The son of the late reformist party leader Hu Yaobang made a bold call for political liberalisation on the sidelines of the national congress, where most delegates simply toe the party line.
Hu Deping , vice-chairman of the party's United Front Work Department, said he was a firm believer in democratising China.
'I'm completely for a democratic political system. Currently, our country is still under the leadership of the Communist Party,' said Mr Hu, 65. 'We still need a democratic political system.'
People should be free to express opinions and protect their interests, he added.
Although the word 'democracy' was used more than 60 times in President Hu Jintao's 2?-hour speech on Monday at the opening of the five-yearly congress, analysts say he has no intention of sharing power beyond the party. During group discussions - some of which have been open to the press in an effort at increased transparency - almost all delegates have parroted the official line, heaping praise on the party chief's 'intra-party democracy' policy.
The slogan essentially means increasing the accountability of party members in the face of rampant corruption. Analysts say it is part of Mr Hu's drive to strengthen the party apparatus, improve its capacity to govern and to ultimately maintain its monopoly on power.
Hu Deping, also chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, was reportedly Hu Jintao's classmate when they attended the Central Party School in the 1980s. He is also said to have brought the future party chief to the attention of his father.
In a generous gesture, Hu Jintao decided to mark the 90th anniversary of the birth of Hu Yaobang - one of his most important mentors - in 2005. The move aroused concern among the top leadership that it might threaten stability.
The party has not publicly honoured Hu Yaobang since his death in April 1989 led to the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. Hu Yaobang lost his position as party general secretary after a power struggle in 1987.