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China to Speed Up Democratic Process
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With the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China due in autumn, many Chinese are now hotly debating political reforms.

Experts believe that this congress will stimulate democracy in China. After the congress, the expectation is that China's political reforms will speed up. Moreover, they feel that the scope of political participation will expand and the decision-making processes will be more scientific and democratic. Finally, grass-roots democracy and rule of law will get promoted, to meet the growing public demand for a political voice.

Currently China's major political problems, according to experts, lie in government irregularities, a lack of legislative checks and balances and weak accountability.

By scaling up efforts to build democracy and enriching the forms of political participation, the problems can be solved, said Liu Chun, a professor in the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Recently, as China's political reform evolves, senior members from minor political parties are grabbing more and more important government seats. Wang Yukai, a professor from the China National School of Administration, proposed holding key meetings of both the CPC and minor parties simultaneously so that the latter may participate in the former's policy making process.

Another positive direction for such democratic consultancy is to get ordinary people on board and address their biggest concerns.

Before drafting any law, legislative authorities should solicit opinions, both pros and cons, from stakeholders, stated Yu An, a professor from Tsinghua University. He added that only in this way could social equality be safeguarded.

Incompetent government officials and a lack of clear communication channels hinder people from voicing their opinions.

For example, public hearings designed to solicit public opinion regarding legislation has limited impact because such forums often occur close to the end of a regulatory cycle or after legislation has already been enacted.

"Democratic consultancy would be improved if ordinary people had effective channels to express their opinions," said Liu. "The government should diversify and open up communication channels so that decision making would be more democratic."

But China's supervision system is yet to be improved. Watchdogs from within the Party, from the legislature (executive and judiciary) and from the public remain weak.

Intra-Party supervision remains a priority on the government's agenda. Meanwhile, supervision from the people's congress and the judiciary also need to be strengthened.

Another important part of building such a system is to enable the public to supervise the judiciary through appeals.

Most Chinese believe that democracy without a legal system is democracy with no bases and that the rule of law constitutes the foundation of social stability, especially during a political reform.

Public power comes from the people and is meant for the people, yet sometimes this is not the reality in China due to legal defects. Today many professionals believe there are indications that legal restrictions will be imposed on public power in practice; in the past many grandiose talks on this subject led nowhere. Exerts predict this trend will gain momentum after the autumn congress.

( by Xu Jin, August 22, 2007)

Zhang Jinming: Pioneer for Democracy

Zhang Jinming is the first person in China who has introduced democratic reforms at town and county level political systems. She made it possible to choose low-level governmental or CPC officers through public or direct elections. Through much struggle and agony this true pioneer has never lost her faith. Indomitably she continues on her course... More  (Join the discussion)

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