Representatives of over 96 million CPC members will review work reports
As the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China draws closer, Li Shengli, a veteran firefighter from Jiangxi province, is excited about traveling to Beijing to attend the gathering.
"I'm greatly honored to be elected as a delegate, and also feel a heavy responsibility," said Li, who works at the command center for the fire and rescue corps in Jiangxi and is one of some 40 delegates elected by the province for the Party's meeting in the capital.
Another delegate, Lu Shengmei, a retired doctor from Shaanxi province, also feels the heavy responsibility, and said she will bring to the meeting her experience gained from decades of working at the grassroots.
"I always remember that it is the Party and the people who give me trust and strength. This encourages me to continue serving my patients and to repay society and people's recognition," Lu said.
Li and Lu are among 2,296 delegates who will attend the 20th National Congress of the CPC, which is expected to be convened on Sunday. The delegates went through a rigorous and meticulous election process that lasted several months.
Representing the Party's more than 96 million members, the delegates will review the work reports submitted by the 19th CPC Central Committee and the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, or CCDI, at the five-yearly congress.
They will present opinions and requests from Party members and the public, discuss and decide major Party issues and elect a new CPC Central Committee, and a new CCDI, the Party's top disciplinary watchdog.
Noting the importance of the upcoming congress, which is being held at a crucial moment on the new journey to build a modern socialist country in all respects, President Xi Jinping said goals, tasks and policies for the cause of the Party and the country for the next five years and beyond will be set at the meeting.
It is vitally important to build on past successes to further advance the cause of the Party and the country, the future of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said at a study session of provincial- and ministerial-level officials in July.
Xi, a candidate nominated by the CPC Central Committee, was unanimously elected a delegate to the Party congress on April 22 in the electoral unit of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
He and other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee took part in elections in border areas with a large ethnic minority population, old revolutionary base areas, and key regions where national-level development strategies are implemented, setting an example for leading officials, according to Xinhua News Agency.
The leaders' election as delegates at respective electoral units, and their attendance at group discussions of corresponding delegations at the upcoming Party congress, are conducive to furthering the implementation of major national development initiatives, and building China into a modern socialist country in all respects, according to Xinhua.
Shang Hongri, a professor of political studies at Shanghai Normal University, said the election of delegates is an important foundation for a successful Party congress, and when the congress is not in session, the delegates still have many specific duties to perform during their five-year tenure.
The delegates' ability and work style directly influence the discussion and decision-making at the meeting, thus further involving the Party's leadership and the prosperity and long-term stability of the Party's cause and the country, he said.
"As such an important matter, it is natural that the process of electing congress delegates should be very scientific, standardized and rigorous," Shang added.
According to a Xinhua report, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core paid great attention to the election of Party congress delegates.
Xi personally planned and made election-related arrangements. He presided over Party leadership meetings to discuss this issue, setting the guiding principles, requirements, and goals and tasks for the election.
He attended multiple briefings on the progress of the election process and issued key instructions, such as enhancing the Party's leadership, setting strict standards for candidates, carefully reviewing candidates' integrity, optimizing the spectrum of the delegates, and stringently enforcing electoral discipline, the report said.
As there are more than 96 million CPC members, the chance of a member becoming a delegate to the congress is about 1 in 42,000.
The electoral work, which took place from November through July, was organized by 38 electoral units, including provincial-level regions, central authorities, the central financial sector, and centrally administered State-owned enterprises based in Beijing.
The entire procedure generally consists of five parts: the nomination of candidates by Party members; a nominee review; public notification of the candidates for feedback; candidate shortlists; and the final vote in each electoral unit.
The election was competitive, with more than 15 percent of the candidates eliminated during the process. The elected delegates will be vetted by a qualification review committee before the national congress.
Shang, the expert, said the meticulous electoral system is designed to ensure the delegates elected are outstanding Party members who have obtained the approval and recognition of fellow members and also the people.
The system also highlights intra-Party democracy, with procedures to facilitate the participation of grassroots Party organizations and members, he said.
Innovative methods adopted nationwide to encourage participation in the electoral process include setting up mobile ballot boxes, holding meetings, and seeking opinions through phone calls, letters and door-to-door visits.
All grassroots Party organizations took part in the electoral process, with an average participation rate of 99.5 percent of members, the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee said last month.
"Party organizations and members at the grassroots displayed great political enthusiasm for the election of delegates, and were highly motivated to participate in the process," the department said.
"The majority of Party members believe that participating in the nomination of delegates improves their sense of honor and mission," it added.
With an average age of 52.2, the delegates include Party members from different age groups, but those who joined the Party after the launch of reform and opening-up in 1978 form the majority, according to the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee.
The number of female delegates, who form 27 percent of the total, has risen by 2.8 percentage points since the Party's 19th National Congress in 2017. People from ethnic minority groups account for 11.5 percent of the total, and come from 40 such groups. More than 95 percent of delegates received education at junior college level or higher.
Delegates include members in leadership positions and also those working on the frontlines, with the latter accounting for 33.6 percent of the total, according to official data.
Different sectors of society are represented, including the economy, science and technology, national defense, the judiciary, procuratorial and public security, education, publicity, culture, healthcare, sports and social administration.
Prominent figures among the delegates include 85-year-old leading epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan, Zhang Guimei, a teacher devoted to improving girls' education in mountainous areas, astronaut Wang Yaping, and Winter Olympics multiple medalists Wu Dajing and Xu Mengtao.
The elected delegates are outstanding Party members highly qualified ideologically and politically, have a good work style and high moral standards, are competent in discussing State affairs, and have made remarkable achievements in their work, according to the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee.
Li, the firefighter, has taken part in more than 11,000 firefighting and rescue operations, saving and evacuating over 30,000 people during his career of 30-plus years. He is a hero and a role model in the eyes of fellow Party members.
The 50-year-old used to lead a squad of experienced firefighters, who are all Party members undertaking difficult tasks. The team was called Shengli, after Li's given name, which translates as "victory".
Lu, the doctor, was born and raised in Beijing. After graduating as a medical student in the capital in 1968, she was sent to a county hospital in Yulin, Shaanxi, where she worked with colleagues to establish the county's first independent standard pediatric unit.
The Organization Department said, "The delegates' characteristics fully demonstrate that the CPC has a solid class basis and a broad mass basis, and that it is full of vigor and vitality from generation to generation."
The delegates will fulfill their duties by discussing each item on the agenda for the national Party congress, including evaluating the work reports and potential amendments to the CPC Constitution.
Li said that when he worked on the frontline, he used to devote most of his energy to improving firefighting and rescue skills.
Now, to better perform his duties as a delegate, he spends more time studying national policies and regulations, including those related to his profession, while still performing his daily work well.
Lu said she pays a lot of attention to development of the nation's medical services and related policies, as they are closely related to improving people's health and livelihoods.
"I hope to tell the meeting about people's need for health, which I have learned about through my job, and also to contribute to the work of the Party and the country," she said.
Shang, the professor, said, "During discussions at the meeting, delegates are free to put forward their suggestions and opinions, but it's a process that aims to lead to a consensus in the end."
The congress will conclude with the adoption of official reports and the election of the new CPC Central Committee, which will hold its first plenary session soon after the congress to elect the new Political Bureau, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and the Party's general secretary.
However, the conclusion of the Party congress does not mean that delegates' duties have ended.
Shang said all delegates must maintain close contact with grassroots Party members and the people to listen to their opinions and suggestions, and learn about problems that have surfaced in implementing the Party's decisions.
Delegates can submit opinions and suggestions to the central leadership in written form, either individually or jointly.
The CPC Central Committee also entrusts delegates with certain backgrounds to conduct investigations and studies into major policies and issues, Shang said.
In addition, delegates are invited to attend the plenary sessions of the CPC Central Committee and voice opinions on relevant topics, he added.
Xinhua contributed to this story.