Xi Jinping

China's Communist Party expands self-criticism drive

Heeding Xi Jinping's call, more regional leaders hold sessions to discuss performance, but some see effort as return to ineffective leftist practice

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 October, 2013, 8:30am

More regional governments have held "criticism and self-criticism" meetings following Xi Jinping's call for the sessions, but some analysts question whether the campaign will bolster discipline in the party.

The reflection sessions are part of Xi's "mass line" campaign - an effort to reconnect the party with the grass-roots and eliminate hedonism and extravagance among rank-and-file cadres.

Hunan party chiefs held a session over two days last week. In one meeting, provincial party boss Xu Shousheng told colleagues, "In order to make statistics look good, I sometimes signed off on reports I was presented without thoroughly checking their accuracy," Hunan TV quoted Xu as saying.

Governor Du Jiahao admitted to not interacting enough with low-level officials since taking up the post in April.

At work briefings, Du said he "sometimes looked impatient and sounded subjective and even interrupted without letting [others] finish".

The province's standing committee had solicited suggestions from 103,000 cadres and ordinary residents for the session, Hunan TV said.

Xi, who is also party general secretary, last week participated in highly publicised session with Hebei's provincial party committee, according to a Xinhua report. In four half-day meetings, officials admitted to feeling "arrogant" and failing to control the extravagant lifestyles of their colleagues.

Xi urged regional governments to hold similar sessions.

In a three-day session beginning on Friday, Chongqing party secretary Sun Zhengcai launched a broadside at officials for talking too much and doing little "like a shop owner leaving his business to the employees".

"The more senior some officials are, the less pragmatic they are," Sun was quoted by the Chongqing Daily as saying.

During a session on Sunday, Yunnan party secretary Qin Guangrong criticised some colleagues for slacking off after they were promoted.

The criticism and self-criticism mechanism was introduced by the Communist Party in Yanan , Shaanxi province in the early 1940s as the party geared up for battle with the Nationalist Party for control of the mainland.

However the system later gained notoriety as a venue for power struggles and purging party dissidents. Late party secretary Hu Yaobang was sacked at a session in 1987 over his liberal approach to reform.

The revival of the practice by the new leadership has raised concerns in some quarters over the party's slide into leftism

Renmin University political science Professor Zhang Ming said the mechanism had never been effective and was a mere formality when it came to the need to tackle some of the issues the party faced.

"That's why [Xi] deliberately made the Hebei session into a template for other regions to follow," Zhang said.

The professor said the criticism and self-criticism sessions marked the party's further slide into leftism under Xi's leadership, which would only bring more uncertainty to the mainland as political conservativeness would be emboldened and undercut economy reforms.

Beijing-based political analyst Chen Ziming said the new leadership might still see the mechanism as a valid part of Maoism, but such undertakings were basically a waste of time.

"But such campaigns are less contentious, so it could help cultivate consensus within the party, allowing Xi to further establish his authority," Chen said. "He can certainly be sure that people would follow what he says" given the recent sessions, he added.