Whole-process people’s democracy is key to Chinese modernization

BY ZHOU SHAOLAI | 03-09-2023
Chinese Social Sciences Today

“The unique worldview, values and outlooks on history, civilization, democracy and ecology in Chinese modernization and this great undertaking itself are a major theoretical and practical innovation in the modernization of the world,” said Chinese president Xi Jinping. 

The “whole-process people’s democracy” is a major concept innovation of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. It is the newest understanding of the democratic politics’ law of development, and a summary of experience drawn from the development history of socialist democracy. It is an action guide for contemporary China to make comprehensive progress towards socialist democracy. It is also a political guarantee of and democratic basis for the accomplishment of Chinese modernization in all respects. 

On its historic journey towards great rejuvenation, China has internalized whole-process people’s democracy as it modernizes itself. The concept is embodied in all of China’s great endeavors and in the comprehensive progress made towards modernization. 



Thanks to unrelenting efforts and continuous exploration by the Party and the people, the country has escaped the historical cycle of rise and fall as it treaded on its path toward democracy. The government will not become complacent only if it is under the supervision of the people. If everyone takes responsibility, a good system of governance will prevail. 

A socialist path to democracy is one that shall continuously improve as Chinese modernization continues. It is a democratic path that has always placed people in charge. Its latest practical summary and theoretical generalization is the major conceptual breakthrough in whole-process democracy. People’s democracy is the life of socialism, and it is the meaning of the comprehensive building of a modern socialist country.

Whole-process people’s democracy is the essential attribute of socialist democracy. It is the most extensive, authentic, and effective democracy. 

Since its founding day, the CPC has always held high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It has always adhered to its original aspiration and missions, i.e., national prosperity, national rejuvenation, and people’s well-being. The Party has made persistent efforts to strive for people’s freedom and democracy. 

In toppling the “three mountains” of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism, Chinese people cleared the institutional barriers to ensuring  people’s position as masters of their country. 

The great building of socialism has established a strong material and institutional basis for people to become masters of the country, while the great practice of reform and opening up has also increased the development potential for the endeavor. The comprehensive progress of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era has set a solid, practical foundation and historic opportunity for the proposal of whole-process people’s democracy, while pointing a new direction forward for the future development of Chinese democracy. 

Intrinsic composition

Chinese modernization is a comprehensive and naturally developing process. It is a modernization featuring a five-sphere integrated plan that promotes coordinated economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological advancement. The most fundamental tasks of political construction are to continuously develop socialist democracy, high-quality Chinese democracy, make sure that people are the masters of their country, and defending their democratic rights.

In the new historic period of Chinese modernization, we must organically combine the party’s leadership, the people’s position as masters of their country, and rule of law. While sticking to these fundamental principles, we must continue to boost whole-process people’s democracy, and make sure that people’s position as the country’s masters is specifically embodied in the party’s governance through policies and measures. 

The philosophy needs to be specifically and realistically embodied at all levels of work by the party and state organs, especially the work that concerns people’s pursuit of a better life. Thus, advancing whole-process people’s democracy and ensuring people’s position as masters of the country are intrinsic to the various endeavors of Chinese modernization. They also form the political foundation for ensuring that the endeavors are engaging and satisfying, and win people’s support.


People are the creators of history, hence they are the true historical subjects and the energy source of China’s thousands of years of achievements. The party came from the people; thus it’s rooted in the people. To maintain momentum for Chinese modernization, the country must unswervingly respect people’s position as historical subjects, pull together their wisdom and will, and engage their strength. It should also unblock the channels and improve the mechanisms for people to express opinions, while fully engage their initiative and creativity to participate in Chinese modernization. The reason why Chinese modernization can make remarkable historical achievements is that the Party has been leading the people while relying on, working for, and sharing the fruits of its achievements.

On top of deepening institutional and systematic reform, China has improved its democratic system, enriched its democratic forms, expanded channels for democracy, enhanced the institutional guarantee and improved the institutional system for people’s position as the masters of the country. 

In particular, China has continued to innovate its democratic systems and forms, ensured unblocked and multi-layered channels for democratic participation through enhancing the main channels’ democratic functions, i.e., the system of people’s congress. This is also achieved by developing wide, multi-layered, and institutional consultative democracy, as well as the institutional and work system of democratic autonomy at the grassroots level.

In the meantime, the country has also implemented democracy in all chains and all dimensions, deepened and widened people’s democracy in all sectors of life, and is continuously forming democratic political and social lifestyles. This is shown in many public affairs and decisions and embodied in various sectors and fields of democratic elections, consultations, decisions, management, and supervision.

China adheres to whole-process people’s democracy, firmly safeguarding people’s democratic rights in ruling the country, society, and life at the grassroots level. People’s initiative, enthusiasm, and creativity in Chinese modernization have been stimulated in an unprecedented manner. Their sense of being masters of the country has been carried forward, continuously injecting vitality in Chinese modernization.

Political foundation 

Whole-process people’s democracy is a new overview of Chinese democracy, a new path of Chinese democracy and a new form of Chinese political civilization. The integration of whole-process people’s democracy in the strategic layout of CPC governance and in all fields and tasks of national development and social undertakings provides a solid political foundation and political guarantee for the continuous progress of Chinese modernization. 

Furthermore, during the formulation and implementation of various guidelines and policies in the cause of Chinese modernization, the rights of the general public to be informed, to participate, to be heard and to oversee should be fully guaranteed and materialized in all aspects and throughout the whole process of political and social life in China. 

Whole-process people’s democracy, covering all aspects of the democratic process and all sectors of society should be implemented to ensure that the Party and the State can hear the voices of the people throughout decision-making process, execution, supervision and enforcement to fully realize the will and interests of the people and mobilize the creative vitality of people to participate in the modernization drive. This will provide a major force for Chinese modernization and sustain the all-around progress in the cause of Chinese modernization.

Whole-process people’s democracy paves a broad path and gives bright prospects for the development of socialist democracy in contemporary China, for governance by the people, and for active participation in the modernization drive. 

Under the strong and unified leadership of the CPC, guided by the comprehensive strategy of building a modern socialist country, deepening reform, advancing law-based governance and strengthening Party self-governance, the infinite motivation and creativity of the Chinese people, which can be stimulated by the full achievement of whole-process people’s democracy, will certainly drive the improvement and progress of Chinese modernization across the board. 

As the political civilization of whole-process people’s democracy and the human civilization of Chinese modernization soar together, with synergy between Chinese democracy and Chinese modernization, the cause of Chinese modernization will keep marching forward, and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will be fully advanced, which will contribute more Chinese wisdom to the development of human civilization and to the foundation of a human community with a shared future.

Zhou Shaolai is the deputy dean of the School of Government of University of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Edited by WENG RONG