China rules out democratic reforms
China will never adopt multi-party democracy or other Western-style political reforms that could challenge the Communist Party's grip on power, the head of the country's national legislature has said.
Wu Bangguo's comments were the latest emphatic rejection of any major political changes to accompany soaring economic growth, rising urbanisation and an increasingly diversified society.
Instead, Mr Wu repeatedly emphasised in his address to the annual session of the National People's Congress the need to shore up party leadership and for government bodies to follow the party's directives in all areas.
"On the basis of China's conditions, we have made a solemn declaration that we will not employ a system of multiple parties holding office in rotation," Mr Wu told the nearly 3,000 delegates.
Mr Wu ruled out separating powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, adoption of a federal system, and said the division of parliament into upper and lower houses would also not be considered.
China would not carry out formal privatisation or "diversify our guiding thought", he said. He said while China wanted to strengthen its legal system, it would "never blindly follow or imitate others".
"Different countries have different systems of laws, and we do not copy the systems of laws of certain Western countries when enacting the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics," Mr Wu said.
Mr Wu's comments were a faint echo of ones he made 2009 in which he repeatedly blasted Western-style democracy and forcefully asserted China's rejection of such concepts.
His remarks fuelled speculation at the time over a possible debate within the party over the need for reform. The leadership has been deeply unsettled by the wave of anti-government protests across North Africa and the Middle East.
Appeals of uncertain origin appearing on the internet calling for a similar movement in China have met with a massive security crackdown.