Carrying his fellow villagers' hopes and expectations, Long Xianwen of the Miao ethnic group, headed to Beijing from his remote village in central China's Hunan Province in early March, to discuss social and economic development with Chinese leaders and the nearly 3,000 other deputies to China's national legislature.
As a deputy to the 14th National People's Congress (NPC), Long brought his proposal on supporting the development of deep integration of the tea tourism industry in Hunan's Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture.
What distinguishes Chinese democracy from the West's largely money politics and power-for-money deals is its essence — that the Chinese people are the masters of the country.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that whether a country is democratic depends on whether its people are truly the masters of the country; whether the people have the right to vote, and more importantly, the right to participate extensively.
The composition of deputies to people's congresses offers insight into why China's whole-process people's democracy ensures people's status as the country's masters.
Extensive and universal
In China, there are five levels of people's congresses – township, county, city, provincial and national levels. Till now, 2.77 million people have served as deputies to people's congresses at all levels nationwide.
Among them, those at county and township levels accounted for 95 percent of the total, who are elected directly by people in their districts. The upper three levels of deputies are elected by their lower-level deputies.
In the latest election, more than 2.6 million new deputies have been elected to people's congresses in townships and county-level regions, following the conclusion of local elections in last June.
According to statistics, 921 million voters, accounting for 86.49 percent of registered voters, cast their votes in the election of deputies to the county-level people's congress. Meanwhile, 623 million voters, accounting for 85.63 percent of registered voters, voted in the election of deputies to the township-level people's congresses.
Since the initiation of reform and opening-up, China has held 12 direct elections to people's congresses at the township level and 11 direct elections to those at the county level.
Making full use of their close connections with the people, these deputies diligently fulfill their duties by soliciting and submitting people's suggestions and advice through various forms and channels.
Full representatives of the people
The annual people's congresses are first held from the grassroots level, up at township, county, city, and provincial levels and then at the highest national level, to take full cognizance of the people's aspirations and report them to upper levels.
The deputies to the 14th NPC, elected from 35 electoral units across the country, make up a broad cross-section of people, with every region, ethnic group and sector of society having an appropriate number of representatives.
According to the 14th NPC Standing Committee, among the total 2,977 deputies, 442 are from ethnic minorities, representing all of China's 55 ethnic minority groups.
The lineup includes 790 female deputies, accounting for 26.54 percent of the total, up 1.64 percentage points from the 13th NPC.
A total of 497 deputies are workers and farmers. Their share has grown by nearly one percentage point to 16.69 percent of total deputies.
Technical personnel, altogether 634 in number, make up 21.3 percent of all deputies, with a 0.73-percentage-point increase from the previous NPC.
A total of 969 deputies are the Communist Party of China and government officials, whose share has dropped by 1.38 percentage points to 32.55 percent.
There are also 36 deputies elected from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and 12 from the Macao SAR. Thirteen deputies representing Taiwan Province also sit on the national legislature. Forty-two deputies represent overseas Chinese who have returned to the motherland.
Representing the people's will, the NPC deputies have discussed plans for national development and issues affecting people's lives, and put the people's expectations at the top of the agenda on state matters. Many of their motions and proposals have been carefully reviewed at the annual NPC session and then included into policy decisions of state organs.
(Cover: Deputies to the 14th NPC leave the Great Hall of the People after the closing meeting of the first session of the 14th NPC in Beijing, capital of China, March 13, 2023. /Xinhua)