In its practice of ruling the country over the past five decades and more, the CPC has developed a series of important theories on, and established an institutional system of, democratic rule, and is actively exploring new ways and new methods of democratic rule. The sense of democracy among the CPC members has been continuously enhanced, and notable progress has been made to improve the democratic work style of Party officials at all levels.
Democratic rule means that the CPC sticks to the principle of ruling the country for the people and relying on the people in its rule, guarantees that the people are the masters of the state, upholds and improves the people's democratic dictatorship and the democratic centralism of the Party and the state, and promotes people's democracy by enhancing inner-Party democracy. In September 2004, the Decision of the CPC Central Committee on the Enhancement of the Party's Governance Capability was adopted at the Fourth Plenum of the 16th CPC Central Committee. The document made democratic rule, scientific rule and rule in accordance with the law the three basic pillars of the Party in ruling the country, thus marking a new stage in strengthening the building of the Party's capability of democratic rule and enhancing the level of its democratic rule.
(1) Reforming and Improving the Leadership System and Working Mechanism Leadership of the state and society by the CPC mainly refers to its political, ideological and organizational leadership, that is, the Party exercises leadership in line with its basic theory, program and line, by formulating major principles and policies, making suggestions on legislation, recommending cadres for important positions, conducting ideological education, and giving full play to the role of the Party organizations and members.
In practice, the CPC sticks to scientific and democratic rule and rule in accordance with the law, constantly reforms and improves the leadership system and working mechanism, and, acting on the principle that the ruling party commands the overall situation and coordinates the efforts of all quarters, standardizes relations between Party committees and the people's congresses, the governments, the CPPCC organizations as well as the mass organizations. The Party committees, playing the role as the core of leadership over all other organizations at corresponding levels, support these organizations in assuming their responsibilities independently and making concerted efforts in their work, and make sure that the Party's line, principles and policies as well as major decisions and work arrangements of Party committees are implemented through the Party organizations and Party members in these organizations. At the same time, Party committees support the people's congresses in carrying out their functions as organs of state power in accordance with the law, ensuring that the Party's views become the will of the state and that candidates recommended by the Party organizations become leading cadres of the organs of state power through democratic discussions and legal procedures, and exercising supervision over them. They support the governments in fulfilling their statutory functions and performing their official duties in accordance with the law; support the judicial organs in exercising their judicial and procuratorial authorities independently and justly in accordance with the law; support the CPPCC committees in performing their functions of political consultation, democratic supervision and participating in the administration and discussion of state affairs by focusing on the two major principles of unity and democracy; strengthen cooperation with the democratic parties and bring into full play the characteristics and advantages of China's socialist political party system; and support the trade unions, Communist Youth League organizations, women's federations and other mass organizations to work independently in accordance with the law and their respective constitutions so as to act better as a bridge between the Party and the masses of all walks of life.
(2) Developing Inner-Party Democracy
Promoting people's democracy by improving inner-Party democracy is an important component of the CPC's democratic rule. In recent years, the CPC has been unceasingly progressing in promoting inner-Party democracy. -- Making efforts to establish and improve a mechanism to guarantee the democratic rights of Party members. In September 2004, the CPC Central Committee promulgated the revised Regulations on the Guarantee of Rights of CPC Members, which, on the basis of the rights and obligations prescribed in the Constitution of the CPC and by summarizing the new experience gained in developing inner-Party democracy, improves the procedures for CPC members to exercise their democratic rights, thus further institutionalizing and standardizing the exercise of such rights.
-- Improving and perfecting the system of Party congress. The CPC has established the system of congress in its organizations at and above the county level. The national congress and the congresses of the provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government), cities divided into districts, autonomous prefectures, counties (banners), autonomous counties, cities not divided into districts and municipal districts are held once every five years. To give full scope to the Party congresses at all levels, since the end of the 1980s the CPC has tried out the system of permanent Party congress in 12 cities, counties and urban districts in five provinces, with satisfactory results. The CPC Central Committee has decided to adopt the system of motion-raising by Party congress delegates, extend the experiment with the system of permanent Party congress to more cities and counties, and actively explore ways and forms that can give better play to the role of delegates when Party congresses are not in session.
-- Giving full play to the role of plenary sessions of Party committees. In accordance with the principle of collective leadership, democratic centralism, individual consultation and decision-making by meeting, the CPC endeavors to improve the rules of procedure and the decision-making mechanism within Party committees, with priority given to strengthening the role of plenary sessions of Party committees at all levels. At the third, fourth and fifth plenums of the 16th CPC Central Committee, General Secretary Hu Jintao of the CPC Central Committee, on behalf of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, delivered a work report to the Central Committee. This represented a significant move taken by the new generation of the central collective leadership to give better play to the role of the plenum. Leaders of local Party committees at all levels now, at the requirement of the CPC Central Committee, report on their work to and accept the supervision of the plenums of the Party committees at the corresponding level.
-- Reforming and improving the system of inner-Party elections. The CPC has constantly reformed and improved the method of candidacy nomination in inner-Party elections, and the nominations by Party organizations and Party members are combined in democratic recommendations. The ratio in competitive elections has been raised appropriately and the scope of direct elections of leaders of grassroots Party organizations has been gradually expanded.
-- Establishing and improving the mechanism of inner-Party supervision. In December 2003, the CPC Central Committee promulgated the Regulations on Inner-Party Supervision of the CPC (trial version), which, for the first time and in the form of inner-Party code, makes comprehensive provisions concerning the focus, ways, methods and other major issues regarding inner-Party supervision, and clearly states that leading organs and leading cadres at all levels, especially principal ones, are the main target of inner-Party supervision. In the same month, the CPC Central Committee promulgated the revised Regulations of the CPC on Disciplinary Punishments, which specifies the punishments for all breaches of discipline by Party members in the new situation.
(3) Expanding Democracy in Cadre and Personnel Work
Over the years, the CPC has continuously reformed its cadre and personnel system and intensified efforts to make its cadre and personnel work more scientific, democratic and institutionalized.
First, establishing and improving a scientific mechanism for selection, appointment, management and supervision of cadres. In 2002, the CPC Central Committee issued the Regulations on the Work of Selecting and Appointing Leading Party and Government Cadres, which contained comprehensive provisions on all links in selecting and appointing leading cadres, thus further improving work in this regard.
Second, introducing the system of open selection and competition for leading posts. The Regulations on the Work of Selecting and Appointing Leading Party and Government Cadres, as well as the Provisional Regulations on the Open Selection of Leading Cadres of the Party and Government and the Interim Provisions on the Work of Competition for Posts in the Party and Government, both of which were issued by the General Office of the CPC Central Committee in 2004, all included clear provisions on the scope of application, procedure of selection, and methods of examination and review, discipline and supervision regarding open selection and competition in this field, thus making the work more regularized and institutionalized.
Third, improving the mechanism of democratic decision-making by Party committees regarding the selection and appointment of cadres. On the basis of summing up past experience, the Voting Methods for the Plenum of CPC Local Committees Concerning Candidates Nominated and Recommended as Head of a Party Committee or Government of an Immediate Lower Level, issued by the CPC Central Committee in 2004, clearly stipulates that the would-be head of a Party committee or government of a city (prefecture, league) or county (county-level city, district or banner) shall be, in usual circumstances, nominated by the standing committee of the Party committee at a higher level and submitted to the plenum of the said Party committee for a secret vote. If an urgent appointment is needed while the plenum concerned is not in session, the plenum members shall be consulted.
Fourth, introducing the civil service system. Since the Provisional Regulations on Civil Servants of the State was put into effect in October 1993, a large number of outstanding young talented people with higher education have been recruited as civil servants through open examination and selection. In April 2005, the Law of the People's Republic of China on Civil Servants was deliberated and adopted by the NPC Standing Committee, and announced to take effect as of January 2006. The implementation of this law symbolizes an important step forward in pursuit of a scientific, democratic and institutionalized practice for cadre and personnel work, and has a great bearing on the execution of the strategy of ruling the country by law and the building of socialist political democracy.
(4) Tightening Restraints and Supervision over Use of Power
With the goal of establishing a mechanism for the exercise of power featuring a rational structure, scientific disposition, rigorous procedures and effective restraint, the CPC has combined reinforcing the building of the system of restraint over power with effective supervision over cadres. First, it has augmented supervision over leading organs and cadres, especially principal ones in leading bodies at all levels. The supervision covers the implementation of democratic centralism and the rules of procedure for leading bodies, and the implementation of the system under which leading cadres report on major matters, their work and their efforts to perform their duties honestly and the system of democratic appraisal, instruction and admonishment, and the system that requires leading cadres to reply to letters of inquiry from Party organizations. Second, it has beefed up supervision over the use of power at key links and sectors, such as the selection and appointment of cadres, the operation of financial funds and the management of state-owned assets and finances. Third, it has given full scope to various supervisory bodies to raise overall efficiency. This means strengthening inner-Party supervision, and supporting and guaranteeing supervision by the people's congresses, special government organs and judicial departments, democratic supervision by CPPCC organizations and the supervision of public opinion.