More light shed over choice of top cadres
For the first time in the 62 years of the People's Republic, transparent rules have been set out for citizens to know how the two top officials in a city - the party secretary and the mayor - are selected.
They also determine how, if at all, the people can play a part in the selection process.
The General Office of the party's Central Committee, an internal body under the close control of President Hu Jintao, issued 19 rules governing the appointment of the cadres at city and prefecture level.
One rule seen as significant by mainland media is that the nominations of new city-level party secretaries are to be backed by some sort of 'democratic recommendation' from 'certain sectors' of a province where the city is located.
If a nomination means promotion for a candidate, the process is to be expanded to include a 'democratic recommendation' from more than just one place. No details were provided as to how such democratic recommendations would be made.
Wang Yukai, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said there had never been such rules for the selection of cadres at city level.
They would help to correct inadequacies and plug loopholes where people had been promoted through personal ties or by selling public service positions.
The new rules created room for initial competition and more widespread participation.
However, Wang was concerned about implementation of the new rules. 'We had some good rules before but they were poorly carried out,' he said.
Another rule seeks a commitment to the 'exploration of competitive elections', which would be based on public opinion, the disciplinary department's views, and a comparison between self-evaluations done by candidates and the findings of higher authorities.
Cadres making evaluations of themselves is a new practice that Beijing wants to spread throughout the country.
A self-evaluation report has been nicknamed the 'virtue report'.
In Guangdong it has to include information about cadres' marital status, their contributions to charity and poverty aid, frequency in attending banquets, and the number of times they visit karaoke bars.
On the mainland, the many karaoke bars sometimes offer covert sex services.
Li Junru, vice-president of the Central Party School, in an online chat on Monday on people.com.cn - the website of the official mouthpiece People's Daily - praised the increasingly frequent use of opinion polls as part of the nomination process for local party chiefs.
Such opinion polls showed they were heading in the right direction in the adaptation of Western democracy in an Eastern culture, he said, adding that they may evolve into some sort of integration of the two elements.
Last year, the party set out some rules for the selection of county-level party secretaries.
Additional reporting by Laura Zhou