OPINION / VIEWPOINT
China’s socialist system leads to public’s high expectations of good governance
Published: Jun 19, 2021 11:28 PM
good governance Photo:VCG

Photo:VCG


What difference does it make to us, the common people, that China is a socialist country? What would happen if China were now capitalist?

In my opinion, China's status as a socialist country brings some fundamental statutes to the operation of our society. The government must truly serve the people, which has also become the ruling tenet of the Communist Party of China. And the method of organizing society to keep it functioning must be truly conducive to the achievement of fairness and justice. The people have the right to carry out daily and comprehensive supervision of the implementation of these statutes and express their opinions through specific matters.

China has progressed very quickly over the years and has made outstanding achievements in the fight against the COVID-19. But there is always some dissatisfaction among the people because they feel that the government should do things better. When an unjust event occurs at the grassroots level of Chinese society, such as when an official rides roughshod over the people or when the use of power for personal gain is exposed, even though they are supposed to be local incidents, the public will immediately magnify the significance of these matters, emphasizing that our society simply cannot allow such a phenomenon to exist. Or it will give another example to warn against the universality of such phenomena. Public opinion does not turn a blind eye to any minor mistake because the statute of serving the people plays an ideological role, and it has shaped the public's value of judgment regarding various incidents at the grassroots level.

As we can see, from the US to the island of Taiwan, the responsibility of public rights after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic can be very limited indeed. If more people die, the public will have to bear it even if they don't want to. If there is some criticism, those in power can find all kinds of excuses to muddle through it. But not in the Chinese mainland, where the public simply does not allow the mass spread of the virus and a large number of deaths. And if the officials cannot stop outbreaks, they will be dismissed quickly.

China's construction of better livelihoods for its people has advanced rapidly in recent years, but the number of complaints about problems related to livelihoods has exceeded that of all other issues among public opinion. It's because the public believes the government has the responsibility to handle things better. China's economic level of development lags behind that of developed Western countries, but many people have used the well performed aspects of Western society as a benchmark to measure China's welfare. The socialist ideology has shaped Chinese people's high expectations for top-quality public services.  

Outside China, things like this have happened now and then: When some Chinese businesspeople are cheated or Chinese workers don't get the commission promised by local employers, they go to the Chinese embassy there to protest and demand the embassy to help solve their problems instead of asking the local governments or courts for a solution. This also reflects that Chinese people believe the government should provide all-round services. 

People often use big government to describe China's system. Some say since China has a big government, the government's obligations should match its power and the government should assume unlimited responsibilities. In fact, the logic is often the other way around. Big government is not the reason, but the result. Because China is a socialist country, the Chinese people have formed a cognition and belief that the government should serve the specific interests of the public, which, as a result, has continuously promoted the expansion of government functions.  

No society is perfect. China's social construction is often a result of complaints from public opinion and actions taken by the government and mainstream society. In general, it's fair to say China's socialist system has been people-centered and done its best to fasten the country's progress and apply relevant results to improve the well-being of its people. The Chinese public has strong expectations for the continuous improvement of social governance involving their own interests and believe public criticism and complaints should generate pressure. When problems and difficulties arise, the government needs to serve the people, and cannot shirk or evade responsibilities. This is not only a common protocol of the whole of Chinese society but also has gradually become a belief that supports the value of judgment on various things.

There are still plenty of problems in China, and plenty of things that do not meet the standards of fairness and justice. But the moral framework mentioned above has been firmly established to continue to provide momentum to Chinese society so that it will change for the better at all levels. China's public opinion has control mechanisms to prevent destructive disruptions, but it is also important to see that Chinese public opinion is one of the most effective in the world. In Western countries like the US, it seems that you can say anything but it is actually all in vain because public opinion can be ignored or even opposed by the authorities. In the case of China, even a single comment or post under an online official message can have an impact and bring about some kind of adjustment. Governments at all levels have a large number of channels to collect genuine opinions from the public, and the chances of reasonable opinions and demands being accepted are quite high.

This is a complex and imperfect China, with all kinds of dissatisfaction in public opinion. But when you look back over the years and decades as a unit, you often find that the country has progressed further, and a good, new trend has emerged in the area where the public used to have opinions. Because of this, my generation has experienced a life full of changes and different experiences. I anticipate and believe that even though many young people today feel the hardships of life under the pressure of starting a family and a career, their life will be intertwined with the ever-improving changes in the country in the future. When they have enough visibility to look back on their life and times, their sentiments will be highly similar to those of my generation. 

China has just completed the building of a moderately prosperous society, and the US is anxious because it sees the prospect of China becoming a developed society. I think the panic of the Americans can be seen as a mirror for the current young generation to foresee their collective future destiny.

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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