholding free trade, strengthening connectivity, seeking mutual benefit and win-win results, and making globalization fairer, more equitable, and beneficial to all.
As the tide of the times forges ahead and human civilization advances, the true meaning and value of democracy will ultimately prevail and continue to be enriched. While China further develops and refines democracy at home, it will firmly uphold principles for more democratic international relations, and remain a builder of world peace, contributor to global development and defender of the international order. China advocates true democratic spirit and will, together with countries around the world, create a better future for humanity.