China’s cadres may face ‘stricter’ rules in revamp of Communist Party’s code of conduct

Harsher guidelines expected in anticipation of a new attempt to centralise authority

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 July, 2016, 11:59pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2016, 9:03am

Revamping decades-old codes of conduct for Communist Party members will be high on the agenda of a party plenum in October, the Politburo said on Tuesday as Chinese President Xi Jinping moves to tighten control over ­senior cadres.

The decision-making Politburo met yesterday to set the date of the meeting and outline its key agendas, as well as to deliberate on economic policy for the ­second half of the year.

The sixth plenum is the most important meeting in the run-up to an expected massive reshuffle late next year.

Xinhua reported that two main themes for the plenum would be revising a resolution on political conduct within the party that was formulated in Deng Xiaoping’s era, and amending a trial regulation on internal supervision passed by the Central Committee in 2003.

In particular, the plenum would focus on the internal political conduct of leading party institutions and cadres, especially members of the Central Committee, its Politburo and the innermost Politburo Standing Committee, Xinhua said.

The original criteria for political conduct within the party stipulated that collective leadership was the overriding principle.

The criteria effectively limited the concentration of power [seen in] Mao Zedong’s times
Zhang Lifan, political analyst

Drafted by liberal-minded former general secretary Hu Yaobang and endorsed by the fifth session of the party’s 11th Central Committee in February 1980, the resolution spelled out its opposition to “rule by the voice of one man alone” or a “patriarchal system”. It also encouraged internal democracy for the party and barred members from showing loyalty to a single person.

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It is unclear which clauses will be revised, but Beijing-based political analyst Zhang Lifan said that the new criteria could be harsher and stricter for party members. “As a product of the party in the era of reform and opening up, the criteria effectively limited the concentration of power [seen in] Mao Zedong’s times,” said the historian, adding that times had changed and that it was likely there would be tighter controls, so as to make way for a new round of centralising of authority.

However, Zhang added that the exact specifics of the new criteria “remain to be seen”.

The upcoming plenum will be the second-last meeting for about 200 incumbent members of the Central Committee before a reshuffle among top officials during the party’s 19th national congress, to be held in autumn of next year.

Traditionally, a shortlist of members of the party’s new Central Committee, with a tenure of five years, would be in place during the sixth plenum. The party’s seventh plenum would be held on the eve of the next national congress, with the make-up of the new Central Committee finalised by then.