Signs of democratic reform became evident in the grassroots of the Communist Party of China (CPC), as it made "Party building" its top priority at the fourth plenary session of the 17th CPC Central Committee starting Tuesday.
A draft framework for "Party building" will be deliberated during the four-day session.
CHANGES IN CPC'S GRASSROOTS
Wang Qi, head of the organization department of the Nanjing city committee of the CPC, said direct elections had this year been carried out in CPC committees in 363 neighborhoods in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province.
"The time is ripe to extend democratic reform to the city level, which will be the first time in the CPC's rule," he said.
He did not give specific scheduling for such elections.
A direct election was carried out in one neighborhood in 2004 in Nanjing, the city chosen to pioneer intra-Party democracy, with direct elections as one of its forms of implementation.
The move is considered a significant sign to boost the CPC's desire to advance its internal democracy which, it is anticipated, will drive ahead the building of democracy in Chinese society, said Cai Xia, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
INTERNAL REFORM TO SPARK POLITICAL REFORM
"To a great extent, the progress of China's political reform rests with the development of CPC's intra-Party democratic reform, which is essential to optimize Party organization," Cai said.
During the Party's 60 years of rule after the founding of New China, the society has undergone great changes, and the number of CPC members has increased from 4.4 million in 1949 to 76 million.
"It is imperative the Party reform its highly centralized organization into a democratic, institutionalized system to catch up with profound social change," she said.
CALLS FOR INTERNAL REFORM
At the 16th National Congress of the CPC in 2002, intra-Party democracy was stressed as the lifeblood of the Party, said Yu Keping, a well-known political commentator and deputy director of the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau.
He said the democratic reform aimed to empower individual Party members and increase transparency and intra-Party supervision.
He noted the word "democracy" had appeared more than 60 times in Hu Jintao's report to 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," Hu, the Party's top leader, said at the congress.
Many political observers noted the Party chief had reiterated the importance of intra-Party democracy a day ahead of the Party's 88th birthday on July 1 this year.
Hu said 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.
He said mechanisms to ensure democracy -- such as CPC congresses at all levels, and the systems of election, supervision, evaluation and promotion of officials -- must be improved.
DEMOCRACY: CPC'S TOP TASK FOR FUTURE RULE
"Through the CPC's 88 years of life, it took the Party 28 years to achieve national independence, another 30 years to make the country strong, then 30 years to realize its economic take-off. The Party is right on the threshold of the next 30 years, and pressing ahead with democratic reform is the nature of the times," said professor Cai.
She said democracy has the inherent nature of growth.
"Once it is unleashed, we can only go forward and never back," she said.
She advised the Party to set up a high-level institution to monitor progress, as intra-Party democratic reform has been carried out at preliminary levels step by step.
"The institution can plan strategy and make timely corrections if problems appear," she said.
(Xinhua News Agency September 15, 2009)