Strengthen Discipline and Scrutiny over the Exercise of Power

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

Strengthen Discipline and Scrutiny over the Exercise of Power*

January 13, 2020

We must uphold the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and follow the guiding principles of the 19th CPC National Congress and the second, third and fourth plenary sessions of the 19th CPC Central Committee. We must exercise full and strict governance over the Party, improve Party and state supervision, strengthen discipline and scrutiny over the exercise of power, and ensure the implementation of the Party's guidelines, principles and policies, to provide a strong guarantee for securing a decisive victory in achieving moderate prosperity and eliminating poverty.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, we have shown unprecedented courage and resolve in advancing full and rigorous governance of the Party, and have made historic and groundbreaking progress that will have a profound and comprehensive influence. In our effort to lead a social revolution through the Party's self-reform, we have strengthened and improved the relevant systems to fix problems such as the weakening of Party leadership, a failure to strengthen the Party, and inefficiency in Party self-governance in some fields, so that the Party continues to exercise strong leadership in building socialism with Chinese characteristics. In our effort to strengthen the ideals and convictions of all Party members with progressive theories, we have enacted institutions conducive to realizing our original aspiration and founding mission. We have armed the whole Party with the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, inspired our people, and directed our work accordingly; we have made ideological education a regular and institutionalized practice so as to gather ideological strength for realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. In our effort to reinforce unity and solidarity within the Party, we have ensured the Two Upholds, improved the systems for upholding the authority of the CPC Central Committee and its centralized, unified leadership. We have improved the system of the Central Committee's leadership over major programs, and unified our will and action to safeguard the Party's unity and solidarity, so as to strengthen the Party's ability to lead politically, to guide through theory, to organize the people, and to motivate the public. In our effort to improve Party conduct, enforce Party discipline and fight corruption to unite the Party, the military and the people, we have taken firm measures to combat corruption, correct misconduct, eliminate negative elements undermining the Party's progressive nature and integrity, and improve the systems of governance for the people and supported by the people, so that the people always remain a mighty force supporting the CPC's governing status and Chinese socialism.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, we have sought out a path to resolve problems rooted in the Party's long-term governance so as to avoid the historical cycle of rise and fall, and we have built a set of effective systems for scrutinizing the exercise of power and for enforcing Party discipline and state laws. We must uphold, strengthen and develop our path and systems. At the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee in 2019, strategic plans were laid to uphold and improve the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and to modernize the state governance system and capacity. Accordingly, discipline inspection and supervision organs should undertake the relevant work.

We should enforce political oversight and guarantees, and raise political awareness of the Two Upholds. Supervision and inspection should be strengthened to ensure the implementation of the guiding principles of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, and to uphold and consolidate the fundamental, basic and major systems supporting the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. The Central Committee's major decisions and plans must yield substantial results, particularly in achieving moderate prosperity and eliminating poverty, so supervision must be strengthened this year to motivate Party organizations at all levels to do their best and complete their tasks. In terms of strengthening Party self-governance, responsibilities should be specified for each position in each Party organization, and should be assumed, observed and fulfilled accordingly, so as to strengthen grassroots Party leadership and oversight. Power must be exercised appropriately, under the principle of democratic centralism, based on sound decision-making, effective implementation, and forceful oversight, with impartiality and integrity, and in accordance with the law.

We should uphold a people-centered approach, and follow our fine traditions to secure a decisive victory in achieving moderate prosperity and eliminating poverty. Under an explicit institutional framework, officials should eradicate the malpractices of favoring form over substance and bureaucratism, work in a realistic and practical manner, and demonstrate honesty and integrity. Officials should be trained and tempered at the forefront of major programs or major battles, with an encouraging environment for them to grow and stand out from the crowd. Problems that damage the people's interest in poor areas and are of pressing public concern must be properly addressed, and efforts should be made to eliminate the malpractices of favoring form over substance and bureaucratism in targeted poverty alleviation, with a focus on enhancing scrutiny over performance, particularly poverty elimination in designated poor counties. The fight must go deeper against "micro-corruption" that undermines public welfare, against "protective umbrellas" that shelter criminal gangs and evil forces, and against the "stumbling blocks" that hamper the implementation of policies benefiting the public. With this goal in mind, grassroots Party organizations must be strengthened.

We should continue to catch "tigers" as well as "flies", and focus on punishing violations of Party discipline and state laws that occurred despite repeated warnings after the 18th CPC National Congress. We must be fully aware of the severe, complex, long-lasting and arduous struggle against corruption, guard against potential corruption, and increase the efficiency of our fight against corruption. We must severely punish corruption occurring after the 18th CPC National Congress that hampers the implementation of the Party's theories, guidelines, principles and policies, and undermines the Party's governing foundations. We must investigate and prosecute cases of corruption that cause harm; we will make greater efforts to combat corruption in financial institutions and state-owned enterprises, improve the management of state-owned resources and assets, and identify the hidden corruption in local government debt risk. We must punish insurance fraud by medical institutions and set up an effective long-term supervision mechanism. We must improve the supervision of overseas state-owned assets. We must implement the Eight Rules on improving Party and government conduct, remain determined and principled, and prevent old problems from resurging, new problems from emerging, and small problems from growing. We must enhance oversight over those in command at all levels, improve the mechanisms of avoiding work-related conflict of interest, implement regular job rotation and end-of-tenure auditing, and conduct proper criticism and self-criticism.

We should improve Party conduct and build clean government, and ensure our officials do not dare to be, are not able to be, and do not want to be corrupt. This is the fundamental guideline for battling corruption, and also a major strategy for strengthening Party self-governance in the new era. The awareness, ability and resolve to resist corruption are an integral whole, and must be reinforced together in a coordinated way. Strict enforcement of Party discipline and state laws helps strengthen the institutions, improve the institutional structure, and form an effective oversight system. In addition, we must also help Party members develop firm ideals and convictions, enhance Party consciousness, and strengthen their commitment to the Party's founding mission. Strict enforcement will remain a long-term principle, while distinctions between the three pairs of errors1 should be made, as our measures should both respond to people's concerns and motivate officials to assume responsibility. We should make full use of the four forms of oversight over discipline compliance2, resolving existing problems with effective measures and preventing potential offenses through strengthened oversight, so as to achieve sound political, legal and social effects.

We should improve Party and state supervision, and comprehensively reform the discipline inspection and supervision system. Institutions and systems should be further developed and improved, fitting with the Party's leadership system and merging into the national governance system; this way, they will help turn China's institutional strengths into effective governance. We should integrate overall oversight by Party committees or Party leadership groups, specialized oversight by discipline inspection commissions and supervision commissions, functional oversight by Party organs, regular oversight by grassroots Party organizations, and democratic oversight by Party members. We should focus on internal Party scrutiny, and coordinate the scrutiny by people's congresses, other political parties, administrative organs, the judiciary, auditing and accounting bodies, statistical institutions, the general public, and the media. Discipline inspection commissions and supervision commissions should play their due role in the Party and state supervision system, and facilitate and implement the institutional reform of discipline inspection and supervision.

We should protect our systems through strict discipline, and strengthen compliance and enforcement. Supervisory mechanisms for enforcement should be improved to cover all areas, and to reinforce regular supervision and targeted inspection. Enforcement results should be included in officials’ performance evaluation, to motivate them to fulfill their duties and achieve results. Effective accountability helps strengthen enforcement; abuse of power and dereliction of duty should both be punished, applying to both the person directly responsible and his/her superior.

Upholding the authority of our systems and ensuring their

enforcement are important duties of discipline inspection and supervision organs. They should take the lead in reinforcing our Party's political foundations, maintain absolute loyalty to the Party, have moral integrity, demonstrate a keen sense of responsibility, dare to confront difficulties, and be capable of overcoming obstacles. The CPC Central Committee has enacted rules on supervision and discipline enforcement and approved regulations on supervision and law enforcement, which discipline inspection and supervision organs must implement to the letter. Party committees at all levels must strengthen leadership and oversight over discipline inspection commissions and supervision commissions at their corresponding levels, to ensure the exercise of power in Party discipline and law enforcement is subject to supervision and constraint. Discipline inspection and supervision organs should set an example in enhancing self-supervision and self-discipline, raise awareness of the need to uphold the rule of law, follow procedures and produce evidence, carry out their work within their jurisdiction and in accordance with regulations and standard procedures, and launch greater efforts to strengthen the ranks of inspection and supervision personnel.

* Main points of the speech at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.


1 Distinctions should be made between the following cases: mistakes due to a lack of experience in pushing pilot reform programs, and deliberate violations of the law and Party discipline; mistakes due to trying out things not specifically banned by higher-level authorities, and violations of the law and Party discipline with full knowledge of the prohibitions; unintentional mistakes for the good of development, and violations of the law and Party discipline for personal gain. This was first raised by Xi Jinping in January 2016 at a study session on implementing the decisions of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, attended by officials at the provincial and ministerial level.

2 The four forms are: (1) criticism and self-criticism meetings and oral and written inquiries which are to be conducted regularly, to ensure that those who have committed minor misconduct are made to "flush and sweat", be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves; (2) light penalties and minor organizational adjustments to official positions, which are to be applied in the majority of cases; (3) heavy penalties and major adjustments to official positions, which are to be applied in a small number of cases; and (4) investigation and prosecution, which are to be undertaken in a very small number of cases involving serious violations of discipline and suspected criminal activity. 

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