The report of the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) (党的十九大) stated: It is necessary to focus on improving organizational power, highlighting political functions, and building a strong fighting fortress (战斗堡垒) of basic–level party organizations such as enterprises, rural areas, institutions, schools, scientific research institutes, neighborhoods, communities, and social organizations into publicizing the Party’s propositions, implementing party decisions, and leading grassroots governance to unite and mobilize the masses and promote reform and development. The Party Constitution of the 19th CCP National Congress stated that state-owned enterprise (SOE) party committees (party groups) (国有企业党委 [党组]) “play the role of the core of leadership, take direction, manage the overall situation, ensure implementation, and discuss and decide major corporate issues in accordance with regulations.” This has pointed out that the direction for the party committee (party group) of SOEs in the new era is to establish a leadership position and play a leading role. In the new era, SOE party committees (party groups) have important positions, glorious missions, great responsibilities, arduous tasks, and unavoidable duties (责无旁贷). They must have the courage to take up heavy burdens; give full play to their leadership role in deepening the reform of SOEs and corporate governance; be guided by strong political leadership; give full play to cohesive organization; and offer keen market insight, courageous strategic determination, and perseverance to overcome difficulties. They must strive to be good “locomotives” for enterprise reform and stable development and must become a fighting fortress for building a modern and powerful socialist country.
(1) The Party Leads Everything. SOEs Take This for Granted
The Party Constitution of the 19th National Congress of the CCP stated that the leadership of the CCP is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the greatest advantage of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics (中国特色社会主义制度). In party, government, military, and civic studies, in all areas of endeavor, the Party exercises overall leadership. Upholding the leadership of the Party is the highest political principle of contemporary China and the key to achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation (中华民族伟大复兴). Without the strong leadership of the CCP, the Chinese nation would be in a state of disunity (一盘散沙). SOEs are an important part of the party-led system of national governance (国家治理体系), and it is of course necessary to uphold the Party’s leadership.
General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that upholding the leadership of the Party and strengthening party building are the responsibilities of SOEs, the glorious traditions of our country’s SOEs, the “root” (“根”) and “soul” (“魂”) of SOEs, and the unique advantages of our country’s SOEs. In the early days of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, our country’s industrial base was extremely backward, and it could only produce bowls, paper, and textiles, not even a single tractor. However, under the strong leadership of the CCP, from the first FAW Jiefang in 1956 to the first tractor in 1958 and from the development and construction of a world-class oil field in the Daqing Campaign (大庆会战) in 1960 to the “Two Bombs and One Satellite” (“两弹一星”) that shocked the world, this glorious construction history of New China is a history of entrepreneurship and development of SOEs from scratch and from small to large. Today, manned spaceflight, high-speed rail, nuclear power, large aircraft, the “Eye of Heaven” (“Tianyan,” the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope) (“天眼”), and high-end equipment manufacturing all demonstrate the important role of SOE party organizations in promoting development, serving the masses, uniting the people, and promoting harmony, reflecting the unique advantages of party building. With the heroic spirit of the Iron Man Wang Jinxi (王进喜) who “would rather live 20 fewer years and desperately win the big oil field” or the aeronautical model of the country Luo Yang (罗阳), who worked hard for the motherland’s aviation industry, working day and night and sacrificing himself for the country, this generation of outstanding Communist Party members of SOEs, with infinite loyalty to the Party’s cause and infinite love for the motherland, wrote a brilliant chapter of communists enlightening the world with their magnificent lives.
For a considerable period of time, many SOEs only focused on business but not party building and focused only on development but not corruption. “Ensure the supervision of the implementation of the guidelines and policies of the Party and the country within the enterprise” was not upheld, comprehensive, or in place; the Party was not strictly managed or effectively governed; and, to varying degrees, party leadership and party building had been weakened, diluted, blurred, and marginalized. This weakness was mainly manifested in the lack of implementation of party leadership and party building. The problem of dilution was mainly manifested in not inquiring into or studying the work of party building. The problem of blurring was mainly manifested in the ineffective governance of the Party. The problem of marginalization was mainly manifested in the “Two Skins” (“两张皮”) of party building and reform and development with weak party organizations. To this end, General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized that party committees at all levels and various SOE party organizations must stand at the strategic height of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics and consolidating the Party’s ruling foundation, from advancing great undertakings, building great projects, and winning great struggles to proceeding from the overall situation of victory, with the implementation of the requirements for strict party governance in an all-round way as the mainstay and problem solving as a breakthrough point to fundamentally strengthen party building in SOEs.
(2) To Play a Leading Role Is to Not Only Lead Strongly, but to Also Play a Role
Article 33 of Chapter 5 of the 19th CCP National Congress Constitution clearly stipulates that the party committees (party groups) of SOEs shall play a leading role, guide the direction, manage the overall situation, ensure implementation, and discuss and decide on major corporate issues in accordance with regulations. The grassroots party organizations in SOEs and collective enterprises carry out their work around the production and operations of the enterprises. Ensure supervision of the implementation of the party and state guidelines and policies in the enterprise; support the shareholder meeting, board of directors, board of supervisors, and managers (factory directors) to exercise their powers in accordance with the law; wholeheartedly rely on the masses of workers to support the work of the workers’ congress (职工代表大会); participate in decisionmaking on major issues of the enterprise; strengthen the self-building of the party organization; and lead ideological and political work, spiritual civilization construction, and group organizations such as trade unions and the Communist Youth League. This clearly requires the party committees (party groups) of SOEs to effectively shoulder the responsibility of the Party to manage the Party with the profound responsibility of administering the Party with rigor. To effectively become the core of leadership and political core of corporate governance, we must earnestly enhance the awareness of taking party building as the greatest political achievement in order to make SOEs stronger, better, and bigger and to cultivate unremitting efforts to become world-class enterprises with global competitiveness.
To play a leading role is to play the role of the leadership core and the political core. General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized that the party organizations of SOEs play their leading core and political core roles. In the final analysis, it is to guide the direction, manage the overall situation, and ensure implementation. The important speech made by General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out the way forward and provided basic follow up for SOEs to adhere to the Party’s leadership, strengthen party building, and unswervingly become stronger and larger in the comprehensive deepening of reforms. Guiding the direction means reaffirming the correct political direction, grasping the direction of scientific work, planning a sustainable development direction, and ensuring the supervision of the implementation of the Party and the country’s guidelines and policies within enterprises. Managing the overall situation means considering the overall situation and coordinating across all parties, consciously thinking about problems, making decisions, and handling things in the overall situation of building a society with Chinese characteristics in the new era while unswervingly maintaining the situation of enterprise reform, development, and stability. Ensuring implementation means carrying out work around enterprise production and operations, focusing on gathering the soul and strengthening the foundation, gathering talents through management of cadres, building and leading teams, grasping the foundation at the grassroots level, strengthening the righteous atmosphere of supervision, and fully implementing, without compromise, the deployments of the Party, the country, and higher levels.
To give full play to the role of leadership requires strong leadership but also the fulfillment of this role. The Party Constitution of the 19th CCP National Congress is very clear. The Party’s grassroots organizations are the Party’s fighting fortress among the grassroots organizations of society and are the foundation of all the Party’s work and combat effectiveness. SOE party committees (party groups) must perform their leadership role under the premise of guiding the direction, managing the overall situation, and ensuring implementation, focusing on enterprise production and operations and effectively implementing the four major connotations of leadership in the specific practice of enterprise operations and management. This is not only a requirement of the Party Constitution, but also a practical enterprise need that further grounds this leadership role. The first matter is ensuring the supervisory role, that is, ensuring that the Party and the country’s guidelines and policies are implemented in enterprises. The second matter is supporting this role, which is reflected in two aspects: on the one hand, they must support the shareholder meeting, the board of directors, the board of supervisors, and the manager (factory director) in accordance with the law. To exercise authority, on the other hand, we must wholeheartedly rely on the masses of workers and support the work of the workers’ congress. The third matter is the role of participation, that is, to participate in enterprise decisionmaking on major issues. The fourth matter is the role of leadership, strengthening the self-building of the party organization, leading ideological and political work, spiritual civilization construction, and group organizations such as trade unions and the Communist Youth League. The four major connotations of leadership are closely linked and complement one another so as to ensure the position of leadership as well as the strength and effectiveness of leadership and to promote the high–quality, healthy, and sustainable development of enterprises.
To play a leading role is to link party organizations at all levels so as to exert force with precision. For SOEs, their party organizations are regarded as grassroots organizations. However, large-scale SOEs are managed by the central government and managed by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) of the State Council and local SASACs, which involve the national economy, people’s livelihood, and national security, and they are also very large. Generally, there are three or four tiers of enterprise composition. For example, the parent company of a group has a party committee (party group), the second-tier company has a party committee, and the third-tier and fourth-tier companies also have party committees, general branches, and branch departments. According to new characteristics, such as work needs, regional conditions, and party building and alliance building (党建联建) are all grassroots party branches established by three or more formal party members. For the party organizations established at all levels of SOEs, when they give full play to their leadership role, they must not only have strong leadership, perform their main duties, main business, and build their main positions, but they must also play a pioneering and exemplary role. We say that strong leadership mainly refers to all-round leadership in politics, ideology, and organization. We say that to play a role is to give full play to the leadership core and political core role of the party committee (party group), the fighting fortress role of the party branch, and the vanguard and exemplary role of party members. Through the full play of the roles of the upper and lower levels, the Party’s foundation can be consolidated and all the Party’s work can be implemented to truly make the organization an invincible leadership collective and an invincible fighting fortress.
(3) Strive to Become a Fighting Fortress for Building a Modern and Powerful Socialist Country
Iron must be strong by itself, and the fortress must be strong by itself (打铁必须自身硬，堡垒得靠自身强). Whether SOE party committees (party groups) can become a strong fighting fortress, the focus is on improving organizational capabilities. Organizational power is a concrete manifestation of organizational vitality. Its strength is directly related to the Party’s creativity, cohesion, combat effectiveness, leadership, and appeal, and directly affects the reform and stability of SOEs and their high-quality sustainable development.
As early as December 1906, Vladimir Lenin clearly pointed out: “The strength of the working class lies in organization. Without organizing the masses, the proletariat will accomplish nothing. The organized proletariat is omnipotent.” In April 1929, Comrade Mao Zedong put forward the concept of the Party’s organizational power for the first time in the Letter from the Fourth Red Army Front Committee to the Central Committee (《红军第四军前委给中央的信》), and in On Protracted War (《论持久战》) he deeply discussed the strength of political organization as an important factor in the victory of the War of Resistance against Japan. In November 1943, Comrade Mao Zedong delivered an important speech entitled “Get Organized!” (《组织起来》) at the Party Central Committee Hosting Model Workers Conference in the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region, stressing that “the gist of this policy is to organize the masses.” In February 2016, General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that it is necessary to take the learning and education of “Two Studies, One Action” (“两学一做”) as an opportunity to enable party organization secretaries at all levels to build up the awareness of party member team building, shoulder responsibilities, activate grassroots party organizations, and strengthen the power of grassroots organizations. These important statements have profoundly clarified the extreme importance of a Marxist party in enhancing the organizational strength of the grassroots party organization.
To play a leading role and build a strong fighting fortress, political construction is fundamental. It is the fundamental requirement of our party as a Marxist party to speak politics with a clear-cut stance, and this is determined by the nature of the party. Comrade Mao Zedong once wrote the famous thesis that “political work is the lifeline of all economic work.” To grasp the foundation of political construction is to strictly abide by the Party’s political discipline and rules; firmly establish the “Four Consciousnesses” (“四个意识”); maintain a high degree of consistency with the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core in political standing, political orientation, political principles, and political paths; consciously follow the Party Central Committee; follow the Party’s theory, line, principles, and policies; resolutely respond to the Party’s call, resolutely implement the requirements of the Party, resolutely support the advocations of the Party, and resolutely reject opposition to the Party; and put love for the Party, concern for the Party, rejuvenation of the Party, and protection of the Party into various tasks of operations and management. At the moment, COSCO Shipping (中远海运集团) is implementing the requirements of the Party Central Committee by “accelerating the construction of a manufacturing power and strengthening the development of advanced manufacturing.” Using the opportunity offered by the selection of the Nantong COSCO KHI Ship Engineering (南通中远海运川崎) Intelligentized Workshop Project (智能化车间项目) as one of the “top 10 technological advances in intelligent manufacturing in China,” it is exploring the construction of an intelligent shipyard and promoting ship and offshore repair and building to accelerate the realization of quality and efficiency improvements, product structure optimizations, development mode transformations, and growth momentum transformations. By working hard for COSCO Shipping Heavy Industry (中远海运重工), it aims to quickly “become China’s leading and world-class ship and marine equipment manufacturing enterprise.”
To play a leading role and build a strong fighting fortress, ideological construction is the foundation. “Ideological construction is the basic construction of the party.” To strengthen ideological construction, we must strengthen our ideals and convictions, always keep in mind the purpose of the Party, and arm our minds with Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era (习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想). Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era is a rich, broad, and profound ideological system that must be systematically studied, followed up in a timely manner, and integrated. Deeply grasp the Marxist standpoints and methods that run through it, profoundly grasp the basic strategies of the “Eight Clarifications” (“八个明确”) and “Fourteen Commitments” (“十四个坚持”) for upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, vigorously promote the Marxist style of study, adhere to the integration of knowledge and action and the combination of learning and doing, and promote the normalization and institutionalization of “Two Studies, One Action” learning and education. In educating the whole party on the theme of “remaining true to our original aspiration and keeping our mission firmly in mind” (“不忘初心、牢记使命”), urge party members and cadres to solve the “master switch” (“总开关”) problems of global outlook, outlook on life, and values, and consciously become firm believers in and loyal practitioners of the lofty ideals of communism and the belief in socialism with Chinese characteristics. Ideological and political work is the heirloom of SOEs. We must be guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era, lead workers and the masses to listen to and follow the Party, and stand firm and clear-cut on issues concerning political direction and major principles. Integrate ideological and political work into production and operations management, human resources development, enterprise spirit cultivation, and corporate culture construction so as to resolve ideological confusions, spiritual worries, the thirst for culture, and psychological stresses. Pay attention to discovering, cultivating, and publicizing advanced models at all levels and in all aspects so that everyone can learn by example and catch up with goals. Combine the solution of ideological problems with the solution of practical problems, which means we must be both reasonable and practical, do more work that is popular, heartwarming, and stabilizing, and transmit the care and warmth of the Party to the hearts of workers and the masses through the “face-to-face, caring, and practical” (“ 面对面、心贴心、实打实”) work of party organizations at all levels such as trade unions and the Communist Youth League.
To play a leading role and build a strong fighting fortress, organizational construction is the guarantee. Organizational construction is the focal point of organizational strength. Uphold democratic centralism and use the magic weapon of the mass line. Strengthen and standardize political life within the Party; enhance the political, contemporary, and principled nature of political life within the Party; and work hard to create a political situation where there is concentration and democracy, discipline and freedom, a unified will, and a comforting and lively political situation. Uphold the principle of party control over cadres and talents. In accordance with the requirements of the “20 Characters” (“20字”) (party loyalty [对党忠诚], courageous innovation [勇于创新], good corporate governance [治企有方], good practice for invigorating enterprises [兴企有为], and honesty and integrity [清正廉洁]) for SOE leaders, we should boldly cultivate and use cadres who dare to take responsibility, act bravely, wish to reform, seek to reform, and excel at reform. Adhere to the principle of the Party’s management of talents, direction, principles, cultivation, use, systems, mechanisms, environment, and conditions so as to form an environment and atmosphere that keeps people in mind (拴心留人) where people make the best use of their talents (人尽其才) and talents are put to their best use (才尽其用). Broaden the career development space of professional and technical talents, encourage foundations in production and scientific research, and increase incentives for growth and talent. Comprehensively implement party management and discipline responsibilities. In the organizational structure, improve the leadership system of “two-way entry and cross-appointments” (双向进入, 交叉任职) and fully implement the system in which the secretary and chairman of the party committee (party group) are served by one person. In terms of decisionmaking procedures, it is clear that research and discussion by the party organization are preliminary procedures for major decisionmaking by the board of directors and management. In deepening reform, uphold and implement the simultaneous planning of party building and SOE reform, the simultaneous establishment of party organizations and working institutions, the simultaneous deployment of party organization leaders and party affairs personnel, and the simultaneous development of party building work to achieve system integration, mechanism integration, institutional integration, and work integration. Fully carry out the appraisal and assessment of the work of the party organization secretary on party building as well as the promotion of “Two Responsibilities” (“两个责任”) and “One Post, Two Responsibilities” (“一岗双责”) implementation. Strengthen the assessment of party building responsibilities, increase the weight of the two indicators of party building and party style and clean government construction, and link assessment results to performance. Vigorously strengthen the building of enterprise grassroots party organizations. On the premise of improving organizational coverage, promote the comprehensive coverage of the Party’s organization and work to further consolidate the outcomes of “project party building” (“项目党建”) with “peasant-worker party building” (“农民工党建”). Strictly implement basic party organizational life systems such as “Three Meetings and One Lesson” (“三会一课”), organizational life meetings, heart-to-heart talks (谈心谈话), and the democratic appraisal (民主评议) of party members; promote effective practices such as themed party days (主题党日); and further integrate central work, the needs of party members, and the concerns of the masses into party organization activities.
To play a leading role and build a strong fighting fortress, style building is key. The Party’s three major styles of combining theory with practice, closely aligning with the masses, and utilizing criticism and self-criticism are our heirlooms for defeating the enemy. Work style building must firmly grasp the fundamental of maintaining the flesh and blood ties between the Party and the masses. Rely wholeheartedly on the masses of workers, support the workers’ congress in carrying out its work, and improve the ability to work with the masses of workers, especially in the reform and reorganization of enterprises. Listen to the voices of the masses of workers; understand the masses of workers; unite and serve the masses of workers; and realize, maintain, and develop the interests of the workers. Continuously push the in-depth development of style building. As stated in General Secretary Xi Jinping’s recent article for Xinhua News Agency, “New Manifestations of Formalism and Bureaucratism are Worthy of Vigilance” (《形式主义、官僚主义新表现值得警惕》), we must not stop correcting the “Four Malfeasances” (“四风”) (going through the motions, excessive bureaucracy, self-indulgence, and extravagance). Style building will always be a major guiding requirement for the path forward. Take a serious look at the outstanding problems of the “Four Malfeasances,” especially the new manifestations of formalism and bureaucratism, and take strong measures, rectify and reform effectively, and resolutely prevent bad atmospheres from rebounding. Continuously consolidate and expand the outcomes of implementing the spirit of the CCP Central Committee’s Eight-Point Decision on Improving Party and Government Conduct (中央八项规定). We must inherit and carry forward the fine tradition of passion, hard work, innovation, and the courage to be the first. With arduous struggle and advocating practical work style, overcome difficulties, work hard, and make every effort to promote quality reform, efficiency reform, power reform, and overall quality and efficiency improvements to make new contributions to the reform and development of enterprises.
To play a leading role and build a strong fighting fortress, discipline building is used as a weapon. Party discipline is a rule of conduct that must be observed by the Party’s organizations at all levels and by all party members, and it is a guarantee for maintaining the unity of the Party and fulfilling the Party’s tasks. Party organizations must strictly enforce and maintain party discipline, and party members must consciously accept the constraints of party discipline. Party discipline mainly includes political discipline, organizational discipline, integrity discipline, mass discipline, work discipline, and life discipline. SOE party committees (party groups) and SOE leaders are not only the objects of internal party supervision, but also the main force in managing and governing the Party. They should not be yes-men (老好人) but must instead take up the main responsibility of strict party governance; take up the Party’s disciplinary weapons; and strengthen supervision, administration, discipline, and accountability. They must be genuine, brave, and constant in their efforts to govern the Party (真管真严、敢管敢严、长管长严). Under the new situation, put into practice the consistent policy of learning from past mistakes to avoid future ones (惩前毖后) and curing the sickness to save the patient (治病救人). Use the “Four Forms” (“四种形态”) (frequent criticism and self-criticism, light sanctions and organizational adjustments, heavy punishments and major post adjustments, and investigations for serious violations of discipline or suspected violations of law) of supervision and discipline to cure “sick trees” (“病树”), correct “crooked trees” (“歪树”), and uproot “rotten trees” (“烂树”) to maintain the “forest” (“森林”). [They must] make better use of the first form by carrying out regular, targeted, and proactive disciplinary education, shame and sweating (红脸出汗) become the norm. Let party members and cadres know the awe, maintain the fear, and toe the bottom line. Make them used to being supervised and working and living in a constrained environment.
To play a leading role and build a strong fighting fortress, system construction is fundamental. In the overall layout of party building, there are six major forms of building, namely: political building, ideological building, organizational building, style building, discipline building, and system building. Political building is the command, and system building runs through it. This is because system building not only has basic, stable and long-term characteristics, but also has a great comprehensiveness. This must be reflected in ideological building, organizational building, style building, and discipline building. All aspects of such building must be regulated, guaranteed, and implemented by the system. This is because strictly governing the Party essentially requires the use of a scientific system to manage power, the use of a scientific system to govern enterprises, and the use of a system to optimize the political ecology within the Party. This means that power must be placed in the cage of a system. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that “to put power in the cage of the system, we must first build the cage. If the cage is too loose or if the cage is good but we ignore the door such that power can enter and leave as it pleases, the cage will be of no use.” Establishing and tightening the system’s cage means that the Party’s system must be three-dimensional and integrated to ensure that the system does not include “secret doors” (“暗门”) or open “skylights” (“天窗”). Only in this way can we achieve a rigid “prior agreement” (“事先约定”), thereby reducing subjective “operating space” (“操作空间”), that is, highlighting explicit rules and eliminating hidden and softening unspoken rules within the Party. In this way, the “strict” (“严”) in strictly governing the Party (严治党) means there are scientific standards and a scientific basis for governing enterprises, the “governing” (“治”) in governing enterprises according to the law (依法治企) and the “manage” (“管”) in scientifically managed (科学管理) means that strict rules and systems are in place so as to ensure the effective implementation of the Party and country’s paths, guidelines, and policies in our enterprises and ensure that the economic, political, and social responsibilities of SOEs are fully fulfilled. Only in this way, can we ensure that the large ship of SOEs has a reliable route, that its voyage can be calculated, that its course is not deviated, and that it rides the wind and waves to travel steadily and far.