Many firsts have caused fundamental changes in the country's economic and political landscapes since reform and opening was launched in the late 1970s. These include the first self-employed people, the first private enterprise and the first freelancer.
With his appointment as minister of science and technology on Thursday, Wan Gang, vice-chairman of China Zhi Gong Dang, one of China's eight non-Communist parties, became the country's first non-Communist cabinet minister since the reform and opening process was launched.
Multi-party cooperation and consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is the country's fundamental political system. The appointment of a cabinet minister without a Communist Party background signifies headway in multi-party cooperation, an area with a lot of possibilities in terms of political reforms.
There were quite a number of cabinet ministers who were members of non-Communist parties or had no party affiliations when the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949.
However, the various political movements dominated by leftist ideology disfranchised almost anyone outside the CPC from the late 1950s to the late 1970s
As a matter of fact, multi-party cooperation needed to be re-established after reform and opening was launched. The pluralistic society that has taken shape in the past few decades has brought forth many new social groups, and the private sector has been given the status of an important part of national economy in the Constitution.
Wan's appointment shows that the CPC is facing up to the challenge of becoming more inclusive and bringing those outside the Party into government.
Calls from the CPC leadership for more openings in government departments at various levels for talented people from outside the Party speak volumes about the efforts to promote multi-party cooperation and consultation.
The CPC has made it an important aspect of its united front work to attract more talented and capable non-Party members into government leaderships.
Its sincerity and earnestness are evidenced by the fact that thousands of non-Party members or people with no party affiliations have been elected to government leaderships over the past couple of years.
(China Daily April 28, 2007)