Power Must Be "Caged" by the System

Xi Jinping: The Governance of China I Updated: 2021-12-13

Power Must Be "Caged" by the System* 

January 22, 2013 

All Party members must act in compliance with the plans made at the 18th CPC National Congress, combat and prevent corruption in a more scientific and effective way, and resolutely press ahead with the effort to improve Party conduct, uphold integrity and root out corruption. In the fight against corruption we must adhere to the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of the Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development, and follow the principle of addressing both symptoms and root causes, taking an integrated approach, mete out punishment and ensure prevention, with the emphasis on the latter. 

We must strengthen our Party if we are to fulfill the goals and tasks set out at its 18th National Congress, including the Two Centenary Goals, and realize the Chinese Dream of the great renewal of the Chinese nation. Improving Party conduct, upholding integrity and combating corruption are important tasks in the course of building the Party. Only if we remain clean and upright in governance and exercise power in a fair way can we win public trust and support. 

Over the past 30 years since the reform and opening-up policy was introduced, the Party's second and third central leadership, with Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin as their respective cores, and the Party Central Committee with Hu Jintao as general secretary, consistently attached great importance to the tasks of improving Party conduct, upholding integrity, and combating corruption. They maintained a clear stand against corruption, adopted effective measures against it, and made remarkable achievements which have played an important role in preserving and developing the Party's advanced nature and purity, and provided a strong guarantee for the Party's leadership in the reform and opening-up effort, and the socialist modernization drive. 

Our Party is by and large sound. Yet, we must be fully aware that some areas are still prone to misconduct and corruption, major cases of violation of Party discipline and state laws have had serious adverse effects on society, the fight against corruption remains a serious challenge, and the people are dissatisfied with our work in many areas. Faced with the long-term, complicated and arduous tasks of improving Party conduct, upholding integrity and combating corruption, we must persevere in our anti-corruption effort and always remain vigilant against corruption and degeneracy. The key is to repeatedly stress the fight against corruption and make a long-term commitment. We must solidify our resolve, ensure that all cases of corruption are investigated and prosecuted, and that all instances of graft are rectified, continue to remove the breeding grounds for corruption, and further win public trust by making real progress in the fight against corruption. 

Our Party is a Marxist party, the organization of which relies on revolutionary ideals and strict discipline. This has always been our Party's fine tradition and unique advantage. The more complicated the situation and the heavier the tasks facing the Party, the more we need to reinforce discipline and the more we need to safeguard unity within the Party. In this way we can ensure that the whole Party is unified in terms of determination and synchronized in action and progress. To run the Party with strict discipline, we have to first and foremost implement strict political discipline, which in turn starts from observing and safeguarding the Party Constitution. The essence of observing the Party's political discipline is to adhere to the Party's leadership, basic theory, basic line, basic program, basic experience and basic requirements, keep in line with the Party Central Committee, and conscientiously safeguard its authority. All Party members must keep in line with the Party Central Committee ideologically and politically as well as in their actions concerning the Party's basic theories, guidelines, principles and policies, and other matters of overall importance. Party organizations and officials at all levels must develop a holistic view and appropriately handle the relationship between ensuring smooth implementation of the central leadership's orders and policies and conducting work with an innovative spirit based on concrete conditions, making sure that all plans concerning local work and development are based on the prerequisite of implementing the central leadership's guidelines. We must prevent or, if necessary, rectify departmental and local protectionism and parochialism, and never allow local policies to trump central policies, never countenance the sidelining of central decrees or prohibitions, and never engage in perfunctory, selective or compromised enforcement of the central leadership's policy decisions and plans. 

Every Party member, especially leading officials, must enhance his understanding of the Party Constitution, observe the Constitution in both words and actions, and maintain in all circumstances a firm political belief, political stance and political orientation. Party organizations at all levels must take the initiative to implement and safeguard the Party's political discipline, and raise Party members' awareness of observing it. Party discipline inspection commissions at all levels must put priority on ensuring compliance with the Party's political discipline, and strengthen supervision and inspection on the implementation of political discipline. 

The issue of working style is in no sense a small one. If misconduct is not corrected but allowed to run rampant, it will build an invisible wall between our Party and the people. As a result, our Party will lose its base, lifeblood and strength. Regarding the task of improving our working style, each effort counts, but carrying on and furthering the spirit of hard struggle is of fundamental importance. The task of improving our working style is arduous. The Eight Rules provide us with a starting point and a call for us to improve our work practices. They are not the highest standards nor our ultimate goal, but the first step to improving our working style as well as the basic requirements for Communists. As a saying goes, "He who is good at governing through restriction should first restrict himself then others."1 Officials at all levels must conduct themselves in an exemplary fashion, take the lead in improving their conduct, and keep their promises. We must practice frugality in all aspects of our work, and resolutely oppose waste, extravagance and self-indulgence. We should vigorously carry out the fine traditions of thrift and hard work of the Chinese nation, and advocate the ideas of taking pride in thrift and shame in waste so that a healthy atmosphere of practicing thrift and opposing waste will become predominant. 

All localities and departments must fully implement the relevant regulations on improving Party conduct, and implement these regulations in every aspect and in every link of our work. The people's satisfaction is the standard for measuring progress in changing our way of work. We must extensively solicit public opinions and suggestions, steadily accept public assessment and supervision by the whole of society, and make improvements in areas concerning which people have expressed dissatisfaction. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Party, the Ministry of Supervision, and Party discipline inspection commissions and supervision agencies at all levels must strengthen inspection and supervision to ensure that Party discipline is implemented, accountability is maintained, and performance is ensured. We should fight corruption with strong determination, follow the spirit of "leaving a mark in the iron tools we clutch and footprints in the stones we tread," persevere in our anti-corruption effort till we achieve final success rather than start off full of sound and fury and then taper off in a whimper. We must let the whole Party and the people oversee power, and demonstrate to the people continuous and real results of Party conduct and the combat of corruption. 

The resolute determination in punishing and wiping out corruption demonstrates the strength of our Party, and is a common aspiration of all Party members and the public as well. The Party has shown a firm determination and an unequivocal attitude in strictly investigating and prosecuting serious cases of violation of Party discipline involving Party members and officials, including some high-ranking ones. This is a clear signal to the whole Party and the whole of society that anyone who violates Party discipline and state laws, whoever he is and whatever position he holds, will be fully investigated and severely punished. This is not empty talk. We must not let up one iota in terms of governing the Party with strict discipline. 

We should continue to catch "tigers" as well as "flies"2 when dealing with cases of leading officials in violation of Party discipline and state laws as well as misconduct and corruption problems that directly affect the people's interests. All are equal before the law and Party discipline; whoever is involved in a corruption case must be thoroughly and impartially investigated. 

We should continue to build a complete system of combating corruption through both punishment and prevention, strengthen education on combating corruption and upholding integrity, and promote the culture of clean government. We must improve the system of checking and overseeing the exercise of power, reinforce state legislation against corruption, improve intra-party rules, regulations and institutions concerning the fight against corruption and upholding integrity, carry forward reforms in areas prone to corruption, and ensure that government agencies exercise their power in accordance with authorization and procedures. We must enhance checks and supervision over the exercise of power, make sure that power is "caged" by the system, and form a punishment mechanism to deter corruption, a warning mechanism to prevent corruption and a guarantee mechanism to curb corruption. Officials at all levels must bear firmly in mind the fact that nobody is above the law and that all officials must exercise state power to serve the people, be responsible to the people and be supervised by the people. We must strengthen the monitoring of "the first men in command," implement democratic centralism, increase transparency in administration, and ensure that leading officials do not act in a high-handed manner or seek personal gain. 

In combating corruption and upholding integrity we must also oppose ideas and practices smacking of privilege. Members of the CPC are at all times ordinary members of the working people. Party members are only entitled to some personal benefits and job-related functions and powers prescribed by laws and policies, and must not seek any personal gain or privilege over and above those. The issue of privilege is not only a major concern in our efforts to improve Party conduct and build a clean government, but also a crucial problem that affects the Party's and the state's capacity to preserve their vitality and vigor. We must adopt effective measures to resolutely oppose and curb ideas and instances of seeking privilege. 

We must mobilize the whole Party to improve Party conduct, uphold integrity and combat corruption. Within the scope of their functions and duties, Party committees at all levels should bear total leadership responsibility for improving Party conduct and building a clean government. We must continue to implement and improve the leadership system and working mechanism for combating corruption, give full play to the role of Party discipline inspection commissions, supervision departments, and judiciary and auditing agencies, and work with them in a concerted effort to better improve Party conduct, uphold integrity and combat corruption. We must ensure support for Party discipline inspection commissions and supervision agencies in performing their duties, and show concern and care for people working at these commissions and agencies. We should pay special attention to protecting those who are fully aware of Party spirit and are courageous enough to stick to principle, and create conditions favorable for them to do their jobs. Party discipline inspection commissions and supervision agencies at all levels must also step up their efforts to build a contingent of honest officials, and improve their capacity to carry out their functions and duties, so that they can ensure better inspection and supervision. 

* Main points of the speech at the Second Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.


1  Xun Yue: History as a Mirror (Shen Jian). Xun Yue (148-209) was a philosopher and historian of the Eastern Han Dynasty. 

2  Referring to senior and junior officials guilty of corruption. – Tr.

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