A reduction in the number of government leaders among the National People's Congress (NPC) deputies, which has been proposed for the first time in more than five decades, would make a big difference to its fulfilling its role as the country's top body supervising the government.
A draft proposal has been put forward for approval at this year's session, which, if accepted, will reduce the proportion of government leaders and increase the number of deputies from rural villagers and workers for the 12th NPC next year.
At present, government leaders and officials at various levels make up the majority of the deputies. Yet such high percentage makes it difficult for ordinary people's interests to be adequately represented.
In 2008, three villagers-turned-workers were elected as deputies to the 11th NPC, which marked a milestone in its history. The rationale behind their election was that the more than 200 million such workers need their own representatives to represent their rights and interests in the country's top legislative body.
It is certainly necessary for some local government leaders to be involved in the discussion of state affairs at the NPC conference as they represent the interests of a particular locality.
However, if leaders at various levels make up the majority of the NPC deputies, we have more than enough reason to cast doubt on the range of their representation. A broader representation will help the NPC more effectively supervise the work of the government.
That the question has been put on the agenda of the NPC is in itself progress. The message is that the NPC has realized that too high a proportion of government leaders among deputies is problematic and that grassroots rural villagers, migrant workers and ordinary urban residents need their own representation in the NPC.
As the spokesperson of the NPC said, it is still very difficult for deputies to be elected now directly from among all eligible citizens. However, with the increasing pressure on the NPC to better play its role, the elections will have to be reformed so that deputies have a broader range of representation in the NPC in the near future.
Now with public opinion on the Internet playing an increasingly important role for the supervision of both governments and officials, the NPC will have to gradually reform its own system and way of doing things to make itself more representative of the will of the public.
(China Daily 03/12/2012 page9)