CPC 20th Congress: Only a Good Blacksmith can Forge Good Steel
R Arun Kumar
THE first group study session of the CPC Polit Bureau held on October 25 (two days after the conclusion of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China) deliberated on the regulations for strengthening and safeguarding the Party Central Committee's ‘centralised, unified leadership’, and the detailed rules for the implementation of the eight-point decision on work conduct.
The very next day (October 26), Xi Jinping led members of the Standing Committee of the Polit Bureau to visit Yan'an, an old revolutionary base in northwest China's Shaanxi Province. They visited the site where the Seventh CPC National Congress was held, a former residence of Mao Zedong, and an exhibition at the Yan'an Revolutionary Memorial Hall, which features the history of the 13 years during which the CPC Central Committee was based in Yan'an. This is meant to clearly demonstrate what the Party Congress means by the statement, ‘standing by the founding principles of the Party’ and retaining the ‘fighting spirit and fighting ability’ of the Party.
The report presented to the 20th Congress emphasised on Party building. It explicitly noted that only through a strong Party can China achieve its stated objectives and build a vibrant, socialist country. “We should take the Party Constitution as our fundamental guide and give full play to the core role of democratic centralism in order to improve the framework of Party regulations, increase their authority, and fully enforce them”. It was stated that mechanisms for upholding truth, correcting errors, uncovering problems, and remedying failings will be put in place to strengthen the Party.
The report noted the various weaknesses that exist within the Party. “Inside the Party, there were many issues with respect to upholding the Party’s leadership, including a lack of clear understanding and effective action as well as a slide toward weak, hollow, and watered-down Party leadership in practice. Some Party members and officials were wavering in their political conviction. Despite repeated warnings, pointless formalities, bureaucratism, hedonism, and extravagance persisted in some localities and departments. Privilege-seeking mindsets and practices posed a serious problem, and some deeply shocking cases of corruption had been uncovered”.
These weaknesses were continuing in spite of the constant efforts to eliminate them. The consistent efforts made by the CPC to cleanse the Party of corrupt and inefficient cadre yielded certain results. The report noted that it is because of such efforts that unhealthy tendencies that had long gone unchecked have been reversed, and ‘deep-seated problems that had plagued for years have been remedied’. “Driven by a strong sense of mission, we have resolved to ‘offend a few thousand rather than fail 1.4 billion’ and to clear our Party of all its ills...we have used a combination of measures to ‘take out tigers’, ‘swat flies’, and ‘hunt down foxes’, punishing corrupt officials of all types...All this has helped remove serious hidden dangers in the Party, the country, and the military and ensured that the power granted to us by the Party and the people is always exercised in the interests of the people”.
An important measure that was announced in the Congress is ‘self-reform’. Self-reform is modeled on the lines of the rectification campaign that was extensively carried out in the earlier years of the CPC. “Communists should always be ready for self-reform and surmount all the obstacles that come in their path of socialist construction”. It is only through this process, Xi Jinping vouched that the Party would be able to fight corruption, which is necessary ‘as long as the conditions and breeding grounds for it exist’.
Self-reform will be carried by providing education and guidance aimed at strengthening the vigilance of Party members and officials so that they have ‘no desire to engage in corruption and live and work with honesty and integrity’. Through self-reform, efforts would be made to develop inner strength among the members so that they would never be corrupted by ‘wealth or power, never deviate from principle even in poverty or humble positions and never yield to the threat of force’.
As the largest Marxist governing party in the world, the CPC noted that it should always stay alert and determined to tackle the special challenges it faces, in order to sustain people’s support and consolidate its position as the ‘long-term governing party’. This is one of the important lessons that the CPC has learned from the collapse of Soviet Union and the setback to socialism in East European countries. The CPC wants to ride through this cycle of ‘rise and fall’ and remain firm in the path of socialism.
“Through painstaking efforts, the Party has found a second answer to the question of how to escape the historical cycle of rise and fall. The answer is self-reform. We have significantly boosted the Party’s ability to purify, improve, renew, and excel itself, addressed the problem of lax and weak self-governance in Party organisations at the root, and steadily fostered and developed a political atmosphere of integrity within the Party. By doing so, we have ensured that the Party will never change its nature, its conviction, or its character”.
This would be possible only when the Party maintains close relations with the people and is sensitive in addressing their concerns. Observing that good conduct is critical to the survival of a governing party, the report urges Party members to carry forward the proud traditions of the Party. “We must foster a firmer sense of purpose, fortitude, and self-belief in the whole Party and the Chinese people...We must meet obstacles and difficulties head on, ensure both development and security, and dig deep to surmount the difficulties and challenges on the road ahead”. It called upon the Party to harness its indomitable fighting spirit ‘to open up new horizons for our cause’ – socialism.
The report notes that self-reform cannot be a one-time campaign, rather, it is a continuous process. “All of us in the Party must bear in mind that full and rigorous self-governance is an unceasing endeavor and that self-reform is a journey to which there is no end. We must never slacken our efforts and never allow ourselves to become weary or beaten”. All the Party members by improving their conduct and performance should use their ‘own transformation to steer social transformation’.
The report states that whatever changes it intends to initiate within the Party to strengthen its organisational structure would start from the top. “We will improve the Central Committee’s decision-making, deliberative, and coordinating institutions, so as to strengthen its centralised, unified leadership over major initiatives...In strengthening the Party politically, we will enforce strict political discipline and rules, ensure that Party committees at all levels fully assume their principal responsibilities, and enhance the political judgment, understanding, and implementation of Party organisations and Party officials at all levels”.
The report wants the entire Party to uphold the Party Central Committee’s authority and its ‘centralised, unified leadership’. It vows to improve the ‘leadership systems by which the Party exercises its overall leadership and coordinates the efforts of all sides’. “This will ensure that all Party members closely follow the Central Committee in terms of political stance, orientation, principles, and path”.
The Congress also decided to reform and develop trade unions, Communist Youth League organisations, women’s federations, and other people’s organisations, so that they effectively play their role as ‘bridges connecting the Party and the people’.
Stating that political commitment would be the primary criterion for selection of officials, it mentions the necessity to develop industrial workers, farmers, intellectuals, youth and women as members and into leadership positions. “It is of critical importance to the Party’s future that we have qualified successors to carry forward our cause. With this in mind, we will improve the regular working mechanisms for training and selecting promising young officials. We should encourage young officials to work and gain experience in local communities and areas where conditions are harsh, and we should make such assignments an important part of their training. We will attach importance to cultivating and selecting female officials and give full play to their important role. We will also attach importance to cultivating and appointing officials from ethnic minorities and carry out work related to non-Party officials in a well-coordinated way. We will ensure that retired officials are well taken care of”.
The report notes that the Party should be caring and also strict towards its cadre. Cadres should be encouraged to be bold to take responsibilities and demonstrate enterprise in their work. The Party will strengthen the ability of its cadre by tempering them through practice, giving professional training, honing their skills by assigning them major tasks, building their fighting spirit, ability to prevent risks, rise to challenges, and withstand pressure. It says that only the competent should be elevated, the outstanding rewarded, while the mediocre are demoted and the incompetent are dismissed.
The report decided to make sure that Party leadership in State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and financial firms is strengthened, Party building is improved in mixed-ownership and non-public enterprises, trade associations, academic societies, chambers of commerce, new types of economic and social organisations and among groups in new forms of employment.
Along with maintaining inner-Party democracy and the rights of Party members, it was also decided to maintain the quality of the Party. So the Party would ‘earnestly and prudently handle Party members who do not measure up to standards so as to preserve our Party membership’s advanced nature and integrity’.
Guided by the belief that only a good blacksmith can forge good steel, the CPC Congress resolved to strengthen the Party, its leadership from top to bottom in order to march ahead in the path of socialism, upholding the banner of Marxism.
The Congress elected a new CPC Central Committee, with 205 members, 171 alternate members, and a new CCDI consisting of 133 members. The CC elected a seven-member Standing Committee of the Polit Bureau and a 24-member Polit Bureau. The newly elected Central Committee that met on October 23, re-elected Xi Jinping as the general secretary of the CPC and also as the chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission.
In his concluding speech, Xi noted that the CPC has courage to fight and the mettle to win. “We are fully confident and capable of creating new and even greater miracles on the new journey of the new era – miracles that will amaze the world”. Stating that the ‘times are calling’and ‘the people are expecting us to deliver’, Xi Jinping called upon the entire Party to serve the people wholeheartedly, maintain a people-centered mindset, and carry out the mass line. “We must follow the principle of ‘from the people, to the people’, maintain a close bond with the people, and accept their criticism and oversight. We must breathe the same air as the people, share the same future, and stay truly connected to them”.
He exhorted the young people to steadfastly follow the Party and its guidance, “aim high but stay grounded, and dare to think big and take action but make sure you can deliver. You should strive to be the new era’s great young generation, a generation with ideals, a sense of responsibility, grit, and dedication”.
He concluded by stating that empty talk will do nothing and only solid work will make the country flourish. “Let us maintain firm confidence, unite as one, and forge ahead with resolve. And let us strive in unity to build a modern socialist country in all respects and advance national rejuvenation on all fronts”.
Addressing the media on October 23, Xi Jinping stated that this Congress was a Congress of ‘holding the banner high, pooling the strength, and promoting solidarity and dedication’.
Let us wish the CPC all the best in its endeavour to construct a socialist society in China.