A senior Party school official has joined the ranks of official media in calling for reforms of China's political system in the countdown to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), fueling the public's expectations about much-anticipated changes.
In an online discussion with people.com.cn, Chen Baosheng, vice president of the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, said Tuesday that the Party has pushed forward political reforms in the past three decades, and still needs to move ahead.
"We ought to have a sober recognition that we still face many problems in political reforms. You can't dodge the obstacles, but must push forward. So I hope the 18th National Congress can make some new arrangements in this regard," he said.
Chen's remarks have drawn great attention from both mainstream and social media. Major news portals including sina.com and sohu.com Wednesday placed the remarks among their top news, which also became one of the most commented on and reposted topics on Weibo.
With two weeks to go to the opening of the Congress on November 8, political reform has become one of the most anticipated topics for the event.
The website of the People's Daily, a flagship paper of the CPC, this month carried an opinion piece saying the ruling party does not fear that political reform will threaten its reign, suggesting that the delay in the long-anticipated move is a result of no clear political path being in sight.
During a speech in July, which was believed to set the tone for the Congress, President Hu Jintao devoted much time to elaborating on political reforms.
Besides statements by top leaders and official media, some well-known figures such as economist Wu Jinglian and publisher Hu Shuli also voiced their call for reforms, which has resonated with the public.
Huang Weiping, director of the Contemporary Chinese Politics Research Institute at Shenzhen University, told the Global Times that the public's expectation for reforms resulted from their discontent over various problems such as corruption.
Wang Yukai, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the reforms are badly needed, noting that the slow pace of political reforms is to blame for growing social disputes and abuse of public power.
For the future direction of political reforms, Chen said he hopes to see the promotion of intra-Party democracy and reform in the Party's leadership system.
According to analysts, the Party's interpretation of political reforms is mostly focused on intra-Party democracy and the rule of law, in contrast to the West's and activists' expectations of a multi-party system and general elections.
In August 1980, then leader Deng Xiaoping listed the excessive concentration of power, bureaucracy, lack of checks and balances as well as the life-tenure of top leaders as the major problems in the country's political system.
"Apart from the abolition of the life-tenure system, little substantial progress has been made since then. The key for political reforms is to correct such problems, and the most critical part is to build a system of checks and balances," said Huang.
Zhang Xixian, a professor with the Party School, told the Global Times that he expects the strengthening of intra-Party management and supervision to be major breakthroughs in future reforms.
The CPC has introduced multi-candidate elections, in which the elimination rate of candidates is now set at more than 15 percent.
Wang said that the selection and promotion of cadres should be institutionalized and gradually be applied to elections in the national legislature.
In addition to political reforms, the public has also directed its attention to the amendment of the Party constitution at the upcoming Congress.
A Xinhua report on a Politburo meeting on Monday, during which Party leaders discussed a draft amendment to the Party Constitution and a draft report to the 18th National Congress, didn't mention the words "Mao Zedong thought" and "Marxism-Leninism," leading to speculation by Western media that the amendment would drop the wording in the Party constitution, which signals the CPC's intent on reform.
However, Zhang refuted such speculation as groundless, saying that it was an over-interpretation.