Focus of Sixth Plenum on Party discipline
Supervision must be very strict Intensify drive against graft Expose duality of officials Turning point in Party history Steps toward clean governance Explain facts of transition Road ahead full of challenges Newconsensus on reform needed
Editor’s note: The politically significant four-day Sixth Plenum of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee ended on Thursday, highlighting the challenges the Party faces and how it intends to strengthen strict Party governance. Following are the views of media outlets and commentators on the plenum:
The Sixth Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee, held on Oct 24-27, reflected the country’s top leadership’s determination to strictly regulate Party members, says an opinion article in Qiushi magazine, adding that the ongoing crackdown on corruption will become a permanent measure. Excerpts:
The ongoing anti-corruption campaign shows the top leadership’s firm determination to eliminate corrupt practices from politics. But the mission cannot be achieved overnight, because corruption has existed in political systems for thousands of years. The top leadership needs to make continuous and hard efforts to root out corruption from the political field. It is exactly what the Sixth Plenum focused on.
The top leadership will take comprehensive steps, instead of a single measure, to strengthen Party discipline. Since the latest nation-wide anti-corruption campaign was launched in 2012, multiple measures, including regulating power, strengthening officials’ political education and promoting transparency, have been taken in the fight against corruption. In the future, these measures will become more comprehensive and cohesive.
Also, the measures will become a permanent, as opposed to temporary, course of action. Some call the current anti-corruption efforts “a storm”, but the storm will never pass. The measures may be rather strict, but they are necessary. Only with the firm determination can the Party root out corruption from society and ensure the longterm prosperity of the nation.
China has made unprecedented progress on the economic and social fronts, but the wealth gap that has emerged poses a challenge to the Communist Party of China in its fight against corruption, says Gong Yun, a researcher inMarxism at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in an article on gmw.cn. Excerpts:
Strict discipline has always distinguished the CPC from all other political parties. It was strict discipline and its stern implementation that helped the Party lead the revolution in 1949 and achieve rapid economic development over the past more than three decades.
China has been building a socialist market economy, which is an unprecedented endeavor. The goal is glorious, but because of the new conditions today, the Party faces a huge challenge in strictly regulating its members, especially officials at various levels who wield power.
Given the economic prosperity of the country, Party officials may fall prey to the lure of the lucre, especially when bribes in millions of yuan can be made.
Besides, some businesspeople earn astronomical amounts of money. They, along with those white-collar workers with huge incomes, have further widened the wealth gap in society. These facts, too, could influence Party officials to trade power for money.
The solution to this problem lies in strengthening Party discipline. So it is time for the Party to reiterate the importance of political discipline to its members. For example, Party discipline requires various levels of Party organizations to hold regular meetings so that they can point out each other’s mistakes. But in some places such meetings have become mutual-praise gatherings. The good, old tradition has to be re-emphasized to let every Party member realize the importance of discipline.
The “depravation dairies” of many senior corrupt officials highlighted in the recently aired eight-part documentary, Corruption Fight is Always Underway, add weight to the fact that there is no haven for the corrupt, says Xinhua News Agency. Excerpts:
There is no “safe haven” for criminals. That some disgraced officials have eventually turned themselves in and regretted fleeing the country to escape punishments underscores this vital point.
They might have assumed that fleeing to a foreign country would help them get away with their misdeeds. But their fantasy has proved wrong. In his confession, Wang Guoqiang, a former top official in Fengcheng, Northeast China’s Liaoning province, described his stay in the United States as a corrupt outlaw as “desperate”, because he feared being caught whenever he was in a public place. He turned himself in two years after he fled in 2012.
Other interviewed corrupt officials who were once at large narrated stories similar toWang’s. Constant fear and guilt aside, those who are yet to be caught have more reasons to face due punishments, as China doubles its efforts to get the corrupt fugitives repatriated by intensifying its cooperation with other countries to end crossborder crimes and corruption.
Holding corrupt officials accountable is in the interest of both China and the international community. The Chinese government’s global manhunt for fugitives is being supported by an increasing number of countries, because none of them would like to be called a haven for criminals.
And officials should remember, no one is above the law however high his or her rank is.
The Sixth Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee has injected fresh momentum into the country’s anti-corruption campaign in the context of intra-Party supervision, says Li Yongzhong, former vicepresident of the Chinese Academy of Discipline Inspection and Supervision, in an article published on news.ifeng.com. Excerpts:
The plenum approved two documents on the norms of political life within the Party and intra-Party supervision, in order to ensure power wielded by officials is indeed put in the institutional cage.
Power, without checks, leads to corruption. In other words, no matter how many corrupt officials are arrested and punished, more will emerge unless the power structure and personnel management system are overhauled.
That the anti-corruption campaign has had a “freezing impact” on many officials and made them “lazy” at work may be just rumors. But more measures targeting “lazy” workers should be taken as part of the anti-corruption campaign, says a commentary on the website of the overseas edition of People’s Daily. Excerpts:
The vow of the Sixth Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee to strengthen Party governance and its review of two important documents aimed at regulating intraParty discipline symbolize the fight against corruption launched by the Party after its 18th National Congress in late 2012. The campaign has entered the stage of institution building, and the Party is honoring its commitment to gradually shift the focus from the “surface” to the “roots” to eliminate corruption from society.
While vigorously advancing the anti-corruption campaign, the top authorities have also paid great attention to some officials’ “inaction”. InMay, commenting on the lack of enthusiasm among some officials toward work, top leader Xi Jinping said the matter was of extreme importance and was yet to be solved. Premier Li Keqiang, too, has said that government officials’ failure to fulfill their duties is a kind of corruption.
For some officials, “inaction” is the result of their lack of motivation to perform their duties that earlier could fetch them some illegal benefits. Other officials have chosen “inaction” to passively oppose the anti-corruption campaign.
Either way, such officials have shown they would rather indulge in corruption to make illicit gains, which proves the soil that breeds corruption has not been cleansed.
Since some officials have chosen to be “lazy” to avoid committing “mistakes” and being caught in the act, the authorities should strengthen the anti-corruption measures to identify the guilty and bring them to book. And this is precisely what the Sixth Plenum has vowed to do to regulate intra-Party political life and strengthen intra-Party supervision.
Corruption Fight is Always Underway, a documentary that was aired one week before the Sixth Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee, reveals the other side of corrupt officials, says a commentary in China Youth Daily. Excerpts:
While they held important positions, corrupt officials were either using emotional articulation or were pretending to be self-righteous to prove their honesty. Even in the new era of strict Party governance, some corrupt officials still wear the mask of honesty and responsibility.
Although they do not receive special training, some officials often belie their sense of superiority through their oral and written expressions while addressing subordinates or grassroots people. The same officials, however, behave differently in front of their superiors; they become the epitome of humility.
Some people climb up the career ladder by talking big. How do such people succeed in their endeavor? Officials have summed up their own experiences and their road to success: not speaking the truth. So the higher authorities should take measures to prevent such officials from using falsity and clichés, and encourage people to speak up.
At important events, corrupt officials surprisingly speak like ordinary people, rarely veering from the truth. The need is to expose such officials and bring them to book.
The implications of the Sixth Plenum on China’s political future will be huge, says ChannelNews Asia, an English language Asian TVNews channel based in Singapore. Excerpts:
The Sixth Plenum of the CPC Central Committee has traditionally focused on reinforcing the Party’s political ideology. At the just-concluded Sixth Plenum, top leader Xi Jinping sought to have his governing philosophy written into Party documents.
Xi has vowed to remove corrupt officials from the Party since his first day in office, and his anti-corruption campaign has accounted for tens of thousands of corrupt officials. The crackdown has been so severe that it has caused a dramatic drop in luxury spending. As such, the Sixth Plenum will make sure Xi’s campaign to clean up the Party’s rank and file will be remembered as a turning point in the Party’s history.
The passage of two documents by the Sixth Plenum aimed at regulating intraParty political life and strengthening intraParty supervision will help further improve Party regulations, facilitate the Party to advance “stricter governance” and consolidate its campaign to root out corruption, says a report on Singapore-based zaobao.com. Excerpts:
Immediately after taking office, top leader Xi Jinping launched an unprecedented campaign against corruption, ensnaring “tigers” (corrupt senior officials) such as former security chief Zhou Yongkang, former vice-chairmen of the CentralMilitary Commission Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, former director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee Ling Jihua, and many other minister- and province-level officials. But no matter how many “tigers” and “flies” (corrupt lower-level officials) are brought down, corruption cannot be rooted out of society unless the soil breeding corruption is cleansed.
Wang Qishan, chief of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Party’s top anti-corruption body, said in 2013 that Party measures aimed at eliminating corruption need time to prove effective. So, in its relentless campaign to trap “tigers”, the Party has also issued several ordinances aimed at promoting clean governance.
After almost four years of efforts, bribetaking by bureaucrats has considerably reduced, as very few officials now dare to indulge in corrupt practices. This remarkable achievement of the country’s leadership has also won public support.
Xi has said the top leadership will now restrain the use of power by officials by putting power in the “cage of institution”, in order to establish a mechanism to prevent corruption.
The Sixth Plenum, bringing senior officials including the members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and the Political Bureau Sanding Committee under supervision, is a big key step toward building a comprehensive corruption-preventative mechanism.
What could the Sixth Plenum come up with regard to policy? Raising this question before the plenum, The Telegraph focused on its possible impact on economy. Excerpts:
Statemediahave said “the comprehensive andstrictmanagementof theParty” will be the focus, suggesting thatXi Jinping will use the plenumto further enforce his wide-ranging waroncorruption. China’s top leader has consolidated his power on the back of the campaign, and will seek to strengthen his hand further with a new “intra-Party supervision regulation”. Experts also believe officials would discuss changes in the Chinese economy which have surfaced following the global slowdown. “China is clearly in a transition moment,” said Kerry Brown, a former British diplomat in China. “But people want to know to what they are transiting. So for policy, there needs to be something on the issues of slower growth in the rest of the world and how China can start relying more on its own internal sources of growth, what it is doing about inequality, and how it intends to manage the transition to a middle income country.” International investors were deeply concerned about the outcomes of the four-day Sixth Plenum and their impact on the economy in the next five years as China seeks to depend much more on domestic consumption for growth amid concerns over its debt sustainability, said a report on cnbc.com. Excerpts:
Chong Ja Ian, a professor of political science at the National University of Singapore, said observers are watching for the political dynamics at play, including movements in the management of State-owned enterprises and how the central authorities deal with local government debt.
Officially, the Sixth Plenum focused on Party discipline. The Chinese government ramped up support for its anti-corruption movement in the run-up to this year’s plenum, with a reality TV series being aired last week — the series chronicled sensational lifestyles of corrupt officials who have since fallen from grace and their confessions. Highlights include dedicated servants for pets (especially, a tortoise) and jade jewelry worth millions of dollars.
“It’s been the biggest, the most comprehensive, the most far-reaching anti-corruption campaign we’ve seen in China in modern times. It’s going to be more of the same; they are just going to put the foot on the accelerator more,” said Geoff Raby, a former Australian ambassador to China, who is now the chairman and chief executive of his namesake Beijing-based business advisory.
The leadership headed by Party chief Xi Jinping has a lot of challenges ahead, says a report of Associated Press. Excerpts:
The Sixth Plenum was held amid reports that Xi Jinping had become the most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping in China. Yet Xi’s domestic challenges are legion, ranging from slowing economic growth to massive layoffs in an effort to reduce industrial overcapacity. The State sector still plays an outsize role in the economy, debt is soaring and the potentially volatile wealth gap continues to widen.
The past year has seen a number of retired and serving Party big-wigs fall, including former top general Guo Boxiong. That followed the downfall earlier… of powerful officials, including former Political Bureau Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang. And more than 1 million of the Party’s 88 million members have been meted out punishments since 2013, according to the Party corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
Top leader Xi Jinping has to carry forward the reform, and the world will have to respond accordingly, said wsj.com. Excerpts:
As China’s capacity for growth declines, monetary and fiscal stimulus have created asset bubbles. Real-estate prices in major cities have soared in the past year, and new mortgage lending has climbed by 111 percent. The frenzied buying of housing units is increasing social tension by making it harder for middleclass families to afford a home. As with the stock market in 2015, investors will blame the inevitable correction on the government.
Xi inherited many problems, including rising debts and slowing economic growth. The best path forward (for him) would be to build a new consensus for reform.