Speech at the Second Full Assembly of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee (Excerpt)

By: Xi JinpingFrom:English Edition of Qiushi Journal April-June 2017|Vol.9,No.2,Issue No.31 | Updated: 2017-Jul-17 10:34
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This plenary session has been a success. We have heard the report on the work of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, analyzed the situation we face in our efforts to comprehensively govern the Party with strict discipline, deliberated and approved the Code of Conduct for Intraparty Political Life Under New Circumstances and the Regulations of the Communist Party of China on Internal Oversight (hereinafter referred to as the Code and the Regulations respectively), and adopted a resolution on the convening of the 19th National Congress of the CPC, thus accomplishing all items on the agenda.

On behalf of the Political Bureau, I would like to make the following points with regard to implementing the guiding principles of this plenary session and accomplishing our current tasks.

I. Remaining committed to comprehensively governing the Party with strict discipline

To implement the guiding principles of this plenary session, we must gain a deeper understanding of what is entailed in comprehensively governing the Party with strict discipline. After the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, the Central Committee conducted a comprehensive analysis of the new conditions and new tasks facing the Party and country, as well as new situations and problems that our Party, country, society, and the international community had encountered. On this basis, it came to an important conclusion that a strong, well-developed Party would be essential if we were to succeed in our great struggle with many new historical features, effectively respond to various risks and challenges, and realize the “Two Centenary Goals” and the Chinese dream of national renewal. If there were wavering beliefs, weak organization, lax discipline, and slack conduct within our Party, we would be neither able to respond to the tests brought about by our long-term governance, reform and opening up initiatives, the market economy, and the external environment, nor able to deal with the dangers of losing drive, incompetence, becoming out of touch with the people, and corruption. Were that the case, we would not only fail to achieve our goals, but end up with a tragic estrangement from the people. This is the fundamental reason why the Central Committee has reiterated that “our Party’s capacity to fulfill difficult tasks hinges on its own strength.”

President Xi Jinping speaks at the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee held in Beijing, October 24-27, 2016.

PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER LI XUEREN

Since the 18th National Congress, we have incorporated comprehensively governing the Party with strict discipline into the “Four Comprehensives” strategy. This is an inevitable choice that our Party has made in response to developments globally, nationally, and within the Party under new circumstances. Adopting a problem-oriented approach, we have focused on the following aspects in comprehensively governing the Party with strict discipline. First, we have focused on strict ideological cultivation. We have continued to equip our Party members with the latest achievements of Chinese Marxism, so that they unite with one heart and one mind. We have used ideals, beliefs, and code of conduct of the Party to enhance their ideological foundation and strength, and guided them in reinforcing their ideals and beliefs, thus increasing their confidence in China’s socialist path, theories, system, and culture. Second, we have focused on the strict management of the Party. We have upheld the leadership of the Party, and guided the entire Party in enhancing political commitment, seeing the bigger picture, following the core leadership of the Party, and staying aligned with the Central Committee. We have also ensured that responsibilities in the management and governance of our Party are fulfilled, and made continued efforts to enhance the awareness and capacity of Party organizations at all levels in this regard. Third, we have focused on the strict enforcement of discipline. We have attached primary importance to discipline, strictly enforced the Party’s political discipline and political rules, and urged the entire Party to bear in mind the “five must-do’s” and prevent the “seven types of misconduct,” in an effort to safeguard the solidarity, unity, and coordination of the entire Party. Fourth, we have focused on the strict management of officials. We have adhered to sound criteria for official appointments, deepened the reform of the personnel management system for officials, refrained from selecting officials solely based on votes, examination scores, GDP growth rates, or age, and rectified undesirable tendencies in personnel appointment, thereby improving the environment for personnel selection and appointment. Fifth, we have focused on the strict management of conduct. We have urged senior officials to lead by example, and made tireless efforts to resolve problems that were once considered unresolvable, thereby improving Party and government conduct on a constant basis. Sixth, we have focused on strictly combating corruption. Maintaining a zero-tolerance stance on corruption, we have upheld the principle of not only caging the “tigers” but also swatting the “flies” by building a sturdier institutional cage. In particular, we have rooted out corrupt officials such as Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai, Guo Boxiong, Xu Caihou, and Ling Jihua, thus effectively curbing the spread of corruption.

Following several years of efforts, we have made important progress in comprehensively governing the Party with strict discipline, integrity and conduct within our Party are improving, and so is the atmosphere in society as a whole. These changes are comprehensive, profound, far-reaching, and encouraging, and they have provided an enormous positive boost for the cause of the Party and the country. This shows that the CPC Central Committee’s strategic decision to comprehensively govern the Party with strict discipline is in every way correct and has won the support of the Party and the people.

At the same time, however, we are clearly aware of the complexity of our Party’s governing environment, its composition, and factors that may undermine its advanced nature and purity. Some deep-rooted problems in our Party have yet to be fundamentally resolved; some old problems may still recur; and new situations and new problems have been encountered. In addition, some Party members and officials have yet to fully understand the need to comprehensively govern the Party with strict discipline, to adapt their thinking to this effort, and to act more consciously in this regard. The entire Party must be aware that if we do not manage our Party effectively and govern it with the necessary stringency, and if problems within our Party that the public feel most strongly about go unsolved, the foundations of our Party’s governance will be shaken and disintegrated; likewise, if we allow for the recurrence of problems that are beginning to be resolved, we will lose the people’s trust, and our Party will face even greater dangers. There is no need to be fearful of problems; what is really fearful is helplessness in dealing with them and inadequate efforts to resolve them. As an old saying goes, “Those who give up halfway will meet with no success, and those who slacken their efforts will realize no gain.” Therefore, the entire Party must maintain strong strategic resolve, give top priority to strict discipline in a genuine, brave, and constant effort to manage the Party, and integrate the requirement of strict discipline into all aspects of Party-building.

At present, China is in the decisive phase of its push to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and the Chinese nation is at a critical juncture in its drive towards renewal. China has entered the deep end of reform and a new normal of economic development, with various problems overlapping and risks mounting. Due to new changes in the world balance of power and profound adjustments in the world economy, China is confronted with a more complex and daunting international environment than before, as well as various obstacles and pitfalls on the road ahead. Under such domestic and international circumstances, if we are to gain the upper hand, seize the initiative, and win the future, it is essential that we make the Party even stronger, enabling it to bring together the people in an effective effort to respond to major challenges, withstand major risks, overcome major obstacles, and address major problems.

Our efforts to comprehensively govern the Party with strict discipline should be made in a thorough manner and yet with focuses. Emphasis should be placed on improving and regulating intraparty political activities and enhancing the Party’s internal oversight. Tightening intraparty political conduct constitutes the foundation for comprehensively governing the Party with strict discipline. To ensure that the Party supervises its own conduct and runs itself according to a strict code of conduct, we must begin by strictly regulating its internal political behaviors and activities. The CPC’s position of governance dictates that internal oversight plays the most fundamental and principal role among all forms of oversight by the Party and state. Only by using the Party’s internal oversight to promote other forms of oversight and improve the oversight system can we provide a strong institutional guarantee for comprehensively governing the Party with strict discipline. The Code and the Regulations adopted at this plenary session are inherently linked and mutually reinforcing, representing important institutional and legal guarantees for comprehensively governing the Party with strict discipline.

II. Comprehensively improving and regulating intraparty political behaviors and activities

Earnest intraparty political norm constitutes an important feature that distinguishes our Party, a Marxist political party, from other political parties, as well as a glorious tradition that we have long upheld. Our long-term endeavors have proved that, earnest intraparty political norm plays an instrumental role in maintaining the essence, tenets, advanced nature, and purity of our Party, in resolving its problems, in tempering the Party spirit of its members and officials, and in purifying Party conduct.

As an old Chinese saying goes, “The line marker (a form of ruler used by carpenters in ancient China) was invented because wood does not grow in straight lines.” With a focus on improving and regulating intraparty political activities and conducts and enhancing the Party’s internal oversight, this plenary session has truly adopted a problem-oriented approach. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, as we have continued to comprehensively govern the Party with strict discipline, problems within our Party have become increasingly evident. In addition to their insatiable desire for money and dissolute lifestyles, people like Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai, Guo Boxiong, Xu Caihou, and Ling Jihua were driven by an over-inflated sense of political ambition. They hatched political plots, feigning compliance with policies while acting in opposition to them and forming self-serving cliques. The grave political problems exposed by their cases have given me much food for thought. This is why I have reiterated, over the past three years, the political need to understand and carry out efforts to comprehensively govern the Party with strict discipline. 

On November 16, 2012, at the First Session of the Political Bureau of the 18th Central Committee, I said that we needed to set an example in observing the Party’s organizational principles and code of conduct for intraparty political behaviors and activities, and in knowing the rules and following the code of discipline. On November 20 that year, I published an article in the People’s Daily entitled “Earnestly Studying and Strictly Observing the Party Constitution,” in which I emphasized the need to strictly implement all regulations on intraparty political activities provided in the Party Constitution, have the courage to uphold principles and conduct criticism and self-criticism, and take the lead in promoting healthy practices and opposing unhealthy ones.  

On January 22, 2013, at the Second Plenary Session of the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), I stated, “To improve our work style, we need to purify the political environment and create a sound environment that is conducive to clean government.” On June 25, the Political Bureau convened a dedicated meeting to examine how the Central Committee’s eight-point code of conduct was being implemented, and to discuss and deliberate measures for further improving Party conduct. At that meeting I noted, “We demand that Party organizations at all levels, Party members and officials, and especially leading officials, observe the Party Constitution, act in line with the Party’s organizational principles and code of conduct for intraparty political behaviors and activities, and subject themselves to the Party’s disciplinary restrictions in a conscious manner. No individual is allowed to place themselves above Party organizations, and members of the Political Bureau should lead by example in this regard.”

On October 8, 2014, at a meeting summarizing the campaign to study and practice the Party’s guiding principle of serving and relying on the people, I stated, “Intraparty political behaviors and activities represent a major platform where Party organizations educate and manage Party members and where Party members temper their Party spirit. To govern the Party with strict discipline, we must begin by strictly regulating its internal political behaviors and activities. The nature of such activities defines the conduct of our Party members and officials.” “The very essence of governing the Party with strict discipline is to ensure that Party organizations at all levels and all Party members and officials act in line with the code of conduct for intraparty political behaviors and activities and regulations of the Party.” On October 23, at the Second Full Assembly of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee, I required that Party members and officials, especially leading officials, strictly observe political discipline and political rules. I emphasized that, “Some officials have disregarded the Party’s political discipline and political rules. In a bid to enhance their so-called ‘official careers’ and ‘influence,’ there are those who have engaged in cronyism, discriminating against those who do not belong to their grouping; there are those who have formed self-serving cliques; there are those who have anonymously lodged false accusations and fabricated rumors; there are those who have engaged in popularity-courting and the rigging of elections; there are those who have promised others official posts and celebrated mutual appointments; there are those who have acted willfully and feigned compliance with policies while acting in opposition to them; and there are those who have overestimated their influence and made presumptuous comments on the decisions of the Central Committee. Some of these people have been utterly brazen and reckless. Nevertheless, these problems have often failed to capture the attention of Party organizations in some localities and departments. Even when discovered, they have seldom been treated and addressed as violations of Party discipline and state law. This is wrong and must be put right.” These are the “seven types of misconduct” I have mentioned, and they are predominantly political.

On January 13, 2015, at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CCDI, I stated that in observing political discipline and political rules, Party officials must safeguard the authority of the Central Committee and maintain a high degree of unity with the Central Committee ideologically, politically, and in their actions at all times and under all circumstances; uphold the solidarity of the Party and unite all loyal members, regardless of background; follow organizational procedures, and request instructions from and submit reports to higher-level Party committees with regard to major issues rather than overstep their authority; comply with the decisions of Party organizations, never engaging in any unauthorized activities or violating the decisions of Party organizations; and restrain their family members and aides, never tacitly allowing the latter to seek illegitimate interests in their special capacity. These are the “five must-do’s” I have talked about. On October 29, at the Second Full Assembly of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee, I stated, “At present, it is indeed necessary to restore our political environment and revive and carry forward our Party’s fine traditions and conduct. In this regard, members of the Central Committee should set an example in conducting ourselves as Party members, sharing the Party’s concerns, and devoting ourselves to it.”

On July 1, 2016, at the ceremony marking the 95th anniversary of the founding of the CPC, I noted, “We need to improve and regulate intraparty political activities and conducts, strictly enforce the Party’s political discipline and political rules, make intraparty political behaviors and activities more in line with political requirements, more relevant to the current time, more principled, and more effective, and comprehensively purify the political environment within the Party.”

Over the last several years, I have reiterated the need to tighten intraparty political behaviors and activities. This is because our Party has come to a pivotal point; major changes in our ranks and new developments in the relationship between the Party, its officials, and the public urgently demand that we engage in political efforts to comprehensively govern the Party with strict discipline.

The Code adopted at this plenary session not only spells out in detail the regulations and requirements provided in the Party Constitution, but also systematically organizes a series of rules and measures that have been developed in recent years through our efforts to comprehensively govern the Party with strict discipline. Taking aim at prominent problems within the Party, the Code defines specific regulations with regard to 12 aspects, identifying problems as well as prescribing solutions for both their symptoms and the root causes. The effectiveness of the Code hinges on its full implementation, and this requires the following efforts. 

First, we need to attach fundamental importance to political education.

As an old Chinese saying goes, “An unwavering mind is essential to a successful undertaking.” Enhancing political education and better equipping Party members with theories represent the primary task of regulating and improving intraparty political behaviors and activities, and a precondition for ensuring the coordination of the entire Party. As Mao Zedong pointed out, “Political education is the key link to be grasped in uniting the whole Party for great political struggles.” The various problems that have emerged in our intraparty political activities are fundamentally attributable to the fact that some Party members and officials have wavered in their ideals, beliefs, worldview, outlook on life, and values. Ideals and beliefs are derived from persistence and established after being tempered through hardships. We should make persistent efforts to equip our Party members and officials with theories and to enhance Party spirit and moral education. We must guide them in reinforcing their beliefs, inner strength, and thoughts, and ensure that they uphold truth, keep to the correct path, follow principles and rules, uphold public and personal morals, and improve their character and conduct so that they establish themselves on the basis of beliefs, dignity, and diligence.

Intraparty political behaviors and activities, the political environment, and political culture are mutually reinforcing. Political culture represents the soul of political conduct, and exerts an invisible, formative influence on the political environment. We should attach importance to the development of intraparty political culture, encourage loyalty, honesty, frankness, fairness, decency, down-to-earth practice, perseverance, and uprightness, and unequivocally oppose vulgar and depraved political cultures such as networking, “Thick Black Theory,” the art of officialdom, and hidden rules, in a sustained effort to lay down solid foundations for a sound political environment.

Second, we need to attach key importance to strict discipline.

As an old Chinese saying goes, “To check flatness and straightness, carpenters must use leveling instruments and ink markers; to check the accuracy of squares and circles, they must use squares and compasses.” Strict discipline represents an inherent requirement of and important guarantee for improving and regulating intraparty political behaviors and activities. We need to enhance institutional restrictions within the Party and build a sturdier institutional cage. Political discipline and political rules constitute the most fundamental and important disciplinary codes of the Party; the observance of political discipline and political rules is fundamental to the observance of all other forms of Party discipline. Party organizations at all levels and Party members should consciously abide by political discipline and political rules, and enhance political commitment, see the bigger picture, follow the core leadership of the Party, and stay aligned with the CPC Central Committee, ensuring that they always uphold the correct political beliefs, political stance, and political orientation.

We must ensure that all orders are executed and all prohibitions are heeded without fail. We must resolutely punish all violations of discipline, ensuring that the Party’s disciplinary code and rules genuinely become a high-voltage line that nobody dares to touch, and preventing the emergence of “broken windows” in this regard. In line with the guiding principles of the Code, we need to review relevant rules and regulations, revising and supplementing existing regulations and formulating new ones where needed, so as to ensure that we have clearly defined guidelines for intraparty political norm and conduct. Party organizations at all levels should assume responsibility for the enforcement of discipline and rules. Oversight and accountability must be strengthened, and those responsible for lack of due diligence in this regard must be strictly held to account. On this basis, we will make continued efforts to impose strict, concrete, and stringent standards rather than loose, lax, and soft ones in the management of the Party.

Third, we need to exert the guiding role of official selection and appointment.

The way that officials are selected and appointed demonstrates whether intraparty political activities and conducts are healthy. Misconduct and corruption in this regard jeopardize political norm in a most severe manner, and adopting a correct approach to official appointment represents a fundamental means of tightening intraparty political activities. We should adhere to sound criteria for officials, judging them strictly by their political ideals, character, conduct, and integrity. On this basis, we should commend and put in key positions officials who are loyal, upright, responsible, pragmatic, industrious, and enterprising, who wholeheartedly serve the people, and who have done a splendid job, while marginalizing and disciplining those who feign compliance with policies while acting in opposition to them, curry favor, engage in falsification rather than solid work, and cultivate connections for promotion. Major efforts should be made to rectify misconduct in official selection and appointment, prevent the “bad money” from driving out the good, and create a clean environment for personnel appointment that helps to ensure political integrity. We also need to establish a sound framework of systems for strictly managing and overseeing officials, so that the management of officials is no longer considered to be less important than their appointment. At the same time, we should put in place mechanisms to permit and rectify mistakes, and strengthen positive incentives, so as to ensure that officials are motivated, industrious, and brave enough to assume responsibility.

Fourth, we need to make good use of regular collective activities within the Party.

Collective activities within the Party represent an important aspect and vehicle of intraparty political norm and conduct, and an important means by which Party organizations educate, manage, and oversee their members. The strength and capability of a Party organization is closely connected to the quality of its collective activities. In order to educate, manage, and oversee Party members on a regular basis, we need to ensure that a range of systems are properly practiced. These include systems for Party branch general meetings, meetings of the Party branch committee, Party group meetings, and Party lectures (known as “three meetings and one lecture”); meetings of criticism and self-criticism among members in leadership positions; collective meetings of both higher-level and lower-level Party organizations that are attended by leading officials; the democratic assessment of Party members; and open discussions. In addition, we need to adopt new approaches to collective activities within the Party, with a view to making these activities more attractive and appealing as well as enhancing their quality and effectiveness.

Criticism and self-criticism are effective tools that our Party uses to remedy problems and stay healthy, and important methods to improve and regulate political norm and conduct. Leading officials and leading bodies should set an example in this regard and foster a sound atmosphere that is conducive to criticism and self-criticism. Leading officials should firmly oppose the ignoble philosophy of letting things drift if they do not affect them personally, and saying as little as possible when knowing perfectly well that something is wrong. They should overcome misguided tendencies such as attempting to conceal one’s mistakes and continuing to behave in a way one knows to be wrong.

Fifth, we need to lay emphasis on both tradition and innovation.

The fine traditions of intraparty political behaviors and activities that our Party has developed over the long term have always been and will continue to be a valuable asset. We must not abandon our fine traditions or revolutionary heritage, as doing so would be to abandon our soul and degenerate. Meanwhile, taking account of new conditions, we need to better exert the role of intraparty political norm by improving its contents, forms, means, and methods, and use new experiences to guide new practices, striving to create a political atmosphere within the Party in which we have both centralism and democracy, both discipline and freedom, and both unity of will and personal ease of mind and liveliness.

To implement the Code, it is essential that we effectively resolve outstanding problems in intraparty political behaviors and activities. Party organizations at all levels and all Party members and officials should ensure that their thoughts and actions comply with the Code. They should confront existing problems, acknowledge their own inadequacies, and strive to surmount deep-seated problems. On the one hand, we should strive to resolve outstanding problems of the kind that occur in large numbers and on a widespread basis, such as arbitrariness, dictatorial style, liberalism, and decentralism in work; going through the motions instead of doing the real work, excessive bureaucracy, over-spending and self-indulgence, pleasure-seeking and extravagance; abuse of power, embezzlement and bribery, moral degeneration, and violations of the law and codes of discipline; cases in which codes of discipline go ignored, the enforcement of discipline is lax, and violations of codes of discipline go unpunished; and lack of drive, lack of courage to take responsibility, incompetence, inertia, and nonfeasance. These problems are easily perceived by the public, and have clear boundaries. The focus of our efforts in this regard should be to intensify institutional restrictions. On the other hand, we should work to resolve problems that are highly political and have a devastating effect, such as refusal to maintain unity with the Central Committee on major issues or to uphold the Party’s political discipline and political rules; disloyalty, dishonesty, fake compliance, falsification, and duplicity in front of the Party; cronyism and favoritism for personal gains in personnel appointment, cultivating of connections for promotion, buying and selling of official posts, and rigging of elections by paying for votes; and formation of self-serving cliques and overinflated sense of political ambition. These problems are largely invisible and only manifest themselves at critical moments. The focus of our efforts in this regard should be to identify criteria, promptly crack down on typical cases, and create effective mechanisms against such behaviors.

Intraparty political norm and conduct are complex in composition, and problems in this regard tend to vary in different localities, departments, and organizations. What we need is the courage to confront these problems and the capability to resolve them. Continued efforts should be made to resolve whatever problems arise, focus on whatever problem is difficult, and surmount whatever problem is outstanding. When dealing with these problems, we need to conduct comprehensive analysis and draw inferences from them, so as to ensure that all our measures and endeavors are conducive to improving and regulating intraparty political behaviors and activities and to purifying the political environment within our Party. 

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.1, 2017)