CCP Issues Standards on “Integrity and Self-Restraint”

On October 12, the CCP Central Committee adopted the Chinese Communist Party Standards on Integrity and Self Restraint, the latest weapon in Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption arsenal. The Standards update the list of activities and behaviors that are banned for party cadres, including, notably, indulgent meals and golf*. From Reuters:

The new rules update existing regulations and are designed to codify more clearly what constitutes a violation of discipline, the official Xinhua news agency said late on Wednesday. They apply to all 88 million party members for the first time, and also include a new ethical code.

“Party members must separate public and private interests, put the public’s interest first, and work selflessly,” the Xinhua report said. Party members must also “champion simplicity and guard against extravagance”.

“The new discipline regulation explicitly lists extravagant eating and drinking and playing as violations, which were not included previously,” it said.

Explaining the new rules and underscoring golf’s negative image, the party’s corruption watchdog said on Thursday that golf was a game enjoyed by a former police chief who engaged in “massive” bribery. A vice mayor in a southeastern Chinese city was sacked this month for belonging to a golf club and playing the game when he should have been working. [Source]

At Quartz, Zheping Huang looks at some of the more obscure items on the list:

Quartz reviewed the entire text of the regulations, and translated the lesser-noticed newly-added rules. Party members:

Must not make irresponsible remarks about the central government’s major policies
Must not take other countries’ nationalities, or permanent residencies overseas
Must not participate in any unofficial associations for townsmen, alumni, and comrade-in-arms (Party cadres, or officers, only)
Must not trade power for sex, or pay money for sex
Must not have improper sexual relationships with others (this phrase replaces “conduct adultery”)
Must not infringe ordinary people’s rights to know about Party affairs
Must allocate relief supplies impartially
Must not approve projects that harm ordinary people’s interests.

The most absurd item may be the ban on associations. Forming “cliques” that seek to split the Party was banned under previous regulations, but this is the first time the Party’s most powerful have been specifically forbidden from joining other groups outside it. The ban on “townsmen” groups means that Party cadres can’t meet regularly with people from the same city or area, while the ban on “comrade-in-arms” means that people who used to fight together in the army are banned from having regular meetings. [Source]

Anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan sought to provide historical legitimacy for the new rules by linking them to traditional Chinese culture. From Reuters:

Writing in the party’s official newspaper the People’s Daily, Wang Qishan, who is in charge of battling corruption, said the source of the party’s rules on tackling this problem were the morals and virtues passed down through history.

“In a series of important speeches General Secretary Xi Jinping has cited a great number of ancient texts and words from the classics, stressing and lauding the fine traditional culture of the Chinese people which has meaning in the new era,” Wang wrote.

In traditional Chinese culture, morality and law are joined at the hip, rules are observed like rituals and everyone follows them, he said.

The party’s rules on fighting corruption and ancient morality can be traced to the same origin, he added, in comments written to explain why the party this week tightened its clean-living rules for party members.

“In setting and adjusting rules, we must learn from the essence of traditional Chinese culture and move with the times in managing the party in accordance with new situations and new missions,” Wang said. [Source]

On her blog, legal scholar Floria Sapio puts the new standards in their political context and calls them, “one of the most important pieces of Party legislation”:

Together with the Regulations on Disciplinary Punishment, the Standards are one of the most important pieces of Party legislation. The Regulations on Disciplinary Punishment define certain conducts as violations of Party discipline and specify the punishment associated with each one of them. The Standards, as they were enacted in 1997 (here – Chinese) and amended in February 2010 (here – in Chinese), aimed at “regulating the honest performance of official duties” (规范廉政从政行为).

[…] One should not be tempted to dismiss the Standards as a mere exercise in political rhetoric. Together with the amended version of the Regulations on Disciplinary Punishment, as well as other legislative and regulatory documents, they have given legal form to Xi Jinping’s theory of the “Four Comprehensives”. Even though the short preamble to the Standards does not reference the Four Comprehensives, the Notice with which both the Standards and the Regulations were issued makes it clear that the two regulations embody “comprehensively strictly governing the Party” and introduce a partially new and different set of ethical and behavioral standards. [Source]

Since coming to power, Xi’s administration has issued a number of rules or directives aimed at curbing extravagant behavior by officials, which has in turn impacted local businesses that cater to the political elite. Read more about Xi’s anti-corruption campaign.

* An article on China Sports Insider points out that contrary to the impression given by much of the coverage of these rules, golf itself is not banned for Party members. Rather, the use of public funds to play golf is.

October 23, 2015 9:52 PM
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