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A police officer poses in front of a Communist Party flag at the Museum of the Communist Party of China in Beijing. Party cadres have been issued a new set of rules intended to ensure loyalty to President Xi Jinping. Photo: Reuters

Revised code for Communist Party officials lays out quickest ways to lose a job

  • Updated directive seeks to galvanise leaders around Chinese President Xi Jinping, while weeding out cadres with ‘shaky ideals and beliefs’
  • Amended code issued less than a month before party’s pivotal 20th national congress
Chinese officials who fail to effectively perform in tough and urgent missions, or those who have a vague stance on key political issues, should be sidelined, according to a Communist Party directive recently amended and published on Monday.
The code is intended to create a political environment that ensures the capable are promoted, the outstanding are awarded, the mediocre are demoted and the unqualified are abolished, according to the code, which was published by state news agency Xinhua.

The code lays out a set of circumstances in which officials would be sidelined from important positions. One addition in the update to the 2015 version is to sideline those who have “shaky ideals and beliefs, soft stances and vague attitudes on major issues involving the party’s leadership”, and thus could not stand tests at “key moments”.

Another revision says the party should also sideline those who have “a weak sense of responsibility and fighting spirit”, as well as leaders who dodge or bungle “urgent and major missions”.

The positions of those officials will be “adjusted in time”, the code stated.

The major revision to the demotion code comes less than a month before the pivotal 20th national congress, during which President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a third term in power.

It is believed that the Communist Party is near finalising a list of hundreds of officials to promote, whose new positions will be unveiled at the end of the congress and in the months that follow.

The revised code also highlights the importance of loyalty to Xi and his policies by adding the president’s governing philosophy to its guiding principles. The top four criteria for demotion or dismissal are now based on loyalty-related conduct.

The updated regulations maintain a previous stipulation that officials whose spouse or children are living overseas shall be moved away from key positions. The amendments added that those officials who have family members who operate private businesses may also be moved to less important positions.

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The scope of the code has been widened to apply to all levels of cadres in the party and government, as well as those holding leadership positions in state-owned enterprises.

Ahead of the national congress, the major amendment will give Xi “a new potent tool to trim off the disloyal and incompetent people from the party”, said Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

“Xi has been relying on his disciplinary apparatus to drive the party to work on his policy directives, but disciplinary measures may not work on those who are careful not to cross the line, but adopt a laid-back attitude, only do lip service or just go for one-size-fits-all implementation,” Wu said.


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“Now he has the party’s organisation department to step in. They will whip those borderline officials to work hard on Xi’s goal with annual evaluations.”

Deng Yuwen, an independent scholar and researcher at the China Strategic Analysis Centre in the United States, and a former deputy editor of the Study Times, the Central Party School’s official newspaper, said the revisions will force China’s grass-roots cadres to double down on Xi’s top agenda items, since they are now tied to their performance reviews and promotions.

“There will be no other way, but Xi’s way. Those who fail to follow, or even follow not so closely will be sidelined,” he said.