China's leadership says the Communist Party must remain in power if democracy and development are to come to the country.
In a white paper titled the "Building of Political Democracy in China," the Chinese leadership says democratic reform has improved under the rule of the Communist Party, and says continued party rule is necessary to unite the country's people.
The report issued by China's cabinet describes the country as a "socialist political democracy" with "distinctive Chinese characteristics," guaranteed by the "people's democratic dictatorship" and under the leadership of the Communist Party.
In traditional Marxist jargon, communist countries are headed by a "dictatorship of the proletariat," and the proletariat, or working class, is represented by the Communist Party.
Wu Jianmin is President of China's Foreign Affairs University. He told foreign reporters in Beijing that China is striving for democracy, but not necessarily the same kind of democracy as found in Western countries, where the systems of government are based on direct elections.
"I do not believe there is a universal model of democracy for the whole world," commented Wu Jianmin. "We will have a diversity of models, different types of democracy."
The report says that in working towards its version of democracy, China has a host of problems to deal with, such as a lack of law enforcement, too much bureaucracy, and corruption.
International human rights organizations and some countries such as the United States say Beijing is moving too slowly on political reform. Beijing rejects that criticism as an interference in China's internal affairs.
Last week, China's leaders approved an economic plan aimed at developing the countryside, in order to narrow a growing wealth gap between rich and poor. That gap threatens to marginalize poor farmers and workers, the Communist Party's traditional power base.