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Shenzhen takes step toward intra-Party democracy
By Tan Yingzi (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-05-21 08:09

Shenzhen, a pioneer city in the country's reform and opening-up, has taken the lead again in the development of intra-Party democracy.

Qiu Zhankai from the city's municipal bureau of civil affairs has become the first directly elected secretary of the Party committee at a local government organization in China.

"We must reform the selection system to make it more democratic, open and competitive," said Li Yuanchao, head of the Central Organization Department.

Qiu was selected on May 15 after seven months of public recommendation, and the whittling down of 75 candidates to 26 finalists, who gave speeches and answered questions from the audience.

Shenzhen takes step toward intra-Party democracy

Qiu, the 55-year-old deputy director, beat his nearest competitor Zu Yuqin by a slight margin once votes were counted.

Previously, intra-Party democracy was only practiced in China's rural areas where village leaders are elected by public recommendation and direct election from villagers.

In other local organizations, Party chiefs are usually recommended by the Party committee and voted on by a small number of committee members.

Now, in order to promote intra-Party democracy, the Party has encouraged more local government organizations to take up this model if conditions allow, Ren Tieying, professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, told China Daily yesterday.

"This practice accords with the new Party constitution and sets a good example for other departments," Ren said.

But Ren noted that the role of the secretary of the Party committee at local government organizations does not have "strong power".

"Their job is just to organize the education for the Party members and collect the Party dues," he said.

At Tuesday's national meeting on cadre supervision, Li urged all Party members to take resolute measures against malpractice and corruption during the selection of cadre.

He said at last year's national meeting on organization work that "(local organization departments) must reform and improve the election system of grassroots Party organizations and pick some trial units from township departments, enterprises, schools and research institutes to give the 'public recommendation and direct election' model a larger role".

(China Daily 05/21/2009 page3)