'Democrats' elevated to top positions
From CHRIS YEUNG in Beijing
THE Communist Party has elevated leaders of major''democratic parties'' and minority groups to top posts in the National People's Congress (NPC).
Headed by the new chairman, Politburo Standing Committee member Mr Qiao Shi, the NPC will be led by 19 vice-chairmen and include representatives from major ''democratic parties'' and the four ethnic groups of Zhuang, Mongols, Ugyurs and Tibetans.
Retiring Vice-Premier Mr Tian Jiyun will become the first vice-chairman of the NPC.
Chinese sources said the new line-up reflected the party's commitment to developing ''multi-party co-operation and political consultation under the Communist Party leadership''.
Replacing the retiring chairman, Mr Wan Li, Mr Qiao, a veteran legal and security section head, is expected to give a big push to drafting laws which will underpin the new ''socialist market economy''.
Candidates for the chairmanships of the NPC, together with the candidates for its 134-seat Standing Committee, were nominated by the party and presented to the 2,978 deputies for ''deliberation''.
Formal ''elections'' will take place at the Great Hall of the People tomorrow.
''It's a time-wasting exercise because we are not given any choices,'' one delegate said.
Posts of chairman and vice-chairmen will be endorsed through ''same candidate'' elections while a small ''competition'' has been allowed for deputies to choose 134 of the 141 nominees for the standing committee.
Two retired senior ministers, including defence minister Mr Qin Jiwei and finance minister Mr Wang Bingqian, as well as the Maoist former party boss of Beijing, Mr Li Ximing, have been named vice-chairmen.
Only six vice-chairmen from the previous NPC session have been nominated for another five-year term.
They are Mr Wang Hanbin, Mr Ni Zhifu, Ms Chen Muhua, Mr Fei Xiaotong, Mr Sun Qimeng and Ms Lei Jieqiong.
Mr Wang was a vice-chairman of the former Basic Law Drafting Committee (BLDC) while Mr Ni chairs the All-China Federation of Trade Unions.
Ms Chen is president of the All-China Women's Federation.
A prominent sociologist, Mr Fei is chairman of the disbanded BLDC and chairman of the China Democratic League, one of the eight democratic parties.
Mr Sun is chairman of the China Democratic Construction Association while Ms Lei is chairman of the China Association for Promoting Democracy.
A new face is democratic party leader Mr Wu Jieping, a vice-chairman of the Jiusan Society.
Among former Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) vice-chairmen named in the new NPC are Mr Wang Guangying, vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce; Mr Cheng Siyuan, chairman of the Association for Promoting Peaceful Unification of China; and scientist Mr Lu Jiaxi, chairman of the China Peasants and Workers Democracy Party.
Another new face is Mr Li Peiyao, a vice-chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang.
Four leaders of ethnic minorities will also take up posts as vice-chairmen. They are Mr Pagbalha Geleg Namgyai, vice-chairman of both the CPPCC and the Tibet's People's Congress; Mr Buhe, head of the Inner Mongolian Government; Mr Tomur Dawamat, chairman of the Xinjiang Government and Mr Gan Ku, chairman of the Guangxi People's Congress.
More than half the Standing Committee comprises fresh blood and includes Shenzhen party secretary, Mr Li Hao and outgoing heads from the ministries of justice, education, energy and civil affairs.