Chinese Communist Party clamps new rules for its members; bans public dissent

The amended rules include new guidelines on access to information and how to handle internal complaints which were portrayed as the “boosting democracy within the party”.

As China’s ruling Communist Party gears up to celebrate its centenary year, it has revised rules for its 92 million members, stipulating that no public expression of dissent will be tolerated.

But party cadres have been granted the right to seek the removal of leaders if they are found incompetent, according to the amended party rules published by the Chinese language service of the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Founded in 1921 by Mao Zedong, the Communist Party of China (CPC) — which took over power in 1949 — is drawing up grand plans to celebrate its centenary year in July. The CPC is also a rare Marxist party with the longest tenure in power continuing with the one-party political system.

The amended rules include new guidelines on access to information and how to handle internal complaints which were portrayed as the “boosting democracy within the party”.

The new rules make it clear that the party will not tolerate dissenting views from its own ranks, especially airing the complaints in public.

“When a party member criticises, exposes or requests for treatment or punishment, he/she shall use organisational channels. He/she shall not spread it freely or on the Internet, exaggerate or distort facts, fabricate facts, or falsely accuse or frame up”, the new rule said.

Article 16 of the rule book says “party members shall not publicly express opinions that are inconsistent with the decisions of the Central Committee” of the CPC.

In an effort to motivate the cadres, the new rules stipulate that work-related mistakes will no longer be treated as discipline violations, the Hong Kong-based South Morning Post reported on Wednesday.

According to another rule, party members will be entitled to propose the removal of their leaders if they can prove they are incompetent, it said.

Often criticised for its secrecy and opaque functioning, the CPC which followed ideals like democratic centralism and collective leadership system introduced by Deng Xiaoping, who succeeded Mao after his death in 1976, has undergone a transformation after the advent of President Xi Jinping at the helm of the party in 2012.

Since then, Xi, 67, has consolidated his leadership as the head of the party, the military and the presidency and bestowed the “core leader” status of the CPC, a position only enjoyed by Mao.

Thanks to a constitutional amendment doing away with the two-term provision for the president in 2018, Xi now has the privilege to continue in power for life.

The recent adoption of “Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035” plan by CPC sparked off speculation that Xi may remain in power till that time ensuring the objective of China emerging as a superpower.

Xi — who previously headed the CPC’s Central Party School specialising in ideology, especially the implementation of the party’s policy of Socialism with Chinese characteristics — has passed a rule in 2018 asking party members to give up religion.

Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs at that time said, “Party members should not have religious beliefs, which is a red line for all members…party members should be firm Marxist atheists, obey party rules and stick to the party”s faith…they are not allowed to seek value and belief in religion.”

The party school suffered a major jolt last year when its retired professor Cai Xia defected to the US after she became a bitter critic of Xi.

She was subsequently expelled from the party school.

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