China, A One-Party Success Story ?

By Tapiwa Machemedza


Beijing, China October 30, 2014 – Modern day political discourse espouses that a multi-political party system is the foundation or benchmark of a democratic society hence many countries across the globe have sunk hook, line and sinker to this school of thought.

The political party system is an important component of contemporary politics.

Given the Western indoctrination, which has spread in most parts of the world over the years, it is taboo to this date, to suggest a one political party system in many nations and Zimbabwe is no exception.

Political and governance systems in most developing countries globally have been influenced by relations with erstwhile colonisers.

According to the Western interpretation of democracy, the divergent social and political thinking inherent in humankind must be reflected in modern day society by setting up different political formations with the most popular being given the mandate to assume power.

However some political think-tanks argue that the kind of political party system to adopt in a country is determined by the national conditions and socio-economic development of that country.

The diversity of political party systems in different countries reflects the diversity of human civilizations.

One such country that has taken a different routes is Chin, the world’s second largest economy.

The political party system China adopted is multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, which is different from the two-party or multi-party competition systems of Western countries.

This system was established and has been developed during the long-term practice of the Chinese revolution, construction and reform. It is a basic political system that suits the conditions of China. It is a socialist political party system with Chinese characteristics, and a key component of China’s socialist democratic politics.

Borne in the four guiding principles of the People’s Republic of China’s constitution, only the Communist Party of China has the mandate to lead the people of China and ensure the country’s citizenry realize their aspirations as well as protect their national interests.

The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China states that the multi-party cooperation and political consultation system under the leadership of the Communist Party of China shall continue to exist and develop for a long time to come. Both the Communist Party of China and the democratic parties must take the Constitution as the basic norm of their conduct, and uphold the dignity of the Constitution and ensure its implementation.

With a population of 1.3 billion, the vast Asian nation has significantly managed to reduce poverty, leaving the absolutely poor population, surviving on an annual income of 785 Yuan (about USD131), from 250 million in 1978 to 14.8 million in 2007, a remarkable percentage decrease of 94 percent.

For the Chinese, the one political party system provided and still provides fertile ground for concerted political and socio-economic development, no wonder the country has risen to become the second biggest economy on the globe.

To them, this is a Chinese way of developing China!

Archaic and retrogressive as it might sound in the eyes and ears of many who have endeared themselves with the Western way of doing things, the one political party system has worked wonders for the Chinese.

Interestingly, there are eight ‘opposition parties’ in the People’s Republic of China but none of them harbours the ambition to take over power from the ruling Communist Party of China.

If anything, the role of the ‘opposition parties’ is to assist in the running of the country by providing an alternative voice and render good advice when and where necessary but never to compete for power.

The eight democratic parties are – Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang, China Democratic League, China National Democratic Construction Association, China Association for Promoting Democracy, Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party, China Zhi Gong Dang, Jiu San Society and Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League.

Of note, the ‘opposition political parties’ were formed well before the People’s Republic of China was born. In fact, they were formed during the war against Japan and they even supported the Communist Party of China in protecting the interest of the Chinese people.

The original founding fathers of these eight ‘opposition parties’ were allies of the Communist Party of China and they have one position that they all accept the leadership of the Communist Party of China hence would not compete for power.

With a complex unitary government structure that has room for multi party cooperation led by the Communist Party of China, the Asian state has six state organs – the National People’s Congress (NPC), the President, the State Council, the Supreme People’s Court, the Central Military Commission (CMC), Supreme People’s Procuratorate – which work hand in glove with the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) to provide space for ‘opposition political parties’ to be heard and participate in the day to day governance of the country but at the same time reserving political power for the Communist Party of China.

The CPPCC is an important institution of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. 

Based on the principle of long-term coexistence, mutual supervision, treating each other with sincerity and sharing each others’ weal and woe, the Communist Party of China and the eight democratic parties work hand in hand in developing socialism with Chinese characteristics, thus giving rise to the basic feature of multi-party cooperation system under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, with the Communist Party of China holding power and the other eight parties participating fully in state affairs.

The multi-party cooperation system shows unique political advantage and strong vitality, and plays an irreplaceable role in China’s political and social life.

In his presentation to 20 Zimbabwe media practitioners that include journalists and Information Ministry employees attending a media seminar at the Chinese Academy of Governance, Professor of Public Administration Department at the Chinesse Academy for Governance Professor Renyi Mei said history is awash with evidence that the multi-political party system breeds disharmony and disrupts developmental thrust.

“Ours is democracy to the people and dictatorship to the enemy. Since the formation of the Communist Party of China and the subsequent formation of the party’s armed forces in 1927 to wage an armed struggle against external and internal enemies, the Chinese people are in agreement that this is the only party that has the county’s hopes and aspirations at heart.

“China was a target of Japanese as well as Western aggression and the bitter experience led the people of China to feel that they need a party that could guarantee peace, development and prosperity.The experience of 1949 up to now has left the Chinese people with the opinion that the Communist Party of China is the only solution to their challenges,” he said.

Professor Mei said the formation of multiple political parties vying for power has led to endless squabbles in many countries at the expense of political, social and economic development.

“Other countries have adopted the Western model of an elective system. The one man one vote concept, as attractive as it seems, has led to endless upheavals in many countries. Many countries have plunged into needless chaos owing to the multi-party system. Internal strife is the order of the day in many countries where the multi-political party system has been adopted and as a result economic progression or development disappears,” he added.

However, Professor Mei was quick to suggest that the one political party system is not universal to all countries around the globe.

“You need to have the necessary soil in order for a particular plant to grow. An orange tree planted in the southern part of China can be uprooted and planted in the northern part with different results. Therefore, we are not saying the one political party system is the solution for each and every country in the world but it worked well for us as Chinese.

“In China we always say, it suits China. Whether other countries want to follow suit or not is for them to decide,” he said.

Indeed, whether it works for other nations, it is up for them to decide but for China the one political party system has been the bedrock for socio-economic development!


Tapiwa Machemedze a Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) journalist staffer writes in his personal capacity.