Rural cadres judged useless
By JOHN KOHUT in Beijing
MORE than half of the Communist Party leaders in the countryside are incompetent, and a large number totally useless, the semi-official Hong Kong China News Agency claimed yesterday.
They are contributing to rising crime and other social problems across the country, the report said.
According to a sample survey of 1,358 village party leaders spread out among 13 counties of 12 provinces, only 32.6 per cent were found to be competent, while more than half were 'weak and lax', and 7.9 per cent were 'paralysed'.
The agency said that millions of grassroots party leaders have become focused on doing business.
'In some regions cadres only pay attention to economic work and neglect public security and construction of socialist spiritual civilisation.
'It is a quite common situation that the grassroots organisations are unsound.' The report did not say what criteria were used in determining competence, but did go into detail about worrying trends.
It said peasants have become a 'reserve army' of urban crime, responsible for nearly half of the 1.6 million criminal cases reported last year, and account for 57 per cent of all those in prison and reform-through-labour camps.
The growth rate of robbery, kidnapping, rape, and assault is climbing in the countryside. In some regions the rural crime rate is higher than in urban areas.
Triad-like organisations have become rampant, taking control of villages, land, roads, water resources and grain supplies. Pornography, gambling and narcotics use are spreading through rural China. Clans are making a comeback, reviving feudal and superstitious practices.
Although steps have been taken to stop illegal fees and other burdens from being levied on peasants by local officials, the problem is far from resolved, the agency said.
The report underscored some of the problems the 54 million-strong Communist Party is facing as it attempts to adapt to a rapidly changing social order in which capitalism and the temptation of financial gain threaten Party structure.
Yesterday, Xinhua (the New China News Agency) released the 13,000-word text of a recent Party Central Committee plenum dedicated to the issue of Party building.
Much of the exhortative, ideologically-laden text is self-congratulatory, but nevertheless the Party's deep concerns about leadership, particularly at the grassroots level, comes through.
'In the face of new circumstances, our work is not yet fitting,' says the Decision on Strengthening Party Building. 'In some places and units, Party organisations do not care about Party affairs.' 'Some localities and departments have not put sufficient strength in implementing certain decisions of the central authorities, and some orders are not carried out, and even ignored.' Serious corruption is 'seriously eroding the ranks of Party members and cadres.' The plenum decision said the Party must adapt to the development of multi-economic elements and the adjustment in relations among interest groups.
For example, with a large number of labourers now much more mobile than ever before, moving around different industries and regions, it is important to organise party members on the move.
Reference was also made to the dangers of superstition and 'the decadent ideas of the bourgeoisie.' State-owned enterprises were exorted to give full scope to the political and nucleus role of their Party organisations, while trying to improve efficiency.
The decision said it was necessary to improve 'inner Party democracy' so that members were better informed about and took a more active role in Party affairs.