Ambassador: Why we changed our Constitution
The Chinese people need strong, stable and consistent leadership

The true test of a nation's political system is whether it can justly and effectively promote development and meet the people's need for a good life. What China achieved in the past few decades has proven that its governance system works and is successful. 

The first session of China's 13th National People's Congress (NPC), which concluded this week, not only unveiled targets and priorities for continuing China's development, but also took decisive reform measures that will provide a better political and legal foundation for China's future.

China, impoverished and backward only 70 years ago, is now the second largest economy in the world, raising the per capita GDP nearly 50-fold within 40 years. In the past few years alone, China lifted tens of millions of people out of poverty, and is now about to achieve the goal of eradicating extreme poverty in the country by 2020. 

In terms of internal accountability, China launched a widely applauded anti-corruption campaign, with more than 50,000 corrupt officials brought to justice. And China is playing a more important role in global affairs, contributing 30% of the global economic growth and thousands of UN peacekeepers around the world, fighting climate change with the U.S. and many other countries, and maintaining global stability.

Such achievements are not done by mirroring the systems of other countries, but by adopting institutions and policies that are consistent with China's heritage and national character, as well as adjusting and improving our political system to accommodate new and emerging realities, domestic and global. 

Today, China is going through a dramatic economic and social transition, which needs to be carefully managed by restructuring the economy, narrowing social disparities, maintaining stability, strengthening rule of law, and protecting the environment. Externally, China shares many common challenges with the U.S., such as dealing with the downsides of globalization and the unprecedented development of technology worldwide, protecting its people from the instabilities of our times, and navigating the uncertainties of a rapidly changing world.

Our efforts to accommodate change include amending our Constitution, which we have done four times over the past few decades. The fifth constitutional amendment, adopted by the first session of China's 13th NPC a few days ago, is yet another milestone in modernizing the governance system and governing capacity of China.

At this critical point for China's development in an era of dynamism and uncertainty, the Chinese people need to keep pace with the times and improve the country's governance system. This includes enshrining into the Constitution the successful experiences from our development.

For instance, the success of China is a result of the strong leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, thanks to its ability to do long-term and strategic planning, and to create a stable domestic political and social environment. The Party has an unswerving commitment to help achieve the dreams of the Chinese people for peace and development. This is why a clause emphasizing Party leadership was added to the Constitution.

The remarkable development of China is achieved in peace, through a process of engaging with the world. This is why China made the policy of peaceful development and "opening up" constitutional, reaffirming that its development will continue to bring the world stability, prosperity and opportunities.

The amendment will also create a commission to fight corruption and prioritize ecological development, and it removed the expression that the president and vice-president "shall serve no more than two consecutive terms" from the Constitution, which aligns presidential tenure with that of the head of the Party and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

The amendment will enable the country to achieve its long-term development objectives with stability and policy consistency, and avoid political dysfunction or polarization. To accomplish the historic mission of reforming and developing China, the Chinese people need more than ever strong, stable, and consistent leadership that can see through the tremendous reforms underway.

The amendment to the Constitution relies on people-centered development, and reflects the will of the people. It was drafted and adopted through an open and democratic process. Prior to the 13th NPC, the Communist Party sought suggestions on amending the Constitution from people both within and outside of the Party. It received more than 2,000 responses, from which the 21 suggestions were proposed to amend the Constitution.

The standing committee of the NPC heeded and reviewed the amendments before a draft was submitted to the first session of the 13th NPC for deliberation, and the NPC voted on the amendments after several days of vibrant discussion. The overwhelming support the amendments received indicates the strong confidence that the Chinese people have in our Constitution and system.

Our system, while different from America's, has worked well for China, and will continue to work and work better through Chinese people's efforts to improve and adjust according to new realities. Failing to understand it will jeopardize meaningful cooperation between China and the U.S. in responding to the opportunities and challenges that the two countries are facing together.

This article was published on on March 22, 2018:


Suggest to a Friend: