Song Tao, Luo Huining sit for a Q&A session during the seminar, hosted by Guo Yezhou, Vice Minister of IDCPC
The third thematic seminar of the Stories of the Communist Party of China (CPC) series focusing on party-building, with “Building a Well-disciplined Party in All Aspects: The Practice of Shanxi” as its theme, was held in Beijing on June 30.
Song Tao, Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee (IDCPC)
Luo Huining, Secretary of the CPC Shanxi Provincial Committee
Song Tao, Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee (IDCPC), Luo Huining, Secretary of the CPC Shanxi Provincial Committee, and representatives from related central government departments attended the seminar hosted by Guo Yezhou, Vice Minister of IDCPC.
The attendees also included political party leaders, ambassadors and representatives from various countries, representatives from related institutions, and a number of China Study researchers. About 400 guests participated in this event.
The seminar had a thematic briefing and two sub-seminars. The two sub-seminars presented selection of officials and the campaign known as Shanxi’s Ten Thousand Party Cadres on Assistance to Enterprises.
The first seminar in May had focused on poverty alleviation. The second in June was on supply-side reform.
The governance of the Party is a hot topic globally. In his inaugural speech, Song noted that building a well-disciplined Party in all aspects is an essential part of President Xi Jinping’s new governance ideas and strategies, as well as a common concern of parties around the world.
The CPC has made achievements in strengthening Party discipline. In December 2011, in a news briefing at the closure of the 18th CPC National Congress, President Xi said the CPC was confronted with certain problems among some of its cadres, namely “corruption, being alienated from the people, formalism, and bureaucratism.”
In January 2017, he said that with joint efforts of members, the CPC had started an overwhelming anti-corruption trend and accumulated positive energy in its course.
Song said the latest progress was Xi’s announcement on his trip to Shanxi Province that Party committees at all levels should aim at transforming their achievements in strengthening Party discipline into a consistent momentum for reform and development.
How did the CPC make such remarkable progress in only four years? This is a frequently asked question by political party leaders worldwide. According to Song, to tackle the problems, the CPC took measures to improve intra-party laws and regulations, implementing a sound supervision and balance system, and building an effective error-correction mechanism.
It also undertook a mass-line educational practice, pushing forward the “three stricts and three earnests” education, and conducted activities to enable Party members to gain a good understanding of the Party Constitution, regulations, and Xi Jinping's major policy addresses, and meet Party standards. All this has created an environment of maintaining political honesty and integrity and striving for excellence.
The governance of political parties, especially anti-corruption, is a shared challenge and common concern for parties worldwide. Song shared three aspects of the CPC’s practices after the 18th National Congress. First, the ruling party shouldered major responsibility in anti-corruption. Second, there was no common route to enforce anti-corruption. Nations should explore their own ways. Third, anti-corruption efforts called for international cooperation. The CPC is willing to share its experience in anti-corruption and make its contribution to the world.
Luo said the CPC’s challenges and countermeasures were reflected by Shanxi’s practices to a large extent. The province had been suffering from a problematic political ecology as well as a painful economy.
However, under the CPC Central Committee’s leadership, the CPC Shanxi Provincial Committee improved its political ecology and succeeded in achieving steadfast economic development after its restructuring in September 2014.
Shanxi adopted rigorous rules and transparent systems to regulate local governance and Party organizations in response to the country's stringent anti-corruption campaign.
Besides building a healthy political ecology, Shanxi has also deepened its supply-side structural reform to maintain economic growth, Luo said.
"We have conducted nine specialized programs to speed up facilitation of investment and promote contract execution; for contracted projects outside the government-approved investment projects catalogue, we try out an enterprise responsibility system to reduce approval procedures," Luo said. "With these initiatives, we are building a good environment for investors and businessmen."
Alejandra Reynoso Sánchez, Secretary of the Board of the Chamber of Deputies of Mexico
Alejandra Reynoso Sánchez, Secretary of the Board of the Chamber of Deputies of Mexico, said fighting against corruption and winning people’s heart is the mission of all parties and governments. "A comprehensive anti-corruption [campaign] is needed because a regime or a party can attain legitimacy only from discipline, honesty and keeping in close touch with the masses."
Daniel A. Bell, Canadian Senior Chinese Specialist, Dean of the School of Political Science and Public Administration of Shandong University
Daniel A. Bell, Dean of the School of Political Science and Public Administration of Shandong University, and author of The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy, had thought China's anti-corruption campaign could only make corruption become less but officials would be reluctant to make bold changes. “But my trip to Shanxi amazed me with so many capable officials,” he said.
Bell called for Shanxi to protect its ancient architecture to preserve its distinctive cultural legacy. More women officials and better treatment of civil servants would also help in strengthening Party discipline, he added.
"The development of society relies on the good operation of the ruling party. The CPC’s actions in building a well-disciplined Party are beneficial to China’s further development. It’s a practice we, the Mexico Government, should learn from," Enrique Escorza, Minister at the Mexican Embassy in Beijing, told Beijing Review on the sidelines of the seminar.
Selection of officials
At a sub-seminar on July 30, the CPC Shanxi Provincial Committee showcased their procedure for selecting and appointing government officials while committing to a clean government.
Sun Dajun, Executive Vice Chairman of the Organization Department of the CPC Shanxi Provincial Committee, said there are 10 steps. They include qualification checking, deliberation, inspection and public polls when deciding on promotions.
Candidates competing for higher posts should reveal their true financial conditions, including their assets, equities and other properties. Their official status is under keen public oversight, especially from areas where they have served.
"What we need are committed, clean and responsible officials," Sun said, adding that to qualify for promotion, government officials should have sufficient experience working in different positions. “The essential value of our democratic system is generally the same as the rest of the world’s, even though we take different paths. I don't think all countries must have the democracy that comes only in the form of direct elections."
He said the organization department needs to heed public views to select the most qualified official. This costs substantially less than direct elections.
Hu Yuting, Secretary of the CPC Jinzhong Municipal Committee, said the selection is transparent as the qualifications of the candidates, including their education backgrounds, work experience, accreditations and health conditions, are all made public.
Hu said Jinzhong has adopted a mission-oriented principle. All selected cadres must be open to supervision. In 2016, the CPC Jinzhong Municipal Committee selected six county mayors out of 118 candidates.
Luo said Shanxi’s practice is proof that the CPC Central Committee’s decision to build a well-disciplined Party in all aspects is correct. Through self-purification and self-improvement, a political party can maintain its vigor and vitality.
Good political ecology boosts economy
In the latter half of 2016, a campaign, Ten Thousand Party Cadres on Assistance to Enterprises, was launched. Over 14,000 cadres went to 4,580 enterprises to provide needed services and help address difficulties, according to the other sub-seminar held at the same time. For example, Liu Yanzhong, Deputy Secretary of the Jinzhong Municipal Government, helped Mingsheng Foundry Co., a private manufacturer in Taiming County, Jinzhong City.
Naturally, there were days when understanding and communication were in short supply. Step by step, Liu understood what were the shortcomings of the company run under family management: institutional irregularities and a narrow vision.
“We worked like their employees,” Liu said, “We investigated every office and workshop.” Finally, they managed to help the company set standards and build its own brand.
Kabir Hashim, General-Secretary of the United National Party of Sri Lanka, who had just finished an on-the-spot investigation of Shanxi, said the campaign was extremely important and rich in human touch.
"In many countries, people are suffering from poverty and inequality and many of them hold feelings of resentment against political parties,” Hashim said. “After my trip to Shanxi, I found that the CPC, with Xi Jinping at its core, has solved such problems through reform."
Citing the example of Taiyuan Steel Corp., Hashim praised the local CPC committee’s measures to relocate over 10,000 workers laid off during transformation.
These efforts by the CPC Shanxi Provincial Committee have helped boost local economic growth. Luo told the audience that in the first quarter of 2017, Shanxi’s GDP rose by 6.1 percent, a 3.1-percentage point rise from last year. Public budget revenue increased by 12.6 percent and added value of strategic emerging industries grew 14.9 percent over the same period last year.
Shanxi is transforming from a fossil energy-centered economy to a new economic model increasingly driven by innovation and conservation, with the growth of non-coal sectors reaching 9.8 percent in the first five months of 2017.
Brain drain has been effectively contained. By June this year, Shanxi had attracted 101 overseas high-level talents and more investors are coming to Shanxi, hoping for a good return.
Foreign guests participate in sessions and activities during the seminar