Xi Jinping re-establishes party's role in China Inc

China's President Xi Jinping attending the closing session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on March 15, 2017.
China's President Xi Jinping attending the closing session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on March 15, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

Executive salaries at China's biggest state firms will be tied to results on tests assessing their 'party building' efforts

BEIJING • Salaries of executives at China's largest state-owned enterprises (SOEs) will be directly linked to their performance on tests by the ruling Communist Party to assess their "party building" efforts, state media said yesterday.

President Xi Jinping has overseen a push to re-establish the party in Chinese businesses and institutions, stating that a "key few" loyal and talented officials should play a greater role in leading the country.

These efforts, often described as aims to strengthen party discipline, dovetail with Mr Xi's war on graft, a multi-year campaign to target offenders at all levels.

New rules released on Sunday will create for the first time a "system of responsibility" to ensure appointed executives are carrying out work to promote party ideology in China's national-level SOEs, the party's official People's Daily newspaper reported.

A meeting by the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (Sasac), which appoints top executives in SOEs and approves mergers and sales of their assets, was held in Beijing on Monday.

It was decided that the rules will link pay, appointment or dismissal and other rewards or punishments to assessments of how well individuals carrying out "party building" work, the report said.

JUGGLING TWO ROLES

The party committee secretary and chairman (roles) are shouldered as one; two jobs, two duties with only one person in charge. We must resolutely avoid paying attention to one while neglecting the other.

MR HAO PENG, party secretary of the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (Sasac)

"We must resolutely assess party building (and) without tests there is no way to hold (people) accountable," Mr Hao Peng, party secretary of Sasac said at the meeting, according to the state broadcaster.

The party appoints executives to top positions in SOEs, and party loyalty has always been a part of assessing officials' performance. Practically all large institutions and companies have a party unit.

But, as China's SOEs began to internationalise and take some entities public, the party role has waned in some organisations, with executives choosing their business role over party work, a phenomenon the new rule hopes to address.

"The party committee secretary and chairman (roles) are shouldered as one; two jobs, two duties with only one person in charge. We must resolutely avoid paying attention to one while neglecting the other," Mr Hao said, according to the People's Daily.

Since he took power in late 2012, President Xi has launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign within the 80-million-member Communist Party, bringing down corrupt officials in the military, the government and state enterprises alike.

Top executives at China's state oil company, telecom operators and steel plants have been sacked and jailed in recent years.

A former anti-graft official tasked with auditing top state-owned electricity firms has himself been placed under disciplinary investigation. Zhang Huawei is the most senior anti-graft official probed this year, reported South China Morning Post.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a statement that Zhang was being investigated for suspected "serious violation of party discipline", a common euphemism for graft.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'Xi re-establishes party's role in China Inc'. Print Edition | Subscribe