International Department of the CPC Central Committee       BEIJING REVIEW
Saturday, December 30, 2017       MONTHLY
Toward greater transparency
 

On Novem ber 28, 2017, a set of regulations to promote transparency in Party affairs was reviewed and adopted at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. It was published on December 25 of the same year.


The Regulations of the Communist Party of China on Transparency in Party Affairs (Trial) was the first official document released since the 19th CPC National Congress in October 2017. They lay the groundwork for future rules for the disclosure of Party affairs and specify the definition, principles, content, procedures and approaches of the work.

 

Why is it necessary to promote transparency in Party affairs?

According to a statement issued after the meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee last November, transparency is “an important step” for the implementation of the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress and a must for the development of intraparty democracy and socialist democracy.

In recent years, the CPC has gone to great lengths exploring the path to transparency in Party affairs, having unveiled a number of documents such as the Regulations on Establishing a Spokesperson System for CPC Committees, the Regulations on Promoting Transparency in Party Affairs in Primary Organizations of the CPC and the Regulations on Establishing and Improving Mechanisms for Information Disclosure and Policy Interpretation.


Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the CPC has expedited its anti-corruption campaign. The disclosure of information about the fall of corrupt high-ranking officials and cases of violations of the CPC Central Committee’s eight-point frugality code has drawn people’s attention to the website of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), a clear demonstration of the efforts in promoting transparency in Party affairs.


In addition, an annual report released by the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee contains the numbers of Party members and Party organizations, as well as the makeup of Party organizations at every level.


Besides promoting transparency in some affairs within the scope of their duties, some Party departments, including the CCDI as well as the the organization and the international departments of the CPC Central Committee, have also held Open Day events for foreign diplomats, foreign media agencies and the public. During the 19th CPC National Congress, some delegates also met reporters from home and abroad.


However, a gap remains between the current level of transparency in Party affairs and the requirements of the new era. The scope of information to be disclosed is not broad enough, the procedures are not fully institutionalized, and the delivery to the public often comes across as rigid and constrained. Some Party organizations and departments have failed to disclose the information which concerns the people the most, but instead make public inappropriate information such as Party secrets.


Xu Yaotong, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, spoke highly of the new regulations on transparency in Party affairs. He said the move is of great significance in exercising full and strict governance over the Party, strengthening intraparty oversight, and harnessing the enthusiasm, initiative and creativity of the whole Party.

 

What is the transparency in Party affairs?

For a long time there have been divergences in both theories and practices over the connotation of transparency in Party affairs. The new CPC regulations for the first time give a clear and authoritative definition in this regard.

The regulations require Party organizations to disclose affairs concerning the Party leadership and Party building among the CPC members or outside the Party in accordance with rules. According to Xu,
the Party leadership and Party building constitute all Party affairs.


“Party affairs, primarily refer to the internal workings of the Party, are what Party organizations and Party members have the right to know about,” Xu explained. “Meanwhile, the CPC is the ruling party of China and its affairs and policies will undoubtedly influence national development.”


Promoting transparency is not limited within the CPC, Xu said. For example, the Party’s proposals for a five-year plan for national social and economic development will become government policy after due process.


Moreover, the disclosure of Party affairs can be either among the CPC members or outside the Party.


“Promoting transparency in Party affairs is different from making the work of government and judicial departments public. It has its own
characteristics,” Xu said.


“The scope and the sequence of disclosure will be different,” he said,“Some information will first be made public within the CPC, some will only be publicized within the Party, and some will only be informed to certain groups of Party members.”

What Party affairs should be made public and who will do it?

The regulations outline four key areas regarding what content is to be made public. Party organizations’ implementation of the Party’s basic theory, line and policy, their leadership over economic and social development, and efforts to strictly govern the Party and strengthen Party building shall be generally made public, along with information about the organizations’ functions and structure, said the regulations.

However, promoting transparency in Party affairs should not pose a threat to political, economic, military, cultural, social, homeland security and the safety of the people, the regulations added.

 

Zhen Xiaoying, a professor at the Central Institute of Socialism, said the four types of content offer a detailed description of all aspects of the
Party leadership and Party building.


“It is significant to disclose information about the Party leadership over economic and social development,” Zhen said. “Listening to Party members will pool the wisdom of the whole Party and the whole nation to help the Party improve its ability to govern and lead.”

To whom should Party affairs be open?
The regulations clarify the four scopes of recipients for the disclosure of Party affairs, namely the whole society, the whole Party, the concerned region, department or organization, and certain Party organizations, Party members and non-Party persons.

Zhen said each scope corresponds to certain conditions and the specifics are based on the responsibilities and powers of the Party organizations involved and the relevance of the Party affairs to be disclosed to the people in each context.

The regulations also require Party organizations to compile a catalogue of affairs to be made public, report the catalogue to a higher CPC committee, and disclose the related information accordingly.

“This relevant and workable rule is proceeding from the actual conditions while complying with the requirements of the regulations,” Zhen said.

How will Party affairs be made public?
To maintain the seriousness, standardization and timeliness of the work of promoting transparency in Party affairs, the regulations stipulate its procedures and approaches.

The regulations require Party organizations go through the four procedures of proposal, review, approval and implementation, as well as designate the responsible parties for each of them and list their duties.

In putting forward a proposal of disclosing Party affairs, a Party organization should conduct research on the content, scope of recipients, time and approach. In the approval procedure, the responsible Party organization is required to examine the work plan in accordance with its responsibilities and powers, and submit it to a higher authority for approval where necessary.

“This means the necessity and accuracy will all be strictly examined to not violate confidentiality, but fulfill Party members’ rights to know, to participate and to supervise”, said Zhang Zhiming, Director of the Department of Party Building at the School of the CPC Central Committee.


The regulations stipulate that the approaches for disclosure of Party affairs should be appropriate which suit the content to be disclosed and the scope of recipients. For information to be made public within the Party, the approaches include meetings, documents, reports and publication on local area networks. For major disclosures involving the release of information to the whole society, they can be made by way of communiqués, news briefings and interviews. They can also be publicized on newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations, news websites, social media platforms and billboards, with priority given to the Party’s newspapers and periodicals, television and radio stations and major news websites.

“Diversified ways of disclosure cater to the different needs of transparency among the CPC members or outside the Party, and they combine traditional and modern media,” said Ma Huaide, Vice President of China University of Political Science and Law.


To improve the authenticity and influence of the work of disclosing Party affairs, the CPC needs authoritative channels to disseminate authoritative voices.


The latest list of spokespersons for central and local leading organs has recently been released, including 20 spokespersons for 13 departments of the CPC Central Committee. Included among them for the first time is a ministerial-level official, who comes from the CCDI.


The regulations focus special attention on establishing a system of spokespersons. Commissions for discipline inspection and functional departments of the Party should deploy and improve such a system and hold news conferences on a regular basis. In localities where conditions allow, a unified platform could be built for disclosing Party affairs.

In order to avoid formalism, Party organizations are authorized by the regulations to assess the performance of their subordinates and the leading officials of these institutions. They should also annually report their work of promoting transparency in Party affairs to Party members and non-Party persons. The regulations also stipulate mechanisms to evaluate and inspect the implementation of the work.


Ma said these stipulations will help ensure departments involved thoroughly fulfill their responsibilities for promoting transparency in Party affairs and maintain consistency in the content, scope of recipients, procedures and approaches of the work.

(Edited translation based on Xinhua's version) 

 


The regulations state that three categories of organizations are responsible for disclosing Party affairs, including CPC organizations at central, local and primary levels, commissions for discipline inspection, and the CPC’s functional departments, representative agencies of Party committees, public institutions directly affiliated to Party committees and leading Party members’ groups.


The regulations also stipulate the specific content every organization should make public.


Central Party organizations should make public Party theory, line and policy, decisions and plans of Party and state governance, speeches and instructions by Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, and important meetings, activities and appointment and removal of officials by the CPC Central Committee, among others.

Local CPC organizations should disclose their major plans for social and economic development and their implementation, as well as their performance in fulfilling their responsibilities in full and strict governance over the Party.


Primary Party organizations should make public information about thei r implementation of the “Three Meetings, One Class” system for political education, general election, recruitment of Party members, results of democratic appraisal and management of regular membership dues.


CPC commissions for discipline inspection should publicize cases involving violations of the CPC Central Committee’s eight-point frugality code and punishments of officials who severely breach rules and neglect their duties.

The Party’s functional departments, representative agencies of Party committees, public institutions directly affiliated to Party committees and leading Party members’ groups should decide what to be disclosed according to the actualities of their respective situations.

According to Zhen, the three categories cover Party organizations at all levels. “The CPC Central Committee is ready to take the lead and fulfill its responsibilities, as its departments are included in the regulations.”

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