Initiative and Resolve in Reinforcing the Party's Political Foundations

Xi Jinping: The Governance of China III Updated: 2021-12-29

Initiative and Resolve in Reinforcing the Party's Political Foundations* 

June 29, 2018 

Today we gather here for the sixth group study session of the Political Bureau of the 19th CPC Central Committee. The subject of this session is reinforcing our Party's political foundations. This critical issue was raised at the 19th National Congress in 2017, which underlined that the issue is of fundamental importance to our Party, deserves top priority, and should be the overarching principle for strengthening the Party. The goal of our study at today's session is to further understand this subject and consequently adopt a more purposeful and resolute approach.

There is profound thinking behind raising the issue of reinforcing the Party's political foundations at our 19th National Congress. Every political party has its political nature, mission, and goals. A Marxist party has lofty political ideals, and pursues noble goals. Its political character is wholesome, and its discipline is strict. If it is no longer politically wholesome, there is no way it can retain its progressive nature and integrity. This is why reinforcing its political foundations is of fundamental importance to our Party.

With more than 89 million members and 4.5 million grassroots organizations, it is not easy for our Party to preserve and develop its nature as a Marxist political party. A broad-brush approach or a few targeted campaigns are not the solution. Reinforcing our Party's political foundations is a mission without end that must never in any way be neglected. At the Gutian Meeting1 in 1929 Mao Zedong put forward the principle of strengthening the Party and army with a sound political philosophy. The Seventh CPC National Congress in 1945 declared its intention to focus on strengthening the Party's ideological commitment and reinforcing its political foundations while strengthening its organization. After the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, Mao Zedong observed that "political work is the lifeline of all economic endeavors"2 . After reform and opening up started in 1978, Deng Xiaoping emphasized, "We have to lay great stress on politics at all times."3 All this served to indicate that reinforcing the Party's political foundations is an important guarantee that our Party will go from strength to strength and from victory to victory.

In the course of strengthening our Party's self-governance since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, we have clearly realized that many of our problems are related to political issues and attributable to a slack political approach. "If the root cause of a problem is addressed, there will be immediate change for the better; if only trivial matters are addressed, the problem will stay forever."4 If we do not perceive and deal with a problem from the political perspective, we will put ourselves in the position of juggling with stopgap measures, and fail to produce a fundamental solution. This is why I have reiterated that strict governance over the Party must start with political effort, and that political issues need political solutions.

Giving prominence to reinforcing our Party's political foundations, we have achieved significant results in the following respects: reinforcing our political belief, strengthening the Four Consciousnesses, upholding the authority of the Central Committee and its centralized, unified leadership, enforcing strict political discipline and rules, enhancing and regulating intra-Party political activities in the new era, cleaning up the political environment within our Party, improving Party conduct, fighting corruption, and punishing wrongdoing. Experience has taught us that reinforcing the Party's political foundations determines the direction and effect of strengthening the Party. If we neglect them or stray from that direction, it will be hard to achieve the anticipated results in other areas.

We must be aware that despite our achievements since the 18th CPC National Congress, the political issues existing within the Party have not been fully solved. It remains a conspicuous problem that some colleagues overlook or downplay political matters. Some are weak in the Four Consciousnesses. Some pay only lip service to upholding Party leadership. Some show no political acuity and discernment, or lack the will to respond to erroneous words and deeds. Some are a law unto themselves and ignore our Party's political discipline and rules, and others run things according to unspoken rules or act as if doing business deals in the Party. Reinforcing the Party's political foundations is a long and arduous task that demands our perseverance.

To this end, the 19th CPC National Congress set out specific requirements, and I have elaborated on them several times. We must implement them to the full. Here, I would like to emphasize the following points:

First, adhering to the correct political direction. Political direction is an issue of paramount importance to our Party's existence and development, and determines its future and the prospects of its cause. When the Red Army was crossing the marshes during the Long March, the very first question that concerned the cook in the morning was not whether there was rice to cook. Instead, he would ask whether the army was heading south or north. This shows that even a cook understood that where to go was more important than what to eat. Straying from the right path will cause fatal mistakes. We must have a clear understanding on this matter.

The political direction we must follow is the noble ideal of communism, our ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the Two Centenary Goals, and the Party's underlying theories, basic guidelines, and fundamental principles. For the Party to make political progress, we need to do three things:

One, we need to make political commitment the compass for our work, guide all Party members to hold to our Party's ideals and convictions, and have full confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of Chinese socialism, clarify any confusion and ambiguity, remove all obstacles, and concentrate the wisdom and strength of the whole Party on the task of upholding and developing Chinese socialism in the new era.

Two, we must urge the whole Party to follow the correct political direction in devising major strategies, formulating major policies, advancing major plans, and implementing major tasks. We must conduct regular self-examination against our goals and standards in order to make prompt adjustments and improvements, and rectify practices that deviate from or run counter to our Party's political direction. We can thereby ensure that all undertakings of the Party and the state will always proceed in the correct political direction.

Three, we must build Party organizations at all levels in such a way so as to firmly safeguard the correct political direction, and guide all Party members and officials accordingly. Those who err on this issue must be reprimanded, and those guilty of serious misconduct must be punished in accordance with Party discipline.

Second, upholding the Party's political leadership. The leadership of the CPC is the defining feature of Chinese socialism and the greatest strength of this system. Our Party is the highest force for political leadership. Without our Party's leadership, national rejuvenation would be unattainable. Having been put into this position by historical developments and our people, our Party must shoulder its political responsibilities by exercising effective political leadership.

Through the painstaking efforts we have made since the 18th CPC National Congress, an awareness of upholding overall Party leadership has clearly grown among all Party members. Nevertheless, we still face the fact that some localities and entities fail to translate this awareness into actions in their work. We need to establish sound organizational frameworks, systems, and mechanisms for strengthening overall Party leadership in all realms and respects, including reform, development, social stability, domestic affairs, foreign relations, national defense, and governance of the Party, the state, and the military.

Upholding the authority of the Central Committee and its centralized, unified leadership is of utmost importance to the Party's political leadership, and is the primary task in reinforcing the Party's political foundations. We need to guide all Party members to enhance the Four Consciousnesses, maintain a high degree of unity with the Central Committee in their thinking, actions and political stance, and ensure that the Central Committee is the sole authority and has the final say. High-ranking officials, especially members of the Political Bureau, should lead by example – acting in line with the overall interests of the Party and country when performing their duties.

Third, consolidating the political foundation. The support of the people is the unfailing source of our Party's strength. In the past, "Workers and peasants are wakened in their millions to fight as one man"5, creating an indomitable force that enabled us to win the revolution by relying on the people. Today, our Party makes its goal the people's desire for a better life, creating a mighty force that will enable us to realize the Chinese Dream.

"The people are the foundation of a country, and are also what the rule of a country is for."6 To reinforce the Party's political foundations, we must make the support of the people our top priority, and focus on winning the people's hearts and pooling their wisdom and strength. We must stand on the people's side, implement our Party's principle of the mass line, concern ourselves with the people's needs, and work together with them. Moreover, we must resolutely oppose the Four Malfeasances of favoring form over substance, bureaucratism, hedonism, and extravagance – particularly the first two – and always maintain our Party's deep bond with the people. Public support, approval and satisfaction depend not only on what we say but on what we do. Only hard work can make our country prosperous and strong and our people better off. Complacency, laxity, muddling through in one's work, considering self-interests first in the face of difficulties, and making half-hearted efforts are all incompatible with the needs of the people and the demands of the new era.

We need to train and motivate all Party members and officials to press ahead with great determination, work hard, maintain stable growth, advance reform, adjust the economic structure, improve living standards, guard against risks, address intractable problems, overcome formidable obstacles, and solve the most pressing, most immediate issues that concern the people the most. We must give encouragement and support to officials who perform their duties, do solid work, and are bold in shouldering responsibilities. We must reprimand and hold accountable those who are negligent in their work, never follow words with deeds, or cavil at, undermine, and even frame false charges against those who get things done. This is how we will foster an atmosphere in the Party of taking pride in performing one's duties and feeling ashamed of inaction and lack of drive.

Fourth, fostering a healthy political environment. With a sound political atmosphere, a political party will be imbued with a sense of integrity; without it, it will be infested with noxious influences. For a certain period prior to the 18th CPC National Congress, the political atmosphere in some localities and entities deteriorated seriously. As a result, their cohesion was undermined, public ethics were poisoned, and the people's faith in our Party was severely eroded. Since the 18th CPC National Congress the political atmosphere within the Party has seen a marked improvement, which we can feel personally. But we must be aware that there are problems yet to be eradicated. Sometimes intra-Party political activities are conducted in a perfunctory, superficial, ineffective, or inappropriate way. This deserves our full attention.

Fostering a healthy political environment is a long-term task that must be made a basic and regular activity in reinforcing our Party's political foundations. Like tending the natural environment by clearing up the sources of waterways and cultivating forests, we need to make long, tenacious efforts to foster political integrity and build a strong foundation. The selection and appointment of officials is the weathervane of the political environment, and has direct bearing on it. In selecting and appointing officials, we must adopt the right approach, with emphasis on political performance.

Party members and officials must act in accordance with the Regulations for Political Activities Within the Party in the New Era, and have regular political "health checks" through intra-Party activities. We can thereby "sweep off the dust", keep our souls wholesome, and boost our immune system in the political realm. Intra-Party political culture exerts an imperceptible influence on our Party's political atmosphere. We need to intensify our efforts to cultivate a healthy political culture within the Party, and foster the ideals, convictions, values, and fine traditions of the Party in the hearts and minds of all Party members and officials. We also should promote the core socialist values, and advocate and practice values such as loyalty, honesty, impartiality, pragmatism, and integrity. By virtue of a healthy political culture, we will maintain a wholesome political atmosphere.

Fifth, guarding against political risks. "Be alert to danger in times of peace, and be wary of unrest in times of stability."7 Our Party was born amid domestic turmoil and foreign aggression, grew up through hardships and setbacks, and has become stronger in the course of overcoming risks and challenges. It therefore has an acute sense of dangers and risks. Since the 18th CPC National Congress I have emphasized on many occasions that we must make preparations for worst-case scenarios. My purpose is to warn all Party members that we must always bear in mind the ancient adage, "One should be mindful of possible danger in times of peace, downfall in times of survival, and chaos in times of stability."8 China is currently facing a complex and volatile environment, and is exposed to a growing number of threats, both foreseeable and unforeseeable, which could evolve into political threats if not managed promptly and effectively. All Party members, especially those in official positions at all levels, must be highly sensitive to these and improve their ability to guard against them.

We need to train and guide officials to enhance their political acuity and discernment, have a keen eye for sensitive matters and tendencies that may trigger off political issues – especially serious emergencies – whenever they emerge, and take preemptive and swift action to remove all potential political dangers. Close attention should be paid and prompt action taken to intercept transmission of risks between different sectors. The goal is to ward off "cross-infection" – preventing non-public risks from growing into public ones and non-political risks from escalating into political ones. We need to build up our fighting spirit, take an unequivocal stance, and resolutely prevent and overcome political lethargy, which will render us unable to detect hostile moves, distinguish right from wrong, or see the correct direction.

Sixth, maintaining the political integrity of Communists. A significant number of the corruption cases investigated recently took place after the 18th and even the 19th national congresses of the Party. In spite of the repeated orders of the Central Committee, certain officials could not restrain themselves from wrongdoing. Instead they continued to commit offenses, tempting fate. This shows that the fight against corruption remains grave and complex. We must remain firm in our resolve to build on our overwhelming momentum and secure a sweeping victory in this fight. In reinforcing our Party's political foundations, we must have the determination and tenacity to persevere in the never-ending fight against corruption, so that our Party will never change its nature or betray its colors.

We must maintain a tough stance on corruption. Showing zero tolerance, the fight covers all those holding public office without exception. We will impose tight constraints, maintain a tough stance and a long-term deterrence, and punish both those who take bribes and those who offer them. We will prevent interest groups from arising within the Party, and guard against such groups preying on or perverting officials. All officials, especially those in senior positions, are expected to have political, public and private virtues, setting a good example in upholding integrity and self-discipline, exercising public power for clean government, and creating a culture of integrity in their families. We will establish a tight-knit scrutiny network, reinforce relevant institutions, and let discipline inspection cut like a blade through corruption and misconduct. As strict governance over the Party extends to the grassroots, we will ensure that upright officials, a clean government, and political integrity are visible and accessible to the people.

Seventh, improving our political ability. In strengthening the ranks of officials as part of our political foundations, we need to improve the ability of officials, especially those in senior positions, to stay on the right course, keep in line with the general trend, and bear the broader picture in mind. We should enhance our ability to distinguish between right and wrong on political issues, maintain our political resolve, navigate political currents, and forestall political risks. A key aspect of this is to hone the ability to analyze and resolve problems from a political perspective. Only by doing so can we comprehend the true nature of an issue and get to its root cause. Officials, especially those in senior positions, should have good political judgment. We should let no fleeting phenomena cloud our vision, and shoulder the political responsibilities entrusted to us by the Party and the people. 

* Speech at the sixth group study session of the Political Bureau of the 19th CPC Central Committee.


1 This refers to the Ninth Party Congress of the Fourth Army of the Red Army, held in Gutian Village of Shanghang County, Fujian Province in December 1929. It was at this meeting that the principle of employing the CPC's political philosophy to cultivate the army was established. 

2 Mao Zedong: "Editorial Notes from Socialist Upsurge in China's Countryside", Collected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. VI, Chin. ed., People's Publishing House, Beijing, 1999, p. 449. 

3 Deng Xiaoping: "Remarks During an Inspection Tour of Tianjin", Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Vol. III, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1994, p. 169. 

4 Su Shi: "Reasons for Vagrants in the Guanlong Area Counterfeiting Coins and Grain Transport Troops in Areas Between Yangtze and Huaihe Rivers Committing Robbery" (Guan Long You Min Si Zhu Qian Yu Jiang Huai Cao Zu Wei Dao Zhi You). Su Shi (1036-1101), also known as Su Dongpo, was a man of letters, painter and calligrapher of the Northern Song Dynasty. 

5 Mao Zedong: "Against the First 'Encirclement' Campaign", Mao Zedong Poems, Chin./Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1999, p. 21. 

6 Zhu Xi: Commentaries on the Four Books (Si Shu Zhang Ju Ji Zhu). Zhu Xi (1130-1200) was a neo-Confucian philosopher of the Southern Song Dynasty.

7 Wei Yuan: Essays by Wei Yuan (Mo Gu). Wei Yuan (1794-1857) was a thinker and writer of the Qing Dynasty. 

8 Book of Changes (Yi Jing).

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