Guangdong has for the first time released for public scrutiny a list of 150 provincial candidates for membership of the National People's Congress.
However, political analysts have described the move as a mere formality.
The public has been given seven days - until tomorrow - to express its views about the candidates, Guangdong media reported this week, saying that the move was "the first of its kind" on the mainland. Yesterday's News Express quoted an official as saying that "the central government did not give a specific instruction [to disclose the candidate list], it was our decision [by the provincial government]".
The report said the list of 150 candidates was generated by Guangdong's provincial Communist Party standing committee. Of the 150, 64 had been recommended by the provincial government and 86 by various Guangdong cities. Following last month's party leadership transition, the cabinet, NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) will be revamped in March.
The report said more candidates, recommended by Beijing, would be added to the list. The provincial people's congress would vote on January 25 to elect the 151 deputies who would represent Guangdong at the NPC's annual meeting in Beijing in March.
Dr Peng Peng , a researcher with the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said the move to publicise the list of Guangdong NPC candidates contradicted the original spirit of the election process.
"Strictly speaking, these candidates were supposed to be elected by the people, which would have already given the public the right to scrutinise the candidates," Peng said. "Only the appointment of government officials would need to be disclosed."
He said the move to disclose the candidates showed that the vast majority were not really elected in a fair and transparent process but had their appointments "arranged" by the authorities.
Tang Hao , a political scientist at South China Normal University, said disclosing the candidate list was a formality designed to give some substance to attempts to introduce more transparent governance.
"This is better than not disclosing at all," Tang said. "This is possibly the only thing they could do in the existing, limited framework."
He said the system could only be improved by the reform of laws governing the election and composition of the NPC.
NPC deputies are elected every five years through a multi-tiered electoral system. They are elected by provincial people's congress deputies, who in turn are elected by lower-level assemblies and so on, down to the grass-roots assemblies directly elected by the public.
However, the candidate lists are largely generated by government-controlled election committees at the various levels.