London, Oct 15 : China will transform itself into a working democracy in just over a decade, according to one of the country's most influential reformers. Zhou Tianyong, an adviser to the Communist Party's Central Committee and one of its most liberal voices, said that "by 2020, China will basically finish its political and institutional reforms."
"We have a 12-year plan to establish a democratic platform. There will be public democratic involvement at all government levels," he added.
Zhou also predicted of "extensive public participation in policy-making, such as drawing up new legislation."
Zhou is deputy head of research at the Central Party School, the most important institution for training senior leaders. President Hu Jintao is among its former directors, The Telegraph reported.
After two weeks of heightened tension between China and Taiwan because of a 3.5 billion pound American arms sale to the island, Zhou said the transition to democracy was "essential for relations with Taiwan and a possible peaceful reunification."
His comments appear to rebuff the widespread belief that Chinese political reform had stalled after the riots in Tibet in March and a security clampdown before the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Instead, Zhou said the government was determined to reform itself, but that there had been some infighting between different departments.
He called for the number of ministries in Beijing to be halved to between 19 and 21 in order to form a "modern government structure".