Enhance Party Conduct, Uphold Clean Government, and Fight Corruption

Xi Jinping: The Governance of China II Updated: 2021-12-24

Enhance Party Conduct, Uphold Clean Government, and Fight Corruption*


January 12, 2016


Our Party has a pivotal task in the final phase of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. We have pledged to "be a good blacksmith in forging good tools", and we have given our word to hammer hard in observing Party discipline. Over the past three years we have been addressing the problems of being "lax, slack, and lenient" in Party governance, and effectively sent out a warning to the whole Party to prevent, deter and punish corruption. The campaign against corruption is resolute and relentless.

The resolve of the CPC to fight corruption has not wavered, and the goal of curbing the spread of corruption has not changed. The whole Party must remain confident about the Central Committee's determination to crack down on corruption, about the results that we have seen and will see, about the positive energy the campaign evokes, and about the bright future of our fight against corruption.

Nonetheless, we should keep a clear head and remember that we still face severe challenges and a complex situation in our efforts to enhance Party conduct, uphold clean government, and fight corruption. The cases investigated since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, in which senior officials violated Party discipline and the law, have shown that most corrupt officials have lost their faith in the Party, taken bribes, led extravagant lives, and been autocratic in office. Since the congress, the Central Committee has time and again reiterated that officials must strictly abide by political discipline and rules. However, there are still those who turn a deaf ear to these requirements, ganging up to further their selfish interests and stopping at nothing to expand their power; there are still those who, knowing well that they are not the candidates for the next term of office, send out their cronies to lobby for votes and engage in unauthorized activities; there are also those whose ambitions fire a desire to "enter the central leadership when alive and be buried at Babaoshan1 when dead"; there are still those who set up "independent fiefdoms" where they govern, banding together and feigning compliance with central decisions while acting in opposition, and resorting to no end of unscrupulous means to achieve their personal aims.

These problems have a vital bearing on the political security of the Party and the state. Is this not urgent enough? Do we still avoid the issue and keep our counsel about them? "Young pines should grow a thousand feet high, while poisoning bamboos should be cut down one by one."2 If we do not eradicate evil, if it seizes the earliest opportunity to make its comeback, our political environment will falter, and our Party members and the people will lose their faith in us. It has been said that if corruption makes a return this time the people will lose heart. This is why our pledges were not idle; we must live up to our words.

Corruption still exists. Some corrupt officials are still taking chances, taking roundabout ways to escape punishment. Some continue to sell official positions, illegally sell or lease out land, scramble for a cut of lucrative projects, and use every means to collect bribes in the millions, or even billions of yuan. Some have tried to lie to the Party organization and counter the organization, hiding their bribes and colluding with others involved in an attempt to escape punishment by Party discipline and the law. They have spread rumors in a bid to cover up their crimes, thinking they could take advantage of and get away with it.

The Four Malfeasances have been reined in, but they have not been eradicated. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, many of the officials have been investigated and punished due to self-indulgence and extravagance, wining and dining, and continuing to go down the wrong path. And new symptoms and varieties of the Four Malfeasances have arisen in many forms. Reality tells us that we are still challenged by the arduous task of running our Party with strict discipline, and we must continue to maintain a tough position on fighting corruption.

The guidelines for our work in 2016 to enhance Party conduct, uphold clean government, and fight corruption are:

– fully implement the decisions and plans made at the 18th CPC National Congress and the third, fourth and fifth plenary sessions of the 18th CPC Central Committee;
– promote the Four-pronged Strategy in a coordinated fashion and remain steadfast in our path and cause;
– run our Party with strict discipline and by rigorous rules, fulfill our duties as stipulated in the Party Constitution, and focus on scrutiny, action, and accountability;
– address both symptoms and root causes, promote systemic and institutional innovation, and improve the rules and regulations;
– strengthen internal scrutiny of the Party, emphasize the central role of discipline, and continue to implement the Eight Rules3 of the Party Central Committee; and
– take solid measures to deal with misconduct and corruption that directly affect people's lives, resolutely prevent corruption from spreading, and build an honest, clean and responsible team of discipline inspection and supervision.

All of these are aimed at achieving new results in enhancing Party conduct, upholding clean government, and combating corruption.

For our work this year, we will put the focus on the following areas:

First, upholding the Party Constitution, and strictly enforcing the Party's rules on clean government and self-discipline and the regulations on disciplinary action.

The Party must practice self-discipline and be strict with its members. This is stipulated in the general program of the Party Constitution, and it is the fundamental principle of Party development. Article 37 of the Party Constitution rules that "Party organizations must strictly observe and maintain Party discipline". This sets out a concrete requirement under which Party organizations must bear primary responsibility. Party committees at all levels must closely follow this strategic direction, both in guiding principles and in concrete measures, giving discipline top priority and addressing problems promptly as they occur. When someone has made a mistake, tell him straight, make him flush and sweat. This is what we ought to do. For serious problems, more formal disciplinary action such as imposing a disciplinary punishment should be taken by Party organizations. The secretary of a Party committee, charged with main responsibility, should assume overall responsibility for running his Party committee with strict discipline.

Do not consider any virtue as unimportant, and therefore neglect it; do not consider any vice as trivial, and therefore practice it. If we had paid attention to minor breaches of discipline, if we had enforced strict discipline from the outset, how many could have been saved from breaking the law? In the past we "tolerated" erroneous acts as long as they did not violate the law, and when they did break the law, we sidestepped the problem and left the law to deal with the violators. This reflects irresponsibility towards our Party and officials. According to the Air Force, training a pilot costs as much gold as the pilot weighs. How much does it cost, then, to cultivate an official at the provincial level? Many of our officials started at the grassroots. They rose in the ranks, only to be ruined by a wrong step in the end. Of course there were earlier indications of wrongdoing, but why did not we help them and correct their mistakes before it was too late? This is because we did not put discipline in the forefront.

The "Rules of the Communist Party of China on Clean Government and Self-discipline" and the "Regulations of the Communist Party of China on Disciplinary Action", both going into effect in January 2016, provide clear provisions on the high standards for Party members and the disciplinary measures to govern the Party. Now, equipped with clear standards, rules of action, and supervision over discipline, we must make every effort to thoroughly implement them. Party committees and discipline inspection commissions at all levels should first strengthen supervision and inspection over such matters as upholding the Party Constitution and executing the Party's guidelines, policies and decisions, with the focus on implementing the plans and decisions made at the 18th CPC National Congress and the third, fourth and fifth plenary sessions of the 18th CPC Central Committee, and major decisions of the Party Central Committee, so as to ensure unified action of the whole Party and effective execution of the Central Committee's policies and decisions.

Where there is power, there is an equivalent weight of responsibility. When enforcing accountability we cannot be affected by personal feelings or show leniency, but rather, be thorough in methods and determined in action so as to prevent corruption. In 2014 we initiated the accountability mechanism in the bribery case involving local elections in Hengyang, Hunan Province. We took disciplinary action against 467 individuals, and referred cases involving 69 of them to the judiciary for prosecution. Last year we investigated a similar election bribery case in Nanchong, Sichuan Province, meting out severe punishment to all 477 persons involved. These two cases are extreme and vile in nature, challenging our Party and our socialist democracy. By investigating these cases and resolutely punishing those responsible, we have shown our position on the matter – those who neglect their duties must be held accountable, and Party discipline must be enforced in full.

This is the election year for new local Party leaderships. We must strengthen discipline and the rules, and enforce accountability, supervision and investigation, so that the elections are fair and just. In any region, department or unit, those responsible for typical acts of misconduct will be seriously investigated and held accountable if, within their purview, any of these happens:

– failure to ensure the Party's leading role;– deviation from the plans and decisions of the Party;
– violations of the guidelines and rules for governing Party organizations;
– negligence of supervisory duties when selecting and appointing officials;
– serious instances of the Four Malfeasances and corruption; and
– ineffectiveness in rectifying the problems discovered by inspection teams.

The officials in charge will be held accountable for failure to fulfill their primary responsibility and supervisory responsibility, as will the head of the next-higher level Party committee and the committee itself for failure to perform their leadership responsibility. We should improve and regulate the accountability system, set up a mechanism to circulate notices of typical accountability cases, enforce accountability with the support of other means of supervision, and encourage fulfillment of official duties through regular accountability checks, so as to fully execute Party discipline.

Second, sparing no effort to improve Party conduct.

The conduct issue is, in nature, an issue of Party spirit. For us Communists, conduct is a yardstick that measures our faith in Marxism, our convictions in socialism and communism, and our loyalty to the Party and the people. We must crack down on any violation of Party discipline with an iron fist, and be able to discern any form of misconduct no matter what it may have morphed into. In enhancing Party conduct, we should strengthen our Party spirit and carry on the best traditions of the Chinese culture.

Here I would like to emphasize the issue of educating and restraining one's family members. From the cases of corruption investigated in recent years, we can see that family was an important factor in inciting officials to commit serious violations of Party discipline and the law. Many officials were not only involved in trading power for money themselves, but also connived at bribe-taking by their family. Using the parental influence, helped by the parental connections and status, their children benefited from businesses with illegal gains. The harm this does cannot be underestimated. The ancient Chinese said, "He who would govern the country must first run his family well and discipline himself."4 "Give close kin official posts and lose your job and ruin your family." "One must not violate the law of Heaven and Earth, and must set a good example for the offspring." 

In this regard the old generation of revolutionaries set the right example. Now all officials in leadership positions must uphold integrity and self-discipline, and educate and restrain their spouses, children and immediate staff. At a meeting of criticism and self-criticism of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee before the New Year, I made a point of this. I said, you must be constantly on the alert for signs of possible wrongdoing by family members, and nip the vice in the bud. Do not try to hide your children's wrongdoing; do not assume they can easily get away with it. Children of Party officials must also abide by the law and Party discipline; they must also be punished if they violate the law and discipline, and in such cases, be severely punished and let the people see.

For complex and historical problems, and problems that have lingered for a long time, we must persevere and solve them one by one, till all are addressed.

Third, deterring corruption and preventing its spread.

Whoever dares to try their hand at corruption must pay. A fully-grown tree, if the worms eating it are not treated, will eventually wither away. Our tough stance on corruption will never soften, and no exception is made for any organization or individual. For corruption, we have zero tolerance. The focus should be put on cases intertwined with political degeneration and corruption, on corrupt officials who have indulged themselves in illegal activities, and on those in leadership positions who have been strongly suspected of wrongdoing, who have been repeatedly reported by the public for malpractice, and who are currently holding important offices with a probability of promotion. We should make in-depth analyses of typical cases in violation of Party discipline and the law, so that they serve as a warning to deter corruption and educate our officials.

We will make greater efforts to track down corrupt officials who have fled overseas and recover the money they have stolen. We will promote international cooperation under such multilateral frameworks as the G20, APEC and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and carry out special programs on a global scale to pursue the criminals, seeking out fugitives and warning those who harbor dreams of fleeing.

Fourth, enforcing strict Party discipline at the grassroots.

Currently the majority of our grassroots-level officials are good. But in some regions, departments and units, some local officials are still prone to misconduct and corruption, and such cases have risen in number and in the scale of their influence. There are cases of creating false accounts for receiving state subsidies, and pocketing or embezzling special funds for farmers or poverty alleviation; there are cases of obtaining subsistence allowances or other subsidies for one's relatives and friends rather than for those really in need, and taking bribes or a cut from the subsidies issued; there are cases of ignoring the people, indifference to their suffering, going through the motions, and excessive bureaucracy; there are cases of abuse of justice, and in extreme cases, there are officials acting as agents of powerful families or gangs, tyrannizing and bullying the locals.

The interests of ordinary people are hurt more by the "flies" that buzz around than the "tigers" that are far away. Corruption that seems small can lead to big losses, as it harms the immediate interests of the people, eats away at their sense of gain, and costs us their trust in our Party. We must correct and punish corruption and abuse of justice at the grassroots level, safeguard the people's immediate interests, and deliver concrete results from our campaign against corruption.

County Party committees are the "frontline command" of governance for the Party, and the secretaries of these committees are the "commanders-in-chief ". Party committees at the provincial and city levels should take on primary responsibility for work at the county level, and in particular, for strengthening the sense of responsibility in county Party secretaries, improving grassroots Party organizations and officials, and relying on them to fight our war against corruption, in which Party members and officials should serve as role models.

Fifth, addressing both symptoms and root causes, and cleansing our political environment.

In a sound political environment, people will foster a healthy mentality and thus better uphold integrity in office. In a tainted political environment, they will lose their grip and problems mushroom. Now, in some regions and departments, the upright force is waning while the evil force is rising; the official rules earn only lip service, while the "hidden rules" prevail; the honest and the down-to-earth are sidelined, while those fond of showy success and blinded by the pursuit of instant rewards are in their element. If nothing is done to rein in and turn back these trends, we will suffer great losses to our team of officials. "It is easy for laxity to set in, and difficult for rigor to return."5 Like restoring our natural environment, purifying the political environment can never be achieved in a day, but requires the work of coordinated measures.

Officials at all levels, especially senior officials, should start with themselves and set a good example for their subordinates. It has always been the tradition of the Chinese nation to honor one's reputation and uphold integrity and clean government, and we have such sayings as "governance by means of virtue" and "responsibility for one's jurisdiction". Officials must exercise power in a just way and in favor of clean governance; they must be role models in abiding by the Party discipline and the law, and always follow Party principles and fulfill their duties. We should adopt the correct approach to appointing officials, select and use those who are capable and upright, promote the able, demote the mediocre, and discharge the poorest performers. We should uphold the official rules and end the reign of the "hidden rules", check for loopholes from uncovered corruption cases and draw lessons from them, improve the mechanisms of internal Party political activities and conduct, leave no room for misconduct and corruption, and continue to enhance our political environment through systemic and institutional reform and innovation.


* Part of the speech at the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.


1 Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery, located in western Beijing, is the main resting place for revolutionary heroes and high-ranking officials. – Tr

2 Du Fu: "Five Rhymes to Send to Duke Yan on the Way to the Thatched Cottage in Chengdu" (Jiang Fu Cheng Du Cao Tang Tu Zhong You Zuo Xian Ji Yan Zheng Gong Wu Shou). Du Fu (712-770) was a poet of the Tang Dynasty. 

3 The Eight Rules were proposed by the Political Bureau of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC to cut bureaucracy and maintain close ties with the people. They are summarized as follows: improving inspection and fact-finding trips, streamlining conferences and other activities, reducing documents and briefings, standardizing arrangements for visits abroad; enhancing security procedures, improving news reports, imposing restriction on publishing of writings without authorization, and practicing diligence and frugality. 

4 Zhao Xiang: "The Nature of Essays" (Ben Wen). Zhao Xiang (959-993) was an official of the Northern Song Dynasty. 

5  Wang Bo: "Letter to Chancellor Liu" (Shang Liu You Xiang Shu). Wang Bo (650-676) was a writer of the Tang Dynasty.

(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)

Copyright © The National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China. All Rights Reserved. Presented by China Daily.