Innovative Steps at Party Building to Achieve the Chinese Dream -II
ENSURING HARMONY BETWEEN PARTY AND PEOPLE
During the revolutionary period, the CPC had close links with the masses since it was involved in a life-and-death struggle. But now it is the ruling Party, so there is the danger that it may consider itself above society. Hence the CPC has consciously decided on a mass line to strengthen its links and ensure harmony between the Party and the people.
Party leaders, beginning with Polit Bureau members, have taken the lead. The General Secretary has issued an eight point guideline for the 25 PB members. Some of them are as follows: The number of officials accompanying the leaders when travelling abroad has been decreased. Traffic will not be controlled or blocked for the leaders. No lavish arrangements of any kind will be made for them. These rules will apply to all without exception.
Leaders at the Central Committee level have to work at the grassroots for one month every year. Ministerial level comrades have also to do so. The leaders will stay, eat and work with the masses. This has been decided to strengthen the touch with the masses. One of the CPC leaders told us candidly, “Fidel Castro has said that if Communist Party members can be an example for the people, socialism will be achieved. We have yet to achieve that in China.”
The leadership of the CPC has decided that the Party organisation has to improve its capacities for State governance and for serving the people. For this, it has to constantly improve its working style. Good working style means good connections with the people.
The CPC leaders should update their knowledge, professional skills, keep abreast of the times and apply Marxist-Leninist principles in their daily life. They must serve the people wholeheartedly. The CPC draws its strength from the people. Hence CPC cadres should remain committed to serving the people and promoting their well being. The Party is trying to strengthen the participation of the people in the democratic process.
The 18th Party Congress of the CPC held in 2012 has directed all Party branches to build a service-oriented Party organisation. It has given equal emphasis on Party building and economic development. It has stressed on the mass line approach and building harmonious relations between the Party and the masses. Party members have been directed to give special emphasis on honesty, discipline and developing a Communist character.
The thrust given is that all the Party branches should be service-oriented. The Party offices in the villages have been digitally upgraded and equipped with e-Party affairs, e-municipal/county affairs and e-commerce. All Party information - Party policies, guidelines, speeches of leaders, etc. is available digitally. National and local level Party building activities are uploaded too. Grassroots activities of the Party organisation are on the net.
The Party offices also have all the administrative and governmental information, including municipal/county services required by the common population. People’s needs are regularly surveyed and uploaded so that the Party branch can understand their aspirations. This is also done so that the higher level Party leadership is aware of the needs of the people. Municipal/county expenditures are put online so that they can be examined by the public.
There are Party branches in all government departments at all levels. If any government agency is not doing its work properly, the people can complain to the Party committee in the respective department, so that it can intervene. Mass fronts also help in this task. The people are helped by Party offices to solve problems with the administration, like getting admissions to educational institutions, schemes for agriculture and so on.
How do people monitor the Party members? They can report to the disciplinary committee or send their complaints by post or emails. There is a petition centre to collect complaints from the people. Sometimes complaints are published in the media. The CPC takes note of these complaints and sends a committee to investigate. If it is a violation of Party discipline, due Party action is taken. If any national law is violated, due judicial process is followed.
EMPHASISING PARTY IDEOLOGY
Unity in the Party must be based on ideology. The CPC emphasises unification in thinking and on constantly adapting the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought-Deng Xiaoping Theory to Chinese conditions, without adopting a dogmatic approach.
The delegation was told about the elaborate system of Party education and what the CPC is doing to strengthen it further. Regular Party schools for all levels of the Party membership are conducted. There are seven central level Party schools for ministerial level training. In the discussions at various places, the delegation was frankly told about the concerns that the CPC had and how it was dealing with them.
The CPC has set up three China Executive Leadership Academies for training the higher level leadership – CELAJ (J for Jinggangshang, which we had the pleasure to learn at for two days), CELAP (Pudong) and CELAY (Yanan). They are funded by the central government and supervised by the Organisation Department of the CPC Central Committee. The Chancellor of the Academy is a Polit Bureau member. Only high to middle level cadres like Party leaders, ministers and government officials, PSU and corporate managers, military officers, specialists and academics are trained at this Academy. CPC central committee members undergo training for improvement in cadre abilities. Communist culture is taught there.
CELAJ is a training base conducting education in various fields. More than 200 courses are taught here. The syllabus consists of various subjects related to Marxism, Party and revolutionary history, Party building, scientific understanding and various aspects of the current situation and problems in China. Trainees are updated on different aspects of the policies and decisions of the Party. Diverse methods of teaching are used. Sector-wise training courses and seminars are held which include discussions, field visits and interactions with people. The teaching faculty consists of full time teachers. Along with teachers of the Academy, speakers are invited from other places too to take lectures.
Training programmes are conducted for the rank and file of the Party. They include lectures on improvement in work style and strengthening grassroots interventions. The syllabus includes - 1. What is the CPC? 2. Working wholeheartedly for the people, 3. Functioning of leaders in a responsible manner, 4. Party discipline and preventing corruption.
STREAMLINING THE PARTY ORGANISATION
There is emphasis on grassroots level functioning to strengthen the CPC. The steps taken to build the Party organisation at the grassroots level are as follows: 1. Emphasis is laid on the training of the Party leadership. Comrades who have expertise in management and the support of the Party members and people are selected for promotion; 2. Regular training sessions are held to improve the working of the Party; 3. Comrades from higher committees regularly visit the village/community and interact with the people to assess the performance of the Party members. They are promoted according to these assessments. 4. Special efforts are taken to improve the management and accountability systems within the Party. The use of internet and information technology for carrying out Party tasks is encouraged. Regular reading of Party papers and journals is compulsory. 5. The secretary is held accountable if the branch does not function well. The higher committee regularly assesses the performance and the branch is criticised if its functioning is not proper. 6. There is reservation for women in the Party committees at every level, even in promotions.
There is a strict criterion for entry and exit of Party members. If a Party member is inactive for six months and does not submit the Party levy, he/she is not qualified to remain in the Party and strict action is taken. The Party monthly levy is 0.5 to 1 percent of the income. If the levy is not paid for six months, it is considered as voluntary exit of the party member.
The entry system for the CPC has been tightened up. Credentials and capabilities of Party members are strictly assessed. At the time of the 17th Party congress, 2 million new recruits were admitted to the Party annually. By the 18th Party congress it came down to 1 million. And in 2015, only 9.6 lakh new members were recruited in the Party. The strength of the Party lies in the quality of its membership. A CPC leader told us, “We have drawn lessons from the Soviet Communist Party. They won power when they had a membership of 2 million, but they lost power in spite of a membership of 20 million!”
Special efforts are made to develop outstanding cadres. While promoting cadres, emphasis is also placed on their moral values. Talent is now not a problem for the CPC. A large number of Party members are graduates and have had a high level of education. But unless they have a commitment to Communist principles and are accountable, they will not be promoted. Party members are given time to improve. The Party structure is being reformed for democratic functioning. The General Secretary also attends grassroots meetings whenever possible. Interactions between the higher and lower level committees are held. This helps the leadership to understand the problems faced by the Party and the people.
There was discontent among the people due to favouritism, bureaucratism and extravagant life styles of some Party leaders. It took one year to address these problems. Now whenever a problem appears, it is rectified immediately. Every Party member has to give a written report to the Party. If more than 30 percent of the Party members of the committee do not approve of the personal report of the concerned comrade, then he/she will be removed from his post. All Party members have to pass this test.
COMBATING CORRUPTION, ENFORCING DISCIPLINE
Serious efforts are being made by the CPC to fight corruption. In three years from 2013 to 2015, 153 ministerial level Party leaders have been brought to justice. 70 comrades were investigated in 2015 and the corrupt ones were fired. Some corrupt persons have fled the country. Now the CPC is asking the USA, Canada etc to extradite their corrupt officials. Any corrupt activity is recorded and put up online by the public. Many CPC leaders have lost their positions because of this exposure. The Chinese people are now a major force in the Party’s fight against corruption. Expelled comrades are generally not taken back in the Party.
Opening up has helped to bring about prosperity, but it has also posed some difficulties. There was laxity in the Party for a certain period. Some high ranking Party leaders became loose cannons and did whatever they wanted. Some CPC leaders were involved in corruption cases in the military too. If strict steps had not been taken, it would have weakened the Party and put the nation in crisis. Many high ranking officials, including some Polit Bureau and Standing Committee members, were expelled and publicly rebuked.
From 2016, a system has been set up to check the work of Party members. By 2020-2021, it will be fully in place. By January 31 every year, all Party leaders have to report their personal, family and children’s properties to the CPC. If the information is found to be untrue, investigation is conducted and the concerned Party leader is removed from office. The newly promoted Party leaders too have to report their properties. All this information is put up on the Party website. Supervision of cadres is done by the Organisation Department.
Until the year 2000, no capitalists were admitted into the Party. But after opening up, more entrepreneurs are coming up. The question before the Party was how to include them in the political process. The CPC decided “to include them and control them”. So the progressive sections amongst them are enrolled in the Party. Their behaviour should conform to Party discipline. Some capitalists tried to influence and corrupt some Party leaders for private gains. Some capitalists used money to buy votes to be elected in committees at various levels. A majority of the leaders against whom actions were taken, had relations with these capitalists. A capitalist is not allowed to hold any high level post in the Party. Where this move of the CPC of enrolling capitalists in the Party will lead, will have to be carefully assessed.
The CPC is trying to tackle the issue of corruption to build a clean Party and a clean Government. A seven point guideline to be followed by Party members has been formulated for the systematic building of a clean Party: 1. Intensive training of CPC members is carried out with stress on honesty, discipline and Communist character. 2. Attending Party classes is compulsory. 3. The main person responsible for building a clean Party is the Party secretary at all levels. 3. Lavishness and extravagance must be avoided and frugality advocated. Party members can invite only a certain number of people for weddings and funerals. 4. Bureaucratism must be discouraged. 5. Intra-Party supervision must be strengthened. 6. The disciplinary committee will function as the watchdog. 7. The people will also monitor the Party functioning at all levels. All this is leading to an improvement in the CPC at all levels.
We returned from China, deeply impressed with its phenomenal advance, and fired with even greater determination to struggle to build a socialist alternative in our own country.