Commentary RESEARCH

An alternative model for human advancement


2023-03-20 12:00


The recently concluded First Session of the 14th National People's Congress, China's top legislature, and the First Session of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body, offered a window into China's model of democracy. Ong Tee Keat, Chairman of the Center for New Inclusive Asia in Malaysia, shared his observations of the most important annual political meetings in China with Beijing Review reporter Ma Miaomiao. Edited excerpts from the interview follow: 

Beijing Review: How do you see China's whole-process people's democracy?

Ong Tee Keat: Whole-process people's democracy provides a distinctive alternative to Western liberal democracy. While China's modernization has proven it's not synonymous to Westernization, whole-process people's democracy, too, is another testament to the plurality of democratic models.

Western democracy has been hyping up its multiparty electoral institutions with its inherent check-and-balance functionality. The norm of "majority rule" may no doubt allow certain latitude for dissent, but the end result of its decision making is "winner takes all" regardless of the margin of majority. In contrast, the element of consultation dedicated to accommodating minority views in the practice of Chinese democracy is undoubtedly more inclusive in its outlook.

On top of that, the people-centric element in whole-process people's democracy is not just confined to the electioneering process. People's involvement and participation in policy formulation and delivery remain rife through consultation. This starkly contrasts the limited role of electorates after elections in the case of Western democracy.

What's your take on the phrase "a Chinese path to modernization"? What global implications might this concept bear?

A Chinese path to modernization is an endeavor bearing far-reaching global implications as it provides a new, alternative model for human advancement, in addition to dispelling the longstanding myth that modernization is Westernization.

The endeavor is envisaged to realize the ideals of China's various initiatives dedicated to:

● making the world more equitable in wealth and resource distribution through the propagation of Global Development Initiative (GDI) and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) implementation as a case in point,

● making the world greener and more bio-diverse through sharp reduction of carbon emissions per unit of GDP, and

● making the world more peaceful through the roll-out of the Global Security Initiative (GSI).

We are living in a world rife with challenges. What's your take on China's commitment to working with the international community to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development and uphold the international order?

China remains firmly committed to preserving world peace through the GSI, with a concept paper on the initiative released in February. At the same time, the GDI President Xi Jinping proposed formally to the international community at the General Debate of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in 2021 is gaining traction with more nation states joining the Group of Friends of the GDI.

Against the prevailing backdrop of sagging international cooperation, China's pledge and action in

upholding the existing international order centered on the UN Charter is no doubt a boost to the authority of the world body. Parallel to this, China's active participation in the various UN agencies and global endeavors is in itself the best response to debunk the disinformation aimed at portraying China as the perpetrator who intends to change the world order.

The BRI, GDI and GSI are the frameworks China has proposed over the past decade to enhance international cooperation and achieve common development. What role can they play in addressing obstacles to global development?

The BRI, GDI and GSI constitute the public goods China has offered to the international community in its bid to help address the pressing concerns confronting the world.

The BRI is promoting physical and human connectivity through symbiotic and egalitarian collaboration, thus empowering small and weak economies to gain access to global supply chains and global markets.

The GDI provides a framework for sustainable development through international cooperation. It serves as a driver dedicated to realizing the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The GSI underlines the principle of indivisible security and advocates a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture for the world amid escalating geopolitical tensions and conflicts. The initiative states that no country can strengthen its own security at the expense of others. This global security model of mutual respect, openness and integration clearly manifests China's commitment to preserving world peace through global solidarity. It starkly contrasts the relentless efforts of certain major powers in promoting security pacts in the name of security interests.

In addition, the GSI also provides a useful platform for international cooperation in addressing non-conventional security concerns, such as human trafficking, illicit drugs, terrorism and climate change.

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson 

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2023-03-28 09:57
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