Party rules ban groundless comments on major policies

By Jiang Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2015-10-23 0:28:02

Cliques, gluttony, golf, illicit sex labeled as violations

Members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) are banned from making groundless comments on national policies, according to newly issued Party rules, which analysts said is aimed at strengthening the unity and conformity of the Party.

The CPC Central Committee on Wednesday issued two sets of Party rules, one on clean governance and another on sanctions for those who violate the Party code of conduct. The rules will be implemented on January 1, 2016.

The rule on clean governance, for the first time, will be applicable to all CPC members, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Dubbed the strictest and most comprehensive Party disciplinary regulation in history, there are now only six categories listed, which cover both lifestyle and politics.

"The new rules restructure the disciplinary system of the CPC by strengthening the six disciplines, which will become the basis for future Party construction. Many articles are new to the regulation. Benefitting from the anti-graft experience, those articles could be a milestone in the Party's battle against corruption," Zhuang Deshui, a deputy director of the Research Center for Government Integrity Building at Peking University, who also participated in revising the rules, told the Global Times.

Cutting overlap

According to an official WeChat account from the People's Daily, articles which overlap with national laws have been cut from the Party regulation. This includes those related to corruption which are stipulated in China's Criminal Law.

The regulation stipulates that punishment will be imposed on those who irresponsibly make comments about national policies that are damaging to Party unity online or in publications and at seminars. Serious violators will be expelled from the Party.

Similarly, those who defame the nation, the Party and State leaders or distort the history of the nation and the Party will be held accountable. Party members who take the liberty to decide or publicly comment on issues that they have no place to, such as issues that should be decided by the CPC Central Committee, will also be subject to punishment. 

"This aims at strengthening Party member conformity to the organization and preventing incidents damaging to Party unity, which will also affect policy-making and implementation of policies," Deng Lianfan, an anti-graft expert from the Law Society of Hunan Province, told the Global Times.

However, the regulation does not mean that dissenting voices in the Party will be stifled, Deng said, arguing that Party members are welcome to discuss and criticize before major decisions are announced. They can also file internal references and other reports to make their legal claims for different opinions after a decision is made.

"It should be noted that a Party member is different from an ordinary citizen, who can make groundless statements to vent their personal feelings without bearing any responsibilities," Zhuang said.

Awareness of potential risks

The new regulation also includes content about forming intra-Party cliques and seeking profits for family members and staff by using their political powers, Xinhua said.

According to China Youth Daily, intra-Party cliques were formed by former top State officials Zhou Yongkang and Ling Jihua, among other serious violations they both committed. 

Ling, from Shanxi Province, reportedly formed a clique of senior officials and successful businessmen in Beijing, who also hailed from Shanxi, to trade power for money. One of them was Ding Shumiao, a Shanxi-born businesswoman, who was also the main power broker in the corruption case of former railway minister Liu Zhijun, reported the Singapore-based The Straits Times.

For the first time, the new discipline regulation explicitly lists extravagant eating and drinking and playing golf as violations.

A previous clause about keeping paramours and committing adultery was also deleted. This was replaced by a clause which says that "having improper sexual relationships with others" is forbidden, toughening up the existing regulation.

The adjustments demonstrate the Party's awareness of the potential risks, which have been revealed by officials brought down in the anti-graft campaign, according to analysts.

"Almost all punished officials had violated political discipline, and it is in fact the root of corruption. The regulation sends a strong signal to all members that the Party will tighten up management on its organizations and members," Zhuang noted.

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