Does China's government consider itself to be democratic?

Does the United States of America have an official stance on whether China is democratic or not? If so, what is it?

Does the UN have an official stance on the same thing?

  • 2
    @Bregalad - I don't think US actually has an official position on "democratic", aside from generic "human rights" one.
    – user4012
    Apr 7 '16 at 14:49
  • 1
    Got here through you comment in my question. Unfortunately, I cannot answer your questions. I don't think it is diplomatically wise for UN to classify countries as democratic or not since Russia and China are permanent members of UN security councils. Not sure about official US stance. A US based NGO Freedom House publishes "freedom in the world" regularly. Also, the Economists publishes "democracy index".
    – wdg
    Apr 17 '16 at 14:52
  • In my time in China, I heard their government informally referred to as "communism with Chinese characteristics". Whether or not democratic principles are considered to be those characteristics is a different matter. Nov 27 '16 at 6:21
  • 2
    This should really be posted as three different questions. Dec 29 '16 at 22:45

China's constitution states that The People's Republic of China "is a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants," and that the state organs "apply the principle of democratic centralism."

Chapter 1, Articles !, 3 Constitution of the People's Republic of China


Chinese constitution refers to "democratic dictatorship led by the working class", which is basically a definition that was first made by Lenin back in the 1900s.

Basically this means that only working class rules the country (not letting, e.g. bankers, billionaires, etc to do that), but inside of the working class, democracy principles are employed, meaning that some procedures are made (not necessarily Western-style elections) to take working class people (and only their) opinion into account.

So, at least in theory, this is a democracy for everyone but rich people.

  • The question was whether or not is China recognised as a democracy by those identities. And I don't think you answer that part of the question. Apr 7 '16 at 13:22
  • 2
    Whether China is recognized as a democracy by China itself was part of the question as well. Apr 7 '16 at 14:35
  • 1
    not letting, i.e. bankers, billionaires, etc to do that A small correction: in socialist state (it is presumed that) these people do not constitute a distinct class, so they can't rule the country (because they just don't have any aims except personal ones).
    – Matt
    Apr 9 '16 at 10:46
  • 2
    @MikhailBarashkov It was one part of the question, but answers should fully answer the question, not just a part of it.
    – Philipp
    Apr 9 '16 at 15:07
  • 1
    The idea that the working class rules China, rather than a small, corrupt core of Party leaders, is an unforgivable lie.
    – user9790
    Dec 29 '16 at 14:39

No --China is not considered to be a Democracy

China is best conceived as run by an entrenched, corrupt one--party system, the spoils of which are carefully guarded and kept from the workers. While others have outlined what Communist China calls itself, this tells us little as all Communist countries engage in barely concealed propaganda. In any event, calling oneself a dictatorial democracy, an oxymoron if there ever was one, should give one pause.

According to experts and former party members, China is not a Democracy in form or purpose or effect. Consider

The congress “is far away from people’s lives, even farther away from democracy,” says Zhang Zuhua, a former party insider in Beijing. “It’s totally unrelated to people’s personal interests. People don’t put any expectations and hopes on that.”

That’s partly because the people were not even aware that a battle for who will next lead their country was underway. You certainly would never have learned it from the state media, which have been allowed to report only on the carefully scripted show that is the congress itself, not the political squabbles behind it. Not surprisingly, the average person in China has little idea that their next leader in five years may well be the Shanghai party chief, Xi Jinping, nor that he seems to have narrowly edged the Liaoning Province party boss, Li Keqiang.

If you would like an interactive graphic that depicts who rules China, go here

With more than 80 million members and 3.3 million branches, China's Communist Party is one of the world's most extensive political organizations. Here is a breakdown of how power is concentrated, in just a handful of key bodies and a few dozen people.

ABC Australia ran a fantastic program on who actually rules China and how decisions are made, a synopsis is described as:

The Politburo Standing Committee is the highest and the most powerful body of the Communist Party of China.  Its officially mandated purpose is to conduct policy discussions and make decisions on major issues when the Politburo, is not in session. Although we don’t really know how it operates we do know it consists of 7 men including the Party General Secretary, Xi Jinping. But is this all powerful body in decline? A new report suggests that yes it is but what does this mean and how might it affect Xi Jinping’s leadership?

The US doesn't classify countries as Democracies or not. But you can find the US State Dept's fact sheet of China here: https://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/18902.htm


To understand the answer, it is important to understand the definitions of the two different systems: Democratic states vs Republic states. Once these definitions are understood then the answers comes into sharp focus. The similarities in decision-making systems (not ideology) may help one better understand.

As I understand it: neither the PRC nor the United States are democratic states. They are both Republics: representatives are elected and empowered to make decisions. Both countries have a president and constitution.

A republic is similar to a representative democracy except it has a written constitution of basic rights that protect the minority from being completely unrepresented or overridden by the majority.

This link provides insight into the differences between the Republics and Democratic systems.

Therefore, the PRC: People's Republic of China (and the US) are Republics: not Democratic states.

  • 3
    Why imply an association between US and China? Further, China is not a Republic; even their own constitution labels them a "a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship" Dec 29 '16 at 14:54
  • "a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship" does not preclude a state from being a Repbulic
    – gatorback
    Dec 29 '16 at 19:49
  • 1
    No. Being a communist one party dictatorship, where the rule of law does not protect the rights of the minority, precludes it from being a Republic. Comparing the US to the PRC is like comparing Apples to Road Apples; just doesn't work. Dec 29 '16 at 20:03

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .