• September 14, 2023

Keynote speech by H.E. Ambassador Wang Qing at the IMC Professional Media Seminar

Keynote speech by H.E. Ambassador Wang Qing at the IMC Professional Media Seminar
Share on

Hon. Mr. Yusuf Sandi, Deputy Minister of Information and Civic Education,

Dr. Victor Massaquoi, Chairman of the Independent Media Commission (IMC),

Dear Media Friends,

Good morning!

It is a pleasure to attend the IMC annual media training program. Firstly, I would like to congratulate IMC for hosting this event and express my sincere gratitude to Chairman Massaquoi for the invitation. When I was invited, I noted that one of the key topics of this seminar is the role of the media in promoting democracy. Recently, democracy has been a buzzword, whether in Sierra Leone, in Africa or around the world. In Sierra Leone, the democratic process has been paid much attention in public since the June 24th elections, and H.E. President Bio established the National Electoral System Review Commission; At the regional level, the recent coups in some African countries have heightened concern about the prospects for democracy in Africa; And at the international level, some countries have been hyping up the narrative of “democracy versus authoritarianism”, inciting division and confrontation in an attempt to drag the world back to the Cold War, thus seriously affecting the cause of world peace and development. All of these have aroused concern, discussion and reflection on democracy. Today, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my views on democracy.

  1. First, what is the standard of democracy?

Democracy is a good thing. It’s a common value cherished by humanity across the world. Democracy is a concrete phenomenon that is constantly evolving. Rooted in history, culture and tradition, it takes diverse forms and develops along the paths chosen by different peoples based on their exploration and innovation. From the Chinese Side, the best way to evaluate whether a country’s political system is democratic and efficient is to observe whether the succession of its leaders is orderly and in line with the law, whether all the people can manage state and social affairs and economic and cultural undertakings in conformity with legal provisions, whether the public can express their requirements without hindrance, whether all sectors can efficiently participate in the country’s political affairs, whether national decision-making can be conducted in a rational and democratic way, whether people of high caliber in all fields can be part of the national leadership and administrative systems through fair competition, whether the governing party is in charge of state affairs in accordance with the Constitution and the law, and whether the exercise of power can be kept under effective restraint and supervision.

Democracy is not a decorative ornament, but an instrument for addressing the issues that concern the people. Whether a country is democratic depends on whether its people are truly the masters of the country; whether the people have the right to vote, and more importantly, the right to participate extensively; whether they have been given verbal promises in elections, and more importantly, how many of these promises are fulfilled after elections; whether there are set political procedures and rules in state systems and laws, and more importantly, whether these systems and laws are truly enforced; whether the rules and procedures for the exercise of power are democratic, and more importantly, whether the exercise of power is genuinely subject to public scrutiny and checks.

Democracy is the right of the people in every country, rather than the prerogative of a few nations. Whether a country is democratic should be judged by its people, not dictated by a handful of outsiders. Whether a country is democratic should be acknowledged by the international community, not arbitrarily decided by a few self-appointed judges. There is no fixed model of democracy; it manifests itself in many forms. Assessing the myriad political systems in the world against a single yardstick and examining diverse political structures in monochrome are in themselves undemocratic.

  1. Secondly, how is democracy achieved?

There is no single model of achieving democracy which is universally acceptable. As countries have different histories, cultures and realities, the choice of forms of democracy is bound to be different. Whether or not we can find a correct path to democratic development has a direct bearing on the peace, stability and future of a country.

Democracy needs to be realized in the context of one’s own country. It works only when it suits actual conditions and solves actual problems. Disregarding the reality of one’s own country and blindly copying the systems of others often causes chaos and brings disaster to the people.

For example, it is of vital importance for China, a country with 5,000 years of history and civilization and a population of 1.4 billion, to choose a path to democracy suited to a vast country with a large population. China must devise the most suitable form of democracy in accordance with its characteristics and realities – a basic principle China adheres to for developing democracy. After years of exploration and practice, we have developed the concept and practice of Whole-Process People’s Democracy, which integrates process-oriented democracy with results-oriented democracy, procedural democracy with substantive democracy, direct democracy with indirect democracy, and people’s democracy with the will of the state. Democratic consultation is an important element of China’s democracy, is also a special feature of democracy in China. In a short word, whenever a problem occurs, those concerned should always hold deliberations in good faith. Matters involving many people are discussed by all those involved, to reach the greatest common ground based on the wishes and needs of the whole society. The Chinese people not only widely exercise their right to vote in elections but also undertake extensive deliberations before major decisions are made. It stems from the Chinese traditional culture of “HARMONY”, which provides a way to resolve the long-standing democratic problem of “the winner takes all and the loser gets nothing”. This model is conducive to avoiding social polarization and promoting social harmony and stability.

In Sierra Leone, we can also see that there is a parliamentary seat dedicated to the Paramount Chiefs, which fits very well with the time-honoured tradition of tribalism in African countries, and provides a platform for grass-roots people to participate in the governance.

Even among Western countries, democratic systems and forms are not totally same. There are constitutional monarchies and presidential systems, multi-party systems and two-party systems, direct elections and electoral college systems. All of them have evolved gradually according to their own national conditions.

Democratic models cannot be transplanted or imposed from outside. Blindly copying other models of democracy is a problematic endeavor – it risks creating cultural conflict, political volatility or even social turmoil and causing great pain to its people. External interference and “democratic transformation” bring nothing but endless trouble. The numerous wars in the world have proved again and again that forcing other countries to duplicate one’s own political system or democratic model through color revolution, regime change even the threat of force seriously undermines international and regional peace, security and stability. The bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the military interventions in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan have inflicted great trauma on these countries as well as on the entire region and the world. Such practices are obviously anti-democratic. What’s more, some countries are trying to divide the world into two camps, “democratic” and “non-democratic” according to their own standard, which are blatantly provoking division and confrontation. Such behavior will only bring greater turmoil and disaster to the international community and will certainly be strongly condemned and opposed by the international community.

There is always scope for improving the system of democracy. Humanity’s quest for and experiments with greater democracy will never end. All countries need to keep pace with the times and constantly explore forms of democracy that are more in line with people’s expectations and more efficient and effective based on the ever-changing situation. No matter how well a democratic system is designed, its shortcomings will be exposed over time. We have seen that the democratic systems of some countries that claim to be “beacons of democracy” are increasingly failing, leading to a crisis of trust and chaotic democratic practices. “One person, one vote” has degenerated into “money politics”, and power checks and balances have become “veto politics.” We all need to learn from each other in a spirit of humility, instead of stubbornly believing that I’m the best and insisting that mine is the only model for the whole world to follow.

The true barrier to democracy lies not in different models of democracy, but in arrogance, prejudice and hostility towards other countries’ attempts to explore their own paths to democracy, and in assumed superiority and the determination to impose one’s own model of democracy on others. All countries should uphold the principle of nondiscrimination, respect others’ models of democracy, share experience with others, explore their own paths, and contribute their due share to human progress. China attaches importance to absorbing and learning from all the beneficial achievements of human political civilization, and welcomes all constructive suggestions and well-intentioned criticism, but rejects any form of overbearing lecture.

 III. Third, when we talk about democracy, we should not forget to promote democracy in international relations.

The international community is a big family, and all countries are equal members. The formation and operation of the international governance system must also follow the principles of democracy.

To promote democracy in international relations, we must insist that all countries, large or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal in international relations. The future of the world should rest in the hands of all peoples of the world. International rules should be made by all countries, global affairs should be governed by all parties, and the fruits of development should be shared by all.

To promote democracy in international relations, we must insist that the right to development of all countries is inalienable. Every country has the right to development, and the people in every country have the freedom to pursue a happy life. Many emerging markets and developing countries (EMDCs) have come to what they are today after shaking off the yoke of colonialism. With perseverance, hard work and huge sacrifices, we succeeded in gaining independence and have been exploring development paths suited to our national conditions. But some country, obsessed with colonialism thoughts and maintaining its hegemony, has gone out of its way to cripple the EMDCs. Whoever is developing fast becomes its target of containment; whoever is catching up becomes its target of obstruction. They have politicized and marginalized the development issue, built “a small yard with high fences,” and wield the big stick of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction. But Blowing out others’ lamp will not bring light to oneself. These behavior will only undermine the fulfillment of UN 2030 Agenda and the common prosperity of the world.

To promote democracy in international relations, we must insist on pressing for a new model of international relations based on mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation. Faced with profound challenges, our world today has become a community with a shared future in which we all share a huge stake of survival. What people in various countries long for is definitely not a new Cold War or a small exclusive bloc; what they want is an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys enduring peace, universal security and common prosperity. China made the proposition of building a community with a shared future for mankind, calling on all countries to build this planet we all call home into a harmonious family. We suggest that developing countries and global south should unite more closely. Last month, the BRICS had a historical expansion. It will certainly promote multi-polarity in the world and greater democracy in international relations, contribute to making the global political and economic governance system more just and equitable, and increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries in international affairs.

Let’s come back to today’s Seminar. The media shoulder important missions such as telling the truth, promoting public ethics and morality, building social consensus and upholding justice. Therefore, media play an important role in the political, economic and social development of all countries and it is also a important power in promoting democracy. In recent years, with the joint efforts of the Sierra Leonean government and people, especially the media organizations and practitioners, great achievements have been made in the information sector in Sierra Leone. The number of registered media institutions in Sierra Leone continues to rise, reaching 531 by the end of 2022. I congratulate you all on this big achievements.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Leonean media institutions have also made important contributions to the development of China-Sierra Leone friendship and cooperation. Most media in Sierra Leone have been reporting China and China-Sierra Leone cooperation, introducing China’s propositions and initiatives, sharing China’s successful experiences in an objective and fair manner. It has effectively enhanced the understanding and friendship between the people of China and Sierra Leone. I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciations to you in this regard. And I believe that our media friends here will continue to report on China and China-Sierra Leone cooperation in an objective, fair, friendly and professional way, so that the exchanges and mutual understanding between our two sides will be further enhanced.

Finally, I wish all of you great success in your work! Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *