A letter in reply to the questions about Chinese democracy and the undeniable bonds between CPC and our people
Published: Feb 23, 2023 11:48 AM
Delegates pose outside the Great Hall of the People after the closing session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing, China March 10, 2022.Photo: IC

Delegates pose outside the Great Hall of the People after the closing session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing, China March 10, 2022.Photo: IC

Dear Matthew and Sophia,
I am so glad to hear from you. Three difficult years have passed since you departed on that beauteous summer. I heard you have already embarked on a brand-new journey in university. Congratulations! It's so momentous a leap for us Chinese students, and I guess it also means a lot for you in America. Indeed, our nations have many things in common, as we both believe in the value of family bonds, patriotism, and so forth. However, in recent years, our countries have become unprecedentedly distanced. Against such a backdrop, it is reasonable that you have posed all those questions in your letter, and I'm more than willing to offer you my perspective. Let's chat like we used to do during the summer camp, where we met as campers and TA without finger-pointing.
Matthew asked how China can deem it democratic when its people are not endowed with the right to vote for their leader.
To start with, Matthew, we do vote for our leader. It may puzzle you as we don't vote in the same way as you do. In China, we do not vote directly for the president; instead, we first select National People’s Congress (NPC) deputies (similar to the members of your congress but not the same), and the deputies will vote, on behalf of the people, for our president. (A little bit like your Electoral College system)
However, although I'm proving that we also vote, I want to stress more: Maybe we should not define democracy so narrowly. Perhaps it's time for us to get rid of the obsolete dogma and see that the core of democracy should be the actualization of human dignity, instead of focusing on the tool of the vote alone.
What we Chinese uphold is the whole-process people's democracy. For instance, not only in the presidential election, but Chinese people are also fully involved in legislation. In October, an amendment to the Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women was adopted after learning from an avalanche of suggestions. You could see heated discussions at every corner of the Internet during the proposal period. And not only that, we have communities functioning as fundamental self-governance units and political consultative conference that equips our government with know-how from the people with professional skills… Vote matters, but it's not everything.
Sophia asked why we Chinese people do not understand the value of freedom and are always willing to abide by so many rules.
You might have heard of this — "Oh liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name" — uttered by Madame Roland before placing her head on the guillotine, which neatly manifests the dichotomy of liberty or freedom.
And you might have guessed what I will draw upon as an example — the guns. China has a ban on guns and deems them a threat to social stability and people's lives, while American people regard guns as insurance for their freedom and safety. I pay respect to the ideal of the US founding fathers despite our diametrically opposed ideas on this issue. Their ideal was, to be honest, marvelous but, at the same time, unrealistic. That's understandable, as they can't foresee the extremely speedy evolution of guns and the deterioration of social ethics.
Rules shield our freedom. Please tell me, how can people enjoy freedom when their lives have been brought to a sudden end? Matthew, Sophia, whenever I saw the news about gun violence in New York, your city, I would worry about you. How I wish that we could continue writing to each other even when our skin wrinkles. To make that come true, it may be time to find a way to renew people's perception of freedom.
You asked this question together: "Why do we Chinese support, to quote you, the communist authoritarian government so dearly?"
You proposed the last question together since you thought it was harsh and may "annoy" me, I guess. NOT AT ALL! Anyone from China can tell you how strong the bonds between our Party and the people are. No kidding.
Frankly speaking, we don't deem it fair to label the Chinese government as “authoritarian.” The true tyrannical dynasty, in which people were exploited by the "civilized" noblemen and "charitable" landlords, was exactly overthrown by the people led by the Communist Party of China (CPC). For the first time, we, the people, can master our destiny and country.
Matthew, do you remember that you spilled a whole bottle of coke over your bed and slept together with Thomas the first night on our campus? There’s also a true story about quilt-sharing in the CPC history.
During the Long March, three female Red Army soldiers slept with Xu, a destitute local villager, in her hut. Seeing that Xu's quilt was too thin to keep a person warm, the soldiers cut off half of the only quilt they owned and gave it to Xu when leaving. That’s only one epitome of the bonds between the CPC and the Chinese people. Now, the answer is obvious — How can our people begrudge supporting and backing the Party that was born out of themselves and would always be ready to share half of its quilt even though it owns only one?
At the end of the letter, I’d like to quote a poem by Robert Frost, my favorite poet, and recompose some details of it:
Some say the world will end in fire
Some say in ice
From what I've known about wars
I hold with those who favor fire
But if it had to perish twice
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
is also great
And would suffice
Some people worry about a throat-cutting hot war between China and the US, which will absolutely lead to calamity and ruin. However, in my perspective, it is the looming danger of skyrocketing hate and misconception between the two nations that deserves more attention now. Just like we should not ignore the destructive power of ice in the poem, we should not ignore the potentially damaging nature of hate and misconception, which are the breeding ground of all evil. 
Please feel free to contact me if you have more delightful anecdotes to share or questions to ask.
The author is an observer on international affairs. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn