Party’s gov­er­nance ad­vances with the times

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS -

The Com­mu­nist Party of China has al­ways sought to rein­vent it­self. Its lead­ers have contributed to the evo­lu­tion of the Party, mak­ing it more adap­tive to the chang­ing times. Ev­ery time the Party lead­er­ship per­ceives a chasm be­tween the lead­er­ship and the peo­ple, it makes suc­cess­ful in­ter­ven­tions, strength­en­ing its cre­den­tials as the benev­o­lent Party working to im­prove the lives of the peo­ple.

The re­form and open­ing-up launched by the Party un­der the prag­matic lead­er­ship of Deng Xiaop­ing al­most four decades ago have to be seen in this con­text.

How­ever, when the Party lead­er­ship re­al­ized that decades of fast-paced eco­nomic growth has led to in­come dis­par­ity and re­gional im­bal­ance, it de­cided to shift the fo­cus to so­cial gov­er­nance by “putting peo­ple first”. Un­der Xi Jin­ping’s lead­er­ship, the Party has once again rein­vented it­self by vow­ing to re­al­ize the Chi­nese Dream, or the re­ju­ve­na­tion of the Chi­nese na­tion.

The 21st cen­tury has also seen other de­vel­op­ments such as the spillover ef­fects of a gov­er­nance model based on GDP-cen­tric growth, China join­ing the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion and be­com­ing an in­te­gral part of glob­al­iza­tion, which have also posed chal­lenges. These chal­lenges have prompted the Party to em­bark on a new se­ries of re­forms and re­solve to strengthen its “gov­er­nance ca­pac­ity”.

To be­gin with, the CPC has been seek­ing author­ity from not only “ide­o­log­i­cal le­git­i­macy”, but also “em­pir­i­cal le­git­i­macy”. To this ef­fect, the Party has pro­moted a se­ries of re­forms that in­clude ad­min­is­tra­tive ac­count­abil­ity, di­vest­ing the State from pri­vate business, “putting peo­ple first” and “build­ing a har­mo­nious so­ci­ety”. More im­por­tantly, it has also launched a mas­sive anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign.

Sec­ond, the Party has pro­vided cer­tain “safety valves” for the peo­ple, al­low­ing them to con­stantly ne­go­ti­ate with the State and, in the process, ac­com­mo­dated new chal­lenges and groups. For in­stance, scal­ing back pub­lic wel­fare and other con­cerns stem­ming from “lim­ited govern­ment”, the Party has em­barked, ac­cord­ing to many ob­servers, on build­ing a “big Party, small State, great so­ci­ety”.

In or­der to es­tab­lish di­rect con­nect with so­ci­ety, the Party has adopted the in­no­va­tive idea of form­ing party or­ga­nized NGOs, or PONGOs, which are a hy­brid form of or­ga­ni­za­tion set up to en­cour­age the growth of pro­fes­sional char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions tak­ing on pub­lic wel­fare pro­vi­sions. Un­der the aus­pices of cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity pro­grams, the Party has also en­cour­aged its mem­bers to par­tic­i­pate in pub­lic ser­vices.

Third, in the realm of e-gov­er­nance, the Party has en­cour­aged cit­i­zens to voice their con­cerns. As a re­sult, the peo­ple are more will­ing to stake their claims, in or­der to ob­tain bet­ter ser­vices. This has fa­cil­i­tated new plat­forms on which the State and the peo­ple con­stantly ne­go­ti­ate with each other, which in turn has helped the Party to de­velop new gov­er­nance mech­a­nisms on Deng’s prin­ci­ple of “cross­ing the river by feel­ing the stones”.

In this re­gard, it should be men­tioned that both Chi­nese and foreign schol­ars have pointed out the grow­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion of the peo­ple with the abuse of power and “mis­gov­er­nance” by of­fi­cials at the local level. This has prompted the Party to take mea­sures to im­prove the qual­ity of local of­fi­cials and in­still in them the moral code of “a good com­mu­nist”. The Party has also de­vised mech­a­nisms such as the “cadre ex­change sys­tem” to com­bat lo­cal­ism and curb rent-seek­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Fourth, the CPC is ag­gres­sively pro­mot­ing the “rule of law”, which places the rul­ing party struc­ture along­side that of the State, which has sent a loud and clear mes­sage that vi­o­la­tion of the “rule of law” by even Party and govern­ment of­fi­cials will lead to se­vere pun­ish­ment.

Bor­row­ing a man­age­ment con­cept, the 17 th Na­tional Congress of the CPC de­clared the Party would mold it­self into a “learn­ing party”, and the Party lead­er­ship ex­horted its mem­bers to learn from suc­cess­ful ex­per­i­ments through pilot pro­grams adopted in­ter­nally.

And through the “mass line ap­proach” Party chief Xi Jin­ping has urged the mem­bers to in­tro­spect and serve the Chi­nese peo­ple and the na­tion.

As China moves ahead seek­ing to claim what it con­sid­ers its right­ful place in the world, a lot will de­pend on how the Party lead­er­ship han­dles the var­i­ous con­tra­dic­tions emerg­ing from its grow­ing in­te­gra­tion with the in­ter­na­tional sys­tem. China’s lead­er­ship at the global level will be de­ter­mined to a sig­nif­i­cant ex­tent on the way the Party de­vises gov­er­nance mech­a­nisms to boost its “gov­ern­ing ca­pac­ity”.

Its lead­ers have contributed to the evo­lu­tion of the Party, mak­ing it more adap­tive to the chang­ing times.

The au­thor is an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of Hu­man­i­ties and So­cial Sciences at the In­dian In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment, In­dore, In­dia.

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