Posts tagged ‘Communist Party’

01/07/2015

China’s Communist Party: Still Big, and Getting Bigger – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Quality over quantity. Less is more.

Those have been the watchwords of the Chinese Communist Party ever since its top leaders declared in early 2013 that its membership would be controlled in a bid to improve the organization’s “vigor and vitality.”

Two years later, the upper echelons of Chinese leadership appear to have come face to face with a realization that’s true all the world over: slimming down is hard to do.

In a communique released Tuesday, the Organization Department of the Communist Party’s Central Committee said that the party boasted 87.793 million members as of the end of 2014. The figure – which exceeds the entire population of Germany – represents a net increase of 1.1 million from a year earlier.

China is in the midst of a sweeping anti-graft campaign under President Xi Jinping, with announcements of corrupt officials’ investigation and ouster from the party a near-weekly occurrence. Along with that crackdown has come a steady stream of warnings for party members to rein in behavior ranging from their mahjong playing to the use of terms like “dude” or “boss” when addressing their superiors.

At its heart is the pursuit of the party’s survival. Xi and other top leaders have made a point of reminding cadres that the Chinese Communist Party must avoid the same pitfalls that brought about the demise of the former Soviet Union – particularly disloyalty to Communist ideals – with some Chinese scholars warning that the Soviet collapse came when the ranks of its Communist Party had swollen to an unwieldy 19 million, or nearly 10% of the Soviet Union’s adult population.

The membership of the Chinese Communist Party currently stands at about 7.8% of China’s adult population.

Yet despite a vow by China’s Politburo leaders to limit the party’s size and purge “unqualified members,” statistics released by the Organization Department show that membership has actually grown over each of the past four years, albeit at an increasingly slower rate.

via China’s Communist Party: Still Big, and Getting Bigger – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

23/06/2015

Who wants to be a mandarin? | The Economist

GOVERNMENT jobs have long been prized in China. Most years new records are set for the number of people sitting civil-service exams. University students, for all their disenchantment with politics, have been flocking to join the Communist Party in the hope of getting a leg-up into the bureaucracy. Such a career has offered security and perks aplenty. The only drawback has been pitifully low wages. This month officials are to get their first pay rises in nearly a decade; even so, many are heading for the door. Students are showing signs of losing interest in the career. Civil servants are anxious.

The reason is President Xi Jinping’s campaign against corruption, the most intense and sustained in the party’s history. It has made it harder to trouser the bribes that have traditionally supplemented those meagre official salaries. Many civil servants now fear a knock on the door by agents of the party’s anti-corruption department. In 2014 it punished 232,000 officials, 30% more than in the previous year. That was still only about 3% of officialdom, but the publicity surrounding these cases has compounded anxieties. Many officials are being taken, with their spouses, to learn a lesson by visiting their former colleagues in prison.

A Chinese job-search website, Zhaopin.com, reported that in the three weeks after the lunar new-year holiday in February more than 10,000 government workers quit their jobs to seek greener pastures, mainly in the finance, property and technology industries—an increase of nearly one-third over the same period in 2014. The company attributed this to a new emphasis on frugality in government work. Lavish meals are now banned (much to the chagrin of restaurants, which have suffered falls in profits). Governments are no longer allowed to build fancy offices for themselves. Stricter controls have been imposed on the size of ministers’ offices and temperature settings in government buildings. The receiving of gifts and donations of cash, once common features of bureaucratic life, has become far riskier. Earlier this year an investigation revealed the diversion by the Shaanxi provincial government of 89m yuan ($14.4m) in disaster relief funds toward the construction of new homes for civil servants. Officials do receive housing benefits, but not enough to cover the kind of well-appointed accommodation to which they aspire.

via Who wants to be a mandarin? | The Economist.

10/04/2015

Opinion polls: The critical masses | The Economist

IN RECENT weeks official media have published a flurry of opinion polls. One in China Daily showed that most people in the coastal cities of Shanghai and Guangzhou think that smog is getting worse. Another noted the high salary expectations of university students. Yet another found that over two-thirds of respondents in Henan province in central China regard local officials as inefficient and neglectful of their duties. For decades the Communist Party has claimed to embody and express the will of the masses. Now it is increasingly seeking to measure that will—and let it shape at least some of the party’s policies.

Since the party seized power in 1949 it has repeatedly unleashed public opinion only to suppress it with force, from the “Hundred Flowers Campaign” in 1956, when it briefly tolerated critical voices, to the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. For the past two decades, the party has effectively bought people’s obedience by promising—and delivering—a better, richer future. This will be tougher in the years ahead as the economy slows. Members of a huge new middle class are demanding more from their government in areas ranging from the environment to the protection of property rights. So the party must respond to concerns in order to retain its legitimacy.

Xi Jinping, who took over as China’s leader in 2012, has shown even less inclination than his predecessors to let citizens express their preferences through the ballot box. Yet the public has become ever more vocal on a wide variety of issues—online, through protests, and increasingly via responses to opinion polls and government-arranged consultations over the introduction of some new laws. The party monitors this clamour to detect possible flashpoints, and it frequently censors dissent. But the government is also consulting people, through opinion polls that try to establish their views on some of the big issues of the day as well as on specific policies. Its main aim is to devise ways to keep citizens as happy as possible in their daily lives. It avoids stickier subjects such as political reform or human rights. But people are undoubtedly gaining a stronger voice.

via Opinion polls: The critical masses | The Economist.

08/04/2015

China Aims to Soothe Labor Unrest – China Real Time Report – WSJ

As slowing growth fuels labor unrest in the world’s second-largest economy, China’s top leadership is pushing for greater efforts to foster harmony across its increasingly agitated workforce. As the WSJ’s Chun Han Wong reports;

In a recent directive, top Communist Party and government officials called on party cadres and bureaucrats across the country to “make the construction of harmonious labor relations an urgent task,” to ensure “healthy economic development” and to consolidate the party’s “governing status.”

The policy paper was issued late last month and has circulated widely among Chinese labor scholars, lawyers and activists, who say it signals Beijing’s growing concern that festering labor tensions could soon threaten social stability or even weaken the party’s grip on power.

With China “currently in a period of economic and social transition,” labor relations have become “increasingly pluralistic, labor tensions have entered a period of increased prominence and frequency, and the incidence of labor disputes remains high,” the paper said, according to a copy reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. It cited problems including unpaid wages to China’s legions of migrant workers, growing protests and other issues.

Labor scholars say the paper—titled “the Communist Party Central Committee and the State Council’s opinion on the construction of harmonious labor relations”—marks a rare move by Beijing to formally outline policy priorities for tackling worker unrest. It also comes after Premier Li Keqiang pledged in early March, during an annual policy speech, to curb unpaid wages for migrant workers.

“The government is acknowledging the reality of rising worker unrest and wants to make this a bigger priority,” said Wang Jiangsong, a professor at the China Institute of Industrial Relations in Beijing. “But it also lacks specifics on implementation—it remains to be seen how this would work on the ground.”

via China Aims to Soothe Labor Unrest – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

11/03/2015

Ideology: Class struggle | The Economist

IN THE first week of March university students in China will return from a break of six weeks or more. They will find a new chill in the air. While they have been away, officials have been speaking stridently—indeed, in the harshest terms heard in years—about the danger of “harmful Western influences” on campuses, and the need to tighten ideological control over students and academic staff.

Universities have always been worrisome to the Communist Party; they have a long history in China as wellsprings of anti-government unrest. The party appoints university presidents. Its committees on campuses vet the appointment of teaching staff. Students are required to study Marxist theory and socialism. They are not allowed to study politically sensitive topics such as the grievances of Tibetans or the army’s crushing of the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

There is no sign of an anti-party campaign developing on campuses (students are signing up for party membership in droves, believing it to be a path to career success). But since Xi Jinping took over as China’s leader in 2012, the party has been trying to reinforce its control in numerous areas. In the army it appears that Mr Xi has been leading the effort personally (see article). In the academic realm, his involvement in the crackdown now unfolding is less certain. But he has shown no sign of resisting it, and some of the rhetoric warning of the dangers of Western values echoes his own. Mr Xi is certainly no liberal. In his rule he has tightened controls over the media, and there have been numerous arrests and trials of civil-society activists.

That officials have begun to turn their attention to campuses became evident on January 19th, when Xinhua, a state-controlled news agency, published a summary of a document issued secretly by the central authorities in October. It directed universities to “strengthen” their efforts to spread the party’s propaganda and promote its ideology. It told them to educate students better in the history of the party, as well as about the “Chinese dream” (a pet idea of Mr Xi’s). The document also urged educators “firmly to resist infiltration by hostile forces”. It was suffused with the same sense of a party under assault by Western liberal thinking that permeated a secret directive issued in 2013, known as Document Number Nine. That spoke of the threat posed by ideas such as universal values, civil society and press freedom—positive mention of which had occasionally surfaced in some Chinese newspapers and still occurs frequently in university classrooms.

An old-style propaganda campaign is now unfolding. On January 29th Yuan Guiren, the education minister, declared at a conference that “textbooks promoting Western values” would not be allowed in classrooms, nor would “slandering” of the party leadership. Officials at the same meeting echoed his views, including the party chiefs of Peking University and Tsinghua University, the country’s most prestigious colleges. On February 6th a commentary in the People’s Daily, the party’s main mouthpiece, quoted the party chief of Renmin University in Beijing as saying that Marxist thinking must “enter textbooks, enter classrooms and enter brains”.

via Ideology: Class struggle | The Economist.

26/02/2015

China’s top court unveils deadlines for legal reform | Reuters

China’s top court set a five-year deadline on Thursday for legal reforms to protect the rights of individuals, prevent miscarriages of justice and make its judiciary more professional as the ruling Communist Party seeks to quell public discontent.

Zhou Qiang, President of China's Supreme People's Court, attends National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

A statement on the Supreme Court’s website promised specific deadlines for each goal, including support for a “social atmosphere of justice” by 2018.

It gave more details of a decision reached at a four-day meeting last year, when the party pledged to speed up legislation to fight corruption and make it tougher for officials to exert control over the judiciary.

Despite the legal reforms, Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s administration has shown no interest in political change and has detained dozens of dissidents, including lawyers.

China’s top court stressed that one of the five basic principles of legal reform was adhering to the party’s leadership and “ensuring the correct political orientation”.

He Xiaorong, the director of the Supreme People’s Court‘s reform division, said the court “would make officials bear responsibility for dereliction of duty” for cases that have a wide impact.

“Only through the establishment of such a system can we ensure that we can guarantee social fairness and justice in every case,” He told a news conference, according to a transcript on the court’s website.

The measures reflect worries about rising social unrest. Anger over land grabs, corruption and pollution – issues often left unresolved by courts – have resulted in violence between police and residents in recent years, threatening social order.

via China’s top court unveils deadlines for legal reform | Reuters.

25/02/2015

Xi Jinping Hopes to Count in Chinese Political History With ‘Four Comprehensives’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Connoisseurs of Chinese political numerology can finally take a breath: After more than two years in office, Chinese President Xi Jinping has uncorked his own ordinal political philosophy.

In the past, Chinese leaders have tended to fall into two camps when expounding their theories of development: those who favor numbered lists, and those who opt for more conventional proclamations. Late Premier Zhou Enlai and former President Jiang Zemin were in the former camp, pushing the “Four Modernizations” and “Three Represents,” respectively. Meanwhile, Deng Xiaoping (“Reform and Opening Up”) and former President Hu Jintao (“Scientific Outlook on Development”) opted to eschew the integers.

Questions have loomed about what slogan Mr. Xi, who replaced Mr. Hu at the helm of the Communist Party in November 2012, would use to represent himself in the party’s theoretical pantheon. For a time, some thought he might follow his non-numeric predecessor and go with the “Chinese Dream” of national rejuvenation, a notion he put forward shortly after taking power.  It now appears he has decided otherwise.

On Wednesday, the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily and other Chinese media gave blanket coverage to what Mr. Xi has taken to calling the “Four Comprehensives,” a set of principles emphasizing the need to “comprehensively build a moderately prosperous society, comprehensively deepen reform, comprehensively govern the nation according to law and comprehensively be strict in governing the party.”

Aside from the idea of a moderately prosperous society — a Confucian ideal revived and popularized under Mr. Hu — the other catch-phrases are all closely associated with Mr. Xi, who has cracked down hard on corruption in Communist Party ranks while pushing for legal reforms and warning of the need to be resolute about reforms in general.

It wasn’t the first mention of “Four Comprehensives” in the Chinese press. Mr. Xi introduced the idea during an inspection tour in eastern China’s Jiangsu province in mid-December, according to People’s Daily, and the phrase made a few scattered appearances on Chinese-language news websites earlier this month. But Wednesday was the first time the theory was propagated on a wide scale, suggesting that it had earned widespread acceptance at the top of the party.

via Xi Jinping Hopes to Count in Chinese Political History With ‘Four Comprehensives’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

16/02/2015

China to prosecute former top parliament body official for graft | Reuters

China will prosecute a former vice-chairman of China’s top parliamentary advisory body for graft, including taking bribes and selling “ranks and titles”, the government said on Monday, the latest senior figure to fall in a deepening anti-corruption campaign.

Su Rong attends a group discussion during the National People's Congress in Beijing March 6, 2012.  REUTERS/Stringer

Su Rong had been one of the 23 vice-chairmen of the largely ceremonial but high-profile Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference until authorities began an investigation last year.

Su abused his power over personnel appointments and the operation of unidentified companies and took “an enormous amount of bribes”, said the ruling Communist Party’s graft-fighting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

He “abused his power and caused great losses to state assets”, it said in a statement, without providing details.

“As a senior party official, Su Rong disregarded the party’s political rules … wantonly sold ranks and titles, led the official ranks astray and damaged the atmosphere in society,” the statement said.

His influence was “abominable” and he had been officially stripped of his title and expelled from the party, it said.

Details of Su’s case have been handed to judicial authorities, it said, and he will face prosecution in court.

Su previously served as Communist Party boss for the poor inland provinces of Jiangxi and Gansu.

Chinese media ha

via China to prosecute former top parliament body official for graft | Reuters.

14/02/2015

Military corruption: Rank and vile | The Economist

SO EXTENSIVE was the stash of jade, gold and cash found in the basement of General Xu Caihou’s mansion in Beijing that at least ten lorries were needed to haul it away, according to the Chinese press last October. Given General Xu’s recent retirement as the highest ranking uniformed officer in the armed forces, this was astonishing news. General Xu, the media said, had accepted “extremely large” bribes, for which he now faces trial. It will be the first of such an exalted military figure since the Communist Party came to power in 1949.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA)—as the Chinese army, navy and air force are collectively known—has not fought a war for 35 years. But the world’s largest fighting force is now engaged in a fierce battle at home against corrosion within its ranks.

Xi Jinping, China’s president (pictured, pointing), has taken his sweeping anti-corruption campaign into the heart of the PLA, seemingly unafraid to show that a hallowed institution is also deeply flawed. In January the PLA took the unprecedented step of revealing that 15 generals and another senior officer were under investigation or awaiting trial. It said it would launch a stringent review of recruitment, promotions, procurements and all of its financial dealings in order to root out corruption.

One reason Mr Xi is keen to clean up the army is to ensure that it remains a bulwark of party rule. The PLA is the party’s armed wing—its soldiers swear allegiance to it rather than the people or the country. All officers are party members and each company is commanded jointly by an officer in charge of military affairs and another whose job it is to ensure troops toe the party line. Mr Xi has repeatedly stressed the party’s “absolute leadership” over the PLA. His definition of a “strong army” puts “obedience to the party’s commands” before “capability of winning wars”.

via Military corruption: Rank and vile | The Economist.

06/02/2015

Top Chinese Company Bosses Try to Atone After Bribery Allegations – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Acts of contrition allow disciples of the Roman Catholic Church to atone for their sins. Something similar may be saving souls in China’s Communist Party.

Mobile phone company China Unicom acknowledged findings published Thursday by the party’s official anti-graft agency that salacious acts of corruption gushed from its corporate suite, including abuse of power and bribery with sex as the currency.

Similar allegations have toppled government officials and corporate executives across China in the past two years, reflecting President Xi Jinping’s pledge that the party faithful will “remain resolute in wiping out corruption and show zero tolerance for it.”

Yet no one appears to be facing public reprimand at Unicom and a clutch of other state-run companies and government bureaus that the party this week accused of party discipline problems.

It’s unclear whether the fact no one is being publicly fingered for the problems atop key state-run companies suggests the party is satisfied the public shaming is enough punishment or whether it’s lightening its approach to violations. But what’s clear is the officials running the businesses have spent time in the party’s version of a confessional booth

The fresh allegations against powerful state-run organizations were published late Thursday by the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which it said were the result of a round of investigations that began in November. Similar probes of state-run companies and government bureaus have continued regularly since Mr. Xi rose to power at the 18th Party Congress in late 2012. The commission last month said that an inspection of all top state-owned enterprises will be among its priorities for this year.

In addition to catalogue of problems at Unicom, the inspections found top officials at coal giant China Shenhua Energy Co. abused market power to gain “black gold,” leaders of China State Shipbuilding Corp. did illegal business and relatives of top cadres engaged in similar malfeasance at carmaker Dongfang Motor Corp. As well, the inspectors said they unearthed buying and selling of positions at power generator China Huadian Corp., as well as poor controls that caused loss of state secrets. The inspectors likewise cited discipline failings at state broadcaster China Radio International.

The anti-graft agency’s statements on each organization quoted their Communist Party leaders, including Unicom Chairman Chang Xiaobing, expressing contrition about failings at their groups and pledging to rectify the problems. The statements about the individual companies each include photos of top company officers in boardrooms discussing the findings and meeting with employees to address the problems. The statements quote officials pledging to honor Mr. Xi’s principles of party discipline.

via Top Chinese Company Bosses Try to Atone After Bribery Allegations – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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