The Communist Party will not blindly copy the political models of socialist parties in European countries, a party official said yesterday. Zhang Zhijun , a deputy head of the international department of the party, dropped strong hints Beijing would stick to its own reform agenda. He dismissed suggestions the party should simply follow the footsteps of socialist parties in countries like Sweden without taking into account the mainland's unique conditions. Mr Zhang said the party would not invite representatives from foreign political parties to the coming 17th Communist Party Congress but added the party was willing to cultivate ties with foreign counterparts. However, he stressed that having healthy exchanges did not mean copying the political models of other countries. 'The almost 30 years of reform experience has fully proven that ... the road China picked - building socialism with Chinese characteristics - is absolutely correct,' Mr Zhang said. 'Therefore, China will continue to walk its own way because this is widely supported by the Chinese people,' he added. Leaders have repeatedly stressed China will not practise western-style democracy and shunned the idea of the separation of power among the Communist Party, government and the legislature. Instead, party leaders would promote democracy within the party and encourage more non-party leaders to take up key government positions. Early this year, Xie Tao , a former vice-president of Renmin University, wrote in a pro-reform magazine that the party should learn from countries like Sweden and practise 'democratic socialism'. His article has drawn intense criticism from conservative ideologues who warned his opinion would 'dig a grave' for the party. Mr Zhang said yesterday the party believed political ideology should not become a barrier in exchanges but admitted some European political parties were reluctant to establish ties with Beijing. He did not name these parties. Despite Mr Zhang's remarks, Chen Ziming who served 13 years in prison for his role in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, said democratic socialism would certainly have an impact on the mainland. He agreed that democratic socialism, which emphasises the equal distribution of wealth and the establishment of a democratic political system, would not be raised in the political report to be discussed at the party congress. But he added that the democratic socialism model had been studied by scholars at the Central Party School for many years. Mr Chen said that in his remarks, Mr Zhang had not rejected democratic socialism, pointing out that the deputy director merely said China must choose its own model of reform. Mr Chen said Mr Zhang did not - unlike some radical conservatives - say the mainland should only follow 'scientific socialism' which emphasises traditional class-struggle Marxism as the only ideology, leaving room for the Communist Party to learn from other parties.