The Chinese government Tuesday called on the people in all sectors to offer their suggestions for drafting the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-2005) for national economic and social development.
This is the first time for the central government to openly solicit opinions from the general public on formulation of five- year plans, one of major decisions of the state.
Observers say that the move represents the government's new effort to expand democracy and make the policy decision making process more scientifically designed, in line with the decision adopted at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 15th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China which closed two weeks ago.
The Plenum called for the continuation of political system reform and more extensive public participation in political life by enhancing democracy and construction of legal systems.
Observers also noted that transparency of the country's policy decision making process has steadily increased since the late 1970s, especially in recent years, and the public can even participate in the state's legislation process.
The Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress once made public in 1998 the Draft Amendment on Land Administration Law and the Draft Amendment on the Law on the Organization of Villagers' Committees, which drew hot response from the public and expanded democratic channels in the country's legislation work.
The central government also solicited opinions from a wide range of circles before the huge Three Gorges Project on the Yangtze River was launched, and a hearing was held last month on adjusting telecommunication charges and fees.
Experts said that mobilizing social forces to conduct research on major issues of strategically importance is an important way to increase transparency and extend public participation in the policy decision making process, and it is also a necessity in building socialist market economy, democracy and legal system.
Active participation from the public will not only ensure the government's policy decision making process more scientifically designed, but also is helpful to the implementation of the decision, they added.
The experts noted that it will also enable the government to better know the needs of the people and take relative concrete steps.