The Third Plenum of the 19th CCP Central Committee was held from 26-28 February. It explained the goals and rationales for the Central Committee’s proposed structural reforms to Party and state institutions. It emphasized that the most important task of reform is to ensure the Party’s comprehensive leadership over all domains and linked the Party’s comprehensive leadership to the reform of the national supervision system.
People’s Daily and Xinhua defended the CCP Central Committee’s proposal to amend the PRC Constitution, stating that the proposals represent the will of the people and better demonstrate the advantages of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Liu He Visits the US
2.26 Politburo Member and Director of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs Liu He (刘鹤) visited the US from 27 February to 3 March at the invitation of the US government. During his visit, the two sides exchanged opinions on US-China relations and bilateral trade cooperation.
Li Keqiang Sends Congratulatory Message to the 5th Sino-German Innovation Conference
2.27 Li Keqiang sent a congratulatory message to the 5th Sino-German Innovation Conference. The message described Sino-German innovation cooperation as setting a precedent for future great power cooperation in science and technology. It also expressed Li’s hope China and Germany will deepen exchange and cooperation related to scientific and technological innovation to promote the healthy development of both countries’ societies and economies as well as add a new driving force to the world economy.
19th CCP Central Committee Third Plenary Session Communique
2.28 The 19th CCP Central Committee Third Plenary Session Communique was passed on 28 February when the meeting concluded. The session confirmed the final list of leadership personnel recommendations for state organs and the National Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference which will be presented to the 13th National People’s Congress and the CPPCC National Committee. The Plenary Session also reviewed and passed a plan to “deepen structural reforms of the Party and state institutions” (深化党和国家机构改革), stating that structural reform is needed because the current Party and state structures are “not entirely suited” (不完全适应) to modernization of the national governance system and governance capabilities needed to carry out tasks for the new era. Other reforms included establishing institutions and mechanisms for the Party’s leadership over major tasks, strengthening the leadership position of Party organizations among organizations of the same level, and further reforming the Party’s discipline inspection system and the state’s supervisory system. The session stated that the guiding thought for deepening reform is to comprehensively implement the spirit of the 19th Party Congress, adapt to the developmental needs of socialism with Chinese characteristics in a new era, adhere to rule by law (依法治国), and enhance the Party’s comprehensive leadership. Leadership by the Party was underscored as the primary task for reform. Finally, the session called for unity centered around the Central Committee with Xi at its core to fight for the realization of the China Dream.
Central Committee Holds Symposium to Commemorate Zhou Enlai’s 120th Birthday
3.1 The CCP Central Committee held a symposium to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the birth of the late Premier Zhou Enlai (周恩来). Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the symposium, which Li Keqiang presided over and the other members of the Politburo Standing Committee attended. Xi’s speech declared today’s generation could tell Zhou and other members of his generation that China has made great progress since it stood up and has started to become wealthy and powerful. It also praised Zhou as a model of remaining true to one’s original aspirations, being loyal to the Party, diligently working for the people, daring to shoulder responsibility, and being honest and upright. Xi urged the audience to study Zhou’s example, never forget the CCP is communist and revolutionary, and never lose the Party’s ideals and convictions.
Central Committee Holds Symposium and Democratic Consultative Meeting for Non-Party Members
3.1 The Central Committee held a symposium and democratic consultative meeting with representatives of the non-Communist political parties in China, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and politically unaffiliated personnel on 6 and 28 February respectively. The events informed attendees about plans to “deepen the structural reforms of the Party and the state institutions” and recommended leadership personnel for state organs and the National Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference which will be presented to the 13th National People’s Congress and the CPPCC National Committee. Xi Jinping presided over and delivered a speech at both the symposium and meeting. The Politburo Standing Committee’s six other members and CPPCC Chairman Yu Zhengsheng (俞正声) attended both events. Xi’s speeches emphasized the need to establish strong Party leadership over major work, rationally configure macro-level administrative bureaus, perfect the distribution of Party and state institutions, grant county and local level institutions greater autonomy, and manage various institutions and organizations in accordance with the rule of law. The attendees unanimously approved of the Central Committee’s decision on deepening reform.
Provide Strong Constitutional Guarantee for Adhering to and Developing Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era
2.26 People’s Daily published a front page commentary to support the CCP Central Committee’s proposed amendments to the PRC Constitution. It argued that including the critical theoretical views and policies confirmed during the 19th Party Congress into the constitution will provide a strong constitutional guarantee for adhering to and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. It mentioned that the Central Committee’s proposal to amend the constitution is meant to better represent the will of the people, better demonstrate the advantages of the socialism with Chinese characteristics system, and better adapt to the demands of pushing forward the country’s governance system and the modernization of its governance capability. The constitutional amendments embody the new achievements, experiences, and demands of the Party’s and country’s development. Making Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, improvements to term regulations for the presidency, and deepening the reform of the national supervisory system all part of the constitution is both necessary and timely, the commentary concluded.
Xinhua reported that the suggestions to amend the constitution are supported by cadres and the people and discussed the significance of putting Xi’s Thought into the constitution. It pointed out that putting Xi’s Thought into the constitution will transform the Party’s guiding ideology into the country’s guiding ideology, clarify the fundamental developmental missions and goals of the country in a new era, and further preserve the Party’s leadership in all work, which is the highest political principle.
Zhong Sheng: China’s Confidence Is Based on Both Strength and Morality
2.28 The commentary pen name Zhong Sheng (钟声) reflected on the popularity of the film Operation Red Sea (红海行动), claiming it shows the world a rising China intends to protect world peace. In contrast to the “China Threat” theory, the article argues the true story behind the aforesaid film shows China is assuming responsibility for resolving common problems around the world. It lists China’s participation in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, establishment of the United Nations Peace and Development Trust Fund, and contributions to UN peacekeeping forces as evidence China is putting its promise of contributing to world peace into practice.
Qiu Shi: Consistently Adhere to and Develop Socialism with Chinese Characteristics
2.28 A commentary published in the Qiushi Journal under the pen name “Qiu Shi” (秋石), used by the Qiushi Editorial Board to convey the theoretical positions of the CCP Central Committee, emphasized that the new era is an era for socialism with Chinese characteristics only and nothing else. To push forward the great work of socialism with Chinese characteristics in a new era is to continuously develop its theories, improve its system, and enrich its culture. This is not only for realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation but also for pushing socialism to a new level as a social system and form and elevating the international communist movement to a new height. As China’s development has progressed, the influence of China’s social system and developmental path and China’s voice on the international stage have become stronger than ever.
Critical System Arrangements to Ensure the Long-Term Peace and Stability of the Party and the Country
3.1 Similar to several other articles published this week, a People’s Daily commentary asserted that the Central Committee’s suggestions on constitutional amendments reflect deep consideration and provides an arrangement that ensures long-term peace and stability of the Party and the country. It highlights that inserting “the characteristics of socialism with Chinese characteristics within the leadership of the CCP” into the constitution provides an institutional guarantee to reinforce the Party’s comprehensive leadership, and states that adjusting presidential term regulations will improve the system for the Party’s and country’s leadership. The article argued that under current Party and state constitutions, there is no term limit on the members of the Central Committee or the Central Military Commission. Amending the presidential term limit will create a consistency between the leaderships of the CCP, PRC, and PLA. The article emphasized that this amendment does not mean changing the retirement system of the Party or state’s leading cadres, or providing tenure to either.
UNITED FRONT WORK
You Quan: Conscientiously Learn and Implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and Constantly Push Forward Multi-Party Cooperation
2.28 United Front Work Department Head You Quan (尤权) published an article in the Qiushi Journal articulating that the multi-party cooperation and political consultation system led by the CCP is a socialist party system with Chinese characteristics. In order to develop multi-party cooperation in the new era, Xi’s core status and the Party’s authority and leadership must be defended. He further accentuated that Xi has made important directives on enhancing the effectiveness of the multi-party system, and urged party committees at all levels to support and take advice from the democratic parties and non-party members. You also criticized “Western Democracy” for becoming a political system involving ballots and money, creating problems such as low administrative efficiency, economic stagnation, and divided social groups. You argued that, in contrast, China’s party system has presented strong cohesiveness, demonstrating the advantage of China’s system.
Yang Jing Placed on One-Year Probation and Removed from His Post due to Serious Disciplinary Violations
2.24 18th Central Committee Secretariat member and former State Council secretary-general Yang Jing (杨晶) was found to have violated political discipline and rules and improperly associated himself with “illegal business owners and societal personnel.” The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) Standing Committee has decided to put Yang on probation for a year, remove him from his post, and demote him to the ministerial level.
Anti-Corruption Work Efficacy Clearly Improved Following Supervision System Reform
2.28 Beijing Discipline Inspection Commission Secretary and Beijing Supervision Commission Director Zhang Shuofu (张硕辅) explained the results of Beijing’s supervision system reform pilot program to a group of Chinese and foreign journalists. Along with the provinces of Shanxi and Zhejiang, Beijing started implementing the pilot program in October 2016. Afterwards, the number of people under supervision in Beijing grew nearly fivefold, increasing from 210,000 to 997,000. Additionally, the number of tip-offs and cases filed for investigation increased by 45.8 and 11.5 percent respectively. Zhang also discussed the new liuzhi (留置) mechanism, claiming it conforms with the rule of law and is carefully carried out in accordance with strict examination and approval procedures.
Eliminate the “Greed of Flies”
Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
3.1 The CCDI published an article on the dangers of the “greed of flies” (蝇贪), meaning serious corruption among low-level officials (小官巨贪). It lists using one’s position for personal gain, seeking benefits for one’s friends and family, embezzling funds, and getting involved with criminal elements as examples. The article argues that, while individual flies are small, together they can be as harmful as a tiger, gnawing at the public’s “sense of gain” (获得感) and threatening their trust in the Party and government. It also blames the prevalence of flies on the weakness of grass-roots Party organizations and relaxation of the management and governance of the Party (管党治党) and suggests pushing comprehensive strict governance of the Party to the grass-roots level is the solution to these problems.
CENTRAL MILITARY COMMISSION (CMC)
China’s Armed Forces Express Resolute Support for Constitutional Amendments Proposal
2.27 A front-page report in PLA Daily expressed the support of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and People’s Armed Police (PAP) for the CCP Central Committee’s proposal for amending the PRC constitution. The report proclaimed the amendments have important and far-reaching implications for the comprehensive implementation of the spirit of the 19th Party Congress and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. It also declared entering the critical theoretical views and policies of the 19th Party Congress into the constitution is necessary and timely since they embody the new achievements, experiences, and demands of the Party and country’s development.
COMPREHENSIVELY DEEPENING REFORM
Assessing the Implementation of the “2017 Government Work Report” Primary Development Goals
China Economic Daily
2.28 An overview of the past year’s economic goals described how during 2017 China achieved exceptional GDP growth, saw its consumer price index rise by 1.6%, 13.5 million jobs were created in urban areas, and urban unemployment reached its lowest level since 2002. College student employment was high, and lay-offs in the steel and coal industries were carried out in a stable and orderly manner. 2017 saw a high level of investment in infrastructure. 2.27 trillion RMB was invested in highways and waterways, and over 800 billion RMB went into railways for the fourth consecutive year. The country exceeded the 2017 Government Report goal of reducing rural poverty by 10 million persons. According to the Office of the State Council Leading Small Group on Poverty Alleviation and Development (国务院扶贫办), poverty eradication efforts included supplying rural households with electricity, developing tourism, providing healthcare while reducing medical expenses, and providing adequate housing. The central and provincial special funds for poverty alleviation totaled more than 140 billion RMB, a 30% increase over the previous year. The Social Poverty Alleviation Network (中国社会扶贫网) was launched and presently has over 10 million registered users. Taxes and fees, especially on small enterprises, were redesigned to provide tax relief and stimulate the economy. Measures include increasing pre-tax deductions for R&D and for technology focused small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The total tax cut was 918.6 billion RMB (345 billion RMB more than 2016.)
Yang Weimin: This Year’s Fiscal Policy Focuses on Laying a Solid Foundation for Facing the “Three Tough Battles”
China Securities Journal
3.2 Deputy Director of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs Yang Weimin (杨伟民) told reporters that this year’s fiscal policy will “lay the groundwork to fight the three tough battles (打好三大攻坚战) well” and that financial regulatory system reform will result from both the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee. China will explore a new model that suits China’s particular conditions rather than follow an existing model from another country, Yang said. Yang also expressed the intention to address local government debt through further guidance from the central government and gradually reducing debt risks.
INTERNATIONAL LIAISON WORK
2.26 International Department Minister Song Tao (宋涛) met with former U.S. Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the United States Institute of Peace Chairman Stephen Hadley in Beijing.
2.26 International Department Vice Minister Xu Luping (徐绿平) met with the President of the Great Britain-China Centre and former First Secretary of State of the United Kingdom Lord Mandelson in Beijing.
2.27 International Department Vice Minister Li Jun (李军) met with the Cuban Ambassador to China Miguel Angel Ramirez Ramos. The two sides exchanged opinions on the common understanding on deepening inter-party relations reached during Special Envoy and International Department Minister Song Tao’s January 2018 trip to Cuba.
2.27 International Department Vice Minister Guo Yezhou (郭业州) led a CCP delegation to Manila, the Philippines for an introductory presentation on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. Nearly 400 people, including the President of the Senate Aquilino Pimentel III, Speaker of the House of Representatives Pantaleon Alvarez, and other leaders from the PDP–Laban party, attended. The delegation also held talks with the leadership of the PDP–Laban and met with members of the governing alliance while on the trip.