Moreover, the importance placed on these procedures reflects a more significant institutional reform, namely, the institutional embodiment of the CCP's most crucial organizational principle – Democratic Centralism.
For a long time, the ruling party has been exploring the best embodiment of the democratic centralism system, answering the question of "where to be democratic and where to be centralized." Some Western media often use the term "centralization" to describe the 20th National Congress and the Two Sessions, understanding them through the Western concept of "separation of powers." They often conclude that China lacks opposing opinions and checks and balances. This view does not align with Western reality and cannot explain China's political development.
China is pursuing institutional modernization but is certainly not westernizing its institutions. Western preferences for non-Western political systems often present two options. The first option is a multi-party system, considered optimal, as the West measures the "democracy" it defines through rotating parties in power. The second option is a suboptimal choice of a leadership group that is full of contradictions and conflicts, even oligarchic politics. However, if these two situations occur in vast developing countries outside the West, it often results in political instability and underdeveloped socioeconomics. This is why China is not following the Western path.
China's experience suggests that the presiding team, whether it's the Political Bureau Standing Committee or various ministries of the State Council, should consist of members with a high level of consensus instead of resembling a Western-style "parliament." If the Political Bureau Standing Committee is considered a "political group," then the State Council should be a team that executes policies. The Western idea of "checks and balances" even does not explain Western politics. In both presidential and cabinet systems, the head of government holds power to form a cabinet. For instance, the US President has the authority to appoint all cabinet members and ambassadors and operates under the spoils system. Although in theory, the US is a model of "separation of powers," it is difficult to implement this principle in political reality. The politicization of the judiciary has undermined the so-called "judicial independence". Regarding legislation, if a single party controls both houses, they almost monopolize political resources; however, if both parties are evenly matched, it results in mutually vetoing "veto parties" and leads to an ineffective government.
Since the 20th Party Congress, there have been significant changes in the governing team. From the perspective of political science, a "cabinet" system is forming. The governing team emphasizes efficiency, and once policies are formed they must be implemented. In such a large country as China, if the executive power is too decentralized, each will inevitably do its own thing. The principle of "centralization" must be reflected in governance.
To ensure policy execution is centralized, democracy in policy formation becomes crucial. But where does democracy fit in? China has introduced the concept of "full-process democracy" in recent years, which requires democratic decision-making procedures at all levels of the central and local governments. Platforms like the Central Committee meetings, NPC meetings, and CPPCC meetings at the central level promote democracy where various social organizations (including think tanks) can express their views. Policy formation must be democratic and scientific, but policy execution must be centralized. This is the case with all good and effective political systems worldwide.
China has been exploring the best way to embody democratic centralism. The Two Sessions are a higher level institutionalization in this regard. While high-quality economic development is always discussed, high-quality system construction is equally important. The process of democratic centralism is crucial, and essential personnel and policies must follow procedures. China's institutional advantage lies in having both democracy and centralization where they are needed. Against the backdrop of such large-scale institutional reform, it is meaningful to examine personnel appointments and policymaking.
The recent reform of the State Council's institutions has been part of the process of China's institutional modernization since the 20th Party Congress. The reform aims to boost the motivation of the central and local governments and society. Nearly all system and institutional reforms reflect both centralization and decentralization principles. For example, the proposal to review the State Council's institutional reform plan includes the establishment of the Central Science and Technology Commission. While establishing this commission highlights the central government's emphasis on science and technology, Western perspectives only see it as "centralization." However, decentralization is also at play, as many technologies are allocated to various functional departments, including the Ministry of Agriculture, which gives implementing departments the power to act. Therefore, centralization and decentralization co-occur. The same applies to the financial sector reform, where we must promote science and technological innovation in finance while ensuring financial stability and orderly development to avoid major issues.