HONG KONG -- The constitution of China's Communist Party, revised at the recent 16th Party Congress, elevates President Jiang Zemin to virtually the same level as that of party founder Mao Zedong and the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. Each is identified as "chief representative" of the Communists during different periods.

Unlike other constitutions, which are meant to be permanent documents that are rarely amended, the party charter has been regularly revised at each party congress, held at five-year intervals, since it was rewritten in 1982.

The biggest change by far this year was the inclusion of Jiang's name in the constitution as well as the ideological innovation attributed to him: "the important thought of Three Represents." This asserts that the party represents advanced productive forces, advanced culture and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people. Implicit in this concept is the inclusion of professionals -- bankers, managers, high-tech workers -- in the ranks of the party.