Wang Shaoguang, "Representative and Representational Democracy"
Wang Shaoguang, “Representative Democracy and Representational Democracy”*
Translated by Mark McConaghy and Shi Anshu 石岸书
Introduction by Mark McConaghy
Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, scholars in the West have been predicting, either openly or tacitly, that the regime would eventually collapse because of its fundamentally authoritarian nature. But what if such mainstream opinion has thoroughly misread the modern Chinese experience? What if the PRC has built over its almost 70 years of history a thriving democracy that continues to receive high support from its people precisely because of its representational nature? This is the bold revisionist argument put forth in this essay by Wang Shaoguang, a noted political scientist trained at Cornell University who is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Government and Administration at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Wang’s essay is a powerful call for Western observers to move beyond pejorative labels for the PRC such as “authoritarian” and to examine far more closely the actual institutions that serve to represent the interests of the Chinese people. A core institution in this regard is the mass line 群众路线, which Wang sees as the essential component of what he calls China’s “representational democracy 代议性民主.” The mass line was first developed in the CCP basecamps of the 1930s and 40s, particularly at Yan’an 延安. A mix of Leninist vanguardism and Maoist voluntarism, its pushes cadres of the Communist Party to engage closely with the people throughout Chinese society, but particularly those at its lowest reaches, earnestly seeking to understand their concerns, absorb the knowledge they can impart, and formulate policies in response to their hardships. As these policies are implemented socially, cadres continue to listen closely to the people’s reactions, learning from the people anew, in an ever-renewing dialectic.
Wang contrasts the mass line—which he claims has been reinvigorated under Xi Jinping—to electoral “representational 代表性民主” democracy in the West, compromised by the power of corporate lobbyists, the inability of the disenfranchised to influence policy, and the limited number of political alternatives available to voters. This has, Wang points out, led to an overwhelming sense among Western electorates that politicians do not represent them in any genuine sense. At a time when Western democracies are facing unprecedented challenges—from hard-right populist surges throughout Europe to the Donald Trump presidency in the United States—Wang’s argument takes on extra resonance.
This is not to say that Wang’s argument is without its own tensions. In order to construct his vision of a democratic China he ignores the information control, intellectual censorship, and lack of judicial autonomy that has been a hallmark of CCP rule since 1949, and which has worsened under Xi Jinping. Indeed, from the original “rectification” 整风 campaigns in early 1940s Yan’an, the mass line has always been accompanied by ideological and physical coercion, a point that goes unaddressed in Wang’s essay. The inability of the Mass Line to prevent rampant corruption between the Party-state and the domestic capitalist class it has given birth to in the Reform Era is also glided over. Finally, for an essay that purports to provide a bold new understanding of Chinese democracy, the events of June 4, 1989 remain a glaring omission.
Ultimately, in the era of Trump, Xi, Putin, and Brexit, this essay will generate great debate among readers, which makes its translation into English all the more timely.
In the past twenty years, two worldviews have been in constant opposition.
The first worldview is expressed in a popular saying often employed by the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: “There is no alternative.” According to statistics, Thatcher used this mantra in her speeches over five hundred times, to the point that people gave her a nickname: “Tina.” “There is no alternative” refers to the notion that aside from economic and political liberalism, the world has no other choices.
In the early summer of 1989, the Japanese-American scholar Francis Fukuyama, raised Thatcher’s “there is no alternative” to the level of historical philosophy, publishing an essay entitled: “The End of History.” In the essay, which had its moment of fame, Fukuyama proclaimed: “At the beginning of the twentieth century, the West was full of self-confidence in the ultimate triumph of liberal democracy, yet at its close seems to have returned to its point of departure, not to an "end of ideology" or a convergence between capitalism and socialism, as earlier predicted, but to an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism.” Fukuyama boldly predicted “the end of history” because, in his eyes, humanity no longer struggled with “big questions” (such as the choice between capitalism and socialism). Human society had already reached the end of its ideological evolution, and Western-style liberal democracy had irrefutably become the sole option for every country. Going forward, the only questions remaining were the technical details of how to implement Western-style liberal democracy. At the conclusion of his article Fukuyama could hardly conceal his sense of satisfaction, as he deliberately expressed a victor’s sense of loss over the fact that there was no one left to fight. According to him, the world after the end of history would be terribly boring: there would be no more art and philosophy, traces of them remaining only in museums.
Today, even though Thatcher’s “There is No Alternative” and Fukuyama’s “End of History” have already become standing jokes in academic and intellectual circles, their variants proliferate and circulate constantly. Though most people no longer use these particular expressions, many still firmly believe that the “today” of Western capitalist countries is the “tomorrow” of other countries (including China).
The second worldview is embodied in two different slogans used in the “rethinking globalization” movement: “one no, many yeses” and “another world is possible.” What is rejected here is precisely the economic and political liberalism trumpeted by Thatcher and Fukuyama. The opposition between these two worldviews is reflected first in their different perspectives on capitalism. After the 2008 financial crisis, the first worldview is already on the defensive. However, when it comes to the question of democracy, the first worldview seems to be as unyielding as before. Even though it is common for Western electorates to lack faith in officials chosen through competitive elections, even though some Western thinkers have called for overcoming “electoral democracy” —advocating participatory democracy, consultative democracy, and sortition —the majority of people still think that Western-style representative democracy is currently the only desirable and feasible democratic system, and that differences between countries amount to different forms of representative democracy. Regardless of whether one employs a presidential or parliamentary system, power-holders can only emerge out of competitive elections between different parties. This worldview is mainstream not only in Western countries, but is quite influential in other countries as well (including China).
This article’s basic argument is that representative democracy is a gilded-cage democracy, which should not be, nor can be, the only form of democracy. Conversely, though it has many flaws, the representational democracy that China is practicing has tremendous untapped potential, signifying that another form of democracy is possible.
Few will disagree with calling Western democracy “representative”. However, if one calls China’s political practice “representational democracy,” many people in China and elsewhere will shake their heads. When they talk about China, those same people will without hesitation label China’s political system authoritarian. The problem is that this label has, like snake oil, been applied indiscriminately in the past few decades. Not a single era has escaped this label, from the late Qing through the early Republic and the warlord period, then on to the reigns of Chiang Kai-Shek, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and Xi Jinping. Chinese politics during this period has undergone earth-shattering transformations, and yet the label applied to Chinese politics has not changed at all. Is this not absurd? This is not academic analysis; it is an ideological smear. A simple label like “authoritarianism” explains nothing, and there is no way to distinguish it from other “authoritarian” regimes that have existed historically in China or abroad. As such, in the study of contemporary Chinese politics, we see a wide range of variously qualified “authoritarianisms,” including “dynamic authoritarianism,” “adaptable authoritarianism,” “participatory authoritarianism,” “responsive authoritarianism,” “highly legitimate authoritarianism,” etc., with no end in sight. These adjectives always sound as if they contradict the concept of “authoritarianism.” If a political system is “dynamic,” “adaptive,” “participatory,” “responsive,” and “highly legitimate,” would it not be more suitable to call it “democratic”?
This article defines China’s political practice as “representational democracy,” and will discuss the following questions: What is representative democracy? What is representational democracy? How do they differ from one another? What are the characteristics, as well as strengths and weaknesses, of each? Yet before we discuss these questions, we perhaps need to begin by addressing what appears to be a contradictory phenomenon.
2) A “Paradox”?
Mainstream Western ideology has a seemingly self-evident basic assumption: only leaders chosen through a system of competitive elections can enjoy legitimacy, and authoritarian systems cannot possibly win the widespread support of the people. But a significant amount of empirical survey data indicates that the “authoritarian” Chinese system has continually received the support of an overwhelming majority of the common people.
In recent years, the world’s largest independent public relations firm, Edelman International Public Relations Co., Ltd., has published the annual “Edelman Trust Barometer,” the latest of which was released in early 2013. The report found that the Chinese public’s trust in government rose six percentage points in 2012, reaching 81%, ranking second only to Singapore and, thus, second among all surveyed countries. This is much higher than the 53% of public trust in government in the US. Taking an average from all the countries surveyed, public trust in government is a mere 48%. As a matter of fact, over the years of the Edelman Survey, Chinese public trust in government has been among the highest worldwide.
The Edelman Survey is not the only one to report this finding. Over the past two decades, regardless of who was conducting surveys (including foreigners who were skeptical of their predecessors’ surveys), the manner of investigation (including the most rigorous random sample surveys), or whether the survey was of rural or urban residents, the result was essentially the same: that the Chinese people have a high degree of trust in their government. At present, scholars familiar with the survey data accept it without question. For instance, John James Kennedy concludes in a 2009 article that “since the early 1990s, all surveys that examined public opinion about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have shown that more than 70% of respondents support the central government and Party leadership. Regardless of changes in how various surveys asked the questions, the results were the same.” A 2010 article by Bruce Gilley and Heike Holbig further claims that “while there are different views on the reasons for the stability of the Chinese Communist regime, there is broad consensus that the present regime enjoys relatively strong popular support.” All studies after 2010 have come to conclusions identical to those of these two scholars.
We can draw two conclusions from this: 1) either an “authoritarian” system is much more popular with the people than are many “democratic” systems; or 2) a system that is highly supported by the people has nonetheless been labeled “authoritarian.” Both of these conclusions appear to be contradictory. Those who are reluctant to abandon the “authoritarian” label have thought up a wide variety of excuses to resolve such contradictions. In their view, the underlying reason why the government during the Maoist period enjoyed a high level of support from the people was because of pressure tactics and ideological indoctrination; people supported the government after reform and opening because of the sustained growth of the economy and the drumbeat of Chinese nationalism. In short, the strong support of Chinese people for the government is not because the system is good, but rather because of the temporary presence of favorable conditions. Their subtext is that no matter how much the Chinese masses support the present government, an authoritarian system cannot long endure.
Rigorous studies have shown, however, that these seemingly reasonable excuses are unfounded. After analyzing the data of the “The Asian Barometer Survey,” Chu Yun-han, Professor of Political Science at National Taiwan University, concluded that “the persuasiveness of these explanations is not as strong as many Chinese experts in the West believe. There is no solid evidence which indicates that the Chinese government’s public trust is highly dependent on its dazzling economic performance or relies on its manipulation of nationalist sentiment.” Similarly, US-based scholar Tang Wenfang and his American collaborators based their study on a systematic analysis of data, which refuted the same excuses as untenable. 
The resolution of such contradictions is, in fact, very simple. Scholars simply need to remove their “authoritarian”-tinted glasses. The reasons for such enthusiastic support of the Chinese system are obvious and are reflected in three areas of demand, supply, and results: 1) demand—the Chinese people, in general, prefer representational (substantive) democracy to representative (formal) democracy ; 2) supply—China has developed a set of representational democracy theories and modes of operation; and 3) results—the practice of representational democracy allows China’s Party-state system to respond relatively effectively to social needs. In essence, the reason why the Chinese people are highly receptive to the existing system of government is that China practices a new type of democracy that conforms to the aspirations of its own people—representational democracy.
3) How Chinese People Regard Democracy
The original meaning of democracy is that the people are the masters of their own affairs. Yet if one asks people from different cultures what “the people as masters” means and how to carry it out, their understandings diverge. In today’s world, the overwhelming majority of people agree with the notion that “democracy is a good thing,” but understanding what is “good” and what is “democratic” is very different. We must not take for granted that since we all like democracy, we must all be supporting the same thing. Many people in the West arrogantly believe that only their understanding of democracy is true, and that there is only one correct understanding of democracy: this is a form of cultural hegemony. Empirical studies show that the concept of democracy in East Asia has unique features , that the concept of democracy within the Confucian cultural sphere has unique features, and that the same goes for the concept of democracy in China. If one does not seek after the kind of democracy that the Chinese themselves understand, but instead constantly schemes to replicate in China the kind of democracy that Westerners understand, they cannot be called “democrats” in any sense because they are betraying the will of the people, which is contrary to the first law of democracy—that the people are the masters.
We can understand democracy in two ways, as formal democracy or as substantive democracy. The former concerns itself with so-called democratic features, whereas the latter concerns whether policy has produced results that meet the needs of the broad popular masses. In light of this, to which category does Chinese people’s understanding of democracy belong? The “Asian Barometer Survey” contains questions that touch precisely upon these two different kinds of understanding. When asked about the meaning of democracy, respondents had four options: 1) that it was possible to change the government through elections; 2) that freedom existed to critique those in power; 3) that the income gap between the wealthy and the poor was not large; and 4) that everyone enjoyed basic necessities such as food and clothing.
The first chart compares the situation of nine countries or regions. [Webmaster's note: We were unable to reproduce Wang's charts and graphs on the website. Click here to see them]. What we see is that there are indeed close to 30% of Mainland Chinese who feel that democracy means above all giving people the right to choose their political officials; there are 4.2% of people who understand democracy to mean freedom (for example the freedom to critique those in power). If you add these together, those who chose these two kinds of formal standards for defining democracy come to roughly one third of the people. More people were inclined to judge whether a political system was democratic or not by examining the results of governance. 28.9% of people took the ability to control disparities between the rich and the poor as the measure of democracy; close to one fourth of the people believed that only a system that could guarantee that all people had the basic survival items such as food, clothing, and housing could be called democratic. More than two thirds of the people chose a substantive standard for measuring democracy. We can see that for the vast majority of Chinese people, “democracy” means substantive democracy rather something which is a democracy in name only. What is interesting is that even though Chinese-Taiwan has a different political system, the way Taiwanese people understand democracy is not terribly different from the way people on the Mainland do. In other nations in East Asia, support for formal [i.e. Western style representative] democracy is greater, slightly exceeding fifty percent, Thailand being the only country in which that number exceeds two-thirds of the people.
Perhaps some will suspect that those interviewed in Chart 1 were composed of a relatively large number of middle-aged people; for such doubters, it is young people who will perhaps be more inclined to accept “universal” democratic values, that is formal democracy or procedural democracy. If this hypothesis is correct then as time moves on China will have more and more people who emulate “universal” democratic standards. What is the actual situation like?
According to the data found in the most recent iteration (the third wave) of the “Asian Barometer Survey,” Diagram 1 displays democracy as it is understood by young people (born after 1980). In Mainland China, 30% of young people understand democracy as “good governance” while another 30% understand it as “social equality.” Added together, they represent 60% of those surveyed. On the other hand, those who understood democracy as “procedural democracy” or “freedom” only accounted for 40%. In Chinese-Taiwan the situation is about the same as in the Mainland. Further analysis reveals that understandings of democracy among young people in China are not dissimilar to those held by adults.  Aside from the Mainland and Taiwan, countries in which a majority of young people understand democracy in substantive terms include Japan, Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia; only Mongolia, the Philippines, and Cambodia are exceptions. Yet even in those three countries there are still half of all people who understand democracy in substantive terms, on par with those who have a formal understanding of democracy.
In comparison solely with their Asian neighbors, the substantive understanding of democracy of the Chinese people is not particularly exceptional. However, when compared with Americans, its uniqueness stands out. The data from Chart 2 comes from polls conducted in America in 2010 as well as in China in 2011. It encompasses two different groups with four choices, testing whether people understand democracy in a formal (Group A) or substantive manner (Group B). It is very clear that Americans put greater emphasis on formal democracy, while Chinese people give more weight to whether democracy can bring tangible benefits to the people.
The conclusions reached by sample surveys done by research institutions within China correspond exactly with those reached by research institutions outside of China. For example, surveys conducted in 2011 by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences found that the Chinese understanding of democracy placed much more emphasis on content and substance than on form and procedure. 
4) Representational Democracy and Representative Democracy
A democracy that emphasizes content and substance can be called “representational democracy” while one that emphasizes form and process can be called “representative democracy.” Generally speaking, Asian peoples, including Chinese people, prefer the former to the latter. Though their Chinese names differ by only one character, these two different kinds of democracy are in fact separated by a great gulf. Chart 3 outlines the difference that exists between the two in three important dimensions.
For representative democracy, the most important concept is that of the daiyishi 代議士. This term was one way of translating the English term “representative” into Chinese, popular during the late Qing and early Republican period. Today this English term is often translated as daibiao 代表. Regardless of how it is translated, “representative” signifies a person who is selected by voters to be a legislator or the leader of the executive branch (for example the American president). Yet calling these people “representatives” is often inaccurate, for in both the democratic theory and practice of many countries in Europe and America, people selected for office do not speak for the voters, and are indeed not the representatives of the people.  It is in fact precisely the opposite, because once they are elected, these people can operate according to their own subjective judgement, on the argument that “the voters are not angels, and do not necessarily have a healthy and rational judgement regarding public affairs. They often make mistakes, to the point of being led astray.” As such they require elites with “the capacity for political judgement” to keep them in line. In other words, elections are merely a means by which common people grant power to political elites. The elected elites need not genuinely represent the people, but only have to administer the affairs of the state in their place, thus replacing the people as “masters.” Those who promote such a system state very clearly: these elected people “are absolutely not the representatives of the people…what democratic countries need is not representatives of the people, but rather legislators elected by citizens!”
Since it does not allow the masses of the people to truly act as masters of the state, but allows only a small group of elected elites (politely calling them “representatives”) to serve as masters in their place, then what exactly is “democratic” about the system? The way to defend representative democracy is to re-define the term: to call the kind of democracy that demands the people serve as masters “classical democracy” or “utopian democracy,” while modern democracy is defined as “representative democracy,” a political system in which representatives are chosen through free elections.  Following this redefinition, the standard for measuring whether a political system is democratic or not changes as well: a political system in which there are free, competitive multi-party elections is democratic; a political system in which there are not free, competitive multi-party elections is not. 
Why are governments created by free elections democratic? Two different theories are offered in support of this contention. One emphasizes the role of elections in granting authority (authorization theory); it deals with how politicians begin their political careers. The other emphasizes the role of elections in punishing elected officials (accountability theory); it deals with how politicians end their political careers.
According to authorization theory, during elections each political party puts forth its policy positions and promotes its candidates, while the people have the right to choose to support whichever party or candidate they want, and they will vote for the party and candidates of their choice. In the sense that those who are elected start governing only after they have been invested with the authority of the people, this system is of course democratic.
Yet authority theory is in fact grounded in three unstated but indispensable assumptions. First, that voters are rational, and that they have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the various policy positions of the competing parties and candidates, as well as the pre-conditions necessary to implement those policies and their possible consequences. Second, that politicians will scrupulously abide by their promises, and that when they take power they will implement to the letter the policies that they promoted during the campaign. Third, that implementation of the policies promoted during the campaign is in the best interests of voters. Yet to actually realize any one of these three pre-conditions is incredibly difficult, and to realize all three at the same time is almost impossible. A large number of empirical studies have shown that voters are not necessarily rational, and that in fact they are often politically ignorant.  In many circumstances politicians are not willing, able, or inclined to act according to the platform presented during the campaign. Indeed, if policy was implemented according to the capricious nature of electoral language, in which candidates speak out of both sides of their mouths, it would not likely benefit voters.  What is even worse, modern elections are geared toward the rich, and parties and candidates must raise a tremendous amount of money in order to cover election expenses, without which they simply cannot run for office. What this means is that, for electoral parties and candidates, the most important people are not average voters, but rather wealthy donors. Given that without wealthy donors there is no way to gain power, it is in fact these donors who truly “grant power.”
Accountability theory is also premised on a series of hypotheses. First, that politicians will not necessarily honor their promises. Second, that even if they do honor their promises they will not necessarily benefit voters. Accountability theory further hypothesizes that in the case of the occurrence of the above-mentioned circumstances, voters will certainly be displeased, and these unhappy voters will force these politicians out of power at the next election, choosing another group to replace them. This is what is called demanding accountability, and its basis lies in the ability of voters to force politicians out of power. If representatives want to stay in power over the course of multiple terms, if they do not want to give up power, then they have to govern carefully while in power so as to win the favor of the voters.
The problem is that modern political systems are all incredibly complex, and any given policy—from its inception, drafting, approval, promulgation, through to its implementation—will involve many different political parties, factions, departments, and officials. Additionally, the positive and negative effects of the policy will be determined by internal and external factors. If voters are unhappy with the effects of a policy, they do not necessarily know whom they should punish. Politicians will of course find a variety of excuses and rationales in order to shirk responsibility, directing the unhappiness of voters towards other people and places.
Another problem is that accountability theory assumes that voters have the choice of many parties and politicians. If you are unhappy with A, then you can choose B; if you are unhappy with B, you can choose C…. In reality, within a two-party system there are only two choices available. Even in a multi-party system, there is still a limited number of choices. In a situation in which alternatives are limited, voters are often faced with picking their poison.
Moreover, while politicians surely hope to win multiple terms, losing is hardly a disaster. In fact, after they leave the political arena their profits will often be even greater. For example, in recent years in America, fully half of the congressional representatives who lost their seats have joined lobbying groups, with much larger salaries than when they are in office.  Take for example Bill and Hillary Clinton, one a former president, the other a former Secretary of State. After leaving politics their annual speaking fees have been enormous.  In other words, those who leave the political world after serving for a number of years, will have the possibility of gaining a tremendously lucrative future return on investment. In this light, it seems to me that the latent threat of “demanding accountability” is nothing but a “paper tiger” for a clever politician.
All of which means that neither “authority theory” nor “accountability theory” can explain how so-called “representative democracy” is in fact democratic. Three authoritative scholars of representative democracy have this to say regarding this question: “The expectation of the founders of representative government was that the system they championed would through a variety of measures lead government to serve the interests of the people, but they did not precisely understand how it would work. More than two hundred years later, we still don’t know.”
In distinction to representative democracy, they key concept of representational democracy is not the “representative 代議士” but “representation 代表.” According to the classic work The Idea of Representation by Hanna Pitkin, “representation” can be defined as that mode of operation that will realize the greatest benefit for the public; whether the subject representing the people is chosen through free and competitive elections is another question.  The basic assumption of representational democracy is that democracy can be realized through a variety of different representational mechanisms, and it is not the case that it must absolutely be the result of elections. As such, the standard for measuring whether a political system is democratic is no longer the existence of free and competitive multi-party elections. As Robert A. Dahl, the great theorist of democracy has said: “A crucial characteristic of democracy is that the government continues to be responsive to the preferences of its citizens, and that all citizens are completely equal politically.”  Here, what is important is not the extent to which the representatives speak for the voters (representativeness), but rather the government’s responsiveness to the preferences of the people. Dahl’s statement in fact established a standard by which to judge whether a political system is democratic: a standard of representational democracy. What must be further clarified are the “preferences” that Dahl speaks of. To my mind, the “preferences” referred to here are not the subjective wants of the people. No government, no matter when or where, can or should meet the boundless desires of the people. “Preferences” instead primarily refers to the people’s objective needs, and their opinions and suggestions having to do with those needs.
To distinguish between “authorization” and “accountability,” we can call the theory we have just developed “representation.”
5) China’s Theory of Representational Democracy
In the past few decades, China has in fact already developed a theory of representational democracy. It is made up of four major parts which can be divided by the answers to four key questions: Who is represented? By whom? What is represented? How is it represented?
A) Who Is Represented?
The answer given by Chinese representational democracy is: the people. All Chinese people are familiar with Mao Zedong’s famous saying, “serve the people.” This is the mission of the Chinese Communist Party: it is engraved on the East Gate as well as the Xinhua Gate of Zhongnanhai [i.e., CCP headquarters]. To “serve the people” does not mean that the people passively accept service. In fact, its true meaning is to build a better world through collective effort, together with the people.
So, who are the “people”? In all nations, the internal connotations and broader implications surrounding the surrounding the concept of “the people” (or “the citizen”) are always changing. On the eve of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong explained what he meant by the “people”: “The masses of the people include the working class, the peasant class, the urban petite-bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie that has been oppressed and harmed by imperialism and the reactionary regime of the Guomindang (which represents the bureaucratic-capitalist class as well as the landlord class), with workers, peasants (soldiers are mainly peasants in army uniforms), and other laboring people forming its primary subject.” Mao Zedong consistently understood the people as a political category that was historical and dynamic, rather than a general reference to the entire population of a given country. The one thing that did not change was that the subject of the people as he understood it from beginning to end were the great laboring masses that engaged in material production. Even if the internal connotations and broader implications of the concept of the people once again went through tremendous changes after Reform and Opening, its primary subject remained the great laboring masses, while at the same time bringing in all those patriots who upheld socialism and the unity of the motherland. The greatest historical contribution of the Chinese Revolution and New China was to enable hundreds of millions to stride onto the political stage for the first time in history.
Emphasizing that the people are the object of representation is a sharp contrast with liberalism. The vocabulary of liberalism simply does not possess collective concepts such as class and social groups, to say nothing of the concept of the people. For liberals, only the individual in pursuit of his own private interests deserves to be represented.
B) Represented by Whom?
In mainstream Western theory regarding representation, it is only elected representatives (known as “political officials”) who have the authority to represent others and make decisions on their behalf. But in the modern period, regardless of which political system we examine, there exist many un-elected officials (known as “public servants”) who truly do exercise political power. To say that they do not have the authority to represent others is in fact to remove the pressure on them to serve the people with all their hearts, as if everything will be fine if they follow standard procedure and go through the motions.
As for the question of who represents, the answer provided by representational democracy is: all those who exercise political power, including those representatives chosen through formal elections as well as other public servants who also possess genuine power. China calls all those who exercise any kind of power “cadres.” Each and every cadre has a responsibility to represent the people’s interests. There is no doubt that cadres belong to the “vanguard” that Lenin spoke of; but this does not mean that they can act in an “elitist” manner, conducting their work in “elitist” ways. It is in fact just the opposite: those who have a responsibility to represent the people’s interests must through various means become one with the great masses of the people, and through this process unwaveringly remould themselves, for “it is the people, and only the people, that compose the force that can change world history.”; for the “the masses are true heroes,” while cadres at all levels “are often laughable in their naivety”; for “the masses have boundless creative power.”
This is to say that cadres at every level must “study amid practice and practice amid study.” They cannot “see themselves as masters of the masses, as if they were aristocrats residing high above the “commoners.” They “absolutely cannot pretend to know something when they don’t,” they must “not be ashamed to ask those beneath them,” they must excel at listening to cadres beneath them. They must first act as a student, then act as a teacher; they must first seek counsel from lower cadres, and only then give orders.” This is in contrast with the role of the representative as imagined by “authority theory” and “accountability theory,” which is that of a political elite above other people.
C) What is represented?
In a Western-style representative system, there are mechanisms for expression that enable people to convey their desires (or preferences) and thereby produce a form of pressure on representatives in the hopes that they can thereby influence government policy. “Desire” is a relatively vague concept, which includes both the subjective wants and objective needs of the people. With a little bit of class analysis, we will see that the middle and upper classes of a society, those that have already solved basic questions of food and clothing, often express subjective demands (for example, reduced taxes, same-sex marriage, freedom of expression), while the lower classes of a society, those still struggling with poverty, often express objective needs (social safeguards such as employment, medical care, education, housing, etc.). In fact, the objective needs expressed by the lower classes are also the objective needs of the upper classes, because the latter cannot do without clothing, food, housing, employment, medical care, old-age care, etc. It is only because they have money left over after seeing to the basics that the truth regarding these objective needs is hidden. We can thus see that the needs of society’s lowers classes are the needs of the entire society, while the demands from society’s upper classes are not necessarily the demands of the entire society. There is one more difference between needs and desires: the former remain relatively stable over time, while the latter are capable of changing rapidly, even in a short period.
In order to enable the people to act as their own masters, and to serve the interests of the greatest number of people, what representational democracy seeks to represent are the objective needs of the people, and not capriciously expressed demands or fashionable viewpoints.
Of course, objective needs are not set in stone. When the level of economic development is relatively low, the crucial needs are for food to eat and clothes to wear. But once a society has reached a relatively high level of development, the importance of these survival needs diminishes, while other needs rise in importance: one wants to eat a little better, wear clothes that are a little prettier, have more convenient transportation, live in a more spacious and comfortable dwelling. When we’re sick we want medical care, when we get old we want elder care, etc. Representing the basic needs of the people must keep up with the times. This entails demanding that cadres at every level listen to the demands expressed by every level of society, even as they immerse themselves unceasingly in the lowest reaches of society, in order to understand the changing needs to be found there. In this sense, representation must be a dynamic process of construction.
D) How to represent?
People often understand the mass line as the form of democratic decision-making inherent to the Communist tradition, yet the mass line is also a method of representation imbued with the most Chinese of characteristics. In Chinese history, it was precisely the Chinese Communist Party that took the mass line as its own “basic political and organizational line” (see Liu Shaoqi’s report on amending the party’s constitution presented at the Seventh Party Congress). It was the CCP who brought hundreds of millions of common people onto the political stage for the first time, and it was the political awakening of these hundreds of millions of people that was the pre-condition for the realization of democracy. In this sense, the American scholar Brantly Womack’s assertion that the Chinese political system, with the mass line as a defining characteristic, is a “quasi-democratic system” makes sense. The mass line is the core of Chinese representational democracy. Several generations of CCP leaders have had much to say about the mass line. Mao’s summary of the concept is the most representative:
"In every aspect of my party’s practical work, if leadership is to be correct it must come from the masses and go to the masses. This is to say, we must collect the views of the masses (disparate and un-systematic views) and, through study, turn them into collective and systematic views, and then we must go back to the masses to disseminate and explain them, turning them into the masses’ own views, enabling the masses to persevere, and to see these views implemented in practice. From the practice of the masses we must conduct examinations to determine whether these views are correct. We then must once again collect the views of the masses, and once again go back to the masses and persevere. This endless cycle will each time be more correct than the last, richer and more vivid than the last. This is the epistemology of Marxism."
In representative democracies, the relationship between representatives and the people becomes closer during elections. Yet once representatives are elected and have the legitimacy to wield political power, they in fact come to possess free discretionary power, and they can represent the people who elected them according to their own whims. If during their terms in office representatives interact with the people, it is mainly with electioneering in mind, and their goal is to curry favor in the eyes of the people so that they will win the next election. As such, they will do things that help secure and enlarge their electoral base, and will have no interest in doing things that do not, regardless of whether these latter things are beneficial for the people. For representatives, the objects of their courtship are those people who participate in elections, these are the people with whom it is necessary to interact; and as for those people who do not participate in elections, they can ignore them altogether. And indeed those who do not participate in elections are often those at the bottom of society.
The mass line is different, for it demands that cadres at every level “love the great masses of the people, and carefully listen to the voices of the masses; when one arrives at any region, one must become one with that region’s masses, not placing oneself above the masses, but going deeply into [the life] of the masses.” “Go amongst the masses, study from the masses, synthesize their experience and produce better and more orderly methods and principles, then go and tell the masses (do propaganda work), urging the masses to carry out such methods in order to solve their own problems, enabling them to gain liberation and happiness.” The “masses” spoken of here are “the great masses of the people,” they are the same as “the people”; and the “people” refers first to peasants, workers, soldiers, and other laboring people.
In order to address the shortcomings of representative democracy, some progressive scholars in the West have championed the concept of participatory democracy, in the hopes of producing more opportunities and channels by which common people can influence government policy. Even when compared with the relatively more democratic notion of participatory democracy, the mass line still maintains its distinct characteristics. Diagram 2 compares the concepts of the mass line and that of civic participation.
Diagram 2 presents civic participation and the mass line in their ideal conditions. The first difference between the two is seen in the direction of the arrows on the diagram. The arrow of civic participation moves from interest groups towards policy makers, meaning that interest groups have the right to wade forcefully into and deeply affect the process by which government makes decisions; yet this also means that policymakers do not have to step outside of their official chambers (see Diagram 2:A). The arrow of the mass line moves from policy makers towards interest groups, meaning that within the process of government decision-making, policy-makers must let their guard down and work to engage deeply with various interest groups. This is a responsibility that policy-makers are not allowed to shirk (see Diagram 2: B).
The second difference between the two regards the question of whether they include class analysis. The concept of civic participation often tacitly includes a pluralist assumption, imagining all interest groups as being evenly matched in strength, believing that they can all participate equally in the policy-making process, and that in the end they will reach a kind of political balance (see Diagram 2: A). The mass line makes a distinction between the powerful who possess various kinds of resources and the weak who lack resources. The mass line in its ideal state of implementation entails policy-makers engaging more with those weaker interest groups, listening more thoroughly to their voices, because their interests require more thorough attention and their ability to actively influence policy-makers is weaker. What this means is that the mass line is not neutral, but is rather a process that favors the common laboring people （see Diagram 2:B）.
Civic participation and the mass line as they are implemented in reality are perhaps quite different from their idealized forms. Speaking of civic participation, different social strata differ greatly in terms of their ability to participate in the policy-making process. Some classes have advantages in terms of money, knowledge, and social connections, and their desire to participate in politics can be strong, as is their ability to influence policy-making; other classes spend their days simply getting by, they have no time or ability to exert influence on government policy (see Diagram 3: A). The inequality that exists between various classes’ abilities to participate means that the lustrous halo surrounding the concept of “civic participation” can silently flicker out, with the logical result that such a system is more apt at expressing “wants” rather than “needs.” 
In implementing the mass line there are relatively exacting demands placed on cadres at every level. They cannot simply sit and wait for the common people to come through their office doors, but must actively engage with the broad masses of the people. If cadres have a weak sense of mass-consciousness, if their mass-consciousness has become dissipated, then I’m afraid that even if they get out of their offices to go among the people, they will “be suspicious of the poor and love the rich.” They will suck up to powerful social groups, attend ribbon-cutting events run by merchants, eat and drink lavishly with captains of industry. In short, they will be pulled this way and that, and will wind up accepting bribes as they turn influence peddling into a bargaining chip. At this point, engaging with powerless social groups becomes a perfunctory task, a sham (see Diagram 3:B). This is the Achilles heel of the mass line, for it has an over-reliance on the level of enlightenment of cadres. Along with the mass line there must be a comprehensive mechanism that forces cadres at every level to engage with the common masses at the base of society. One way to do this may after all be to forcefully promote the mass line, systematizing the means for carrying it out, speaking of the mass line every year, month, and day, ensuring that it is discussed and understood in every household, that it enters deeply into people’s hearts, becoming an intense expectation of—as well as a firm demand on—cadres at every level.
Another method for forcing cadres to carry out the mass line exactingly would be to combine it together with civic participation. Though each of these has its own distinct characteristics, they are not mutually contradictory or exclusive. The relative strength of civic participation is that it is helpful for expressing the will of the people and for exerting pressure on policy-makers; the relative strength of the mass line is that it is helpful for developing a sense of mass-consciousness in cadres, to understand the feelings of the people, and to absorb the wisdom of the people. Not only are the two not in opposition, they in fact can be completely integrated, making an excellent combination that complements each other’s strengths (see Diagram 4). For example, the government can on the one hand push cadres to carry out the mass line, while on the other hand empower the masses politically, helping them to organize and grasp the will and the ability to participate. If the government does this, the laboring masses can have a relatively large influence on policy-makers as they express their needs, while at the same time the expression of reasonable demands by other social groups will not be ignored.
The mass line is not only the theoretical cornerstone of Chinese representational democracy, it is also the primary means of implementing it.
In his political report to the Seventh Party Congress, Mao Zedong pointed out that the mass line was one of the clear marks by which the Communist Party distinguished itself from other political parties. Regardless of whether it was during the revolutionary wartime period or during the period of socialist construction, the first generation of political leadership of the party placed tremendous emphasis on the thorough implementation of the mass line. Mao Zedong was particularly exemplary in this respect. Citing Deng Xiaoping’s words, we can say that “Comrade Mao was indeed great, was indeed different from us, for he excelled at discovering problems from within mass discussions and at presenting guidelines and policies to solve them.”  At the beginning of Reform and Opening, the second generation of central political leadership of the party continued to place important emphasis on the mass line. Deng Xiaoping once said: “The most basic work methods promoted by Comrade Mao are the mass line and seeking truth from facts…as regards the current state of our party, the mass line and seeking truth from facts are extremely important. 
It is important to admit openly that, from the 1980s onward, over a relatively long period of time, the rich heritage of the mass line has been forgotten by a not-inconsiderable number of people. Though in official discourse sayings such as “trust the masses,” “rely on the masses,” and “serve the people” will sometimes appear (although less and less), in many places there are no longer specific measures designed to implement the mass line. This situation endured until around 2011, when changes finally took place. Major motive-forces in the rejuvenation of the mass line are perhaps the emergence of the internet as well as continually increasing civic participation and pressure.
2011 marked the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. In his July 1 speech, General-Secretary Hu Jintao said: “The unshakeable foundation of our party is that we are from the people, rooted in the people, and that we serve the people.” “Every single Communist Party member must keep the people in the highest position in their hearts, they must take the people as their teachers, grounding the enhancement of their political wisdom and the strengthening of their skills of governance deeply in the creative practice of the people themselves.” Around this time, some provinces, cities, and districts began to raise the concept of the mass line once again (for example, Chongqing, Guangdong, Shanxi, Jiangsu, Hubei, Xizang, and Yunan), and to institutionalize and ensure its implementation. By the end of 2011, “going to the lowest reaches [of society], going to the masses” had become a national trend. Aside from the regions mentioned above, the leaders of the provincial and municipal party committees of Hebei, Zhejiang, Anhui, Shaanxi, Guilin, Jilin, Gansu, Xinjiang, etc., were all going doing down to the lowest reaches of society, engaging with the masses “with zero distance between them,” speaking to them face-to-face, and large numbers of front-line cadres were living in villages in order to conduct first-hand investigations, striving diligently to feel the pulse of the masses, getting as close as possible to their hearts and minds.  In 2012, even more provinces launched similar activities (for example Qinghai, Guangxi, Ningxia, etc.)
At the same time, many regions started to establish organizations for mass work (whose shortened names were abbreviated as "mass-work units 群工部"). The first mass-work unit emerged in 2005 in Yima City 义马市in Henan province. It brought together representatives from various government departments who were tasked with functions that bear directly on the interests of the masses, including departments like the state bureau for letters and calls, civil affairs, labor, social assistance, the judiciary, science and technology, public security, land and resources, and urban development. Such representatives were brought together to answer the complaints and demands of the masses face-to-face in one site. Not long after, Yima’s experiment gained recognition from central government leadership, and it was steadily expanded to 18 prefectural level cities and 158 counties (including municipalities and districts).  After this, Shandong, Hunan, Heilongjiang, Guizhou, and Liaoning provinces also established similar mechanisms at both prefectural and county levels. In June of 2011, Hainan province established the first provincial level mass-work unit in the entire country. 
In 2012, the 18th Party Congress chose a new cohort of party leaders. General-Secretary Xi Jinping has always seen mass-work as the lifeline of the CCP. Even early on, when he was serving as secretary of Ningde 宁德 in Fujian Province (1988-1990), he established four routinized mechanisms for cadres to “go to the grass roots,” including receiving the letters of complaints from the grass roots, meeting with people at the grass roots directly to deal with their problems, conducting surveys and writing reports regarding the grass roots level, and promulgating policy at the grass roots level. At the concluding ceremony of the 2011 special topic seminar for leading provincial-level cadres, Xi Jinping demanded that cadres at every level use their own conduct as an example, cultivating within themselves a mass outlook, fortifying their mass stance, adhering to the mass line, deepening the emotions they feel for and with the masses, and innovating in the development of methods for mass-work. On the eve of the opening of the 18th Party Congress, at the concluding ceremony of the 2012 special topic seminar for leading cadres at the provincial level, Xi once again emphasized: “Our party upholds our basic mission to serve the people with all of our hearts and minds, we uphold the policy of coming from the masses and returning to the masses, we insist that the entirety of the work of the party is to realize the will, interests, and demands of the people, this is the greatest source of strength of our party, a strength generated from close relations with the people.”
Xi Jinping was the leader of the working-group tasked with writing up the report of the 18th Party Congress. The term that appears with the greatest frequency in the report is “the people,” appearing altogether 145 times, which is without a doubt revealing of his tremendous consciousness of the people.  A couple of weeks after the end of the 18th Party Congress, in order to strengthen the sense of popular consciousness that cadres at every level should have, the Politburo published “Eight Guidelines Regarding Connecting Closely with the Masses and Reforming Work Methods 关于改进工作作风、密切联系群众的八项规定.” The Central Party School, the Academy of National Administration, and the Chinese Yan’an Cadre Academy have all placed mass work among the important courses for training cadres. On April 19, 2013 the Politburo made another decision: mass line educational activities would commence in the latter half of that year, lasting for roughly a year, and would be executed across the entire party from its highest levels down to its lowest. 
Diagram 5 can perhaps help us gain a sense of the momentum surrounding the return of the mass line. The “Baidu Index 百度指数” is a big-data analysis service based on searches on the Baidu engine as well as Baidu news.  It can be used to display the “rate of user attention” and “rate of media attention” that certain key words have received over a particular time period, directly and objectively reflecting hot social topics and the interests of netizens. Diagram 5 shows that before 2011, the Baidu Index number for the term “mass line” remained below the average line (the dash line). Yet in the two subsequent years, the “mass line” number mounted above the average line, and indeed it increased rapidly after the 18th Party Congress, achieving unprecedented heights.
Through the practice of the last few decades, the mass line has already developed three different kinds of mechanisms. The first is a mechanism for understanding the sentiments of the people and absorbing their wisdom, which includes social survey work, front line unit work, pilot projects, and strategies that start with one work unit but can be scaled up to an entire region. The second is a mechanism for nurturing a mass outlook in cadres, which includes engaging with the poorest members of society and understanding their plight, the “three togethers 三同” (eating together, living together, laboring together), being sent down, etc.  Aside from this, there is also a series of accompanying mechanisms whose goals are to force cadres at every level to keep firmly in mind the mass line and to implement it, which include engaging in criticism and self-criticism at set times, and at non-set times participating in rectification activities.  When these three mechanisms are active at the same time, the mass line can be thoroughly implemented. 
Among all of the mechanisms for implementing the mass line, one that deserves particular mention are social surveys, for this is a mechanism that is often used; though the tradition of social surveys continued during the years in which the emphasis placed on the mass line wavered, they were not carried out frequently, and their investigations lacked depth.  Along with the return of the mass line, the emphasis placed on social surveys has increased tremendously, evidenced by the increase in the Baidu Index number regarding “Social Surveys” (see Diagram 6).
Prior to his engagement with the mass line, Mao Zedong had already placed tremendous emphasis on social surveys, and in fact conducted them himself. In the spring of 1927 in Hunan, he conducted investigation in five counties, including Changhsa 长沙, Xiangtan 湘潭, Xiangxiang 湘乡, Hengshan 衡山, and Liling 醴陵. During the Jinggangshan 井冈山 period, he conducted a wide range of investigation and survey work, including: the two-county investigation of Ningqu 宁冈 and Yongxin永新, the Xunwu 寻乌 investigation, the Xingguo 兴国 investigation, the Dongtang 东塘 investigation, the Mukou village 木口村 investigation, the survey regarding land allotment in southwestern Jiangxi, the investigation into the distribution of immature crops and land rent, investigations in the errors made in struggles over land in Jiangxi province, investigations into the questions of rich peasants after land had been divided, investigations pertaining to the two initial land laws, the Changgang 长冈village investigation, and the Caixi 才溪village investigation. After he became the leader of the CCP, Mao repeatedly impressed upon the entire party the importance of conducting survey work. During the rectification period in Yan’an, the CCP Central Committee created the “Central Committee guidelines regarding social survey research 中央关于调查研究的决定.”  After the establishment of New China, Mao Zedong twice demanded a “work-style defined by seeking guidance from the masses and wide-ranging survey work,”  the first time was in 1956, the second time was at the beginning of the 1960s. 
When it comes to individually carrying out social survey work, Xi Jinping, the head of the new leadership cohort selected out of the 18th Party Congress, is himself an exemplary model. He has diligently carried out survey work over the course of his career, while serving as as party branch secretary of the Liangjia river 梁家河 brigade in the Wenanyi 文安驿 commune in Yanchuan 延川country in Shaanxi province, on the party committee of Zhengding 正定 county in Hebei province, to his time on the party committees of Xiamen City, the party prefectural committee of Ningde, the party committee of Fujian province, Zhejiang province, and the city of Shanghai, and including his service on the Standing Committee of the CCP Politburo. In October of 2002 when he took up his post in Zhejiang, he conducted intensive social investigations. In his first two months his social investigation work outside of his office made up approximately half of his overall work; in his first nine months he had visited 69 of the region’s 90 counties, cities, and districts.  In 2005, Xi spent 177 days outside of his office conducting investigations, which came to more than thirty in all.  Within five years he had visited all of Zhejiang’s mountains and waterways  On March 27, 2007, he was transferred to the party committee of Shanghai; three days later, on the March 31, he began a special investigation of Pudong; within half a year he had conducted investigations of all of Shanghai’s 19 districts and counties.  Using Xi Jinping’s own words: “When you serve as county party secretary you must certainly scour every single village; when you serve as prefectural (or municipal) party secretary you must scour every single village and township; when you serve as provincial party secretary you must scour every county, city, and district.” After becoming general secretary of the CCP Central Committee, he continued to hold firm to conducting grass-roots social survey work. It was not just Xi Jinping who did this, all previous members of the standing committee of the Politburo of the CCP Central Committee have built their careers in this fashion. 
In comparison with the surveys conducted by scholars or think-tanks, the “survey and research” work referred to here, which is meant decide policy, has eight characteristics:
First, evaluations through survey and research are a necessary procedure for policy-making. According to Mao Zedong, when deciding policy, “only a fool would, alone or in a group of people, not conduct social survey work, but simply wrack his brain to ‘think of a method’ or ‘come up with ideas.’” “This will certainly not produce any good methods, or come up with any ideas. Put another way, he will certainly produce the wrong methods and bad ideas.”  Even for those so-called elected “representatives,” if they do not conduct survey and research work, then their policies will have no value. As such, Mao Zedong advised that all policy-making “has to uphold the mass line, all questions have to be discussed with the masses and only afterwards will they be collectively decided upon and thoroughly implemented. Cadres at every level are not permitted to forego survey and research work. It is thoroughly forbidden for the small number of people on the party committees to forego survey and research work, to not discuss matters with the masses, to lock themselves up in their rooms and produce so-called policy that is tainted with pernicious subjectivism.” Mao Zedong’s admonished that “in the absence of survey work, one had no right to speak.” Chen Yun spoke of the demand to conduct social survey work as an antecedent to policy in a more vivid manner: “Leading organs decide policy, and one must use over 90% of one’s time conducting survey and research work, while the time spent on discussion and policy decision-making should account for not even 10% of one’s time.” Xi Jinping completely identifies with this understanding of social survey work, believing that “survey work must thoroughly permeate the entire process of policy-making, truly becoming the essential procedure.”
Second, those who carry out social survey work are not support staff like secretaries, consultants, etc. but rather those who directly make policy. For example, though Mao Zedong entrusted the personnel around him with carrying out survey work (for example his secretary Tian Jiaying 田家英), he nonetheless emphasized that leading cadres “must themselves mount the horse 要亲自出马,” “that all those tasked with the responsibility for leading [party] work, from the chairman of village governments to the chairman of the central government at the national level, from brigade leaders to major generals, from section secretaries to general secretaries, all of them must personally carry out concrete social and economic investigations, they cannot simply rely on written reports, for these two things are not at all the same.” Because “those who do not directly carry out investigation work will not be able to understand.” Mao himself along with Liu Shaoqi 刘少奇 (1898-1969), Zhou Enlai 周恩来 (1898-1976), Zhu De 朱德 (1886-1976), Deng Xiaoping 邓小平 (1904-1997), Chen Yun 陈云 (1905-1995), and Peng Zhen彭真(1902-1997) all went to various regions to conduct survey work. Today, grass-roots investigation and research is a mandatory course and basic skill for first-secretaries at every level across China. Xi Jinping’s own personal experience is that “in terms of knowledge and feeling, the effect on leading cadres who engage directly with masses at the grass roots level, who discuss conditions and think over problems with them, is different than indirectly listening to summary reports or simply reading [printed] materials.” He therefore admonishes that “although today’s means of transportation and communication are increasingly developed, and the channels we have for receiving information more numerous, for leading cadres, none of these can replace social survey work done directly and diligently by themselves.” 
Xi Jinping strongly emphasizes that those in charge of leading organs at every level must themselves conduct survey work, directly taking charge of surveys regarding important questions. “Policy-making regarding various questions, particularly involving questions of major significance, must in the end be decided by leading collectives after those in charge have assembled opinions from various quarters, and if those in charge themselves conduct survey work, if they have a collective sense of empathy and experience that is shared with everyone, then it is easier to produce a unified understanding and unified opinion within leading collectives, and easier to make decisions.” Therefore, the General Office of the Central Committee of the CCP in 2010 published the document “Suggestions On Promoting the Construction of Learning-Oriented Party Organizations 关于推进学习型党组织建设的意见” which clearly demanded: “In order to construct a comprehensive system of social investigation and study, leading cadres at the provincial level must every year spend no less than 30 days conducting grass-roots survey work, leading cadres at the city and county level must conduct no less than 60 days of grass-roots survey work, and leading cadres must every year write one or two social survey reports.”
Third, though the topics of social survey work can change, they should be primarily focused on comprehensive questions of strategic importance for policy makers, as well as on new situations, contradictions, problems, and challenges. In relation to the present, what this entails concretely is that one must “deeply research prominent questions that influence and constrain scientific development, deeply research the pressing and difficult questions that generate strong reactions among the masses, deeply research the theoretical and practical questions that are facing party construction, deeply research the important questions concerning stable development and reform, deeply research important questions facing the world in the economic and social fields, comprehensively understand various new circumstances, diligently summarize the new experiences created by the masses, and put great efforts into exploring those things within various fields and professions that carry with them certain inherent laws, actively offering up appropriate policies.” “Especially as concerns questions that generate the greatest amount of hope, concern, anxiety, and complaints among the masses, these must be researched with even greater enthusiasm, so that they can be understood thoroughly.” 
Fourth, the objects of social investigation work are those people who are connected to policy formulation and “who can enter into and deeply understand social and economic circumstances.” Such people include “mid-level and lower-level cadres who have genuine experience, as well as the common people.” More specifically, “we must investigate [administrative] organs, we must also investigate the grass-roots; we must investigate cadres, we must also investigate the masses; we must analyze model examples [of a given problem], we must also investigate the entire context [in which a problem appears]; we must go to those advanced places where work is proceeding well to review and summarize experiences there, we must also go to those places where there are a relatively large number of challenges, where the situation is complex, where the contradictions are sharp, in order to research the problems there. The grass-roots, the masses, important model examples, and challenge areas all must become focal points for investigations, andmore time must be spent researching and understanding them.”  What needs to be pointed out is that the objects of these investigations are not totally passive, but are instead active participants in these investigations. Policy-makers should conduct investigations among, and with, the masses, carrying out research together.
Fifth, the attitude that one takes when conducting investigations is “humble yourself and be willing to be like an elementary school student,” for “the masses are the true heroes, and we are often immature and laughable,” and “if one only looks up at the Heaven and utters high sounding words,” “if one does not have the courage to look at what is in front of one, you will throughout your entire life have no ability to truly understand the affairs of China.” Even more pertinently, “if one is not humble and diligent with an attitude of comradeship,” the masses will “not tell you what they know, or they will speak without going into detail.” Only “by becoming friends with the masses, rather than acting as a spy sleuthing behind their backs…can one’s investigation reveal the true nature of the situation.” According to his own practical experience, Xi Jinping’s advice is: “When leading cadres engage in investigation work, they must abandon their pride and devote themselves wholeheartedly to the work and im:merse themselves completely in the finest details, discussing matters together with the masses, listening to their voices, experiencing their emotions first-hand, feeling their pain, summarizing their experience, and absorbing their wisdom. You must listen to the words of the masses when it is easy, you must listen to the words of the masses when it is hard; you must allow the masses to report on the situation, you must also allow the masses to present their own views…only in this way can you truly hear genuine speech, investigate the real situation, and gain real knowledge, to achieve real results.” 
Sixth, the goal of social investigation is to understand the circumstances of the people and to absorb the wisdom of the people. As Mao Zedong said: “We must ask to be educated by the masses,” “we must seek truth from the masses.”  For policy-makers, the point of understanding the circumstances of the people is to understand what to do, and the point of absorbing the wisdom of the people is to understand how to do it. To actively absorb the wisdom of the people is to manifest a belief in, a reliance upon, and a respect for the pioneering spirit of the masses.
Seventh, there are various methods of social investigation, yet there are two major types: “going out 走出去” (that is, going to interview people, conducting grass roots investigations 蹲点) and “welcoming in 请进来” (that is, holding discussion forums and symposiums). “Going out” means “striding on two feet to go to every corner of the region encompassed within the scope of your work”; “welcoming in” means “holding a seminar as a means of assembling those people who understand a given situation, with the purpose of finding the sources of all the difficult problems you are currently grappling with so as to render the ‘current situation’ clear.” Regardless of whether it is “going out” or “welcoming in,” what is crucial is that one must engage with grass roots cadres and masses. Only in this way “can one grasp those new situations that are difficult to hear, see, and imagine if one simply stays at one’s desk, and one can find a new perspective from which to solve problems, a new mode of thought and new policies.” An important means of “going out” is to selectively conduct front-line [lit., “squat on a spot 蹲点”] investigations, what we call “dissecting sparrows [i.e., making detailed investigations of small test cases] 解剖“麻雀”.” In conducting front-line investigations, one “must pay attention to grass-roots units such as villages, communities, and enterprises that are not only intimately related to one’s own set of duties, but in which there are many problems, great challenges, and a host of contradictions. [One must] conduct front-line investigations, listen to the voices of the masses, and find the crux of problems.”  Of course, methods of social investigations must advance with the times. At the same time that we maintain traditional methods, we must also “open up further channels of investigation, enrich our means of investigation, and create new methods of investigation, learning, understanding, and utilizing investigatory methods that are rooted in modern technology and science, for example, questionnaires, statistical investigations, sample surveys, specialized surveys, online surveys, etc. We must also steadily integrate modern information technology into the investigatory field, improving the effectiveness and scientific level of our investigations.”
Eighth, investigation and research must be done in tandem. The purpose of investigation is to better understand a particular phenomenon or question, and to grasp first-hand experience and materials related to it; the purpose of research is “to sift through large numbers of disparate materials in order to expel what is false and grasp what is true, and to think, analyze, and synthesize in a comparative manner that moves between surface and depth, to systematize and organize these materials, so as to penetrate complex and multi-faceted phenomenon in order to grasp the genuine essence of matters, finding their internal laws, transcending emotional understanding in order to reach rational understanding, and upon this foundation make correct policy.” To conduct research and investigation work in tandem is to “seek truth from facts.” Using Chen Yun’s words, “seeking truth from facts means first to clarify what exactly is ‘truth.’ If you do not clarify this question, then you will not be able to do anything well.” “‘Truth’ means clarifying the concrete situation; “to seek” demands that one use the results of one’s research as a basis for making correct policy.” If you do not conduct detailed investigations, research “becomes water without a source, a tree without roots 无源之水，无本之木, becoming subjective and unreliable.” If one does not conduct diligent research, than investigation becomes a reckless waste, equivalent to striving through great obstacles to collect materials that will be simply discarded in the end. “The basic goal of investigation and research is to solve problems, and after investigations have been completed you must conduct meticulous and thorough reflection, as well as doing the work of exchanging views, comparing [ideas], and [working through points] repeatedly, you must take one’s disparate understanding and systematize it, take one’s coarse understanding and deepen it, until one has found the basic laws that define matters, the correct method for solving problems.” 
From the eight characteristics described above one can see that carrying out investigation and research is in fact the very essence of the mass line: “Everything for the masses, everything relying on the masses, coming from the masses, returning to the masses.” Trusting in the process that moves from investigation and research to the formulation of policy, we can answer the four questions regarding representation: Who is represented? By whom? What is represented? How is it represented?
In recent years, my colleagues and I have conducted two different research projects into China’s model of government. One regards the process by which China formulated policy regarding healthcare reform, and the other examines the process by which China’s “Fifteen Five-Year Plan” was formulated. They both clearly show that examination and research are the most important characteristics of China’s policy-making model.  Put differently, though many questions still remain, China’s political process absolutely practices representational democracy.
This article has examined the theory of representational democracy and its implementation in China, doing so by placing it in comparative perspective with representative democracy. There will perhaps be many inside and outside of China who will object to calling China’s political system “democratic.” For them, history has already ended, and democracy can only take one form, which is the representative democracy recognized by mainstream Western ideology. As such, because the operational forms of the Chinese political system are different from those of representative democracy then it cannot be democratic. This kind of arbitrary and arrogant attitude is a classic example of “a single leaf before the eyes can blind you to Mount Tai; two beans in your ears can deafen you to thunder 一叶蔽目，不见泰山；两豆塞耳，不闻雷霆.”  If China still has people who maintain this kind of perspective, then this stance can only be called “When vision is hazy you confuse white and black, when the mind is closed you take the superficial for the deep 目有昧则视白为黑，心有蔽则以薄为厚.”
Yet the vast majority of everyday people in China believe that what China is implementing is precisely a kind of democracy. For example, Chart 4 shows that in Mainland China, 27% of people believe their country’s political system is completely democratic; another 50.4% believe the system is democratic, despite the existence of minor problems. Taking these two groups together, you reach 77.3%. Those who believe China is not democratic are extraordinarily few, making up only 1.7% of the population. When compared with other regions of Asia, only in Vietnam does a larger proportion of people believe that their country is completely democratic.  Those who will object, saying that people in China do not know what democracy is, are simply displaying their own bias, which has clouded their vision. Democracy means that people are the masters of their own affairs, and to discuss democracy one must first trust the judgement of the masses, and not see them as idiots who cannot stand on their own two feet. Those self-appointed Enlightenment saviors are in fact roadblocks on the path to democracy.
Why do Chinese people take their own government to be democratic? Because their measure of whether a government is democratic is the degree to which it responds to the basic needs of common people, and the Chinese government has in fact a fairly vigorous responsiveness to those needs. Chart 5 shows that in comparison to other regions in Asia, people in Mainland China have the highest proportion who believe that the level of responsiveness of their government to the demands of the people is “extremely strong,” reaching 28.2%, which is 4.7% higher than Vietnam, and 25.8% higher than Taiwan; if you add the people who believe that their level of responsiveness is “relatively strong,” then Mainland China is still in the first position, reaching 88.1%, 2.9% higher than Vietnam, which comes in at second at 85.2%, 63.1% higher than Mongolia which comes in last place.
If we respect the understanding that common people in China have regarding democracy, if we respect the judgement that common people in China have regarding their own country’s political system, then the “paradox” that this article began with can in fact be solved: the Chinese people prefer substantive democracy. Since the government responds to the demands of the people, the people naturally look upon their government as democratic; this is the kind of democracy that has been discussed at length in this article--representational democracy. The people have no reason not to trust a government that represents their interests.
Recent research by three American scholars provides supports this conclusion. They have discovered that “if one wants to understand why the Chinese people have such a high level of trust in their government, the most important reason is the government’s responsiveness ‘to the needs of the masses.'” The research conducted by the director of the Asian Barometer, the Taiwanese scholar of politics Chu Yun-han 朱云汉, is in complete accordance with the conclusion stated above: “This political regime displays the resolve and the ability to protect the poor and to ensure that they have the basic necessities for life; it is steadily carrying out political reform and strengthening the rule of law; the people can feel its sense of responsiveness to their own needs. These are the major reasons why the people continue to have faith in government organs.” He also asserts that “because of China’s particular cultural tradition and revolutionary legacy, as well as because of the particular position it occupies in the world, it is currently constructing an alternative system of public discourse regarding political legitimacy, charting its own course of political modernization.” 
This is of course not to say that China’s political system is perfect. China’s political system, like any other political system, has many problems, and indeed some of them are quite severe, which will require great efforts to improve. There is absolutely no reason to be content with the status quo and remain complacent. But the fact that China’s political system still has flaws does not mean that we should undeservedly belittle ourselves, and take our strengths as weaknesses and carelessly abandon them. It is foolish to blindly follow in others footprints without deep and careful reflection. If you only listen to others and denigrate your own accomplishments, you will reach a point of no return. The political systems of the world exemplify the notion that “heaven has its shortcomings and earth its strengths 天有所短，地有所长.”  As such, the proper attitude is one that “weighs [various things], and then understands what is heavy or light; that measures [various things], and then understands what is long and short 权，然后知轻重；度，然后知长短,” only then can one “maintain calm and make the world as peaceful as the great Mount Tai 不动声色，而措天下于泰山之安.”
Webmaster's note: Many of the links in the following notes are not functional. Although we will try to repair them, China's internet is in considerable flux and our time is limited.
*王绍光, “代表性民主与代议性民主,” originally published in 開放時代 Open Times 2014.02: 152-174, and available online here.
 Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?” The National Interest, No.16 (Summer 1989), pp. 3-18.
 Paul Kingsnorth，One No, Many Yeses: A Journey to the Heart of the Global Resistance Movement，New York: Free Press，2004.
 David McNally, Another World Is Possible: Globalization and Anti-Capitalism，Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring, 2006.
 Translators’ Note: Sortition is a term that denotes the selection of political officials at random by drawing lots from a larger pool of qualified people. It was a characteristic of Athenian democracy, based on the notion that allotting qualified people at random to governing bodies would prevent elections from being corrupted by oligarchic networks of power who could buy and sell votes. For a more detailed discussion, see Hansen, Mogen Hermans, “Direct Democracy, Ancient and Modern,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to the Politics of Democratization in Europe: Concepts and Histories, Kari Palonen et. al., eds., Abingdon: Routledge, 2008, pp. 37-54.
 Translators’ Note: Here Wang here uses a term—a gilded-bird cage democracy (金絲鳥籠式的民主)—which denotes a structure that while shiny and seemingly attractive is nonetheless confining.
 Mainland Chinese scholars often like to translate the English term “legitimacy” as 合法性, though legitimacy and 合法性 have no necessary relation to one another. As such, the translation used in Hong Kong—正當性—is more appropriate.
 The Edelman Trust Barometer surveys over 31,000 people from 26 different countries. In China it surveys 1,500 people, including one thousand people it considers to come from the “general population,” and five hundred it considers to come from the “informed public.” The latter term denotes people between the ages of 25-64 that have university degrees; have annual household incomes in the top quarter of their age group in their country; are accustomed to reading the news or watching it on television; and who consistently pay attention to public policy issues.
 There are numerous academic works written on the basis of such survey work; owing to limitations of space, I will not list them all individually.
 John James Kennedy, “Maintaining Popular Support for the Chinese Communist Party: The Influence of Education and the State-Controlled Media,” Political Studies, Vol. 57, 2009, p. 517.
 Heike Holbig and Bruce Gilley, “In Search of Legitimacy in Post-Revolutionary China: Bringing Ideology and Governance Back in,” GIGA Working Papers, No. 127, March 2010，p. 6.
 For a work that uses statistical samples from across the nation taken in 2008, see Michael S. Lewis-Beck, et. al., “A Chinese popularity function: Sources of government support,” Political Research Quarterly . For a work that uses statistical samples from five different cities taken in 2011, see Yang Zhong and Yongguo Chen, “Regime support in urban China,” Asian Survey, Vol. 53，No. 2，2013，pp. 369-392. For a work that uses statistical samples from across the nation taken in 2012 and 2013, see Wenfang Tang, et. al., “Government for the people in China?” The Diplomat, June 17, 2013.
 This view is very popular in the West. For example, in an Op-Ed Paul Krugman wrote the following: “Where does this government’s legitimacy come from? Primarily it comes from economic success.” See Paul Krugman “China’s Ponzi Bicycle is Running into a Brick Wall,” New York Times，July 19 2013. In recent years there have also been some who have highlighted the “responsiveness” and “adaptability” of the Chinese system as a means of explaining its “legitimacy.” It is true that the Chinese system is responsive and adaptable, yet if one persists in maintaining the framework of “authoritarianism,” then one will be unable to explain why the system has these qualities, to say nothing of explaining its “legitimacy.”
 Chu Yun-han，et. al., How East Asians View Democracy, New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.
 Zhengxu Wang, Democratization in Confucian East Asia: Citizen Politics in China, Japan， Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, Amherst: Cambria Press 2007; Doh Chull Shin，Confucianism and Democratization in East Asia, New York: Cambridge University Press 2011.
 张明澍:《中国人想要什么样民主:中国“政治人”》， 北京:社会科学文献出版社 2013 年版. [Zhang Mingshu, What Kind of Democracy Do Chinese People Want? China’s“Political Man”, Beijing: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Publishing House, 2013].
 Translator’s Note: In the Chinese version of this essay, Wang refers to Taiwan as “Chinese Taiwan” 中國台灣, indicating to his readers that he considers Taiwan to be part of China, in line with the PRC’s “One-China Policy.” We have included the original neologism in our English translation to recreate for English readers the political positioning imbedded in Wang’s choice of words.
 In this survey respondents were asked four different times about how they understood democracy, with possible answers to the questions being presented in different orders each time. Respondents could choose one answer from four different choices: democracy could be understood as “Good Governance,” “Social Equality,” “Democratic Process,” or “Freedom.” The different arrangement of the answers was done in order to avoid one particular answer being favored solely on the basis of the order in which it appeared in the original questions.
 Yun-han Chu and Min-hua Huang, “East Asian youth’s understanding of democracy,” paper presented at the conference “Democratic Citizenship and Voices of Asia’s Youth” organized by the Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica, and co-sponsored by Asian Barometer Survey，National Taiwan University, September 20-21, 2012, p. 6.
 Zhang Mingshu, What Kind of Democracy Do Chinese People Want? China’s “Political Man.”
 Chinese communities Malaysia (and other overseas Chinese communities) are still accustomed to using the term daiyishi 代议士.
 应奇、刘训练(主编):《代表理论与代议政治》，长春 : 吉林出版集团有限责任公司 2008 年版. [Yingqi, Liu Xunlian Eds., Representational Theory and Representative Politics, Changchun: Jilin Publishing Group Co. 2008].
 刘军宁:《代表，还是议员?》搜狐网. [Liu Junning, “Representative, or Parliamentarian?”]
 For a classic formulation of this position, see 熊彼特:《资本主义、社会 主义与民主》吴建良译，北京:商务印书馆 1999 年版, particularly chapter 21 “The Classical Doctrine of Democracy” and chapter 22 “Another Theory of Democracy.” [Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, Trans. by Wu Jianliang, Beijing: The Commercial Press, 1999].
 In recent years, a number of scholars and politicians have criticized electoral politics, for even if they are carried out in a free and competitive manner, elections are incredibly easy to manipulate. Such critics have turned their attention to sortition as an alternative or supplement to electoral democracy. Sortition is a system by which one chooses at random representatives from among a population of people who satisfy a certain set of criteria.
 For a relatively recent iteration of this point, see Bryan Caplan, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, Princeton University Press, 2007.
 For example, during elections in America, there are always American officials who explain to the Chinese government that they should not take the rash “election talk” of American candidates seriously. As early as 1981 Deng Xiaoping had this to say about his meetings with George Bush and other American politicians: “In Reagan’s electoral platform there were indeed some words that made us uncomfortable. When Mr. Bush came to see us we told him that we understand that things said during elections will not necessarily be implemented after one comes to power. What we care about is what Mr. Reagan will do after he comes to power.” 邓小平:《发展中美关系的 原则立场》(1981 年 1 月 4 日), 新华网. [Deng Xiaoping, “Principles for the Development of US-Sino Relations,” January 4, 1981.]
 According to a July 2013 report in the New York Times, since Bill Clinton left the White House in 2001, Bill and Hillary Clinton have spun their fame and prestige into a family business based around speaking engagements, one whose profits have already reached over one hundred million dollars. See Amy Chozick “Hillary Clinton taps speechmaking gold mine,” New York Times, July 11, 2013.
 Bernard Manin et. al., “Introduction,” in Adam Przeworski et al. (eds.), Democracy，Accountability，and Representation (Cambridge Studies in the Theory of Democracy), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999 p. 3.
 Hanna F. Pitkin, The Concept of Representation, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.
 Robert A. Dahl, Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition, New Haven: Yale University Press，1971 p.1.
 毛泽东:《关于目前党的政策中的几个重要问题》 (1948年1月18日)，载《毛泽东选集》第4卷，北京:人 民出版社1991 年版，第 1215 页. [Mao Zedong, “Regarding Some Important Questions of Party Policy In Our Current Moment,” January 18, 1948, reprinted in The Complete Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. 4, Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1991, pp. 1215].
 毛泽东:《论联合政府》，载《毛泽东选集》第 3 卷，北 京:人民出版社 1991 年版，第 1031 页. [Mao Zedong, “On Coalition Government,” reprinted in The Complete Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. 3, Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1991, pp. 1031].
 毛 泽 东 :《 〈 农 村 调 查 〉 的 序 言 和 跋 》 ， 载 《 毛 泽 东 农 村调查文集》，北京:人民出版社 1982 年版，第 17 页. [Mao Zedong, “Introduction and Postscript to Rural Surveys,” in Collection of Mao Zedong’s Rural Surveys, Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1982, p. 17].
 毛泽东:《〈多余劳动力找到了出路〉一文的按语》，载 中共中央办公厅(编):《中国农村的社会主义高潮》中 册，北京:人民出版社 1956 年版，第 578 页 [Mao Zedong, “Commentary on ‘Surplus Labor Has Found an Outlet,’” printed in Central Office of the Communist Party of China (ed.), The Socialist High Tide in the Chinese Countryside, Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1956, p. 578].
 毛泽东:《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》，载《毛泽东 选集》第 3 卷，第 864 页. [Mao Zedong, “Talks at the Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art,” reprinted in Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol.3, p.864].
 毛泽东:《党委会的工作方法》，载《毛泽东选集》第 4 卷，第 1441 页. [Mao Zedong, “The Work Methods of the Party Committee,” in Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol.4, p. 1441].
 Brantly Womack, “In Search of Democracy: Public Authority and Public Power in China,” in Brantly Womack (ed.), Contemporary Chinese Politics in Historical Perspective, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991, pp. 53-89.
 Brantly Womack, “The Party and the people: Revolutionary and post-revolutionary politics in China and Vietnam,” World Politics, Vol. 39，No. 4, 1987，pp. 479-507.
 毛泽东:《关于领导方法的若干问题》，载《毛泽东选 集》第 3 卷，第 899 页. [Mao Zedong, “Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership,” in Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol.3, p.899].
 毛泽东:《论联合政府》，载《毛泽东选集》第 3 卷，第 1095 页. [Mao Zedong, “On Coalition Government,” in Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol.3, p. 1095].
 毛泽东:《组织起来》，载《毛泽东选集》第 3 卷，第 933 页. [Mao Zedong, “Organize,” in Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol.3, p. 933].
 毛泽东:《关于目前党的政策中的几个重要问题》，载 《毛泽东选集》第 4 卷，第 1215 页. [Mao Zedong, “Regarding Some Important Questions of Party Policy in Our Current Moment,” in Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. 4, p. 1215].
 A relatively early work that championed participatory democracy was Carole Pateman, Participation and Democratic Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970. In the last twenty years, works that have critiqued representative democracy and have advocated participatory democracy have multiplied. For example, see William R. Nylen，Participatory Democracy Versus Elitist Democracy: Lessons from Brazil, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003; Thomas Zittel & Dieter Fuchs (eds.), Participatory Democracy and Political Participation: Can participatory engineering bring citizens back in? New York: Routledge, 2007.
 王绍光:《不应淡忘的公共决策参与模式:群众路 线》，载李朱(选编):《群众路线大家谈》，北京:华文出 版社 2013 年版，第 331~337 页. [Wang Shaoguang, “A Participatory Model for Public Policy Decision Making That Should Not Be Forgotten: The Mass Line,” in Li Zhu (ed.), Everyone Discuss the Mass Line, Beijing: Huawen Publishing House, 2013, pp. 331-337].
 Regarding the inequality that defines participation in American politics, see Kay Lehman Schlozman，“What accent the heavenly chorus? Political equality and the American pressure system” Journal of Politics, Vol. 46, 1984 p. 1014; Frank R. Baumgartner & Beth L. Leech, “Interest niches and policy bandwagons: Patterns of interest group involvement in national politics,” The Journal of Politics, Vol. 63，No. 4，2001, pp. 1191-1213; Sidney Verba，et al., The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy, Princeton: Princeton University, 2012.
 邓小平:《完整地准确地理解毛泽东思想》，载《邓小 平文选》，北京:人民出版社 1994 年，第 43 页. [Deng Xiaoping, “Thoroughly and Correctly Understanding Mao Zedong Thought,” in Selected Writings of Deng Xiaoping, Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1994, p.43].
 Ibid,. p. 45.
 李源潮:《到群众中去，拜人民为师》，载《学习时报》. 2011 年 9 月 12 日. [Li Yuanchao, “Go to the Masses, Call on the People as Teachers,” Study Times, September 12, 2011].
 彭美:《全国推广群众工作部与信访局合署办公》，载 《南方都市报》2011 年 3 月 13 日，转引自新浪网. [Peng Mei, “Expand Across the Nation the Cooperative Work Between Mass-Work Units and the State Bureau for Letters and Calls,” Southern Metropolis Daily, March 13, 2011].
《海南率先提高信访局行政级别，成立省委群工部》， 载《新京报》2011 年 7 月 14 日，转引自人民网. [ “Hainan Leads the Way in Raising the Administrative Rank of the Bureau of Letters and Calls, Establishes Provincial Committee Mass-Work Unit,” Beijing News, July 14, 2011].
 黄少鹤、庄严:《宁德 20 多年坚持“四下基层”的执政 实践和经验启示》，载《福建日报》2012 年 5 月 2 日，转引 自“金黔在线”网站. [Huang Shahe and Zhuang Yan, “20 Years of Upholding the ‘Four Mechanisms of Going to the Grass Roots’ in Ningde: Administrative Practice and Experience Knowledge,” Fujian Daily, May 2, 2012].
 徐京跃等:《习近平在省部级领导干部专题研讨班结 业式上讲话》，中国政府网，. [Xu Jingyue, et all, “Xi Jinping’s Remarks at the Concluding Ceremony of the Special Topic Seminar for Leading Provincial-Level Cadres,” Chinese Government Net.]
《习近平作省部级领导研讨班总结讲话》，国务院参 事室网站， [“Xi Jinping Makes Summary Remarks at the Special Topic Seminar for Provincial Level Leaders,” State Council Councillor’s Office Net.]
 周汉民:《人民、改革、民主是十八大报告的主旋律》， 上海市社会主义学院网站，. [Zhou Hanmin, “People, Reform, and Democracy are the Main Themes of the Eighteenth Party Congress Report,” Shanghai Institute of Socialism Net.]
《中共中央政治局召开会议 习近平主持》，新华网 . [ “The Politburo Convenes—Xi Jinping Serves as Chair,” Xinhua Net.]
 Translators’ Note: The final suggested work method in this sentence—“strategies that start with one work unit but can be scaled up to an entire region” —is a translation of the Chinese term 以點帶面, which could be more directly translated as “fanning out from a single point to an entire area.” The term refers to using the successful techniques developed by a single work unit in a single area and scaling them up across multiple units and areas.
 Such as the April 2013 regulation issued by the General Political Department of the People’s Liberation Army, and approved by the Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xi Jinping, which demanded that leaders and cadres above the regiment level in the PLA as well as the People’s Armed Police go to the field to link up with soldiers, serving, working, and living among them so as to conduct on-the-ground investigation of front line challenges. See《经习近平 主席批准 解放军总政治部下发〈规定〉》，中国政府网，2013年4月21日访问. [“Regulations Issued by the PLA’s General Political Department and Approved by Chairman Xi Jinping,” Chinese Government Net].
 郑科扬:《以整风精神开展批评和自我批评》，载《求 是》2013 年第 16 期，转引自求是理论网. [Zheng Keyang, “Use the Spirit of Rectification to Carry Out Criticism and Self-Criticism”, Qiushi, 2013, Issue 16, Cited from Qiushi Theory Net].
 What must be pointed out is that many people speak of the mass line and mass movements in the same breath. While mass mobilization has been used in the past in the implementation of the mass line, the mass line does not necessarily need to employ mass mobilization in order to be carried out.
 魏 礼 群 、 郑 新 立 ( 主 编 ) :《 新 时 期 调 查 研 究 工 作 全 书》，北京:人民出版社 2006 年版. [Wei Liqun, Zheng Xinli Eds., Encyclopedia of Survey and Research Work Carried Out in the New Period, Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 2006].
 毛泽东:《〈农村调查〉的序言与跋》，载《毛泽东农村 调查文集》，第 14 页. [ Mao Zedong, “Introduction and Postscript to Rural Surveys” in Collection of Mao Zedong’s Rural Surveys, p.14].
《中央关于调查研究的决定》(1941 年 8 月 1 日)，中国 共产党新闻网，. [“The Central Committee’s Decision Regarding Survey Research,” October 1, 1941, Chinese Communist Party News Net].
 毛泽东:《大兴调查研究之风》(1961 年 1 月 13 日)，载 《毛泽东文集》第 8 卷，北京:人民出版社 1999 年版，第 233~234 页. [ Mao Zedong, “Energetically Encourage Investigation and Research Work,” January 13, 1961, in Collected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. 8. Beijing: People’s Publishing House, pp. 233-234].
 The three volume《中国农村的社会主义高潮》 (The Socialist High Tide in the Chinese Countryside), published in 1955, includes materials regarding survey work performed during the collectivization movement. The volume’s introduction was written by Mao Zedong himself. For the survey and investigation work that was carried out in order to prepare Mao Zedong’s “On the Ten Major Relationships,” see 逄先知、 金冲及(主编):《毛泽东传(1949—1976)》上册 ，北京: 中央文献出版社 2003 年版，第 469~506 页. [Pang Xianshi, Jin Chongji eds., The Biography of Mao Zedong, 1949-1976, Vol.1, Beijing: Zhongyang Wenxian Publishing House, 2003, p. 468-506].
 闻言实:《20 世纪 60 年代初中央领导同志的调查研 究》，载《党的文献》2013 年第 3 期，转引自中央文献研究 室网站. [Wen Yanshi, “The Survey and Investigation Work of the Leading Cadres of the Central Committee During the Early 1960s,” Party Documents, 2013, Issue 3, cited from CCP Central Committee Materials Research Office Net].
 习近平:《我是个能够提醒自己、约束自己的人》，载 《人民文摘》2004 年第 3 期，转引自人民网. [Xi Jinping, “I am a person who is able to remind myself, a person able to control myself,” People’s Digest, 2004, Issue 3, cited from People’s Net].
 张凤安:《习近平:从陕北的山沟一路走来》，载《21 世 纪经济报道》2008 年 3 月 10 日，转引自凤凰网. [Zhang Fengan, “Xi Jinping: Starting Out From the Mountain Valleys of Shaanxi,” 21st Century Business Herald, March 10, 2008.]
 Zhang Fengan, “Xi Jinping: Starting Out From the Mountain Valleys of Shaanxi.”
 Xi Jinping, “I am a person who is able to remind myself, a person able to control myself.”
 阚枫:《中央新领导层密集“走基层”，足迹遍及八省 份》，新 华 网 . [Kan Feng, “The New Cohort of Central Party Leadership Intensively ‘Goes to the Grassroots,’ Leaving Tracks Across Eight Provinces”, Xinuha Net].
 胡鞍钢:《中国集体领导体制》，第六章“集体调研机制”，北京:中国人民大学出版社 2013 年版，第 103~126 页. [Hu Angang, “Mechanism for Collective Surveys and Research,” in China’s System of Collective Leadership, Beijing: China People’s University Publishing House, 2013, pp. 103-126].
 毛泽东:《致张平化》，载《毛泽东书信选集》，北京:人 民出版社 1983 年版，第 582 页。[Mao Zedong, “To Zhang Pinghua,” in Selection of Mao Zedong’s Letters, Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1938, p. 582].
 毛泽东:《〈农村调查〉的序言与跋》，载《毛泽东农村 调查文集》，第 17 页. [Mao Zedong, “Introduction and Postscript to Rural Surveys,” in Collection of Mao Zedong’s Rural Surveys, Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1982, p. 17].
 陈云:《做好商业工作》，载《陈云文选》第 3 卷，北京: 人民出版社 1995 年版，第 34 页. [Chen Yun, “Conduct Commercial Work in a Good Way,” in Selected Writings of Chen Yun, Vol.3, Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1995, p.34].
 习近平:《谈谈调查研究》(这是习近平 2011 年 11 月 16 日在中央党校秋季学期第二批入学学员开学典礼上 的 讲 话 ) ，载 《 学 习 时 报 》 ， 转 引 自 中 国 共 产 党 新 闻 网 . [Xi Jinping, “Discussing Survey and Research Work,” in Study Times, cited from CCP New Net]. This was a speech given by Xi on November 16, 2011 at a ceremony marking the beginning of the autumn semester at the Central Party School for an incoming cohort of students.
 吕传彬:《1956 年毛泽东秘书田家英回家乡调查始 末》，新 华 网 ，;尹福瑛:《一九六一年田家英浙江 农村调研》，载《百年潮》2002 年第 12 期. [Lü Chuanbin, “The Story of how Mao Zedong’s Secretary in 1956 Went to his Old Home to Conduct Survey Work,” Xinhua Net; Yin Fuying, “Tian Jiaying’s 1961 Rural Survey of Zhejiang,” in Hundred Year Tide, 2002, Issue 12].
 毛泽东:《关于认真调查公社内部两个平均问题的一 封信》，载《建国以来毛泽东文稿》第 9 卷，北京:中央文 献出版社 1996 年版，第 440 页. [Mao Zedong, “A Letter on Diligently Investigating the Two Different Questions Regarding Egalitarianism Within Communes,” in Mao Zedong’s Manuscripts After the Establishment of the PRC, vol. 9, Beijing: Central Documents Publishing House, p. 440].
 马社香:《建国初期“毛泽东式”的调研》，载《中国党 政干部论坛》2012 年第 4 期，转引自马克思主义中国化 论 坛 ，; 宋斌全:《六十年代初大兴调查研究之 风记述》，载《党史研究与教学》1994 年第 4 期，第 43~ 48 页. [Ma Shexiang, “Survey and Investigation Work in “the style of Mao Zedong” Conducted During the Early Period After the Establishment of the PRC,” in Chinese Cadres Tribune, 2012, Issue 4, cited from Forum on the Sinicization of Marxism; Song Binquan, “An Account of the Energetic Encouragement of Survey and Investigation Work in the early 1960s,” in Party History Research and Teaching, 1994, Issue 4, pp. 43-48].
 Xi Jinping, “Discussing Survey and Research Work.”
 中共中央办公厅:《关于推进学习型党组织建设的意 见》，中国政府网. [General Office of the Communist Party of China, “Suggestions on Promoting the Construction of Learning-Oriented Party Organizations,” Chinese Government Net]. As early as 1958, in the document Work Methods: 60 Guidelines, which Mao Zedong took a leading role in drafting, the twenty-fifth guideline clearly stipulated that leading cadres should conduct survey work: “Members of the party committees of the central government, provinces, municipalities under direct central government authority, and autonomous regions at both primary and secondary administrative levels must, except in cases of illness or old age, each year spend four months of time outside of their office, going to the grassroots to conduct survey and research work, hold meetings, and go to a wide cross-section of areas [under their command]. They should adopt two kinds of [work] methods: ride the horse to see flowers and get off the horse to see flowers. Even if one must spend three or four hours discussing something in a single place that is acceptable. One must interact with peasants and workers, increasing one’s understanding. Some meetings of the central government can be conducted outside of Beijing, and some meetings of the provincial party committees can be conducted outside of the provincial capital.” See毛泽东:《工作方法六十条(草案)》(1958 年 1 月 ). [Mao Zedong, “Work Methods: 60 Guidelines (Working Draft)”, January 1958].
 Xi Jinping, “Discussing Survey and Research Work.”
 毛 泽 东:《 反 对 本 本 主 义 》, 载《 毛 泽 东 农 村 调 查 文 集 》，第 9 页 . [ Mao Zedong, “Oppose Dogmatism,” in Collection of Mao Zedong’s Rural Surveys, p. 9].
 毛泽东:《〈农村调查〉的序言与跋》，载《毛泽东农村 调查文集》，第 16 页. [Mao Zedong, “Introduction and Postscript to Rural Surveys,” in Collection of Mao Zedong’s Rural Surveys, Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1982, p. 16].
 Xi Jinping, “Discussing Survey and Research Work.”
 毛泽东:《〈农村调查〉的序言与跋》，载《毛泽东农村 调查文集》，第 15~17 页. [Mao Zedong, “Introduction and Postscript to Rural Surveys,” in Collection of Mao Zedong’s Rural Surveys, Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1982, p. 15-17].
 毛 泽 东 :《 关 于 农 村 调 查 》 ， 载 《 毛 泽 东 农 村 调 查 文 集》，第 27 页. [Mao Zedong, “Regarding Rural Surveys,” in Collection of Mao Zedong’s Rural Surveys, p. 27].
 Xi Jinping, “Discussing Survey and Research Work.”
 毛泽东:《致邓小平》(1961 年 4 月 25 日)，载《毛泽东 书信选集》，第 578 页. [Mao Zedong, “To Deng Xiaoping,” April 25, 1961, in Selection of Mao Zedong’s Letters, p. 578].
 Xi Jinping, “Discussing Survey and Research Work.” Xi Jinping has noted that “presently some cadres are adept at gauging their leaders’ every word and expression, making a few preparations, milling about with the plans provided by superiors and offering up a few materials in response. Clearly, this kind of survey work will not allow one to see the true nature of a situation, gain genuine knowledge about it, and make the correct conclusions regarding it.” He thus warns that in conducting surveys one must avoid “doing surveys perfunctorily, focusing on potted plants and miniature trees, happily listening and looking around a bit, like a dragon fly skimming over the surface of a body of water, being satisfied with gaining just a small smattering of knowledge.” He thus suggests that “within survey and investigation work one can operate according to a ‘fixed line,’ yet one should also ‘make individual choices regarding one’s movements,’ going to see some places that you did not prepare to see, conducting some random investigations that you did not plan in advance or provide forewarning for. One must strenuously seek to correctly, comprehensively, and deeply understand a given situation, avoiding the phenomenon that one has ‘been investigated,’ defending against perfunctory investigations.” According to Xi Jinping, “recently, some leading cadres, including cadres at the provincial level, have gone deeply down among the grassroots and the masses to conduct investigation work in a straightforward manner, investigations that are not forewarned in advance, in which they are not accompanied by others.” According to reports, the provincial party secretary of Zhejiang Luo Zhijun’s recent rural investigations, which have involved him living in the countryside, have been conducted particularly thoroughly. He has not been accompanied by cadres from a variety of administrative levels, who would provide reports across stratified channels, but rather has brought with him two or three assistants and directly entered village homes, with village cadres providing directions on how to get there. He has not allowed cadres from the township level to get near, and it is only at the discussion forum held after he has finished living in the village that he has engaged with municipal and provincial party committee secretaries. For more, see 郭奔胜:《“深耕”群众:省委书记 下 乡 记》，新 华 网 . [Guo Bensheng, “Going Deeply to the Masses: The Provincial Party Secretary’s Jottings Regarding Going to the Countryside,” Xinhua Net].
 Translators’ Note: Wang is referring to the idiom “though sparrows are small, their five internal organs are complete,” which comes originally from Qian Zhongshu’s 钱钟书 famed satirical novel Fortress Besieged (圍城). Here, the idiom is used to suggest the need to make detailed investigations of small test cases, which will aid investigators in grasping the problems of an entire region or larger social situation.
 Xi Jinping, “Discussing Survey and Research Work.”
 陈云:《坚持按比例原则调整国民经济》，载《陈云文 选》第 3 卷，第 250 页. [Chen Yun, “Uphold the Principle of Proportionality in Regulating the National Economy,” in Selected Works of Chen Yun, Vol.3, p. 250].
 陈云:《怎样使我们的认识更正确些》，载《陈云文选》 第3卷，第188页. [Chen Yun, “How Can We Make Our Understanding More Correct,” in Selected Works of Chen Yun, Vol.3, p. 188].
 毛泽东:《实践论》，载《毛泽东选集》第 1 卷，北京:人 民出版社 1991 年，第 290 页. [Mao Zedong, “On Practice,” in Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol.1, Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1991, p.290].
 Xi Jinping, “Discussing Survey and Research Work.”
 See王 绍 光 、樊 鹏 :《 中 国 式 共 识 型 决 策 :“ 开 门 ”与 “磨合”》，北京:中国人民大学出版社 2013 年版;王绍光 等:《中国集思广益型决策:五年规划的制定》(暂名)， 拟由中国人民大学出版社出版. [Wang Shaoguang and Fan Peng, The China Model of Consensus Decision-Making: A Case Study of Health Care Reform, Beijing: People’s University Publishing House, 2013; Wang Shaoguang and Yan Yilong, A Democratic Way of Decision Making: Five Year Plan Process in China, People’s University Publishing House, 2015].
 Translators’ Note: This is a line from the “Heaven’s Model” section of the Heguanzi (鶡冠子. 天則). For more on the Heguangzi, see Peerenboom, R.P., “Heguanzi and Huang-Lao Thought.” Early China, 16, pp. 169-186.
 Translators’ Note: From Su Dongpo’s Fu poem “The Enlightened Man Can Receive Sincere Advice” (明君可與為忠言賦). For a full version of the poem, see Su Shi蘇軾, 蘇軾文集 (The Writings of Su Shi), Collated and Punctuated by Kong Fanli, Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, 1986, pp. 24-25.
 When these questions are asked in China, the proportion of people who select that “they do not know how to respond” or who select “no-response” is relatively high. Providing each region’s respondents with these two choices is done in order not to force them to respond if they do not want to. However, even taking into account those who select one of these two responses, the percent of people in Mainland China who believe that their political system is completely democratic is still a relatively high, at 20%, surpassing every other region except for Vietnam; if you add those people who believe their country’s system is democratic, though it possesses some small flaws, the proportion surpasses the Philippines, Indonesia, and Chinese-Taiwan, while it is essentially on par with Mongolia.
 Yun-han Chu “Sources of Regime Legitimacy and the Debate over the Chinese Model,” The China Review, Vol. 13，No. 1，2013，p. 24.
 Translators’ Note: a quote from the “Heaven’s Gifts” chapter of the Liezi 列子. Here, the passage refers to the idea that every political system has their strong and weak points. For a recent translation of the Liezi, see Liang Xiaopeng, tr. Liezi. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company. 2005
 Translators’ Note: a quote from the “King Hui of Liang: Part One” chapter of the Mencius. For a recent translation of the Mencius, see Mencius, Irene Bloom, trans., with an introduction by P.J. Ivanhoe. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.
 Translators’ Note: a quote from Song essayist and statesman Ou Yangxiu’s 欧阳修 “Jottings Regarding the Zhoujin Hall in Xiangzhou” (相州昼锦堂记), an essay about the Northern Song official Han Qi’s return to his hometown to govern it. Ou praises Han’s moral rectitude as the basis of his ability to provide the people good governance. For a full version of the essay, see吴楚材, 吴调侯Wu Chucai and Wu Diaohou eds., 解题汇评古文观止（上下） (The Best of Classical Prose: Annotated with Accompanying Commentary (2 Volumes)), collated by 洪本健 Hong Benjian et all. Shanghai: East China Normal University Publishing House, 2002, vol. 2, pp. 617-621.
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