The Communist Party leadership has announced the start of the election of delegates who will attend next autumn's 18th National Party Congress, which will decide the party's new leadership line-up.
A total of 2,270 delegates will be elected from 40 electoral units across the country. The elections will be completed by June, according to a statement issued yesterday by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
The party wants to see more workers, farmers and technicians nominated and more women and more grass-roots representatives to attend the congress than were at the last such meeting in October 2007.
Additionally, 'social management' has been added as a new constituency from which delegates will be elected, alongside those from the existing fields of economics, technology, defence, political and legal, education, publicity, culture, health and sports.
The election must be competitive, the party says, and the difference between the number of candidates and the number of available slots must be 'more than 15 per cent', the statement said - the rule last time was 'no less than 15 per cent', an increase from the 10 per cent difference required in elections before 2007.
The statement also said that election organisers would have to seek advice from party disciplinary committees on all candidates, and advice from administrative and industry watchdogs in relation to candidates from financial organisations and enterprises.
The requirements were presumably added to prevent the election of corrupt delegates.
The National Party Congress is intended to bring together the best of the Communist Party's 80 million members from across the country and all walks of life.
Migrant workers made their first appearance during the 17th National Party Congress, while entrepreneurs attended for the first time during the 16th National Party Congress.
However, despite efforts to raise the number of grass-roots representatives, officials still made up the great majority of the National Party Congress. The authorities want 32 per cent of the attendees to be grass-roots representatives next year, up two percentage points from last time.
The number of delegates during the 17th National Party Congress was 2,217, elected from 70 million Communist Party members through 38 electoral units. That was 100 more than at the previous congress.
An intensive two-week period next autumn will see members of the new CPC Central Committee and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection elected. In turn, those two bodies will vote for the members of the Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee - the party's innermost power group, which usually consists of nine members.
The number of delegates at the first National Party Congress in Shanghai in 1921. They included Mao Zedong