Tighten Political Activities Within Our Party*
October 27, 2016
Over the past few years I have been reiterating the importance of rigorously carrying out internal Party political activities, because our Party is at a critical historical juncture, when significant changes in the Party and new relations between the Party and the people and between officials and the people demand us to make a political effort to strengthen Party self-governance in every respect.
The "Regulations for Political Activities Within the Party in the New Era" adopted at this session not only embodies the provisions and requirements of the Party Constitution, but also a systematic representation of the rules and measures that have been formed through recent experience in strengthening Party self-governance. Targeting major conflicts and problems inside the Party, the regulations lay out provisions in 12 sections, pointing out symptoms and making prescriptions for both symptoms and root causes. The key to making the regulations effective lies in their enforcement.
First, we should work to accomplish the fundamental task of guiding people in their ways of thinking. "To win, one must become resolute first."1 To better guide people in their ways of thinking and strengthen their theoretical education is a top task for internal Party political activities and a prerequisite to ensuring concerted action. Mao Zedong once pointed out, "Ideological education is the key link to be grasped in uniting the whole Party for great political struggles."2 The root cause of problems in our Party is that some members and officials waver in their ideals and convictions, and in their world view, outlook on life, and sense of values. Ideals and convictions come from perseverance and are tempered by practice. We should strengthen education in theory, the Party spirit and ethics. We should try to guide Party members and officials to strengthen their beliefs, reinforce the marrow of their faith, and maintain the correct way of thinking. We want them to uphold the truth, the correct path, principles, and rules; to recognize virtue, follow social ethics, and restrict personal desires; and to observe moral standards, preserve integrity, and cultivate character. We want them to be able to conduct themselves in life and society with faith, personality and action.
Political activities, political ecology, and political culture within the Party are complementary. Political culture is the soul of political activities, exerting an imperceptible influence on political ecology. We should promote intra-Party political culture and prepare the ground for a sound political ecology, advocating and practicing values such as honesty, frankness, fairness, pragmatism, realism, hard work, and integrity, and opposing misconduct such as nepotism, unscrupulous pursuit for money and position, undesirable practices among officials, and clandestine rules.
Second, we should enforce strict discipline, which is key. As our ancestors said, "Nothing can be accomplished without regulations and rules."3 Strict discipline is an inherent requirement and important guarantee for promoting and regulating intra-Party political activities. We should strengthen intra-Party institutional restrictions, and close the gap between the bars of the institutional cage. Political discipline and rules are the most crucial part of Party discipline, and observing them is the basis for observing other Party discipline. Party organizations and Party members should conscientiously abide by political discipline and rules, enhance their political integrity, acquire a better understanding of the general picture, follow the core leadership of the CPC Central Committee, and act consistently with its policy, ensuring that they are firm in political belief and stance and follow a correct orientation.
We should work to ensure every order or prohibition is executed without fail, and investigate and prosecute any violations, so that discipline and rules make up a deterrent and prevent the effect of the broken windows theory. We should review the current rules and regulations in accordance with the regulations, revising whatever should be revised, supplementing those that require it, and setting new ones. Party organizations which shoulder the responsibility for enforcing discipline and rules must strengthen scrutiny and accountability, targeting those who relax their effort in this regard. These measures should transform lax and slack Party governance into strict and firm governance.
Third, we should select and appoint the right officials, which is a weathervane for political activities within our Party. Unhealthy tendencies and corruption in the appointment of officials are most harmful; thus a correct orientation is the fundamental solution to rigorously carrying out political activities in the Party. We must implement the standards for good officials and be strict with officials in their political consciousness, conduct, style of work, and clean governance, rewarding and promoting those who are loyal, honest, responsible, pragmatic, incorruptible, hard-working, and keen on reform, with outstanding performance, while leaving no space for and punishing those who feign compliance, flatter and ingratiate superiors, practice fraud, and do nothing practical, but angle for posts and indulge their own interests. We must be resolute in correcting unhealthy tendencies in the selection and appointment of officials, ensuring that no appointment is made of bad people and preventing the phenomenon of "bad money drives out good", and trying to create a sound political ecology with a clean environment for employing capable officials. We should improve the institutions for supervising and overseeing officials so that selection is not over-emphasized while supervision is overlooked. In addition, we need to fine-tune mechanisms that allow for and address mistakes, give more positive incentives, and guide officials to maintain a positive mindset, work hard, and act responsibly.
Fourth, we should regularly carry out criticism and self-criticism within the Party. Such criticism sessions are an important part of intra-Party political activities in both content and form. They are an important way that Party organizations educate, supervise and oversee Party members. The capability and competence of a leading body depends very much on whether it carries out serious intra-Party criticism and self-criticism. We should implement systems such as "Three Meetings and One Lecture", i.e., Party members regularly attending meetings of general membership, branch committees, and Party groups, and one lecture every six months; in addition to meeting of Party members in leadership positions where they make criticisms and self-criticisms among themselves; branch meeting with ordinary Party members; democratic appraisal by Party members; and frank communication and self-criticisms among Party members. Besides, we need to strengthen regular education, supervision and oversight of Party members. And we should adopt new approaches to make activities in our Party more appealing and effective.
Criticism and self-criticism are good tools for the Party to address problems and keep itself healthy, and an important means to strengthen and regulate internal Party political activities. Officials must take the lead and leading groups should set a good example in creating an atmosphere of criticism and self-criticism within the Party. Officials should firmly oppose such ideas as "it is none of my business" or "it is better to say nothing about what's wrong". And they should overcome any tendency to cover up errors and fail to correct mistakes.
Fifth, we should focus on both inheritance and innovation, which are two key links. The great tradition of political activities that our Party has brought into being in its long practice is its permanent treasure, whether in the past, the present, or the future. We must never cast aside this tradition, which gives us our soul; neither should we change our nature as a true Communist Party.
At the same time, as conditions change, we should constantly improve and innovate the content, form, vehicle, method and means of intra-Party political activities, and guide new practice with new experience. Giving better play to the role of such activities, we should try to create a political situation in which we have both centralism and democracy, both discipline and freedom, both unity of will and personal ease of mind and liveliness.
The purpose of implementing the regulations is to effectively solve major problems in internal Party political activities. All Party organizations and Party members and officials should consciously check their thought and action against the regulations, face up to their mistakes with courage, conduct self-analysis, and take on deep-rooted problems.
On one hand, we should work to solve problems that are numerous, obvious and widespread. For example, at work, some officials are arbitrary; some seek no other input in making decisions or resort to liberalism or decentralism. Some officials simply go through the motions, or engage in excessive bureaucracy, self-indulgence, and extravagance. There is also abuse of power, embezzlement, bribery, moral decline and violation of the law and discipline. Some officials do not observe discipline and go unpunished for disobeying discipline. Some rest on their laurels, or are irresponsible, mediocre and lazy on the job, and accomplish nothing. These problems, obvious in the eyes of the people, have clearly defied stipulations against them. The solution lies in strict enforcement and more rigid constraints.
On the other hand, we need to tackle problems that are highly political and devastating. For example, some officials do not follow the CPC Central Committee on major issues, or refuse to act according to our Party's political discipline and rules. Some are not loyal to or honest with the Party, feign compliance, practice fraud, or conceal private vice behind a mask of public virtue. Some officials make appointments based on favoritism or for reasons of personal gain. Some angle for official positions, buy and sell posts, or engage in vote rigging. Some gang up in pursuit of private interests, form small cliques, or are primarily driven by political ambition. Such problems are often hidden, and will not become apparent until critical moments. Our solution is to establish criteria for spotting them, put in place an effective mechanism, and deal with typical ones in a timely manner.
Political activities within the Party are a complicated matter, and problems differ from place to place. It takes courage to confront our problems and competence to solve them. We should address whatever problems come up, with a focus on difficult and serious ones. When trying to solve these problems, we should make comprehensive analysis, and draw inferences about other problems from individual examples. And every measure we take or effort we make should help strengthen and regulate political activities and purify the political ecology within our Party.
* Part of the speech at the second full assembly of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee.
1 Zhang Zai: Study of the Classics (Jing Xue Li Ku). Zhang Zai (1020-1077) was a philosopher of the Northern Song Dynasty.
2 Mao Zedong: "On Coalition Government", Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. III, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1975, p. 265.
3 Lü's Spring and Autumn Annals (Lü Shi Chun Qiu).
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)