Maintaining the Purity of the Party

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2012-10-08 15:39
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The Communist Party of China will convene its Eighteenth National Congress this year. This year is also an important one for the continuation of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan. Faced with a complex and unpredictable international environment as well as challenging and arduous reform tasks at home, we must work hard to make progress while maintaining stability. The glory of our mission and the sheer enormity of the task at hand dictate that more must be done to strengthen the development of the Party and maintain its advanced nature and purity. In his important address to the Seventh Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Central Discipline Inspection Commission, General Secretary Hu Jintao gave particular emphasis to maintaining the purity of the Party under new conditions. These words have profound and far-reaching significance. We should all take earnest steps to fully understand the meaning of these words, and to thoroughly apply the principles that they embody in the course of practice.

I. Purity is an essential requirement for a Marxist political party

Founded by Marx and Engels, the Communist League was the world’s first working class political party. The charter of the newly established Communist League contained strict guidelines in regard to the purity of party members, requesting that each branch had to take responsibility for the pure character of the members that they accepted. Lenin laid particular stress on purity when he set out to establish a political party for the working class in Russia. He said, “It is our task to safeguard the firmness, consistency, and purity of our Party. We must strive to raise the title and the significance of a Party member higher, higher and still higher.” Fundamentally speaking, the reason why Marxist parties place such a high emphasis on maintaining purity is that they can remain true to their political colors and maintain their vitality, which in turn better enables them to shoulder their historic mission.

On August 10, 2011, Party member cadres from the Huaibei Power Supply Company, Anhui Province, visit an exhibition in Huaibei City designed to warn against the dangers of corruption. The visit was organized by the company with a view to ensuring that Party member cadres always remember the disciplinary code of the Party and exercise their duties in an honest fashion. / Xinhua

The Communist Party of China, as a Marxist political party, has regarded the preservation of the Party’s purity as a fundamental principle and important goal of Party building throughout the course of China’s revolution, development, and reform. Many years ago, Mao Zedong made it clear that the Party was to be “a well-disciplined party, pure in its thought and ranks, and conforming to a single unified standard.” The purity of the Party is manifested ideologically, politically, organizationally, and in styles of work. Ideological purity demands that all Party organizations, Party members, and leading cadres continue to take Marxism and the theoretical achievements of adapting Marxism to Chinese conditions as the guiding principle; maintain firm conviction in the ideals of socialism and communism; adhere to the Marxist ideological line of seeking the truth from facts; staunchly resist the penetration of anti-Marxist ideas; and take a stand against erroneous ideas that go against the principles of Marxism. Political purity demands that all Party organizations, Party members, and leading cadres resolutely implement the program, Constitution, line, principles, and policies of the Party; adhere to the basic line for the primary stage of socialism, which is to take economic development as the central task, adhere to the Four Cardinal Principles, and persevere in reform and opening up; and staunchly resist and oppose any erroneous political tendencies that violate the basic line of the Party. Organizational purity demands that all Party organizations, Party members, and leading cadres fully implement the principles of democratic centralism; comply with the disciplinary codes of the Party; act conscientiously to maintain the solidarity and unity of the Party; staunchly oppose all acts that threaten to harm or divide the Party; stringently comply with the requirements for Party members and leading cadres as set forth in the Constitution of the Party; and be resolute in casting out corrupt and degenerative elements who violate the program and Constitution of the Party, harm the causes of the Party, and who are no longer qualified to be members of the Party. Purity in styles of work demands that Party organizations, Party members, and leading cadres continue to uphold the fine traditions of the Party, such as linking theory to practice, maintaining close ties with the masses, engaging in criticism and self-criticism, and being modest, prudent and hardworking; fully implement the work approach of “from the masses, to the masses” and the practice of carrying out investigations and studies among the masses; and staunchly oppose various forms of unhealthy conduct, such as subjectivism, formalism, bureaucratic styles of work, the abuse of power for personal gain, fraudulence, arbitrary decision making, and extravagance. It is the nature and the tenets of the CPC that demand we remain pure. The CPC is the vanguard of not only the working class, but also the Chinese nation. As such, it does not have any particular interests of its own beyond the interests of the working class and the overwhelming majority of the people. The Party has always put the interests of the people first, maintaining a commitment to serving them wholeheartedly. These tenets not only give the Party its advanced nature, but also its purity. The Party’s purity is inseparable from its advanced nature; the two are mutually reinforcing. Purity is the precondition and foundation for being advanced, while being advanced is both a manifestation of purity and a safeguard for the preservation of purity. These two things are in essence the same. Various factors have contributed to the Party’s strength and the development of its causes during its 90-year history; however, it has always been the Party’s purity that has exerted the most fundamental influence on its creativity, cohesion, and effectiveness. If the purity of the Party is well preserved, the Party will become strong, and its causes will be able to develop healthily; but if the Party’s purity is undermined or weakened, its effectiveness will drop, and losses will be incurred to its causes.

At present, China is at a crucial stage of its efforts to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, deepen reform and opening up, and speed up the transformation of its pattern of economic development. The Party’s capacity to govern, steer reform and opening up, develop the market economy, and respond to the external environment will all be challenged, and we will be faced with the growing danger of losing our drive, underperforming, becoming alienated from the people, lacking in initiative, and corruption. Under such circumstances, maintaining the advanced nature and purity of the Party is the key and effective means that the Party has at its disposal to withstand various tests and overcome various dangers during the course of reform and opening up and socialist modernization. At the present, the majority of our ranks are pure, united, and, effective. This is a fundamental guarantee to ensure that great achievements will continue to be made in the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. However, as profound changes continue to take place in both the domestic and the international environments, we must be aware that the task of governing the Party is becoming an increasingly challenging one. A number of new circumstances and issues have arisen which will have a bearing on how we maintain the purity of the Party. The tendencies that Hu Jintao addressed in his speech, which go against the Party’s requirements on purity, are indeed present in certain Party members and cadres to differing degrees. These tendencies, which include a lack of conviction in ideals and beliefs, unhealthy styles of work, poor observance of principles, and lack of political integrity, will inevitably undermine the prestige of the Party in the eyes of the people and weaken the effectiveness of the Party. With an aim to preserving the true colors of the Party and ensuring the long-term stability of the country, and in response to the dangers and challenges that are confronting us under new circumstances, we must fully realize the extreme importance and urgency of maintaining the purity of the Party, and constantly enhance our understanding of Party, our political awareness, our sense of danger, and our awareness of our responsibilities, so as to engage in an untiring effort to preserve the purity of the Party.

II. Maintaining the purity of the Party in terms of ideology, organization, and styles of work

In an effort to maintain the purity of the Party under new circumstances, we must work in line with the requirements set forth by Hu Jintao in his important address. In order to maintain the purity of the Party in regard to ideology, organization, and styles of work, we must maintain strict standards for the self-governance of the Party; equip our ranks with theory whilst bringing Party members and cadres under more stringent management; uphold the fine traditions of the Party whilst stepping up efforts to nurture and temper Party spirit; take resolute action to punish corruption whilst taking effective measures to prevent its occurrence; and constantly enhance our capacity to purify ourselves, better ourselves, renew ourselves, and improve ourselves.

Ideological purity is the foundation on which the correct political orientation, the solidarity, and the unity of the Party are guaranteed. Ideology is not just our orientation; it is our soul. Without ideological purity, our Party members and leading Party cadres will be unable to show conviction in their ideals; they will inevitably struggle to make the distinction between right and wrong; and their political standpoints will be easily compromised. Under new historical conditions, it is imperative that we continue to uphold our fine tradition of building the Party through ideology; persist in strengthening the ideological and political education of Party members and Party cadres; and give special attention to strengthening education in regard to the socialist theoretical system with Chinese characteristics. By doing so, we should ensure that Party members and cadres genuinely study, understand, believe in, and apply the things that they are required to learn; establish the correct outlook on the world, on power, and on their careers; lead the way in implementing socialist core values; to keep a clear head when confronting major issues of principle; maintain the correct position in the face of challenging and turbulent conditions; and hold the ideological line in the face of various temptations. In preserving ideological purity, the most important thing is that we maintain our staunch belief in communism and our staunch faith in socialism. In addition to taking on the tasks at hand with our feet firmly on the ground, it is also important that we do not forget our long-term objectives. Party members and cadres who hold to these ideals and beliefs will experience a lofty and sacred sense of mission in everything that they do. In the days of the revolutionary war, countless Chinese Communists marched to war across the land, laying down their lives so that the revolution might succeed. It was their devotion to the correct political beliefs that empowered them to do this. In times of peace, countless Chinese Communists worked hard and gave everything they had for the cause of socialism. Likewise, it was their devotion to the correct political beliefs that empowered them to do this. Since the launch of the reform and opening up drive, countless Chinese Communists have worked hard with bitter resilience and surged forward with great courage so that the country may become rich and strong and the nation may be rejuvenated. Again, it has been their devotion to the correct political beliefs that has empowered them to do this. The power of belief is boundless. The purity of belief is the most fundamental purity that a Chinese Communist can have. At present, there are some Party members and leading cadres who have lost their clarity of vision and composure in the expanse of the market economy, being unable to correctly judge issues that concern values or correctly treat issues that involve personal interests. As a result, their spiritual pillar has collapsed, and they have lost their way in life. Some have even breached the bottom line, failing to uphold the disciplinary code of the Party and the law, and ultimately becoming corrupt and degenerate. These lessons are extremely profound. In a multi-layered landscape of interests that involves the state, the people as a whole, society, and individuals, Party members and cadres do, of course, have legitimate interests as individuals. They are entitled to realize their self-worth, and this is something that should be respected. However, as Chinese Communists, our highest interests and core values lie in wholeheartedly serving the people and sincerely seeking to further their interests. Party members and cadres must often afford thought to why they joined the Party, what is required of them as cadres, and what they will leave behind them. Under absolutely no circumstances should they seek personal gain or serve the interests of a small minority. As Chinese Communists, serving the people wholeheartedly should be where the spirit of Party members and cadres belongs.

Organizational purity ensures that the entire Party acts in unison, and guarantees that its creativity, cohesiveness, and effectiveness can be enhanced. The CPC is a large political party with more than 80 million members and over 3.8 million grassroots organizations. Against the backdrop of the CPC’s long-term rule and the reform and opening up drive, the task of maintaining purity in the ranks of the Party’s members and cadres is more difficult and more important now than it ever has been in the past. Party organizations at all levels must exercise stringent management over Party members and Party cadres. Tight control must be maintained over entrance into the Party; efforts to educate Party members and cadres must be stepped up; the monitoring and supervision of Party members and cadres must be enhanced; and open channels must be maintained for the dismissal of Party members and cadres. There are Party members and cadres now who joined the Party not because of their belief in Marxism, or because of their lifelong devotion to the causes of socialism with Chinese characteristics and communism, but because they believe they can gain something from joining the Party. Such people see joining the Party and becoming a cadre as a source of political capital for themselves and for their families and relatives. Lenin once said that “We do not need fictitious Party members even as a gift.” In recruiting new Party members, we must earnestly analyze the motives of candidates applying for joining the Party, strictly enforce standards and procedures for entrance into the Party, ensure that the standard of new recruits is maintained, and take caution to prevent people from bringing unhealthy tendencies into the Party. Also, in the training, appointment, and promotion of Party cadres, we must maintain strict standards, adhere to the principle of appointing people on their merits, and continue to regard political integrity and professional ability, with priority given to integrity, as the criteria for the selection of cadres and leading groups. We must earnestly implement the Opinions on Strengthening the Appraisal of Morality Among Cadres formulated by the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee. With the emphasis on loyalty to the Party, serving the people, integrity, and self-discipline, we must step up our evaluation of the political and moral character of our cadres, and do our utmost to prevent people with unhealthy tendencies from rising up the ranks. Some localities have, to differing extents, been overly lax and soft-handed in their management of Party members and cadres in recent years. As a result, unhealthy tendencies are not promptly addressed, small faults end up becoming big problems, trivial matters blow up into major issues, and the image of the Party in the eyes of the people suffer. Hence the phrase, “a stitch in time saves nine.” Frequent education and reminders are the best means of nipping unhealthy tendencies in the bud. The only way of preventing problems from occurring is by discovering, pointing out, and setting straight issues that point to emerging tendencies at an early stage. Therefore, we need to establish and develop systems for the regular evaluation of Party spirit in Party members and for the democratic appraisal of Party members. With regard to those Party members and cadres who fail to acknowledge and mend their errors despite repeated warnings, we must act in strict compliance with the Constitution of the Party and other internal regulations of the Party, and be resolute in casting out degenerate and corrupt elements that are beyond redemption.

Maintaining a pure style of work is the fundamental means by which the Party maintains its close ties with the people and constantly draws from their experience, wisdom, and strength. In setting out to improve our style of work, uphold our fine traditions, and maintain purity in our style of work, the core emphasis should be placed on keeping close ties with the people, standing with them no matter what, representing their will and their interests, and relying on them always to push forward the course of history. This is crucial to ensuring that the colors of the Party never change. In the entire course of developing socialism with Chinese characteristics, we must constantly enhance our efforts to educate Party members and cadres in regard to the tenets of the Party and the mass line and thus guide Party members and cadres in firmly establishing the notion that the Party is there to serve the people. We must adhere to the Marxist viewpoint on the masses, regarding realizing, upholding, and expanding the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people as the benchmark for gauging purity in styles of work. We must exert ourselves in conveying messages to the people, organizing the people, serving the people, uniting the people, and leading the people forward, strongly opposing all forms of unacceptable practice such as becoming alienated from the people or showing no regard for the hardships of the masses. If our Party members and cadres place themselves above and beyond the people; if they don’t care about the lives of the people, don’t understand the needs and wishes of the people, don’t show modesty in learning from the people, and don’t draw from the experiences of the people in practice; and if they think and make decisions with a closed mind and issue orders on the basis of “assumptions,” they will have made the mistakes of subjectivism, formalism, and bureaucratic styles of work, and the consequences of their actions will be huge losses to the causes of the Party and the people. To maintain purity in our style of work, we must move quickly to rectify outstanding problems in regard to Party conduct. This includes placing a strong emphasis on stamping out a culture of laziness and always trying to be the “nice guy.” The prevalence of the “nice guy” mentality means that problems don’t get pointed out and people don’t get reprimanded for their errors. The prevalence of this culture is often found in places where political weakness and lax attitudes towards work are present in Party organization and leadership, that is, places where there are many problems with Party members and cadres. The CPC has a fine tradition of criticism and self-criticism. Taking new realities into account, we must continue to uphold this tradition on a long-term basis, so as to constantly enhance the political and principled nature of life in the Party.

III. Leading cadres must set an example in maintaining purity

The key to maintaining the purity of the Party rests with our leading cadres. Leading cadres are not just the organizers and leaders of initiatives to maintain purity in the Party, but are also the implementers and practitioners of such initiatives. Leading cadres assume positions of leadership in the causes of the Party and the people, and this means that they assume an extremely important responsibility in maintaining the purity of the Party. This also means that they must take the requirements of the Party in regard to purity as a basis for evaluating themselves, examining themselves, correcting themselves, and improving themselves at all times and in all aspects of their work. They should not ask others to do what they cannot first do themselves, and not ask others to refrain from doing what they cannot first refrain from doing themselves. They should demonstrate the purity of the Party through their own exemplary actions.

In the Party, purity represents the total opposite of all forms of corruption. Therefore, our fight against corruption is a struggle against all forms of corruption and an effort to preserve the health and purity of the Party. It is imperative that leading cadres establish themselves on the correct outlook of the world, exercise their power with the correct outlook on power, and conduct themselves with the correct outlook on careers. Leading cadres must set an example in observing various rules on integrity and self-discipline, be indifferent to fame, gain, power, and position, and treat their responsibilities and the causes of the people with a sense of awe. At all times they must be in command of their hearts, restrain their actions, maintain their virtue, preserve their untarnished sense of righteousness, and uphold the lofty personal character and integrity of Chinese Communists. Fundamentally speaking, those leading cadres who descend into unlawfulness, corruption, and degeneration do so because their outlook on the world and life has “switched,” and this renders them powerless to resist corruption. These are lessons that all leading cadres should take heed of. All leading cadres, regardless of rank or position, must make conscious efforts to foster and temper their Party spirit; exercise their power impartially and show integrity in their duties; uphold the fine traditions of the Chinese nation and the Party in living frugally and working hard; conscientiously resist money-worshipping, hedonism, and extreme individualism; and strive not only to promote local development, but also to preserve their integrity during the course of their official duties.

Stringent monitoring and supervision is an important means of preventing Party members and cadres from becoming corrupt and of maintaining the purity of the Party. Superiors need the courage to effectively supervise their subordinates; subordinates need the courage to effectively supervise their superiors; the public need the courage to effectively supervise leading cadres; and cadres need the courage to effectively supervise other cadres. Leading cadres need to stop thinking that supervision is a sign of mistrust. They should show stronger initiative in subjecting themselves to supervision and in protecting supervision in line with regulations, and conscientiously place themselves under the various forms of supervision required by the causes of the Party and the people. All major decisions should be made in strict accordance with the Party’s principle of democratic centralism. We cannot have meetings where only one person has a say, and we cannot allow individuals or small minorities to make decisions arbitrarily; rather, what we need are meetings with many different voices, and decisions to be made on the basis of group wisdom and in line with stringent procedures. All major matters with a close bearing on public interests and that can be made public should be done so in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, and the opinions of the public should be fully solicited. In order to prevent unrestrained power, badly calculated decisions, and misconduct, it is particularly important that we subject ourselves to supervision when exercising the power to promote and appoint cadres, the power to grant administrative approval, and when we are exercising important economic powers such as allocating fiscal funds, managing fixed assets, operating capital, and transferring land use rights.

Strict discipline provides an effective guarantee for maintaining the purity of the Party. Leading cadres at all levels are required to enhance their sense of discipline, and should take the disciplinary codes of the Party in regard to political issues, organizational issues, economic work, mass work, and integrity as their own personal codes of conduct. In particular, leading cadres are required to strictly comply with the Party’s code of discipline on political issues; enhance their political sensitivity and political judgment; unswervingly adhere to the leadership of the Party, to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and to the promotion of reform and opening up; and closely align themselves with the CPC Central Committee ideologically, politically, and in their conduct. Moreover, leading cadres at various levels are also required to assume responsibility in the building of Party discipline. They must take punitive action against violations of Party discipline, including various acts of corruption, and ensure that all people are treated equally, that there is no room for special privileges, and that disciplinary codes are enforced without exception. Such efforts will allow the disciplinary code of the Party to genuinely become a uniform and unbending set of rules that all Party members must adhere to at all times.

China is currently in the midst of a grand process of reform, opening up, and socialist modernization. This is a time of both opportunity and challenge, a time in which hope and difficulty go hand in hand. The path ahead will be a long and arduous one. There are many new problems that we must solve as we go along, and many important tasks that must be promoted during the course of innovation. This calls for a strong commitment from leading cadres at all levels, who cannot let up or waver in their duties, and who must conscientiously assume a leading role in promoting reform and development and maintaining stability. Responsibility, loyalty, diligence, devotion, and accountability—these are all important aspects in gauging whether or not a leading cadre has genuinely demonstrated the advanced nature and pure spirit of a Chinese Communist. If, in the line of duty, cadres don’t put their responsibilities and duties first, but instead care only about what they have to lose or gain, back away from conflicts, don’t dare to address problems, and don’t dare to surge forward in the face of danger; if they do things for the sake of appearance, pull sensational stunts to win support, and seek personal gain; and if they have no will to better themselves, then not only will the causes of the Party and the people be held back, but the Party’s image in the eyes of the people will also be damaged. If this happens, the people, in their disappointment, will lose their faith in us. Having the courage to assume responsibility is not only required by the causes of the Party and the people; it is also a state of mind that Chinese Communists should possess. As we work to promote the development of our contingent of cadres and personnel, we should make efforts to advocate the spirit of assuming responsibility, and foster a culture of appointing people who have the courage to assume responsibility. We must comprehensively implement the policies of the Party on cadres, evaluate cadres on the grounds of both political integrity and professional competence, and offer promotions particularly to cadres who are seasoned in practice, who are highly principled, who care for the people, who have a strong sense of righteousness and the courage to tackle problems, and who have demonstrated insight, passion, dedication, and concrete results during the course of their work.

The purity of the Party is similar to the Party’s advanced nature in that it is not static, and cannot be signed off in a single effort. The connotations and demands of our purity will continue to develop as the times change and the causes of the Party and the people progress. Strengthening the Party’s development and maintaining its purity constitute a major, ongoing effort that will call for frequent action and innovation during the course of practice. Party organizations at all levels are required to earnestly and fully implement the guiding principles of Hu Jintao’s speech, show an unwavering commitment to preserving the purity of the Party, and deliver performances that are to the satisfaction of both the Party and the people.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.6, 2012)

Author: Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, Vice President of the People’s Republic of China, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission and President of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee

This is the text of a speech delivered by the author at a ceremony marking the start of the spring semester at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee on March 1, 2012.


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