China's leaders draw up formal party rules to control members

Guidelines for drawing up laws seen as essential to avoiding a crisis of legitimacy for the party

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 May, 2013, 8:33am

Making sure the Communist Party's 80 million members are strictly controlled is imperative for the party's new leadership, amid a looming legitimacy crisis.

Analysts say Monday's release of procedural requirements for the formulation of party rules has signalled party chief Xi Jinping's intention to introduce the rule of law into the management of its members.

There should not be two co-existing legal systems in one country - one the state's and the other the party's
Chen Ziming, political affairs analyst

The two documents released by the party's Central Committee deal with which party organs are authorised to draft, approve, publish, amend or abolish party regulations and what procedures they should follow.

Xinhua said they were the first formal documents to regulate the making of party rules since it was founded in 1921 and were an important move to improve its internal management and supervision. Thirteen years ago, the party published a temporary regulation on formulating party rules.

Professor Gu Su, a constitutional law expert with Nanjing University, said it was "a significant step by the new leadership to introduce rule of law into the management of party members amid a legitimacy crisis due to widespread abuse of power and corruption".

Chen Ziming, a political affairs analyst, said it was aimed at strengthening central control of the party's many regional and departmental organs and grass-roots cells.

Gu said the move reflected Xi's philosophy of focusing on the rule of law, citing a series of recent statements by Xi on the subject.

Since he became party chief six months ago, Xi has urged respect for China's often-ignored constitution, signalled limited judicial reform, cracked down on corruption and launched a high-profile campaign to improve officials' work style and attack official extravagance.

Analysts said the moves were partly a response to the threat posed by lawyers and activists keen to use the law against the party and were also partly a reaction to widespread abuse of power and corrupt behaviour by party officials and law-enforcement personnel, a main source of public discontent.

But Chen said such efforts would undermine rather than strengthen the rule of law.

"There should not be two co-existing legal systems in one country - one the state's and the other the party's," Chen said, adding that it just proved that China was a "party state".

The new rules say that any intra-party regulations and rules should not conflict with the state constitution and national laws.

They also say that before a party regulation is issued, the party should seek opinions from members, experts and the general public by publishing a draft online or holding consultations.

The new regulations also require the party to publish all of its regulations - with a few exceptions - and say the Central Committee should have both annual and five-year plans for drafting and amending party rules.

Xinhua said that since June last year, the committee had gone through all the regulations issued since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949 to decide which should be retained.