China proposed a new constitution, reviving the post of chairman of the republic and placing the armed forces under the government rather than the Communist Party.
Monitor correspondent Takashi Oka writes that the purpose of the new constitution is believed to be to complete the process of a return to the rule of law which China's leaders have been carrying out step by step.
China's leader, Deng Xiaoping, is in the midst of a far-reaching program to streamline the bureaucracy, weed out incompetency and corruption, and raise living standards within the framework of communism -- but with bold use of economic incentives and cooperation with Western economies.
Mr. Deng is reported to have refused the chairmanship post, which appears to be largely ceremonial. It is not yet clear what will happen to the far more substantive post he now holds -- chairman of the party's Military Commission.
Whatever position Mr. Deng does occupy, he will likely remain the behind-the-scenes leader and de facto commander of the armed forces.