The Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee was held in Beijing from October 24-27, 2016. It was presided over by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, delivered the keynote speech.
Two documents were deliberated and adopted at the session--the Guidelines on Political Life Within the Party Under the New Situation and the Intra-Party Supervision Regulations.
Intra-Party political life
Participants summarized the historical experiences of intra-Party political processes and analyzed the reality and tasks of strengthening Party discipline. The key to facilitating national governance is strengthened Party discipline. The Party should be strict with its members and exercise self-discipline first by regulating intra-Party political activities.
The Party Constitution must be followed in order to strengthen and standardize intra-Party political life under the new circumstances. Efforts should be made to enhance the Party's capability to purify, perfect, reform and upgrade itself, as well as improve its leadership and governance. Additionally, the Party must resist corruption and risks and avert degeneration. The CPC should safeguard the authority of the CPC Central Committee, ensure Party unity and maintain its advanced nature and purity so as to form a political biosphere with both centralism and democracy, discipline and freedom, and unity and individual creativity.
The main targets of supervision are agencies and officials that provide leadership at various levels. Senior officials are of key importance, particularly those with the CPC Central Committee, the Political Bureau and the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau. Senior officials, especially the central leadership, must take the lead in observing the Party Constitution and rules and obeying the Party's political discipline and rules. They must stay true to the Party’s mission and move forward. They must set an example for the Party and the whole society.
The primary task of intra-Party political life should be to consolidate faith in the Party’s ideals. All Party members should make faith in Marxism, socialism and Communism their lifelong pursuit while also bolstering confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Officials, especially senior ones, should enable ordinary Party members and the people to feel the strong power of ideals and faith by concrete actions.
Safeguarding the authority of the CPC Central Committee and executing Party orders concern the destiny of the Party and country as well as the fundamental interests of the people. These are also the objectives of strengthening and regulating intra-Party political life. The first step of upholding Party leadership is to safeguard the central, unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee. A leading core is vital to a country and political party. The entire Party should consciously maintain a high degree of consistency with the Central Committee in thoughts, politics and actions.
Strict discipline is an important guarantee for synergy of ideology and action within the Party and an important component of intra-Party political life. Party discipline must be tightened and given prominence and the Party must be governed with iron discipline. Every individual or organization is equal before discipline, and no one enjoys any privileges or exceptions.
The fundamental principle of wholeheartedly serving the people and improving ties between Party members and the public should be upheld as a fundamental requirement for strengthening and regulating intra-Party political life. Party members should solve the people’s substantial concerns and difficulties in order to be good public servants. The Party should consult the people on political affairs, their demands and solutions to problems. The Party mustn’t be complacent or overbearing toward the people, ignore their sufferings, or bully them by harming or encroaching upon their interests.
Democratic centralism is the fundamental organizational principle of the Party and an important institutional guarantee for healthy intra-Party political life. Sticking to collective leadership and combining it with individual responsibility are an important component of the democratic centralism principle. No organization or individual can transgress the principle under any circumstance or excuse.
Intra-Party democracy is vital to the CPC and is fundamental to a positive, healthy internal political environment. The Party's responsibilities concerning decision-making, implementation and supervision must be discharged in accordance with the democratic principles and procedures stipulated in the Party Constitution and regulation. No Party organization or individual can suppress or undermine intra-Party democracy, so that the implementation of the Party’s democratic rules and procedures is ensured. Party authorities at all levels must conduct thorough investigations and research and solicit opinions from various sides before making major decisions or arrangements.
Selecting and appointing officials correctly is the organizational guarantee for ensuring this approach to intra-Party political life. The officials selected and appointed must have both ability and political integrity, with integrity being the most important quality. Officials should be selected on merit regardless of their background. Good officials are those with a firm belief, serve the people, and are diligent, pragmatic, responsible and honest. Party organizations at various levels must prevent and correct unwholesome tendencies and bias in appointing officials.
Activities conducted by Party organizations are an important part of intra-Party political life, and a major way for the Party to educate, manage and supervise its members. All Party members and officials, especially senior leaders, must always bear in mind that their primary identity is being a Party member. The systems of Party branch member, Party branch committee and Party group meetings, Party classes, democratic life and organizational life meetings, face-to-face talks and democratic evaluation of Party members should be followed. Leading officials must heighten their awareness that they are part of the organization, and must report major issues in work and personal life to the organization according to procedures.
Criticism and self-criticism are key tools that will ensure that the Party maintains its good health. Criticism and self-criticism must be made according to Party rules by seeking truth from facts while putting aside personal feelings. Party members and officials must be strict in self-inspection, analyzing problems in depth and making rectifications meticulously. Leading Party organs and officials should listen to different views, while leading officials, particularly senior leaders, must take the lead in taking advice and be outspoken.
Supervision is a fundamental guarantee for exercising power properly, as well as a crucial measure for strengthening and regulating intra-Party political life. Supervision of leading officials must be strengthened so that there is no unrestricted power or unsupervised member within the Party. The mechanism to restrict and supervise the exercise of power must be improved so that power and responsibility are commensurable and those abusing power will be held accountable. Party organizations and leaders at all levels may not contravene the Constitution or laws; in particular, they may not override the law by fiat, place their power above the authority of the law, or bend the law for personal gain.
Creating a clean and honest political environment and resolutely opposing corruption are important tasks for strengthening and regulating intra-Party political life. Ideological and institutional defense lines against corruption must be consolidated so that officials dare not, are not able to and don’t want to be corrupt. Leading officials, especially senior leaders, must take the lead in practicing the core values of socialism, and be cultured, virtuous, honest and honorable.
No prohibited zone or exception will be allowed in intra-Party supervision. Party organizations at various levels should combine trust and incentives with strict supervision, so that Party officials will be responsible, their exercise of power will be supervised and they will be held accountable for irresponsibility. Intra-Party supervision should be carried out in accordance with regulations and by observing the principles of democratic centralism, top-down organizational supervision, democratic supervision from the bottom to the top, and peer review or critique.
The mission of intra-Party supervision is to ensure the Party Constitution, its regulations, and code of conduct are enforced effectively; to maintain Party unity and solidarity; and, primarily, to resolve Party leadership enervation and slackness in Party building and governance as well as slackening discipline. Supervision will ensure Party organizations perform their due duties, that all members play vanguard and exemplary roles, and that leading officials are loyal, clean and accountable. Intra-Party supervision should focus on Party members' observance of the Party Constitution and rules as well as the country's Constitution and laws, adherence to the principle of democratic centralism, and implementation of measures for comprehensive and strict governance of the Party including the eight-point rule of the CPC Central Committee. Party officials will also be supervised over their compliance with standards, integrity, self-discipline, impartial exercise of power, as well as their fulfillment of the tasks assigned by the CPC Central Committee and other higher Party organizations.
The main targets of supervision are the CPC agencies and officials that provide leadership, particularly senior officials. An intra-Party supervision system led by the CPC Central Committee should be established and improved, with Party committees (leading Party members’ groups) exercising overall supervision, disciplinary inspection organizations dedicated to supervision, the Party’s working departments supervising their respective areas, primary-level Party organizations carrying out routine supervision, and Party members exercising democratic supervision.
The Party committees at all levels should support and ensure that people’s congresses, governments, supervisory organs, judicial organs and other state organs at the same level exercise supervision over government departments and public employees. National and local committees of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conferences (CPPCC) should carry out democratic supervision according to the CPPCC Charter. Auditing agencies should exercise supervision by carrying out auditing according to the law. Non-ruling parties should also be encouraged to exercise supervision. Opinions, criticism and suggestions put forward by members of non-ruling parties or personages without party affiliation should be attached importance. The Party should welcome public oversight and take it seriously.