Innovation and tradition in the interpretation of democracy in the modern CCP ideology

Innovation and tradition in the interpretation of democracy in the modern CCP ideology

Lomanov A.V.,

Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia,

elibrary_id: 105584 | ORCID: 0000-0003-2676-4271 | RESEARCHER_ID: B-5068-2018

Article received: 2023.05.25. Accepted: 2023.06.23

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2023.05.06

For citation:

Lomanov A.V. Innovation and tradition in the interpretation of democracy in the modern CCP ideology. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No. 5. P. 88-105. (In Russ.). EDN: OBBUKC


The influence of the ancient Confucian concept of ‘the people as the foundation’ (minben) has increased markedly in contemporary Chinese political ideology. The focus of the debate on the relations between Chinese tradition and democracy has shifted from searches for vestiges of liberal democracy in ancient Chinese thought to a clear identification of the presence of traditional components in contemporary CCP ideology. Chinese tradition has turned from a target for criticism into a tool to strengthen identity and unify society. Official ideology aims to synthesize “Chinese Marxism” with Chinese tradition. China has embarked on a path of independent interpretation of the modern model of democracy and its historical roots beyond the dogmas and standards of the Western academic mainstream. The new concept of people’s democracy aims to strengthen China’s position in defining modern democracy. The Confucian tradition occupies an important place in this endeavor and will retain it for the foreseeable future.

China, Confucianism, Marxism, politics, responsibility.


Chen, A.H.Y. (2007). Is Confucianism compatible with liberal constitutional democracy? Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 34(2), 195-216.

Chen, Dongfang. (2022). Innovative development of traditional people-oriented thought by Xi Jinping's “people-centered” thought. Journal of Socialist Theory Guide, 3, 12-17. (In Chin.)

Chen, Renren. (2020). On the connotation and predicament of the traditional people-oriented thought. Modern Philosophy, 5, 134-141. (In Chin.)

De Bary, Wm., & Lufrano, R. (2000). Sources of Chinese tradition. Vol. 2. From 1600 through the twentieth century. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Duan, Demin. (2014). Reviving the past for the future? The (in)compatibility between Confucianism and democracy in contemporary China. Asian Philosophy, 24(2), 147-157.

Duan, Zhiwen, & Shi, Ran. (2015). The logic formation of China's road to democracy. Journal of Zhejiang University (Humanities and Social Sciences), 6, 81-90 (In Chin.)

Fukuyama, F. (1995). Confucianism and democracy. Journal of Democracy, 6(2), 20-33.

He, Baogang. (2010). Four models of the relationship between Confucianism and democracy. Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 37(1), 18-33.

He, Jianchun. (2022). The change of discourse system of Chinese democracy and discourse reconstruction in the new era. Journal of China University of Mining  Technology (Social Sciences), 4, 107-118. (In Chin.)

Holbig, H. (2023). Official visions of democracy in Xi Jinping’s China. In A. Mihr, P. Sorbello, & B. Weiffen (Ed.), Securitization and Democracy in Eurasia (pp. 267-277). Cham: Springer.

Hu, Peng. (2018). Popular understanding of democracy in contemporary China. Democratization, 25(8), 1441-1459,

Huntington, S.P. (1991). Democracy’s third wave. Journal of Democracy, 2(2), 12-34,

Hе, Qinhua, & Zhang, Shun. (2022). From “People are the foundation of the state” to “People-centered” – The jurisprudence and contemporary inheritance of traditional Chinese “people-oriented” thought. Academic Monthly, 9, 111-122. (In Chin.)

Kim, Dae Jung. (1994). Is culture destiny? The myth of Asia's anti-democratic values. Foreign Affairs, 73(6), 189-194.

Kubat, A. (2018). Morality as legitimacy under Xi Jinping: the political functionality of traditional culture for the Chinese Communist Party. Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 47(3), 47-86.

Li, Cunshan. (1997). China’s minben and democracy. Confucius Studies, 4, 4-15. (In Chin.)

Li, Shuying, & Wang, Tianqi. (2021). Promoting rationale for shared development under the unified perspective of “renben” and “minben”. Social Sciences in Guangxi, 6, 107-112. (In Chin.)

Li, Yingrui. (2022). The centennial course and experience enlightenment of the whole-process people’s democracy of the development of the Communist Party of China. Journal of United Front Science, 1, 51-67. (In Chin.)

Liu, Jiuyong. (2021). Traditional thought origins of whole-process people's democracy. CASS Journal of Political Science, 4, 18-26. (In Chin.)

Lü, Xiaobo. (2018). From conservative minben to progressive minben: CCP and the transformation of the classical populism in China. Jilin University Journal Social Sciences Edition, 1, 5-23 (In Chin.)

Murthy, V. (2000). The democratic potential of Confucian minben thought. Asian Philosophy, 10(1), 33-47,

Mа, Kе. (2018). From people as foundation of state to man as foundation: the inheritance and transcendence of the traditional people-oriented thought by the Communist Party of China. Jiangxi Social Sciences, 6, 18-24. (In Chin.)

Nuyen, A.T. (2000). Confucianism, the idea of Min-pen and democracy. Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies, 14, 130-151.

Peng, Wei. (2023). The inheritance and transcendence of traditional Minben thought by whole-process people's democracy. Law and Modernization, 1, 66-75. (In Chin.)

Peng, Zongchao, Ma, Ben, & Liu, Taoxiong. (2017). Chinese cooperative harmonious democracy. Abingdon, Oxon, New York, NY: Routledge.

Shi, Tianjian, & Lu, Jie. (2010). The meanings of democracy: the shadow of Confucianism. Journal of Democracy, 4, 123-130,

State Council of the PRC, Information Office. (2021). China’s democracy (Dec. 2021). People’s Daily. Dec. 5, 5-7. (In Chin.)

Wang, Enbao, & Titunik, R. F. (2000). Democracy in China: the theory and practice of Minben. In Zhao, Suisheng (Ed.), China and Democracy: Reconsidering the Prospects for a Democratic China (pp. 73-88). New York, NY: Routledge.

Wang, Xinyan. (2023). Xi Jinping's creative transformation and innovative development of traditional Chinese philosophical wisdom. Wuhan University Journal (Philosophy & Social Science), 3, 5-17. (In Chin.)

Wu, Ning. (2023). Whole-process people's democracy: Sinicization of Marxist democracy theory. Journal of Beihua University (Social Sciences), 1, 39-46. (In Chin.)

Xia, Yong. (2004). Minben and civil rights: historical foundation of discourse on rights in China. Social Sciences in China, 5, 4-23. (In Chin.)

Xu, Keqian. (2006). Early Confucian principles: the potential theoretic foundation of democracy in modern China. Asian Philosophy, 16(2), 135-148.

Yan, Bingzhou, & Zhu, Guohua. (2020). From people as foundation to people above everything – research on the modern evolution of people-oriented thought in China. Dynamics of Social Sciences, 12, 18-25. (In Chin.)

Yang, Guangbin. (2022). Theoretical expression of Chinese democracy model. CASS Journal of Political Science, 1, 16-20. (In Chin.)

Zakaria, F., & Lee, Kuan Yew. (1994). Culture is destiny: a conversation with Lee Kuan Yew. Foreign Affairs, 73(2), 109-126.

Zeng, Guona, & Huang, Guihua. (2023). The continuation and innovation of CCP’s view of people on the traditional people-oriented thought. Modern Communication, 2, 43-50. (In Chin.)

Zhang, Liwei. (2023). The Confucian tradition of responsibility politics – also about the traditional cultural origins of Chinese-style democracy. Jiangsu Social Sciences, 1, 43-51. (In Chin.)

Zheng, Wenbao. (2021). The era leap of the people-oriented thought of the Chinese nation -- on Xi Jinping's view of the people as the transcendence of Confucian people-oriented thought. Journal of Northwest Minzu University (Philosophy and Social Sciences), 2, 20-27. (In Chin.)

Zhu, Ying, & Wan, Hong. (2022). People-centered thought: transcending traditional people-oriented thought. The Journal of South China Sea Studies, 4, 45-53. (In Chin.) 

Goncharov, S.N. (2022). “Jumping out of the historical cycle” and building a new ideology at the Twentieth Congress of CCP. Far Eastern Affairs, 6, 153-174. (In Russ.)

Lukin, A.V. (2009). The arrival of the concept of “democracy” in China and its first interpretations. Society and state in China, 39(1), 274-295. (In Russ.) 

Content No. 5, 2023

See also:

Karelova L.B., Chugrov S.V.,
Tu Weiming and the «New Confucianism». – Polis. Political Studies. 2012. No1

Rutland P.,
Russia and China: Saga of Two Transitions to Market Economy. – Polis. Political Studies. 2009. No3

Davydov A.P.,
«The faustian complex» and Russia. – Polis. Political Studies. 2009. No6

Liu Zaiqi,
The Way of China’s and Russia’s Mutual Comprehension - through the Study of Confucianism and Orthodoxy. – Polis. Political Studies. 2007. No6

Simonyan R.Kh.,
Russia after the reforms: sources for the formation of mass consciousness. – Polis. Political Studies. 2013. No5



   2024      2023      2022      2021   
   2020      2019      2018      2017      2016   
   2015      2014      2013      2012      2011   
   2010      2009      2008      2007      2006   
   2005      2004      2003      2002      2001   
   2000      1999      1998      1997      1996   
   1995      1994      1993      1992      1991