By Xinhua writers Meng Na and Mou Xu
BEIJING, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- Anyone trying to keep track of the development of China's political system must have got an unequivocal answer at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Hu Jintao solemnly declared in his report at the opening of the congress that "we will never copy a Western political system."
"We should place high importance on systemic building, give full play to the strength of the socialist political system and draw on the political achievements of other societies," Hu said in the report.
He pointed out that the reform of the political structure is an important part of China's overall reform. The CPC must continue to make both active and prudent efforts to carry out reform of the political structure, and make people's democracy more extensive, fuller in scope and sounder in practice.
In the report, Hu elaborated on the importance of "keeping to the socialist path of making political advance with Chinese characteristics" and said that the CPC will promote reform of the political structure in seven respects:
-- support and ensure the exercise of state power by the people through people's congresses;
-- improve the system of socialist consultative democracy;
-- improve community-level democracy;
-- promote law-based governance of the country in an all-around way;
-- deepen reform of the administrative system;
-- establish a sound mechanism for conducting checks and oversight over the exercise of power;
-- consolidate and develop the broadest possible patriotic united front.
Liu Xuejun, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said the multiple arrangements clearly show that the CPC highlights and upholds the principal status of the people's democracy in political realm.
Since China initiated reform and opening up, it has made continuous progress in democracy.
In southwest China's Guizhou Province, the CPC committee and village committee of Xinshi Village spend three days every month consulting with local residents over village affairs. It was through consultation that the village decided to build more roads and determine the amount of compensation to be paid for land.
In Yuanbao Village in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, the CPC committee has a morning meeting every day to address people's complaints and demands. Depending on importance, all village affairs have to be decided in meetings of the CPC committee, CPC members and villager representatives, or through a big gathering of all villagers.
Zhi Fen, delegate to the 18th CPC National Congress and also secretary of the CPC committee of Gaobeidian Village in Beijing, won the secretary post in a direct election by grabbing all 316 votes.
On the sidelines of the congress, Zhi told Xinhua, "I was thrilled to tears at the time (when being elected). Their ballots were affirmation of my work and brought me greater sense of duty and pressure."
Zhi said it's essential in obtaining people's trust and support at the grassroots. It requires Zhi and her colleagues to be impartial in obeying rules, put people's interests first, and consult with people on important matters in resident representative or CPC member meetings.
Dai Yanjun, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, told Xinhua that democratic consultation will be the inevitable way for various parties of interests to find common ground as the development of the socialist market economy is bringing about a society of increasingly diverse aspirations.
Wang Huan, another congress delegate from Beijing, was impressed by the section of improving the system of socialist consultative democracy in Hu's report.
Wang, also a member of the Beijing municipal committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said socialist consultative democracy is an important form of people's democracy in the country. The report gives a clear roadmap on how to improve the system of socialist consultative democracy.
"The report makes clear that political consultation must be incorporated into decision-making. This requirement will reinforce the effectiveness of democratic consultation and help take in more advice from different sectors of the society. All of this bears testimony to the vitality of socialist democracy," said Wang.
Xie Chuntao, a history professor with the CPC Central Committee Party School, said the momentum of democracy in China is unstoppable but must proceed with emphasis on stability and order.
Li Junru, former vice president of the CPC Central Committee Party School and a member of the CPPCC National Committee, held that the combination of electoral democracy and consultative democracy is a significant feature of the democratic development in the country over the past decade.
Democracy is always pursued within the CPC. As of July this year, the leadership reshuffle of Party committees at the provincial, city, county, and village levels had been completed. Promoting democracy and ensuring Party members' rights have featured the process of the reshuffle.
In April 2011, the secretaries of CPC committees of Wuxi, Nantong and Suqian cities of Jiangsu Province were elected through multi-candidate competitive elections.
Electoral democracy is recognized in the electoral system of lawmakers, or deputies to people's congresses, as well.
In March 2010, the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament, adopted an amendment to the Electoral Law with landslide votes, which grants equal representation in legislative bodies to rural and urban people.
It requires "both rural and urban areas adopt the same ratio of deputies to the represented population in elections of people's congress deputies."
In Hu's report to the CPC congress, He stressed the rule of law, saying that no organization or individual has the privilege of overstepping the Constitution and laws, and no one in a position of power is allowed in any way to take one's own words as the law, place one's own authority above the law or abuse the law.
He also asked the CPC to tighten intra-Party, democratic and legal oversight as well as oversight through public opinion to ensure that the people oversee the exercise of power and that power is exercised in a transparent manner.
"Intra-Party democracy is the life of the Party. We should adhere to democratic centralism, improve institutions for intra-Party democracy, and promote people's democracy with intra-Party democracy," Hu said.
For China's late leader Deng Xiaoping, there are three important criteria for judging the soundness of a country's political system or structure and of its policies.
First, whether the country is politically stable; second, whether the system and policies help to strengthen unity among the people and to raise their living standards; and third, whether the productive forces keep developing.
The path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the system of theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics are the fundamental accomplishments made by the Party and people in the course of arduous struggle over the past 90-plus years. These accomplishments should be upheld all the time and enriched continuously, Li Junru said.
China should draw on the political achievements of other societies during the process of promoting reform of the political structure, but it will never copy a Western political system, Li said.
(Zhao Renwei and Cai Min contributed to the report.)