How does Internet "warm up" democratic politics?

16:04, March 11, 2010      

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The Internet plays an outstanding role during two annual sessions of China's legislature and advisory body, which are in progress. The nation's advisory body, or the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), has set up the online platform to promote democracy ever since the start of the two sessions.

A recent survey shows that over half of the deputies of the National People Congress (NPC) have been using the Internet and, with a great zeal to partake in deliberation of state affairs, they are very active at the "Netizens Chamber" and the "Strong Power E Two Sessions"… All this shows a brand-new picture in China's political, ideological development in the present Internet era.

Looking back over the past year, the power of the cyber is quite impressive in the minds of Chinese people at the occurrence of numerous heart-stirring events around China. While implementing such vital measures as those to "ensure stability", to attain an 8-percent growth target for 2009, and carry out the 4-trillion-yuan relief package, the Internet has become a good adviser and booster for the high-level decision making process or ensuring people's livelihoods at grassroots, so as to "warm up" China's democratic politics.

Since the entry of 2010, Internet has been a factor of vital importance at two recent annual sessions of the provincial and municipal committees of NPC or the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The provinces of Anhui in east China and Hunan in central-south China incorporated "the online public opinions" into their provincial government work reports; Likewise, the provinces of Zhejiang, also in east China, and Sichuan in the southwest put up the "Micro blog stalls" on behalf of deputies of local provincial congresses and members of local provincial CPPCC provincial committees, and kept the masses of locals in "zero distance" to questions and answers and deputies; CPPCC members in Beijing opened the video camera and sat at a computer screen for video dialogue.

At the two ongoing annual national session, both NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members sought public opinions through the Internet and conduct researches by means of using e-mail, blog, micro-blog and other channels to communicate and interact with people, to hear more voices from different social groups to understand more their views and wishes, as well as the focus of some conflicts and difficulties in society at large. So, it can be said that Internet enriches China's model of political participation, innovates and further improves the informationalized expression of social democratic politics with Chinese characteristics.

As of late 2009, the number of Internet users in China had reached 384 million, but kept on rising with a growth rate of 8 to 9 million a month. "Solution offline for issues online" and "a swap of ideas online for services offline" not only represents the demand and expectations of people, but poses a choice to democratize the government decision-making process and governance.

Netizens should also see to that online ideas call for mature expression and scientific absorption as a matter of course while giving heed to the cyber. Internet users also need careful mulling or considerations and strive to make their commendations more valuable. And the way of deliberating state affairs should be continue to be explored, so as to shape an online mechanism of seeking the views, ideas and concerns, etc. of netizens in a multichannel and systematic manner.

Moreover, for NPC deputies or CPPCC National Committee members, while paying due attention to online views and opinions, importance should also be attached to traditional approaches in politics, focusing on investigation and studies and in-depth information on practical issues about the livelihoods and public sentiments of people at the grassroots.

On the one hand, both NPC deputies or CPPCC National Committee members, with a high sense of responsibility, should take "the initiative" to seek online public sentiments for a rational view of cyber opinions and, on the other hand, to "quit" the cyber to alleviate people's concerns and to understand what they are thinking about and their hope and expectations, so as to help them to resolve or overcome practical problems.

This year's "NPC and CPPCC annual sessions" highlight a growing role of the cyber in the fields of public sentiments, such as those to un-impede public views, express demands, further improve decision-making, supervise public opinions and deliberate state affairs. So, by interacting with the masses of Internet users, NPC deputies and CPPCC members could give scope to a far better role of the Internet, so that China's democratic politics would be sure to advance continuously.

By People's Daily Online and contributed by PD reporter Dao Fu
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