How China's democratic supervision system works

As a member of the national committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Professor Lan Minbo of the East China University of Science and Technology has submitted over 43 proposals to the advisory body over the past 15 years.

He has served on the CPPCC for three consecutive terms. In his political career, his proposals under China's democratic supervision system have led to the construction of a scientific research equipment-sharing system among universities, strengthened strict management of hazardous chemicals, and further deepened integration between industries and universities.

"Most of my proposals come from my daily work and observation," he said. "Whenever I find problems and come up with solutions, I write them down and record them."

In his office, a whiteboard near his desk is covered with all kinds of chemical formulas and bullet points in blue and red markers.

Prof. Lan works in his office, Shanghai, China, February 10, 2023. /Xinhua
Prof. Lan works in his office, Shanghai, China, February 10, 2023. /Xinhua

Prof. Lan works in his office, Shanghai, China, February 10, 2023. /Xinhua

A professor's democratic supervision experience

The professor of science and technology first noticed inefficiencies in the sharing of scientific research equipment among universities in 2012. At the time, national research showed that two-thirds of research equipment worth more than 400,000 yuan (about $57,000) was inefficiently used.

Lan reported the problem to the relevant departments and recommended that the government should issue new policies and increase investment to construct a sharing system to allow universities to share scientific research equipment and reduce the idleness rate.

The proposal received close attention from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Ministry of Education. The ministries, supported by the Finance Ministry, eventually set up a national sharing network for scientific research equipment.

Lan is one of more than 2,000 members of the national committee of the CPPCC who work along with tens of thousands of members of local committees in provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. Together, they participate in the discussions and the handling of state affairs and play a vital role in supervising the Communist Party of China (CPC), building maximum political consensus, improving the work of governments and boosting Chinese democracy.

The CPPCC is neither a state organ nor a social organization. It's a political consultation body under the leadership of the CPC, and an important part of democratic supervision. It can put forward proposals so that departments of government can act to solve problems, make suggestions and criticisms, conduct inspections, investigations and surveys, and participate in law-revision discussions, key meetings and other important activities organized by the CPC and the state.

How China's democratic supervision system works

China's democratic supervision system

China's democratic supervision system is varied and comprehensive.

Aside from the CPPCC, the vast supervision system also includes intra-Party self-supervision (CPC Discipline Inspection Committee), administrative supervision, judicial supervision, auditing supervision, fiscal and accounting supervision, statistical supervision, public oversight, media oversight, and supervision from people's congresses and supervisory commissions.

Under the system, the National People's Congress (NPC) supervises the implementation of the Constitution, laws and other major policies. The NPC and other local People's Congresses supervise the work of governments, supervisory commissions, courts and procuratorates, ensuring the proper exercise of their powers.

Administrative organs, based on law, can supervise each other, and the higher ones can supervise those at a lower level; supervisory commissions can monitor and inspect the political conduct, exercise of public power and moral integrity of officials; and the judicial and procuratorial organs can carry out supervision over the state power and initiate prosecutions against officials, which is the most powerful and compulsory supervisory mechanism in China.

Besides, the auditing department is responsible for auditing budgets, final accounts and other fiscal revenues and expenditures of the government; the financial department can draft laws and regulations on finance and accounting and supervise their implementation; and the statistical department can supervise all organizations and persons bearing statistical obligations, and prevent and punish statistical falsification.

How China's democratic supervision system works

In addition, citizens, legal persons and other organizations can also apply for administrative reviews or file administrative lawsuits against government actions, report to supervisory commissions and accuse public officials of failing to perform their duties and violating laws and ethical codes. The media can also give full play to its role, highlighting abuses of public power and derelictions of duty.

Under China's democratic supervision system, the government can hear the voices and wisdom of all sides and pool resources and strength for social and economic construction and development, which not only minimizes internal friction but enables the long-term implementation of national policies conducive to the country's stability.

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