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Beijing Review Exclusive
Special> 18th CPC National Congress> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: November 19, 2012 NO. 47 NOVEMBER 22, 2012
New Guidelines
The CPC makes major changes to its Constitution while preserving core theories and values
By Zhao Zhikui

A batch of amendments to the Constitution of the Communist Party of China (CPC) were deliberated and adopted at the 18th CPC National Congress, which concluded in Beijing on November 14. Constitutional amendments formed a major part of the agenda for the congress.

Unlike the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the highest law of the nation, the CPC Constitution is a charter that guides Party organization and development.

Major changes

One of the major amendments is to establish the Scientific Outlook on Development as a guiding theory of the Party.

The Scientific Outlook on Development was first written into the Party Constitution during the 17th CPC National Congress in 2007, yet it had not been elevated into a guiding theory.

The new guidance puts people first, calls for comprehensive, balanced and sustainable development and serves as a long-

term guiding principle the Party must adhere to.

"The congress unanimously agreed that along with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents, the Scientific Outlook on Development should be made a part of the Party' s guide for action in the Party Constitution," a resolution of the 18th CPC National Congress said.

The amended Party Constitution has clarified the system, path and theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics. "The path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the way to reach the goal, the system of theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics offers a guide to action, and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics provides the fundamental guarantee. The three function as an integral whole in the great practice of building socialism with Chinese characteristics," it says.

Greater strategic importance has been attached to ecological progress in the amended Party Constitution. It states that the overall approach of the Party is to "promote economic, political, cultural social and ecological progress." Previously, promoting ecological progress was not listed as an overall approach. This marks a historic progress in the Party's governance philosophy.

The amended Party Constitution has put forth new requirements on Party building. It states that all Party members must focus on strengthening the Party's governance capacity, advanced nature and purity.

According to the amended Constitution, an important mission of the CPC is to rally and lead the people in completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, in advancing socialist modernization and in achieving the great renewal of the Chinese nation. Facing the new developments, the progress in the cause and the expectation of the people, the Party should comprehensively carry out the great new undertaking of Party building in an innovative reform-driven manner.

Keeping up with times

The CPC's Constitution outlines the Party's core theories, policies and views, as well as its organization system and institutional mechanisms. It provides overarching guidance to the Party's work and Party building. Overall, the Party Constitution remains stable, and changes have been made only when necessary and with Party consensus.

The current Party Constitution was first adopted at the 12th CPC National Congress in September 1982. It has been revised at several subsequent congresses to adapt to new trends and tasks.

The theory of building socialism with Chinese characteristics was enshrined in the Constitution at the 14th CPC National Congress in 1992, Deng Xiaoping Theory was added as a guiding theory for the CPC to stand next to Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought at the 15th CPC National Congress in 1997, and the important theory of Three Represents was written in at the 16th CPC National Congress in November 2002.

The CPC adheres to intra-Party democracy and values Party members' collective wisdom in revising the Constitution.

The 17th CPC Central Committee solicited suggestions on the agenda for the 18th CPC National Congress in January. Many localities and departments had proposed amending the Party Constitution, making it reflect new developments in the Party's theoretical innovation and practice, promote the CPC's work and strengthen its construction.

On September 4, the draft constitutional amendments were distributed to some Party members. Feedback from 4,015 members was incorporated into the draft, which was then unanimously agreed upon at the Seventh Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee that closed on November 4. The draft amendments were submitted to the 18th CPC National Congress for deliberation, where deputies also advanced many pieces of constructive advice.

The author is a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Email us at: yaobin@bjreview.com

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