Members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the 18th CPC Central Committee at the committee’s Sixth Plenary Session held in Beijing on October 27 (XINHUA)
The Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) took place in Beijing on October 24-27. The meeting discussed important issues related to running the Party with discipline in a bid to root out corruption. Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, delivered an important speech.
The meeting called on all Party members to "closely unite around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core." It stressed the importance of adherence to the collective leadership system.
Two documents were deliberated and adopted, namely the Norms of Political Life Within the Party Under the New Situation and the Provisional Intra-Party Supervision Regulation, according to a communique released right after the session. The session also passed a resolution on convening the 19th CPC National Congress in the latter half of 2017.
It endorsed prior decisions to expel four former senior officials from the Party and promised to resolutely address election malpractice by putting an end to the buying and selling of official posts or vote rigging.
Members of the CPC Central Committee are elected once every five years by the CPC National Congress. The central committee holds a plenary session at least once a year in Beijing to make decisions on important policies, with each plenum themed on different topics.
Today, the CPC is a large and vibrant Party that has ruled the country for 67 consecutive years and boasts 88 million-plus members.
In a speech marking the 95th founding anniversary of the CPC on July 1, Xi pointed out that over the course of its history, the CPC, relying firmly on the people, has crossed one obstacle after another and scored one victory after another. It enables China to keep up with the times and China's people to become richer and stronger.
"The CPC has made a historic contribution to the Chinese nation, turning it from a weak country bullied by others into the second largest economy in the world," said Xie Chuntao, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
Xie attributed the CPC's success to its pursuit of lofty ideals, its commitment to the prosperity and happiness of the people, and its persistence in running the Party conscientiously. "In the past 95 years, the CPC has been constantly engaging in self-construction and self-improvement, continuously innovating theories, and drawing from the common achievements of human civilization," he said. As the ruling party of a huge country with over 1.3 billion people, Party building is critical for the overall situation, Xie noted.
"To govern the country, we must govern the Party first. To govern the Party, we must be strict," said Xi in his July 1 speech. "Otherwise, salient Party problems that the people most complain about cannot be resolved. Then, our Party will, sooner or later, lose its ruling legitimacy and will inevitably be eliminated from history."
He asserted that the Party must constantly improve itself so as to be able to withstand "four tests"—tests in exercising governance, carrying out reform and opening up, developing the market economy, and meeting challenges from the external environment. It's also imperative to overcome the "four kinds of dangers" of lacking drive, incompetence, being out of touch with the people and corruption. According to Xi, corruption is the biggest threat to the CPC.
The remarkable thing about the 18th CPC Central Committee is that it has made unprecedented efforts in enforcing Party rules and has effectively combined intra-Party supervision with public oversight, Xie told Beijing Review.
You Liangxing (center), a CPC member in Benggeng Village of Wuyishan, Fujian Province, examines his conduct according to the Party rules at a meeting of the village Party committee on October 26 (XINHUA)
Since 2012, the 18th CPC Central Committee, led by General Secretary Xi, has taken a series of measures to enforce a high level of discipline within the Party, including launching educational campaigns and carrying out organizational and institutional reform.
When Xi met the media after becoming Party leader in November 2012, he stressed that the CPC should supervise its own conduct, earnestly improve its working habits, and maintain close ties with the people. "To forge the iron, the hammer must be strong," he said, suggesting the Party must first conduct itself honestly before addressing other problems.
In December 2012, the CPC introduced an eight-point rule to tackle this goal. Officials are urged to go to the grassroots to learn about the real situations, reduce their pomp during visits and meetings, simplify documents, limit overseas visits and reduce news coverage of them, and exercise thrift.
In June 2013, the Party launched a year-long "mass line" education campaign. This aims to improve ties between Party members and the public, by focusing on tackling four undesirable working habits, namely formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance. Party members were urged to "look in the mirror, straighten their attire, take a bath and seek remedies" so as to correct improper practices.
On March 9, 2014, during China's annual legislative meeting, Xi, as state president, stressed that leaders at various levels should be strict in morality, power and self-discipline and act with honesty in decisions, business and behavior. These points were later summarized as the "Three Stricts, Three Honests" education campaign. In April 2015, a circular which kicked off the campaign, was issued.
In February 2016, the General Office of the CPC Central Committee issued another educational campaign plan, calling on Party members to study the Constitution of the CPC and important speeches by Xi and to be a qualified Party member.
While these educational campaigns are effective, the Party has done more to improve itself, Xie said. It has revamped its human resources system and carried out institutional reform. The 18th CPC Central Committee has formulated and amended more than 50 Party regulations, he said.
For instance, in July 2015, the CPC Central Committee promulgated a rule on promoting and demoting cadres to address problems such as dereliction of duty, abuse of power and ensuring capable workers are put into office and incompetent ones are removed. At the just-concluded sixth plenary session, participants deliberated and revised the norms of political life within the Party.
Intra-Party supervision is an important measure for Party governance. It mainly targets various levels of leading organs and officials, especially leaders, said Ren Jin, a professor within the Law Department of the Chinese Academy of Governance.
He explained that leading organs and officials are checked to make sure they comply with the Party Constitution and other CPC regulations as well as the national Constitution and other laws, following the democratic centralism principle. The supervision can be carried out through a number of measures including collective leadership and division of labor, disclosure of important matters, performance reports, petition responses, inspections, public opinion reviews, inquiry and cross-examination, and dismissals.
The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and lower-level commissions are dedicated organs for intra-Party supervision. The current provisional Intra-Party Supervision Regulation has been implemented since 2003. However, the situation has since changed, thus laws should be upgraded to reflect this, said Xie.
At the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee meeting on September 27, members heard progress reports on revising the regulation. After incorporating public feedback into the draft, the revised regulation on intra-Party supervision was approved at the sixth plenary session.
Political Bureau members present stressed that intra-Party supervision should be carried out according to the Party Constitution and regulations, and should be combined with public supervision. People have the right to supervise government work, and the Party welcomes public supervision, Xie said. Clues from the public have contributed to the uncovering of many corruption cases.
Since China launched its anti-corruption campaign to "hunt tigers and swat flies" in late 2012, the combination of public supervision and intra-Party supervision has snared high-ranking officials such as Bo Xilai, former Secretary of the CPC's Chongqing Municipal Committee, and many lower-ranking ones as well as some state-owned enterprise executives.
The Internet offers a powerful platform for exposing corruption and other misconduct. In August 2012, Yang Dacai, an official in charge of work safety in Shaanxi Province, was photographed grinning at the scene of a deadly traffic accident. Netizens noticed his luxury wristwatch and later discovered more photos of him wearing expensive timepieces. An investigation began which confirmed Yang's corruption. He was subsequently sentenced to 14 years in jail.
In 2013, the CCDI, the Party's top discipline watchdog, launched an official website, Ccdi.gov.cn, which allows people to directly bring corruption and other disciplinary violations to Party attention. In recent years, the CCDI has been actively inspecting government departments and state-owned enterprises to root out corruption.
According to the CCDI, since 2013, it has carried out 10 rounds of inspections in 31 provincial-level administrative units. So far, inspection groups have already visited 213 organizations—nearly 80 percent of those targeted.
By August 31, the CCDI had investigated 139,622 cases of violation such as the unauthorized use of public vehicles, illegal acceptance of stipends and gifts, extravagant weddings or funerals, and meals paid for with public funds. These cases involved 187,409 persons, 91,913 of whom were disciplined by the Party.
From 2013 to September 2015, disciplinary watchdogs across the country investigated 1.02 million corruption cases and 1.01 million people have been punished accordingly.
Some corrupt officials and others guilty of economic crimes, who had fled overseas, have been tracked down and brought back to China through operation Fox Hunt, which was launched in 2014.
Since May, public security organs across the country have carried out Fox Hunt 2016. According to the Ministry of Public Security, by October 20, 634 fugitives had been captured from 67 countries and regions this year. Fifty-nine of them are suspected to have embezzled over 100 million yuan ($14.76 million) each.
Based on the previous achievements in self-improvement and anti-corruption campaigns, the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee, with Xi as the core, is believed by many observers to give China the impetus to realize its two centenary goals.
"It is vital to China's targets to build an all-round moderately prosperous society for the CPC's centennial in 2021, and for it to become a modern socialist country in time for the People's Republic China's centennial in 2049," said Liu Dongchao, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance.
Liu called the two documents, approved at the sixth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee,"a perfection of the CPC's governance system, which will result in better intra-Party political life," adding that the communique is "an embodiment of the Party's strengthened awareness of its responsibilities."
Copyedited by Dominic James Madar
Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org