Practicing the ‘mass line’ in the new era

By Zheng Bijian

China is the largest and fastest-growing developing country in the world thanks to the capable leadership of the Communist Party of China, which accords the highest value to and prioritizes the interests of the people. It is for this reason that the Party has been able to unite 1.4 billion people and lead China on a sustainable development path.
The Party is committed to fighting for the well-being of the Chinese people and realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. “Serving the people wholeheartedly” has been the fundamental purpose of the Party since its founding, more so since the founding of New China in 1949.
The commitment has its roots in the Party’s people-centered approach and the socialist democracy system, which includes the people’s congress system-China’s basic political system-consultative democracy system, regional ethnic autonomy system, and the community-level democracy system. These systems guarantee that in the People’s Republic all powers belong to the people. The commitment also comes from socialism with Chinese characteristics developed by the CPC and the people since the launch of reform and opening-up in 1978. The Party has supervised the economic system reform, too, over the past more than four decades.
The Chinese system is a combination of electoral democracy and consultative democracy, and is more effective than the Western system.
The Party has launched a strong campaign to root out corruption from within and deter the rank and file from falling prey to the lure of the lucre, and stay true to its original mission of staying in touch with the people and standing with them in weal and woe.
The Party has proved it can develop with the times and overcome new challenges, especially those that have emerged since the launch of reform and opening-up. Today, the CPC has more than 91 million members, 30 percent of whom were born in the 1980s and 1990s. The young Party members have an open mind and a global outlook, and will make up the main force that will build socialist China in the new era, and lead the Party and the country in the future.
Moreover, since the internet has become a popular platform, particularly among youth, due partly to social media, the Party should make use of new tools to carry out its “mass line” in virtual space. To this end, the Party should also use cyberspace to serve the people rather than to run surveillance programs or establish hegemony.
It is also extremely important that the Party should supervise the building of a world-class online network, providing people with affordable and convenient messaging services so they get a bigger share of the gains of the information age and contribute more to realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Besides, given his concern for rural people and to bridge the urban-rural digital divide, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has asked relevant departments to expeditiously expand the internet coverage to all rural areas.
The internet is a platform where people seek information and exchange opinions. And as Xi said, cyberspace is the common spiritual home of hundreds of millions of people, and when the people went online so do public opinions. Therefore, leading cadres of the Party and government officials at all levels should excel at understanding the public opinion from the internet and practicing the Party’s “mass line” online.
However, the “mass line” in the new era should be not only about “for the people” but also about “relying on the people”, which means internet development and internet governance should depend on the people. It is necessary to involve the people and internet companies in developing a truly free, fair, safe and secure cyberspace, and put the development of internet under public scrutiny. After all, Xi has stressed that the Party should be more liberal with the views and opinions people express online.
Socialism with Chinese characteristics is based on the Party’s leadership, and the leadership can’t be effective unless the Party leads the people to participate in various undertakings and share the fruits of development.
Strengthening the “mass line” in the new era is a challenge for the Party, and to overcome that challenge, it has to further cement democratic centralism and enhance self-discipline among its rank and file. The Party should also ensure the practice of criticism and self-criticism, and strengthen internal supervision, particularly of senior officials, oppose privilege mentality and root out corruption.
Such an approach will promote a more sustainable political ecology and strike a balance between centralism and democracy, discipline and freedom, and collective ideology and individual liberty within the Party.
–The Daily Mail-China Daily News Exchange Item