Revised code of conduct for Chinese Communist Party focuses on top brass

Chinese President, Xi Jinping gestures on his arrival at the airport in Goa on Oct 15, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Two regulations revised at the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership meeting will apply to all senior cadres, but the spotlight is clearly on high-ranking members of the Central Committee, Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee.

They were singled out in at least 10 instances in a 6,600-word communique spelling out what they should and should not do according to a code of conduct and a set of intra-party supervision regulations.

These include reporting to the CCP leadership on major work problems and personal issues, which could be a prelude to an asset-declaration requirement.

The communique, which was released yesterday after the sixth plenary session of the CCP Central Committee, stated that party discipline must be enforced across the board, with no exceptions.

"The party opposes double-dealing or double-faced behaviour, and it will not tolerate deception, exaggeration, hiding the truth, or reporting only good news while holding back the bad," it said.

Key organisations and leaders must not condone, abet, suggest or force their subordinates to lie under any circumstances, it added.

Any publicity regarding leaders must be based on facts, and flattery is strictly prohibited.

The communique also spelt out clearly that asking for an official post, buying and selling official posts, and vote rigging are to be outlawed.

"No one should be allowed to consider party officials as their private property," it said, adding that there should be no "personal favours" within the party.

Analysts told The Straits Times that the focus on requiring the top leaders to abide strictly to party discipline shows the party's resolve in implementing the regulation to tackle corruption and abuse of power.

It could also serve as a warning to Mr Xi's adversaries that the revised code could be used against them if they did not submit to his authority, they said.

Beijing-based analyst Ren Jianming said usage of strong words like "zero tolerance" and "no forbidden zone" aimed to reflect the CCP's political will in regulating its members' behaviour.

"But the communique did not specifically lay out how these theoretical ideas would be implemented," said Professor Ren of Beihang University.

He added that, based on the communique's language, the CCP general secretary - who is President Xi Jinping - would bear the heaviest responsibility in enforcing the intra-party supervision regulations.

"This means no one could or would dare to supervise the general secretary," said Prof Ren. "A more reliable form of supervision is in having a robust, external system, compared to self-supervision."

Renmin University professor Mao Shoulong told The Straits Times that the regulations stem from the experiences accumulated in the anti-graft drive.

"But it remains to be seen how such abstract regulations could be applied to new cases and scenarios," said Prof Mao.

"The implementation of these rules could be problematic if Wang Qishan (the CCP's disciplinary chief) retires next year."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2016, with the headline Revised code of conduct for Chinese Communist Party focuses on top brass. Subscribe