The mainland's eight 'democratic' parties were rolled out yesterday at the annual National People's Congress meeting.
In a display of the grandly titled 'multiparty co-operation and political consultative system', the leaders of the eight officially approved, non-communist parties held a news conference on issues from the gender imbalance of newborns to democratic reform.
The speeches by the heads of the organisations drove home the fact that while there may be nine parties on the mainland, only one calls the shots. Wan Gang , appointed chairman of the China Zhi Gong Dang in December and minister for science and technology in April, said Beijing would install more non-communist ministers as long as they 'fit the country's criteria'.
'It can showcase our democratic political system,' said Mr Wan, the first non-communist cabinet minister in 35 years.
Jiang Shusheng, head of the China Democratic League, stressed the importance of studying the 'Scientific Outlook on Development' - the theory of Communist Party chief Hu Jintao, which was recently written into the constitution. 'We'd support whatever is in line with the scientific development,' said Mr Jiang, a renowned physicist.
Yan Junqi, chairwoman of the China Association for Promoting Democracy, said her 100,000-member party, founded in 1945 before the Communist takeover, would 'evolve around the goals and development tasks set by the Communist Party'. While heaping praise on Mr Hu's speech on Taiwan, Lin Wenyi of the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League - a 2,100-member party made up of people originally from Taiwan - listed her party's contributions to cross-strait relations.
All eight leaders voiced their 'willingness' to accept the leadership of the Communist Party and rejected suggestions that they functioned only as decoration.
'Only the Communist Party can lead China to affluence and prosperity,' said Chen Changzhi, head of the China National Democratic Construction Association.
The Communists ban all political and social organisations that fail to obtain the party's approval.
The eight organisations have a total of about 793,000 members and are represented in the National People's Congress, the rubber-stamp parliament, and in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Beijing touts non-Communist input in both bodies, saying it demonstrates its version of democracy.