Note to the Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Upholding and Improving Chinese Socialist System and Modernizing State Governance*
October 28, 2019
On behalf of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, I will now explain to the plenary session the drafting process of the "Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Upholding and Improving the Socialist System with Chinese Characteristics and Modernizing the State System and Capacity for Governance".
I. Background and Considerations
We have just celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Our extraordinary achievements of the past seven decades have fully proved that socialism with Chinese characteristics is the fundamental guarantee for progress and development in contemporary China. From a long-term and overall perspective on the causes of the Party and the country, the Political Bureau has decided that this plenary session will focus on the topic of upholding and improving Chinese socialism and modernizing our system and capacity for governance. This is based on the following considerations:
First, upholding and improving Chinese socialism and modernizing our system and capacity for governance is key to achieving the Two Centenary Goals. Building a modern socialist country and realizing national rejuvenation are two great goals our Party has always pursued. Since its founding, our Party has led the people and made unremitting efforts towards these goals. As we drive reform and opening up to deeper levels, we have developed a better understanding of our systems.
In 1980, Deng Xiaoping summarized the lessons from the Cultural Revolution and pointed out that "the problems in the leadership and organizational systems are more fundamental, widespread and long-lasting, and that they have a greater effect on the overall interests of our country." "If these systems are sound, they can place restraints on the actions of bad people; if they are unsound, they may hamper the efforts of good people or indeed, in certain cases, may push them in the wrong direction."1 In 1992, he said on a field trip to south China, "It will probably take another thirty years for us to develop a more mature and well-defined system in every field."2 The report to the 14th CPC National Congress in 1992 envisaged: "In the 1990s we must establish a preliminary new economic system and attain the objective of the second stage of development – a relatively comfortable level of life for all our people. In another 20 years, when we mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Party, a whole set of more mature and better-defined systems will have taken shape in every field of work." The reports to the 15th, 16th and 17th national congresses of the Party all set out clear requirements for improving our systems.
Since its 18th National Congress in 2012, our Party has laid extra emphasis on improving our state systems, stating, "To build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, we must, with greater political courage and vision, lose no time in furthering reform in key sectors, and resolutely discard all notions and mechanisms that hinder efforts to pursue balanced and sustainable development. We should set up a well-developed, well-conceived, procedure-based and effective framework of systems, and ensure that all our systems are more mature and better-defined." The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in 2013 put forward the idea of "modernizing the state governance system and capacity", and defined the goals of comprehensive reform as "to improve and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics and to modernize the state governance system and capacity". The Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in 2015 further stressed that, during the 13th Five-year Plan period (2016-2020), "systems in all areas are to become more mature and better-defined, and key progress is to be made in modernizing the state governance system and capacity, with basic systems established in all fields."
The 19th CPC National Congress in 2017 determined our primary goal by the middle of this century – to develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful, and the goals for enhancing our governance system and capacity – our systems in all fields are further improved and modernization of the state governance system and capacity is basically achieved by 2035, and modernization of our state governance system and capacity is fully realized by the middle of the 21st century. The second and third plenary sessions of the 19th CPC Central Committee in 2018 made plans for constitutional amendments and further reform of Party and government institutions, marking a major step forward in improving our governance system and capacity. The Third Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee pointed out: "To better lead the people in advancing the great struggle, the great project, and the great cause to realize our great dream, our Party must accelerate the modernization of the state governance system and capacity, and develop a more mature and better-defined system of socialism with Chinese characteristics. This is a key task of our Party." It is now imperative for us to summarize past experience on improving Chinese socialism and modernizing the state governance system and capacity, and set the direction and requirements for future development.
Second, upholding and improving Chinese socialism and modernizing the state governance system and capacity is fundamental to further reform and opening up in the new era. Forty years ago, the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee in 1978 was a landmark event that introduced the policy of reform and opening up and ushered in a new period of socialist modernization. The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee was another milestone, initiating a new era in which reform has been extended through a systematic and holistic plan. The session rolled out 336 reform measures. With our efforts over the five years since then, reform in key areas has delivered striking results, and basic systems in major fields have taken shape, laying a solid foundation for modernizing our state governance system and capacity. However, we must also understand that some reform measures are yet to be completed, and some demand perseverance in the long run. Although many formidable obstacles have been surmounted, there are more to overcome. We must never pause or slacken our efforts. At the gathering to celebrate the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up last year, I emphasized, "We must advance reform and opening up in the right direction, on the right course, and with consistent force, so as to steadily promote reform and opening up in the new era." This requires us to make plans for further comprehensive reform, based on the overall needs in building a modern socialist country.
Reform and opening up in the new era has new content and new features, one of which is that reform attaches greater importance to the improvement of systems. Compared with the past, reform now aims to solve deep-seated problems of our systems and mechanisms, and this sets higher requirements for top-level design. It becomes more imperative to pursue reform in a systematic, holistic, and coordinated way, and to establish frameworks of systems and institutions. When we plan to further reform in the new era, we must focus on upholding and improving Chinese socialism and modernizing the state governance system and capacity, with a deep understanding of the requirements for further development and the trends of the times. To achieve this, we will continue to reform systems and mechanisms in all sectors and areas, and ensure that our systems become more mature and better-defined.
Third, upholding and improving Chinese socialism and modernizing the state governance system and capacity will guarantee that we can seize the initiative in addressing risks and challenges. "If a dynasty cannot continue to rise, it will fall; if a country cannot improve its governance, the state of order will deteriorate."3 The world today is undergoing a scale of change unseen in a century, and the international situation is becoming increasingly variable and complex. We are confronted with formidable tasks in reform, development, social stability, domestic and foreign affairs, national defense, and the governance of the Party, the country and the military. We are facing greater risks and challenges than ever before. Some risks and challenges are domestic, some are external; some relate to the economy and society, some come from Mother Nature. In order to resolve them, we must uphold and improve Chinese socialism and modernize our state governance system and capacity, and give full play to the strengths of our systems.
Based on the above considerations, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and the Political Bureau convened meetings on February 28 and March 29 this year, and decided the topic of this plenary session – upholding and improving Chinese socialism and modernizing the state governance system and capacity, and the establishment of a drafting group working under the leadership of the Standing Committee.
II. Drafting Process
The drafting group started work after its first meeting on April 3. The Central Committee issued a notice to all provincial authorities and central departments on April 7 to solicit opinions and suggestions on the topic. The 109 responses received provided many valuable opinions and suggestions, mainly covering the following areas:
• our achievements and experience in upholding and improving Chinese socialism and modernizing the state governance system and capacity;
• the principles and the fundamental, basic and important systems we must hold to; and
• the main problems and tasks facing us, and key measures we must take.
All agreed that the Central Committee's broad vision and strong sense of responsibility were reflected in its choice of the topic for its Fourth Plenary Session, and that the topic bore far-reaching significance for achieving moderate prosperity in all respects throughout the country, building a modern socialist country, and ensuring the Party's leadership and the long-term stability of the Party and the country.
During the six months after it was established, the drafting group conducted an intense study of relevant literature, summarized the evolution and innovation of systems in the process of revolution, economic development and reform in our country – in particular the achievements in theoretical research, practice and systems made since the 18th CPC National Congress. Based on the opinions and suggestions from all sectors, the drafting group studied specialized subjects, and discussed and revised the draft decision many times.
Following the order of a Political Bureau meeting, in early September the draft was circulated among a certain number of Party members and retired senior Party officials for suggestions. After careful review and discussion, provincial authorities and central departments submitted 118 responses. On September 25, I presided over a forum attended by leaders from the central committees of other political parties, head of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and personages without party affiliation. I heard their opinions and received the texts of 10 speeches from them.
The drafting group collated all opinions and suggestions. In total the group received 1,948 revision suggestions, and 1,755 remained after removing duplicates. These included 380 general opinions and 1,375 detailed suggestions.
The feedback showed full approval of the draft decision. All consulted groups and individuals had reached the consensus that the decision has a correct understanding of the evolution of China's national system and state governance system. It prioritizes upholding and improving Party leadership, which is key to state governance. It emphasizes that we must maintain the correct political direction and break new ground, and manifest our confidence in Chinese socialism. It highlights efficiency, integration and coordination among different systems, with a focus on solving problems and achieving practical results.
The decision answers major political questions: What should we uphold and consolidate? What should we improve and promote? It defines the major systems and principles we must support, and introduces the tasks and measures for improving our systems. It underscores coordination between the fundamental, basic and important systems, between top-level design and its implementation at different levels, and between reform and operation of systems. As both a summary of experience and a vision for the future, it maintains the stability of our systems while introducing reform and innovation, and remains committed to our goals while aiming to solve problems. The decision will certainly have a profound impact on the systems of our country, making them more mature and better-defined, and turning their strengths into efficient state governance.
Many constructive suggestions were collected, mainly including:
First, to list comprehensive reform and law-based governance as strengths of our national system and state governance system;
Second, to highlight the role of science and technology systems in boosting innovation;
Third, to attach greater importance to the systems that guarantee food security, rural revitalization, and the prioritized development of agriculture and rural areas;
Fourth, to make more use of IT technologies, such as AI, the internet and big data, to modernize our governance capacity;
Fifth, to fully apply the principle of the Party supervising the performance of officials, and set targets on improving the management of officials, motivating officials to take on responsibilities and ensure effective implementation, and encouraging them to work harder and be more enterprising and competent;
Sixth, to promote theoretical research in our national system and state governance system, and public education on the subject; and
Seventh, to implement the guidelines set at this session along with the reform tasks laid out by the Central Committee since the 18th CPC National Congress, and formulate an overall plan and mechanism for this purpose.
The Central Committee instructed the drafting group to carefully study the opinions and suggestions from all sides. The group analyzed them item by item, took them all into consideration, and absorbed all pertinent suggestions. Through thorough deliberations, 283 changes were made to the draft decision, reflecting 436 opinions and suggestions.
The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau held three meetings and the Political Bureau two meetings to review the draft versions, and finally produced this final draft for submission.
III. Framework of the Draft
Focusing on the topic of this plenary session, the draft decision is based on the goals and tasks set at the 19th CPC National Congress. It aims to uphold and consolidate Chinese socialism and ensure the Party's long-term governance and the country's long-term peace and stability, to improve Chinese socialism and build a modern socialist country in all respects, and to give full play to the strengths of Chinese socialism and modernize the state governance system and capacity. It summarizes the achievements, experience and principles that our people have gained in improving the state system and governance under the leadership of the Party, elaborates on upholding and improving the fundamental, basic and important systems that underpin Chinese socialism, makes plans for major systems and mechanisms, and defines the essential tasks to be performed on our way forward.
The draft decision is divided into three parts with 15 sections.
The first part, namely, the first section, presents the general principles, setting forth the monumental achievements we have made in developing Chinese socialism and state governance, and their strengths. It also explains why it is important for us to uphold and improve Chinese socialism and modernize the state governance system and capacity, and sets out the overall requirements.
Detailed expositions on our fundamental, basic, and important systems that underpin Chinese socialism are given in the 13 sections of the second part. This part defines the fundamentals we must hold to and the direction for our systems to improve, and makes plans for future work.
The 15th section and the conclusion constitute the third part, which sets requirements for the Party's leadership over the endeavor.
To fulfill the purpose of this session, we hope that all colleagues fully digest the guidelines laid out by the Central Committee, focus our discussions on what we should uphold and consolidate and what we should improve and promote, and share constructive opinions and suggestions for revising the draft decision.
* Speech at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee.
1 Deng Xiaoping: "On the Reform of the System of Party and State Leadership", Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Vol. II, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1995, pp. 331-332.
2 Deng Xiaoping: "Excerpts from Talks Given in Wuchang, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shanghai", Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Vol. III, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1994, p. 360.
3 Lü Zuqian: Essays on Zuo's Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals (Dong Lai Bo Yi). Lü Zuqian (1137-1181) was a writer and neo-Confucian philosopher of the Southern Song Dynasty.
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)