CPPCC members seek more clout
Ting Shi in Beijing
Beijing's largely symbolic advisory body is seeking to lose its 'political vase', or ornamental, image and wield real power.
Delegates to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which convened its annual two-week session in Beijing on Monday, voiced their frustration at the lack of a power-sharing mechanism.
Zhang Yunling , a CPPCC delegate who is also a professor of international relations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the top advisory body should be more than a place for elders to grumble. 'We've talked enough on the sidelines and made more than enough consultative suggestions,' Professor Zhang said.
Some of the bills submitted to the central government for consideration were not taken seriously and a one-sentence reply from low-ranking cadres was not unusual, he said.
Under the constitution, the CPPCC is intended to provide feedback to the central government.
Professor Zhang said it was about time for 'greater political participation - not just in the advisory but also the decision-making process'.
A good way to start would be to rename the so-called 'democratic parties' as 'power-sharing parties', he suggested.
However, CPPCC chairman Jia Qinglin did not mention the body's official function of 'political consultation' in his one-hour work report on Monday.
'I was disappointed and even baffled' by Mr Jia's apparent snub, said Zhang Hongming, a CPPCC delegate from Shanghai and a researcher at the city's Academy of Social Sciences.
Li Jingjie, a scholar of Russian affairs with the academy, also voiced dissatisfaction with Mr Jia's report, which dwelt at length on how the body had grown in stature over the past five years.
'I didn't see any problems raised and I don't think we're remotely perfect,' Mr Li said.
While some of the delegates accept that the body's political role is rather limited, things sometimes get just too informal.
Song Zhenghao, a professor of history, said he had found out he had been elected as a CPPCC delegate by word of mouth. 'My friend told me over the phone that I'm now a political adviser,' he said.