The Communist Party of China (CPC) central leadership vowed Friday to enhance intra-Party democracy by improving Party congress and election systems.
Less than two weeks ahead of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the 17th CPC Central Committee made a consensus at its fourth plenary session which ended Friday, calling for bettering the democratic decision-making mechanism within the Party in order to maintain the CPC's centralization and unity.
After the four-day close-door meeting, the CPC Central Committee agreed in a communique upon pushing forward intra-Party democracy, which allows broad representation of Party-wide wills and propositions, and, subsequently, drives people's democracy.
Hu Jintao, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said at the 17th CPC National Congress on Oct. 15, 2007, "We will expand intra-Party democracy to develop people's democracy and increase intra-Party harmony to promote social harmony."
"The realization of intra-Party democracy must rely on the guarantee of all Party members' democratic rights to know, to participate, to vote and to supervise all internal affairs of the Party," Hu, also Chinese president, said at another occasion months ago.
Yu Keping, a prominent theorist who serves as deputy director of the CPC Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, said people's democracy was the ultimate goal of China's democratic politics, whereas the Party's internal democracy spearheads to achieve the ultimate goal.
Political scientists said the CPC's stance of institutionalizing itself towards a more transparent and democratic ruling party reflects its increasing preparedness for the new situation, which was summarized by the latest communique as "long-term, complicated and draconian tests" for the CPC's ruling capability, the reform and open-up policy, adoption of a market economy and adaptation to outside circumstances.
Wang Changjiang, a scholar at the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, said "the new situation" might be a combination of diversified problems, such as the economic downturn, mass incidents and ethnic issues.
Wang's alert coincided with the sober-minded perspective of the CPC central leadership, which says in the communique that "it has never been so onerous and pressing that the Party must effectively manage and discipline itself."
One solution to those challenges is to beef up teams of "high-caliber cadres" through democratic, open, competitive and merit-based selection channels.
The communique said the Party should encourage best people to stand out from peers to take key Party or governmental posts.
Xu Yaotong, a researcher at the China National School of Administration, said direct election of officials, which was a foundation of intra-Party democracy, could start from the county level.
Some provinces, such as southwestern Sichuan and eastern Jiangsu, have tried out direct elections, in which grassroots candidates ran for township-level Party leadership.
With the idea of improving the Party congress system, the CPC is expected to try to mandate more power to delegates to various levels of congresses, who hold equal voting rights, regardless of official status, for decisions at Party congresses.
The ruling CPC is the largest political contingent in China, with about 76 million members growing rapidly from 4.4 million in 1949 when the PRC was founded.