Deliberating on a draft amendment to China's Legislation Law during the National People's Congress (NPC) session, Sheng Hong, an NPC deputy and Party chief of a residential community in Shanghai's Hongqiao subdistrict, noticed that some suggestions put forward by her community's residents had been included.
Last November, at the legislative outreach office set up in Hongqiao by the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, a total of 45 suggestions regarding the draft amendment to the Legislation Law were collected through seminars and online opinion solicitation, and directly delivered to the commission, according to Sheng.
This offers a glimpse into how Chinese citizens' voices are heard and how they are engaged in the country's whole-process people's democracy.
In 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited a residential community's civic center in Shanghai at a time when a consultation meeting on the draft law was being held. He told residents attending the meeting that China's people's democracy is a type of whole-process democracy.
Legislation on doorstep
"The legislative outreach office acts as a direct link between ordinary people and China's top legislature," said Sheng.
The Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee has set up 32 legislative outreach offices, covering all provincial-level regions on the Chinese mainland so that more people can take part in drafting, reviewing, debating and implementing national laws.
The top legislature's move has also inspired standing committees of provincial and municipal people's congresses to establish more than 5,500 legislative outreach offices of their own.
"China is on the path of socialist political advancement with Chinese characteristics, where all major legislative decisions are made after going through procedures and democratic deliberations to make sure the decision-making is sound and democratic," President Xi said.
Governance by public will
To evaluate whether a country's political system is democratic and efficient or not, President Xi said one should observe whether all the people can manage state and social affairs, economic and cultural undertakings are in conformity with legal provisions, the public can express their requirements without hindrance, and all sectors can efficiently participate in the country's political affairs.
Ding Xiangyun, 87, lives in an old building in Shanghai. Her life has become much easier since an elevator was installed in her building last year.
In recent years, Shanghai authorities have been installing elevators in old communities to help senior residents. Project details are announced in advance in each community. But not everyone necessarily supports it.
Shanghai authorities came up with the "three-meeting" system to reach decisions in residential neighborhoods, which serves as an example of whole-process people's democracy at the grassroots.
The meetings, focused on hearings, coordination and deliberation, gather neighborhood residents for discussions on issues related to community construction. The practice, promoted citywide, allows subdistrict authorities to make local decisions.
There is a consultation room in Hengbei Village of Yancheng City, east China's Jiangsu Province, where people can discuss issues, such as improving the village's living environment and making villagers richer by developing local industries, with local political advisors.
During the latest meeting of the village's consultation council, village locals sat down with members of the city and district committees of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) to discuss enriching rural cultural life.
In Yancheng, political advisors at all levels are mobilized to join 2,693 consultation councils like that of Hengbei. Each political advisor is expected to visit and contact at least 30 locals every year, participate in at least two consultations, and undertake one practical task for residents.
These are practices showing how CPPCC members perform their duties at the grassroots levels.
In his report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Xi vowed to give play to the CPPCC's role as a specialized consultative body, and to see that it coordinates efforts to promote democracy and unity while making proposals on state affairs and building consensus.
(Cover: A meeting is held to solicit opinions on a draft of the revised Anti-monopoly Law at a local legislative outreach office in Hongqiao subdistrict, Shanghai, November 18, 2021. /Qiushi Journal)