BEIJING -- With the recent promotion of two non-Communists to cabinet ministers, Hu Jintao pledged here Monday that the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) plans to add more people outside of the Party to leading government positions.
Hu said in his keynote speech to the 17th CPC National Congress that the Party will "select and recommend a greater number of outstanding non-CPC persons for leading positions."
Wan Gang and Chen Zhu, now minister of science and technology and minister of health, have been the first non-Communist cabinet appointments since the late 1970s when China launched its economic reform and opening up.
Wan Gang, a member of the China Zhi Gong (Public Interest) Party, replaced 65-year-old Xu Guanhua as Minister of Science and Technology in April 2007.
A former automobile engineer at the Audi Corporation in Germany, Wan, born in August 1952, was president of the Shanghai-based Tongji University before his appointment.
China's top legislature approved the cabinet nomination of Chen Zhu, 54, a Paris-trained scientist with no political party affiliation, as the country's new health minister in June 2007.
Political observers have said that to appoint non-CPC member cabinet minister is an important move in implementing and improving the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC.
According to Hu, such a move is also part of the efforts to " expand the patriotic united front and unite with all forces that can be united."
"Promoting harmony in relations between political parties, between ethnic groups, between religions, between social strata, and between our compatriots at home and overseas plays an irreplaceable role in enhancing unity and pooling strengths," he said.
Acting on the principle of long-term coexistence, mutual oversight, sincere treatment of each other and the sharing of weal and woe, "we will strengthen our cooperation with the democratic parties, support them and personages without party affiliation in better performing their functions of participation in the deliberation and administration of state affairs and democratic oversight," he said.