The Chinese characters for democracy (min zhu) turned out to be some of the most extensively used in Party General Secretary Hu Jintao's keynote speech Monday to the landmark National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), showing up at least 60 times.
China will "expand people's democracy and ensure that the people are the masters of the country," Hu told more than 2,000 delegates to the congress, telecast live by national TV and radio networks.
Hu also said the CPC will "expand intra-Party democracy to develop people's democracy" by increasing transparency in Party affairs and "opposing and preventing arbitrary decision-making by an individual or a minority of people".
China needs to improve institutions of democracy, diversify its forms and expand its channels to guarantee people's rights to information and participation, Hu said at the opening of the 17th National Congress of the CPC.
Saying that the people are the masters of the country, Hu proposed that both urban and rural areas gradually adopt the same ratio of deputies to the represented population in elections of deputies to the people's congresses.
To ensure "scientific and democratic decision-making", Hu called for improving the information and intellectual support for the decision-making process, increasing its transparency and expanding public participation in it.
"In principle, public hearings must be held for the formulation of laws, regulations and policies that bear closely on the interests of the public."
Hu said the most effective and extensive way for the people to be masters of the country is that they directly exercise their democratic rights to manage public affairs and public service programs at the primary level.
On enhancing intra-Party democracy, Hu called on Party organizations at all levels and all Party members to "take the lead in upholding the authority of the Constitution and the law".
The Party will strictly implement democratic centralism, improve the system that combines collective leadership with division of responsibilities among individuals, he said.
"Local Party committees will adopt a voting system in discussing and deciding on major issues and appointing cadres to important positions," he said.
The Party will establish a sound system under which the Political Bureau of the Central Committee regularly reports its work to plenary sessions of the Central Committee and accepts their oversight, and the standing committees of local Party committees at all levels do likewise to plenary sessions of local Party committees and accept their oversight, Hu said.
The Party will reform the intra-Party electoral system and improve the system for nominating candidates and electoral methods.
Hu also vowed to gradually extend the direct election of leading members in primary Party organizations, and explore various ways to expand intra-Party democracy at the primary level.
Checks and balances
Hu also promised to accelerate the separation of the functions of government from those of enterprises, State asset management authorities, public institutions and market-based intermediaries.
Meanwhile, he vowed to standardize administrative practices, strengthen administrative law-enforcement agencies, reduce the number of matters requiring administrative examination and approval and standardize such procedures, and reduce government intervention in microeconomic operations.
Hu also called for the improvement of the mechanism of restraint and supervision, stressing that "power must be exercised in the sunshine to ensure that it is exercised correctly".
He said organic laws and rules of procedure should be improved to ensure State organs exercise their powers and perform their functions within their jurisdiction and in accordance with legal procedures.
"As an important part of China's overall reform, political restructuring must be constantly deepened along with economic and social development to adapt to the growing enthusiasm of the people for participation in political affairs," Hu said.