CPPCC hopes to play a bigger role
China's top political advisory body - the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) - celebrated its 55th birthday yesterday.
The CPPCC is older than the founding of the People's Republic of China and for a while served as the country's de facto top legislature. In 1954 this function was transferred to the National People's Congress.
CPPCC's First Plenum was held in Beijing on September 21-30, 1949. It was designated to draw up the Common Programme, which functioned as a provisional constitution until the first Constitution came into effect in 1954.
During the convention, it elected a Central People's Government Council, with Mao Zedong as chairman, and appointed Zhou Enlai premier of the Government Administration Council.
From the country's once de facto top legislature in its infancy to a top political advisory body in its middle age, the CPPCC has always been a political institution to be reckoned with in this country.
As an important instrument of socialist democracy in China's political life, its major tasks are political consultation, supervision of democracy, and participation in and discussion of political affairs.
Led by the Communist Party of China (CPC), the CPPCC, also a patriotic united front organization, draws its deputies from the CPC, the country's eight other political parties, non-party democrats and people's organizations and from various ethnic minorities - almost all walks of life in our society.
Its deputies also include Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao compatriots and returned overseas Chinese.
Though it is under the leadership of the CPC, the CPPCC exercises its legally independent democratic supervision over the CPC and the government by making suggestions and criticisms, an arrangement that has been conducive to helping the Party and government improve their work efficiency and curb bureaucracy.
The CPPCC has never been a comfort political refuge for retired senior officials. It has become more assertive in assuming the historical and political responsibilities it inherited at birth.
Its importance as a top political adviser has been increasing dramatically in recent years, evidenced by the growing number of motions its members have tabled and the frequency of those concerns being taken or addressed by the Party or relevant government bodies.
But serving as an important venue through which voices from all walks of life are heard in the country's political discourses and are conveyed to policy-makers at the top, the CPPCC can only maintain its vitality and vigour by establishing itself as an indispensable working partner for the Party and government.
The CPPCC can make contributions to the building of the Communist Party of China at a time when strengthening the Party's ability to govern is becoming the latest watchword in China's political arena.
"Hear all the parties," as the old Chinese adage goes, consultations with and voices from the CPPCC help keep the Party widely informed and as such, help it make sound policies.
Yesterday's birthday party is less a reminder that the CPPCC is now a matured political organization than a duty call for it to work harder as the country gears up to build a well-off society, an endeavour that is in great need of its think-tank service.
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