A Profound Transformation: Continuing the Reform of Party and Government Institutions
General Secretary Xi Jinping made important arrangements for furthering institutional reform in the report to the 19th National Congress of the CPC in 2017. In this light, the 19th CPC Central Committee deliberated on this issue and adopted the “Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Deepening the Reform of Party and Government Institutions” (hereinafter referred to as the Decision) at its Third Plenary Session. The Decision explicitly stated that “Furthering the reform of Party and government institutions is a profound transformation aiming to promote the modernization of China’s governance systems and capacity.” Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, we need to realize the necessity of promoting this profound transformation from a strategic and long-term perspective, and consciously implement it.
I. Fully realizing the historical and practical necessity of this profound transformation
The CPC Central Committee has always attached great significance to the development and reform of Party and government institutions. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core has upheld a problem-oriented approach and focused on key areas to continue the reform of Party and government institutions. By doing so, it has made major progress in key areas, and provided strong guarantees for historic achievements and changes in the undertakings of the Party and the country. The new era and our new tasks present us with new requirements; faced with these requirements and in line with the strategic arrangements made at the 19th National Congress of the CPC, it is historically and practically necessary that we continue the reform of Party and government institutions and continuously modernize China’s governance systems and capacity.
1. Furthering the reform of Party and government institutions is a necessary requirement for upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.
As it forms the superstructure, the system which comprises the functions of Party and government institutions is an important component of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and should be improved constantly in line with the development of productive forces and changes in the economic base. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China has, under the leadership of the CPC, established the basic socialist system, and gradually developed a unique system which comprises the functions of Party and government institutions. This system has played an important role in advancing China’s socialist development. Since reform and opening up began in 1978, in line with the requirements for developing a socialist market economy, the CPC has actively advanced the reform of Party and government institutions to continually optimize and gradually standardize their functions in all aspects, thus providing a strong boost for reform, opening up, and socialist modernization. As Chinese socialism has entered a new era, the functions of Party and government institutions must conform to the requirements for developing Chinese socialism in this new era. However, it should be noted that, at present, the setup and functions of Party and government institutions do not entirely meet the requirements for the coordinated advancement of the five-pronged overall plan and the “Four Comprehensives” strategy, or for the modernization of China’s governance systems and capacity. Therefore, we must boost the reform of Party and government institutions in accordance with the requirements for upholding and developing Chinese socialism.
2. Furthering the reform of Party and government institutions is a necessary requirement for strengthening the Party’s long-term governance capacity.
The leadership of the CPC is the defining feature of Chinese socialism. The system which comprises the functions of Party and government institutions is an important guarantee for our Party’s governance, and an important foundation that ensures our Party exercises overall leadership and coordinates overall initiatives. If our Party is to smoothly carry out all undertakings of Chinese socialism in the new era and better lead the Chinese people in carrying out our great struggle, developing our great project, advancing our great cause, and realizing our great dream, it is essential that we give play to the leadership of the CPC – our greatest institutional advantage – in our organizations and institutions. We must then apply this advantage in all areas and aspects so that Party and government fully and correctly perform their duties and their institutions provide guarantees for the long-term governance of the CPC and lasting stability of the country. At present, the Party’s institutional setup and functions in some areas have yet to be improved and strengthened, and the systems and mechanisms for guaranteeing overall Party leadership and promoting full and strict governance over the Party have yet to be enhanced. In order to strengthen the Party’s long-term governance capacity and ensure full and strict governance over the Party, there is a pressing need to further the reform of Party and government institutions, to improve institutional arrangements for ensuring overall Party leadership, to refine the way our Party leads and governs, and to enhance our Party’s capacity and resolve to chart the direction, exercise overall governance, formulate policies, and facilitate reform.
3. Furthering the reform of Party and government institutions is a necessary requirement for self-improvement and development of the socialist system.
Improving and developing the system of Chinese socialism and advancing the modernization of China’s governance systems and capacity are the overall objectives of comprehensively continuing reform. As an important aspect of this effort, furthering institutional reform serves as an institutional support and guarantee for reforms in various areas. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee led by Xi Jinping, institutional barriers have been removed in all areas and breakthroughs made in key areas, further improving China’s socialist system. However, it should be noted that, it is essential that we take our reform to the institutional level if we are to fundamentally resolve deep-rooted conflicts and problems in development and bolster and build on achievements in reform. At present, problems whereby some Party and government institutions have overlapping responsibilities or their powers and responsibilities are not well matched are relatively prominent. Another prominent issue is that the institutional setup and division of responsibilities in some government institutions are illogical, leading to dereliction of responsibilities and low efficiency, and the transformation of government functions is not yet where it should be. Also at issue is that the functions of some local institutions are exactly the same as their counterparts at the central level, and the division of power and responsibility is irrational. In order to resolve these problems, we must boost the reform of Party and government institutions to provide institutional support and guarantees for continuing reform and overcoming difficulties in the economic, social, political, cultural, and ecological realms.
4. Furthering the reform of Party and government institutions is a necessary requirement for achieving the “Two Centenary Goals,” developing a modern socialist country, and realizing national rejuvenation.
In order to achieve the “Two Centenary Goals,” the 19th National Congress of the CPC made strategic arrangements for developing Chinese socialism in the new era – building China into a moderately prosperous society by 2020, basically realizing socialist modernization by 2035, and developing China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the middle of the 21st century. To achieve the first centenary goal, the functions of Party and government institutions must provide guarantees that ensure tough steps are taken to forestall and defuse major risks, carry out targeted poverty alleviation, and prevent and control pollution with a view to resolving prominent problems. Meanwhile, to achieve the second centenary goal, we must focus on resolving institutional issues that have a long-term bearing. However, it should be noted that the setup and functions of our Party and government institutions have yet to meet the requirements for achieving the “Two Centenary Goals.” In particular, we have yet to improve the setup and use of power in community-level institutions, and their capacity to organize and serve the general public needs to be raised. Also, people’s organizations need to strengthen their political consciousness, become more advanced, and better represent the people. Thus, we urgently need to boost the reform of Party and government institutions, rationally define the functions of these institutions, and improve relevant systems and mechanisms. Doing so will provide strong institutional guarantees for securing moderate prosperity throughout society, embarking on a new journey to build a thoroughly modern socialist country, and realizing the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.