Observe Discipline and Rules*
January 13, 2015
As our ancestors said, "Nothing can be accomplished without regulations and rules."1 Discipline and rules are indispensable for political parties, especially for Marxist parties. In my view, the internal discipline and rules of our Party are the codes of conduct that Party organizations at all levels and all Party members must observe.
In general, what do Party discipline and rules include? First, the Party Constitution, the overriding statute all Party members must observe. Second, mandatory and binding Party discipline, especially the political discipline all Party members must abide by on political direction, stance, words and actions. Third, state laws, from which no Party member or official is exempt. The state laws were formulated by the people under the leadership of our Party, and our Party must set the example in obeying those laws. Fourth, the traditions and working practices developed by our Party over the years.
It is easy to understand that all Party members must observe the Constitution and other rules and regulations, and all state laws. But, why are the traditions and working practices developed by the Party over the decades also important Party rules? This is because as a party with a very large membership, we need to rely not only on the Constitution and discipline of the Party, but also those traditions and working practices. Although they are unwritten, they still represent traditions, norms and requirements that should be observed. There are both written and unwritten rules of discipline. Rules of discipline are binding, and unwritten rules are norms for self-discipline. Many rules of the Party have proven to be effective; they reflect its insights and are a summary of its experience.
For instance, no factions of self-interest are allowed in the Party, and those who form them actually violate political discipline. To prevent such phenomena from the outset, we need to promote the observance of political rules. Some officials group together as fellow townsmen or alumni. They hold regular gatherings, and rank themselves according to seniority as old-time graduates of the former Whampoa Military Academy did. Such activities, though seemingly casual, are not healthy. In reality, they have ulterior motives – their real intention is to form a kind of fraternity, in which members may support each other and collude when necessary. This is against Party rules. People should avoid such gatherings and dinners. Some officials use their power to create "formal" factions and turn the places they administrate into their fiefdoms, where they meddle and intervene in personnel matters in favor of those in their own faction. Consequently when one goes down, they will take all the others with them.
Another prominent problem is that some officials make careless and groundless remarks. If they were intentionally spreading rumors to create trouble, it would violate Party discipline and even state laws. Actually, they merely make inappropriate jokes, spread hearsay, or engage in gossip. Some like to disseminate falsehoods through the internet, or gather with their "intimates" to make groundless criticisms of the CPC Central Committee's policies. Others like to poke their noses into affairs that are none of their business. Once they get the "inside information", they spread it around secretly. While some officials involved in serious cases were being investigated by the Central Committee, some high-ranking officials complained in private that those involved had done a lot of good work and should not be investigated for such tiny mistakes. Is that true? Reading the confessions of those violators, we can conclude none of them was wrongfully accused. Their irresponsible dissemination of rumors and groundless comments, though not made on official occasions, could also severely erode and undermine the unity of our Party.
Another problem is that some officials do not report their absence from their posts to the Party organization without good reason, and argue that everyone has some personal affairs to attend to and therefore is entitled to some free time. When I worked in local offices, I always stayed on duty in the office during holidays and festivals, for fear that something unexpected might happen. On holidays, leaders in some departments in various places leave their posts to go on vacation elsewhere. How can officials in some departments be so neglectful, taking holidays in faraway places? What would happen should an emergency occur in the places under their administration? Officials should have a strong sense of responsibility, and stay on duty during holidays. That does not mean officials cannot take a break; the point is how and where they take vacation and whether they keep in mind the responsibility on their shoulders. Most officials perform well in this regard and can conscientiously remain at their posts even during holidays. That is a rule worth observing, is it not?
In other cases, some violate the regulation regarding officials reporting major personal matters. It is not only life-and-death matters that should be reported. Some officials deliberately conceal their serious illness from others, and the Party organization knows nothing of it even when they are critically ill. In such a physical condition, they are unable to perform their normal duties. Even so, they never report the situation until they die – itself a result of delayed treatment. Some do not report the fact that their children or spouses have stayed abroad for a long time. According to regulations, officials should report to the Party organization if their family members settle down abroad. They think it unnecessary to report since their family members have not officially settled down abroad. Some do not report major changes in their family situation. Even after they have been divorced or remarried for years, the Party organization is still kept in the dark. Some have many passports and even fake ID cards. Should not these things be reported? According to the rules, they should report them. Why do some keep such things unreported? One reason is that they do not know the rules, and the other is that they have ulterior motives. Some high-ranking Party officials have even compiled a coded language, which they use when speaking with their families and those close to them, just like spies. Is this normal?
Leaking confidential information, interceding for others and asking for a favor on their behalf also pose a problem. Some divulge Party organization's internal discussions and decisions, in a covert and implicit manner, to people involved. It is hard to deny the existence of such behavior, but it is done so secretly that investigation to prove such a case is extremely difficult. When the Party organization decides to promote an official, leakers can inform him or her simply by saying words like "passed" or "OK". When the Party organization decides to investigate someone, leakers can warn him or her simply by saying "be mindful". Soliciting support for others in official selection is also a problem. Some people intervene in the appointment of officials at the places where they used to serve as leaders and still have influence. They do not directly advocate a candidate's promotion, but imply their view by saying someone is "good" or "not bad", making it hard to find evidence against them. It is inadvisable for them to still meddle in personnel matters in areas where they no longer serve. Furthermore, some canvass behind the scenes for, solicit votes for, and lend a hand to those they favor in elections. They do not always do this publicly, and they may pretend it is unintentional, leaving no clues to trace when the matter is investigated. But should such behavior be allowed? Does all this not violate rules?
A person without rules will become lost, and a party without rules will fall into disorder. The abovementioned problems, if not addressed through stringent measures, will spread like an epidemic and eventually undermine the health of the Party. Some Party rules are written, and others not; nevertheless, a Party official, especially a high-ranking official, should be clear about all of them. Otherwise he or she lacks the awareness and qualifications that a qualified official, especially a high-level one, should have.
Whether to report on matters that are not clearly stipulated in writing really depends on the degree of one's Party awareness and sense of being a Party member. Usually, officials who violate Party discipline start by going counter to established practical rules. Problems will emerge if we fail to establish and strictly implement rules. We know this from experience. To obey the rules is an important test of their engagement with the Party, as well as their loyalty to the Party.
To observe political discipline and rules, it is essential to focus on the following five areas:
First, we must uphold the authority of the Central Committee. All Party members, especially officials, must make sure their thinking, their actions, and their political stance all maintain a high degree of unity with the Central Committee, and follow its command, at all times and under all conditions. Party members must not feign compliance while acting in opposition and doing things their own way. They must not pass irresponsible comment on the Central Committee's policies or make remarks in public against its guidelines.
Second, we must safeguard the unity of the Party. No one is permitted to foster private forces within the Party. We need to unite with everyone loyal to the Party regardless of their origin and background. We need to unite with the great majority, rather than differentiate people in light of personal preference and forge any form of factions.
Third, we must abide by organizational procedures. No one is permitted to make a decision without authorization or act arbitrarily. Concerning major issues, one should request instructions or report as required. No one is permitted to act beyond his or her authority or without prior approval.
Fourth, we must obey the decisions of the Party organization, and no one is permitted to carry out activities it bans or haggle with it. When one is confronted with problems beyond one's capacity to handle, then one seeks help from and relies on the Party organization, instead of lying to or opposing it.
Fifth, we must rein in our relatives and immediate staff, and we should never allow them to intervene in official matters, influence policy formulation and personnel matters, meddle in daily work, or use their connections to seek personal gain.
Of all Party discipline and rules, political discipline and rules should be given top priority. Recent years of investigations into serious violations of Party discipline and state laws by high-ranking officials, Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai, Xu Caihou, Ling Jihua and Su Rong in particular, show that violations of the Party's political discipline and political rules have become a prominent problem and must be treated with the utmost importance. In the case of such people, the greater power and higher position they hold, the less they take the Party's political discipline and rules seriously. Some of their conduct is outrageous. Driven by their overinflated political ambitions and eagerness to acquire personal gain or the benefit of their inner circle, some resort to political conspiracies against the Party and plot to undermine and divide it. Some officials place themselves above the Party organization and consider themselves the ultimate authority. In an attempt to form factions, cliques and coteries, they treat the places that the Party entrusts them to administrate as their own independent fiefdoms, where they fail to report to the Central Committee issues related to the appointment of officials and the taking of decisions. Their principal aim is to bolster their own image. They search for others to support and to promote and build momentum for themselves, which demonstrates the extent of their political ambitions. Some take egoism and insolence to extremes, ignoring decisions and plans of the Central Committee in a roundabout way, and even wantonly attacking the theories, guidelines, principles and policies of the Party, and spreading malicious slander against central leaders. They also suppress or crack down on those who disagree with them. They persist in their belief that their "great chance is coming", and try to eliminate anyone in their way. How reckless they are. This is absolutely forbidden in our Party. Those who do so will find themselves lifting rocks only to drop them on their own feet. They may be relentless in their scheming, but they only end up bringing about their own destruction.
Clarifying the rules is a prerequisite for the strict punishment of violators. Party organizations at all levels must give top priority to strict obedience to discipline and rules, and create an atmosphere of observing discipline and rules throughout the Party. Political discipline and rules must be clearly emphasized and firmly implemented, without any obscurity or evasion. Officials at all levels, especially high-ranking officials, should have a strong sense of discipline and rules, set the example in obeying them, and consciously enhance their political awareness. In particular, we need to strengthen education and guidance of young officials and make them aware of the importance and seriousness of obeying discipline and rules at the very moment they take office. They need to realize they will eventually destroy themselves if they fail to observe Party discipline and rules, ignore Party organizations, seek a higher position through greed for power, or stop at nothing for personal gain. All our Party committees need to strengthen discipline scrutiny and inspection, and ensure violators receive deserved punishments.
* Part of the speech at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
1 Lü's Spring and Autumn Annals (Lü Shi Chun Qiu).
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)