China's leadership had decided to expand local governement democracy with direct elections involving more choice of candidates as well as a more independent judiciary, according to an agenda of the National People's Congress released today.
The congress, China's parliament, will aslo move to abolish a last remnant of the 1960s Cultural Revolution - governing is revolutionary committees - ruing it stow-week session beingin Monday. More vice premiers of the state council will be appointed, giving further clues to the strength of the pragmatic leadership faction under Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping.
A preliminary meeting of the congress, as reported by the officila New China News Agency, said the agenda includes a new law for local elections, a law on people's courts and prosecutors, a criminal code, a code on foreign investment, a major speech by Premier and Communist Party Chairman Hua Guofend and a report on the 1979 state budget that is expected to reflect readjustments in the economy.
Of the 3,471 delegates appointed to the congress 3,299 have arrived, the report said.
A leading ally of Vice Premier Deng and one of the most prominent victims of the Cultural Revolution, former Peking mayor Peng Zhen (Ping Chen), will be made a vice chairman of the congress' standing committee but apparently there will be no demotions or dismissals of any of Deng's foes.
Details of the congress were released to foreign correspondents in Peking and to the official news agency by Ji Pengfei, vice chairman and secretary general of the standing committee. It appeared to be the first time Chinese leaders and released a detailed agenda in advance of the congress, a further sign of Peking's effort to use more open Western methods in informing the foreign press and its own people.
Ji's statements to foreign reporters indicated that direct election of local people's congresses will not aler the grip of nonelected Communist Pary committees on all important decision making in China. Local congresses elect delegates to congresses at higher levels, which invariably endorse decisions already made by China's ruling Communist Party Politburo in Peking.
Ji said the new local congress elections could have twice as many candidates as positions to fill. But he also spoke of a "very complete process of consultation" before choosing candidates, which indicates that the party still would have to approve all names placed on the secret ballots.
The new system does, however, give Chinese more of a taste of representative democracy, a demand of many wallposters that have tone up in large Chinese cities over the last six months.
Deng's group, although under some attack in the last several weeks, appears to be strong enough to put through such limited changes, despite doubts expressed by some national and local leaders who prefer the absolute party rule of the days prior to the death of chairman Mao Tse-tung in 1976.
The new elections are to be on the county level, said Ji. Up to now, local congress delegates have been selected by local government officials, reportedly with some consulation but no direct voting by ordinary Chinese citizens.
Ji outlined a new system to "uphold the independence of the judiciary," taking court officials out from under direct supervision by local governments and making them responsible instead to the standing committees of the people's congresses. He said new criminal code to be submitted to the congress will prohibit police from making arrests without approval of the prosecutors.
The new criminal code would also guarantee the right of the defendant to "seek legal advice and his relatives, friends and the unit where he worked could act as his defense counsel. He has the right to appeal," Ji said.