Historical Wisdom Helps Us Combat Corruption and Uphold Integrity

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

Historical Wisdom Helps Us Combat Corruption and Uphold Integrity* 

April 19, 2013 

We should not only draw on historical experiences, but also learn from them. We are confronted with a complex and volatile international situation and an arduous task of promoting reform, development and stability. To fulfill the Two Centenary Goals and realize the Chinese Dream of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation we must ensure that the Party supervises its own conduct and runs itself with strict discipline. We must draw upon the fine culture of clean government in Chinese history, steadily improve the Party's leadership and governance skills, and become better able to combat corruption, prevent degeneracy and ward off risks. We must also ensure that the Party is always the firm leadership core guiding the cause of Chinese socialism. 

To improve Party conduct, uphold integrity and combat corruption, we need to continue the successful practices the Party has long accumulated, learn from other countries' beneficial experiences and draw upon the valuable legacy of Chinese history. China's history of combating corruption and its ancient anti-corruption culture offer enlightenment, as do the failures and successes of the past. This historical wisdom can help us do a better job in combating corruption and upholding integrity today. 

Through a thorough review of history in China and elsewhere, our Party has realized that improving Party conduct, upholding integrity and combating corruption are vital for the survival of the Party and the state. The key is to remain firmly reliant on the people, maintain close ties with them, and never become isolated from them. To achieve this, we must do everything in our power to address corruption and other negative phenomena, see to it that the Party always identifies itself with the people, and shares their concerns and ultimately their destiny. 

The CPC Central Committee has called upon us to improve our working practices by opposing the Four Malfeasances. This serves as a focus for combating corruption and upholding integrity, as well as a starting point for consolidating popular support for the Party's governance. All Party members must understand the political importance of this issue, stay alert, strictly adhere to the "two musts," improve our working practices, and crack down on corruption with a strong determination. We must follow the spirit of "leaving a mark in the iron tools we clutch and footprints in the stones we tread," and continue to win popular trust with new victories in the fight against corruption. 

We must raise public awareness of the need to combat corruption and uphold integrity, promote a culture of clean government, and combine the rule of law with the rule of virtue. Starting by enhancing political and moral integrity will be of fundamental importance because political integrity is essential for Marxist parties to stay pure, and moral integrity is a fundamental trait for officials to remain clean, honest and upright. We should encourage and guide Party members and officials to adhere to their convictions and ideals, be politically firm as Communists, become morally stronger to pursue clean government, and build up their psychological defenses against corruption and degeneracy. We should improve Party members and officials politically and theoretically, strengthen education in and fostering of the Party spirit, and bolster ethics. We should guide them in studying and applying Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, and the system of theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics, in developing a solid worldview and a healthy outlook on power and career, and in being model practitioners of the socialist maxims of honor and disgrace.1 Theoretical study and improvement will ensure that Party members and officials are fully committed to their work, and high moral standards will help them to stay clear-minded in exercising state power. In this way, we can also help Party members and officials increase their awareness of the Party's purpose of serving the people wholeheartedly, and always preserve the noble character and political integrity of Communists. 

Institutions are of fundamental, overall and long-lasting importance, and are closely related to the stability of the country. The solution to the problem of corruption is to improve the system that checks and oversees the exercise of power, grant oversight powers to the people, and make the exercise of power more transparent and institutionalized. We should prevent and fight corruption more properly and effectively, establish a complete system for preventing and combating corruption, and work harder to ensure the stringent enforcement of anti-corruption laws and discipline. We should analyze typical cases thoroughly, strengthen reform in areas prone to corruption, improve our institutions and systems to reduce loopholes to an absolute minimum, and eliminate any breeding grounds for corruption through further reform. 

We must tirelessly combat corruption, and always remain vigilant against it. We should keep it in mind that "Many worms will disintegrate wood, and a big enough crack will lead to the collapse of a wall."2 We must be tough in cracking down on corruption, and ensure that all cases of corruption are investigated and that all corrupt officials are punished, catching "tigers" as well as "flies" – senior officials as well as junior ones guilty of corruption. In this way, we will effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of the people and see to it that our officials remain honest and upright, that the government remains clean, and that political integrity is upheld. 

* Main points of the speech at the fifth group study session of the Political Bureau of the 18th CPC Central Committee which Xi presided over.


1  On March 4, 2006, Hu Jintao attended a group meeting of the Fourth Session of the Tenth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and held discussions with committee members of the China Democratic League and China Association for Promoting Democracy. At the meeting, he put forth the socialist maxims of honor and disgrace, which consist of the following eight maxims: Loving the motherland is honorable and harming it is disgraceful; serving the people is honorable and ignoring them is disgraceful; respect for science is honorable and ignorance is disgraceful; working hard is honorable and being lazy is disgraceful; working with and helping others is honorable and profiting at their expense is disgraceful; being honest and trustworthy is honorable and sacrificing principles for profit is disgraceful; being law-abiding and disciplined is honorable and violating the law and discipline is disgraceful; living a simple life is honorable and living extravagantly is disgraceful. 

2 The Book of Lord Shang (Shang Jun Shu). This book is a representative Legalist work by Shang Yang and his followers. It is also an important basis for research into the legal philosophy of the Shang Yang School. Shang Yang (c. 390-338 BC) was a statesman, thinker and major representative of the Legalists in the middle period of the Warring States. He initiated a series of reforms in the State of Qin. These reforms, known as the Reforms of Lord Shang, introduced a new feudal system in the State of Qin and made the state prosperous and strong within a short period of time.

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