03/12/2014, 00.00
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Communist Party fails to heed Consultative Conference's advice

by Wang Zhicheng
Academics want consultative body to play a greater role. Since Mao's reign, the former has been only a useless "decoration". Bishops who sit in the conference have always failed to guarantee Catholic communities a modicum of freedom, or get the release of jailed fellow bishops. Some propose to cut the number of delegates.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Some university professors attending the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) have criticised its "weak" role as an advisory body. Instead, they want the Communist Party to strengthen its supervisory role on policy-making.

The CPPCC ended its annual session today. Unlike the National People's Congress (NPC), China's formal parliament, which ends tomorrow, the CPPCC is not a legislative body. Instead, it supposedly represents Chinese civil society, with delegates from smaller parties, religions, churches, universities and the professions.

Yet, "The CPPCC has been neglected for years," said at a public meeting Hou Xinyi, a CPPCC delegate from Tianjin and the Nankai University Law School's deputy dean,.

For him, "It is time to ask what kind of organisation we are and whether our proposals are well answered by the National People's Congress".

Other CPPCC delegates expressed similar frustration in seeing the PNC ignore their proposals.

The little influence religious delegates have on laws on religious freedom epitomises the CPPCC's uselessness. Even bishops from the official Catholic Church, who are honoured and feted, have failed to guarantee Catholic communities a modicum of freedom, or get the release of jailed bishops.

Founded in 1945, the CPPCC was envisioned by the Communist Party and Kuomintang as the ideal channel for multiparty talks on political reforms following the Second World War.

In 1954, it became an advisory body, but lost much of its roles afterwards, becoming "mainly a decoration - like a vase - to the NPC," said Zhang Ming, an independent observer and professor with the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China.

Speaking to the South China Morning Post, he said, ""is not a real political advisory body. If the organisation really wants to be functional, it could try to only keep elite members [who] can impact policymaking".

With 2,237 members, the CPPCC meets once a year for nearly two weeks, making it hard for anyone to be heard.

Some have proposed to streamline its procedures, cut the number of members, meet at different times than the NPC, and force the latter to respond to its demands.

Nobody has however noted that NPC is as lame as the CPPCC, a club that rubberstamps laws adopted by the Party and the government.

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