This is the speech by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the first meeting of the Central Committee for the Comprehensive Rule of Law on August 24, 2018.
The Party Central Committee has decided to establish a Central Committee for the Comprehensive Rule of Law. This is the first time in our Party’s history that such an institution has been established. Its purpose is to strengthen the Party’s centralized and unified leadership over the comprehensive rule of law and coordinate and promote the work involved in the comprehensive rule of law.
I. Fully Understand the Great Significance of the Establishment of the Central Committee for the Comprehensive Rule of Law
Since the 18th Party Congress, I have attached great importance to the rule of law, and talked a great deal about it. Currently, our country is in a period of historical confluence where were are achieving our “two centennial” objectives. In order to adhere to and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, we need to rely on the rule of law even more and strengthen the Party’s leadership of the comprehensive rule of law even more. The Party Central Committee’s decision to establish the Central Committee for the Comprehensive Rule of Law is primarily based on the following considerations.
First, there is the need to implement the spirit of the 19th Party Congress and strengthen the Party’s centralized and unified leadership of the comprehensive rule of law. The Fourth Plenum of the 18th Central Committee formulated the top-level design, road map, and construction drawings to promote the comprehensive rule of law. The 19th Party Congress put forward new tasks for advancing the comprehensive rule of law in the new era, clarifying that by 2035, we must basically have established a country under the rule of law, a government under the rule of law, and a society under the rule of law. To better implement these goals and tasks, the Party Central Committee listened to the opinions and suggestions of all parties and decided to establish the Central Committee for the Comprehensive Rule of Law. The committee was established to improve the Party’s leadership system and working mechanism for comprehensively governing the country according to law, strengthen the leadership of the Party Central Committee in areas such as scientific legislation, strict law enforcement, impartial justice, and compliance with the law by all, and more forcefully promote the implementation of the Party Central Committee’s decisions and deployments.
I have repeatedly spoken of the question of the relationship between Party leadership and the rule of law. Promoting the institutionalization and rule of law of the Party’s leadership is not only a proper means of strengthening the Party’s leadership, but also an important task in constructing the rule of law. Why is it that our country can maintain long-term stability without chaos? The fundamental reason is that we always adhere to the leadership of the Communist Party. The leadership of the Party is the “magic staff” (定海神针, the staff of Sun Wukong in novel Journey to the West) of the continuous development of the Party and the country. For this amendment of the Constitution, on the basis that the preamble of the Constitution confirms the leadership of the Party, we have clearly stipulated in the general outline that the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CCP) is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics and strengthened the Party’s leadership position in overseeing the overall situation and coordinating all parties. After the amendment of the constitution, the response by all parties has been very good. We must continue to promote the institutionalization and rule of law of the Party’s leadership, continuously improve the Party’s leadership system and working mechanisms, and implement the Party’s leadership throughout the entire process and all aspects of the comprehensive rule of law.
Only when governing the Party according to regulations goes deep into the hearts of the Party can ruling the country according to the law penetrate into the hearts of the people. Since the 18th Party Congress, we have formulated and revised more than 140 central Party laws and regulations and introduced a number of landmark, critical, and basic institutions for laws and regulations. The issue that there must be rules to follow has basically been solved, and the next step is to enforce the rules strictly so that internal Party laws and regulations can be truly implemented. The vast majority of officials removed due to violations stated that they did not understand Party discipline and national laws in their confessions. Why do so many high-ranking cadres in the Party take the path of crime? The fundamental reason is that their ideals and beliefs have been shaken, but the lack of reverence for Party discipline and national laws is also an important reason.
Second, this shows the need to study and resolve major issues and major problems in governing the country according to law and to coordinate and the need to promote the construction of the system of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics and a socialist country ruled by law. The comprehensive rule of law is a long-term and important historical task as well as a profound social change. At present, there are many weak links in legislation, law enforcement, justice, and compliance with the law. Reforms in the rule of law field face many difficult obstacles and there is an urgent need to strengthen overall coordination from the level of the Party Central Committee.
To implement the new development concept and realize the transition of the economy from high-speed growth to high-quality development, we must adhere to the rule of law as our guide. Regarding the relationship between development and the rule of law, there is still the misunderstanding that “development is the most important while the rule of law is merely permitted” (发展要上、法治要让) in some places. Last year, the Party Central Committee dealt with the ecological environment problems of the Qilian Mountain National Park, and a group of Party and government officials were disciplined. The Regulations on the Management of Gansu Qilian Mountain National Park has undergone three revisions and some of its regulations have always been inconsistent with the Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Nature Reserves. The “intentional laxity” (放水, to throw the game) in legislation and “forfeit” (放弃) of law enforcement have led to serious damage to the Qilian Mountain ecosystem. Such lessons must be taken deeply to heart.
The foundation and strength of the Party lie in the people. Now, the people’s yearning for a better life has extended further in the directions of democracy, the rule of law, fairness, justice, security, and the environment. The people’s opinions on chaotic application, inaction, and judicial injustice in law enforcement are relatively unified. This should become the focus and point of effort for our enforcement of the rule of law. For example, some underworld forces have been conducting illegal activities such as the gathering of crowds, monopolistic operations, extortion, and the operation of gambling venues for a long time, but the people dare not say anything. How can underworld forces grow from small to large right under our noses? In my opinion, there are situations in which law enforcement agencies remain inactive. Some local law enforcement agencies have even cooperated with the underworld forces, serving as their protective umbrellas. Law enforcement agencies represent the interests of the people and must not become a protective umbrella for clan forces and underworld forces. In recent years, the judiciary has corrected a number of wrongful convictions from unjust, false, and erroneous cases such as the unjust murder of Gejiletu, the Nie Shubin case, and the Nian Bin case in accordance with the law, which has been well received by the general public. There are many reasons for wrongful convictions, including the lack of basic judicial conscience and responsibility of judicial personnel. Deeper-level causes are that the allocation of judicial powers and the mechanisms through which power operates are unscientific and that institutional mechanisms for the mutual restriction of the powers of investigation, prosecution, trial, and enforcement have not really taken shape. The recent case of the Changchun Changsheng counterfeit vaccine resulted from non-compliance with laws, lax law enforcement, and the view that laws and regulations are nothing important. This requires that we promote strict, impartial, and civilized law enforcement so that the people will truly feel surrounded by fairness and justice.
China is going out into the world and participating in international affairs as a responsible power. We must be adept at applying the rule of law. In external struggles, we must take up legal weapons, occupy the commanding heights of the rule of law, and dare to say no to saboteurs and disruptors. The global governance system is in a critical period of adjustment and reform. We must actively participate in the formulation of international rules and be a participant, promoter, and leader in the process of global governance reform.
Third, there is the need to promote the realization of the “two centennial” objectives and to provide legal assurance for the realization of the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Both history and the current reality tell us that the rule of law leads to the prosperity of the country, and the strong rule of law leads to a strong country. Looking at ancient China, all times of prosperity were periods with relatively sound legal systems. During the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Period, the Legalists advocated “rule by law” and put it into practice in the Qin State of Yongzhou. Shang Yang “planted trees and built trust” and emphasized that “laws must be clear and orders must be implemented.” Qin quickly became one of the powerful states and eventually led the unification of the six states under Emperor Qin Shihuang. Liu Bang, who became Emperor Gaozu of the Han Dynasty, “established three chapters of law” with the people of Guanzhong, which played an important role in the Han dominance of China. The 60 headings of the Han legal code formed during the reign of Han Wudi, were used by the Han Dynasty for nearly 400 years. Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty saw obedience to the law as the most important task of governing the country. The Code of the Zhenguan achieved the “rule of during the Zhenguan period” (translator’s note: Zhenguan is the name of the reign period of Tang Taizong). Revisions to the Code of the Zhenguan produced the Tang Code, which laid the legal cornerstone for the flourishing of the Tang Dynasty. World history shows the prosperity of a country often arises with the rule of law. More than 3,000 years ago, when Hammurabi became king of Babylon, he unified the national laws and formulated the Code of Hammurabi, the first statutory law code in human history. The laws in this code were engraved on stone stelae, which brought the kingdom of ancient Babylon into a flourishing period in ancient Mesopotamia. The famous German jurist Rudolf von Jhering said that the Roman Empire conquered the world three times, the first time by force, the second time by religion, and the third time by law. Their force perished due to the demise of the Roman Empire, their religion lost its influence as the people’s ideological consciousness increased and science developed. Only the law with which they conquered the world remains as their most enduring conquest.
Since the dawn of the modern era, Chinese people with lofty ideals also realized this problem. Since the Reform Movement of 1898 and the revision of laws in the late Qing Dynasty, the Chinese have been calling for the rule of law. However, under the historical and political conditions of the time, a reform of the legal system alone could not change the nature of the old Chinese society and the tragic fate of the Chinese people. Our Party has been in power for more than 60 years. Although we have experienced ups and downs, we have remained committed to the rule of law. From the “May 4th Constitution” to the Constitution recently revised; from a “socialist legal system” to “socialist rule of law”; from “there are laws to follow, laws must be followed, law enforcement must be strict, violations must be investigated” to “scientific legislation, strict law enforcement, impartial justice, and compliance with the law by all”, our Party has become increasingly aware that the rule of law is indispensable to governing the country.
In short, whether for achieving the “two centennial” objectives or to realizing the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the comprehensive rule of law is both an important content and an important guarantee. We have included the comprehensive rule of law in the “Four Comprehensives” strategic layout. This is to provide long-term and stable rule of law assurance for establishing a well-off society in an all-round way, deepening reforms in an all-round way, and the comprehensive and strict governance of the Party. I have repeatedly emphasized that, in the “Four Comprehensives,” the comprehensive rule of law has a fundamental and safeguarding role. In the overall planning and promotion of great struggles, great projects, great undertakings, and great dreams, and on the new journey of building China into a modernized socialist country in an all-round way, we must allow the rule of law to better play its role in securing the conveying long-term benefits.
II. Adhere to the Guidance of the New Concept, New Thinking, and New Strategy of the Comprehensive Rule of Law and Unswervingly Follow the Path of Socialist Rule of Law with Chinese Characteristics
Since the 18th Party Congress, the Party Central Committee has made a series of major decisions and proposed a series of major measures for the comprehensive rule of law. We have adapted to the requirements of the development of the Party and the country, improved the legislative system, strengthened legislation in key areas, and improved the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics. We have insisted on governing the country according to the Constitution, amending the Constitution to keep pace with the times, establishing a national Constitution Day, establishing a constitutional oath system, and comprehensively strengthening the implementation and supervision of the Constitution. We have promoted the construction of a government under the rule of law, drastically reduced matters requiring administrative review and approval, completely ended non-administrative license approvals, established a list of government powers, negative lists, and responsibility lists, standardized administrative powers, and promoted strict, impartial, and civilized law enforcement. We have unswervingly promoted the reform of the rule of law field, abolished the reeducation through labor system, promoted the reform of the judicial accountability system, the post system, and the trial-centered criminal procedural system, corrected a number of major unjust, false and erroneous cases in accordance with the law, and significantly improved judicial quality, efficiency, and credibility. We have insisted on making the popularization (民普, education of the public) and observance of the law the basic work of governing the country according to law, implemented the responsibility system of “whoever enforces the law should popularize the law” for state institutions, incorporated rule of law education into the national education system, and significantly strengthened the concept of rule of law throughout the whole society. We have promoted the construction of rule of law teams, developed and strengthened legal service teams, and strengthen legal education and the training of rule of law talents. We have insisted on governing in accordance with the law, strengthened the establishment of institutions of internal Party laws and regulations, promoted the reform of the national supervisory system, punished crimes of corruption in accordance with the law, and achieved remarkable results in comprehensive and strict Party governance.
Since the 18th Party Congress, we have put forward a series of new concepts, new ideas, and new strategies for the comprehensive rule of law and clarified the guiding ideology, development path, work layout, and key tasks of the comprehensive rule of law. Overall, these efforts can be grouped into the 10 aspects below.
First, uphold the strengthening of the Party’s leadership over governing the country according to law. The leadership of the Party is the most fundamental guarantee of the socialist rule of law. The comprehensive rule of law will not weaken the Party’s leadership in any way, but strengthen and improve the Party’s leadership, continuously improve the Party’s capacity and level of leadership over governing the country by law, and consolidate the Party’s ruling position. We must persist in realizing the Party’s leadership in legislation, ensuring law enforcement, supporting justice, and taking the lead in compliance with the law, improve the institutions and working mechanisms of the Party’s leadership of the comprehensive rule of law, work through legal procedures make the Party’s propositions the will of the state and form laws, and use laws to ensure the effective implementation of the Party’s policies to ensure that the country is moving in the correct direction of the comprehensive rule of law.
Second, uphold the dominant position of the people. The construction of the rule of law must be for the people, rely on the people, benefit the people, and protect the people. We must firmly grasp the pursuit of social fairness and justice as a value of the rule of law and strive to make the people feel the impartiality and justice of every legal institution, every law enforcement decision, and every judicial case. We must implement the whole process of reflecting the people’s interests, reflecting the people’s wishes, safeguarding the people’s rights and interests, and enhancing the people’s well-being through the process of governing the country according to law and ensure that the people manage state affairs, manage economic and cultural undertakings, and manage social affairs through various channels and forms under the leadership of the Party.
Third, uphold the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics. We must take the right road in comprehensively promoting the rule of law. Proceeding from China’s national conditions and reality, we must follow the path to the rule of law that suits us, we must never copy the models and practices of other countries, and we must not follow the so-called “constitutionalism,” “three powers,” and “independent judiciary” of the West.
Fourth, uphold the building of a system of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics. The system of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics is the legal manifestation of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics. We must grasp the building of a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics as our overall starting point, strive to form a complete legal specification system, an efficient implementation system for the rule of law, a strict supervision system for the rule of law, and a strong assurance system for rule of law, form a complete system of internal Party laws and regulations, and continue to create new systems in the comprehensive rule of law.
Fifth, uphold the common promotion of national governance, exercise of power, and administration according to law and the integrated construction of a country under the rule of law, a government under the rule of law, and a society under the rule of law. The comprehensive rule of law is a systematic project, which requires coordination, grasping the key points, and overall planning and more attention paid to systemicity, integrity, and synergy. National governance, exercise of power, and administration according to law is an organic whole and the key is that the Party must adhere to exercising power by law, and governments at all levels must adhere to administration by law. The nation, government, and society based on the rule of law have their respective focuses and complement each other. A nation ruled by law is the goal of the construction of the rule of law, a government ruled by law is the main entity for the construction of a nation ruled by law, and a society ruled by law is the basis for building a nation ruled by law. We must be adept at using institutions and laws to govern the country and improve the Party’s level of scientific governance, democratic governance, and governance according to law.
Six, uphold the governance of the country and exercise of power based on the Constitution. To rule the country according to law, the first thing is to adhere to ruling the country according to the Constitution; to govern according to law, the first thing is to adhere to governing according to the constitution. The Party leads the people to formulate and implement the Constitution and laws. The Party itself must act within the scope of the Constitution and laws. All citizens, social organizations, and state institutions must use the Constitution and laws as their codes of conduct and exercise their rights or authority and perform duties or responsibilities in accordance with the Constitution and laws. No one shall have the privilege to go beyond the Constitution and laws, and all violations of the Constitution and laws must be investigated.
Seven, uphold the overall promotion of scientific legislation, strict law enforcement, impartial justice, and respect for the law by all people. To resolve outstanding contradictions and problems in the fields of legislation, law enforcement, justice, and compliance with the law, we must unswervingly promote the reform of the rule of law field. We must firmly grasp the key link in comprehensive rule of law, improve the legislative system, and improve the quality of legislation. We must promote strict law enforcement, rationalize the law enforcement system, improve administrative law enforcement procedures, and comprehensively implement the administrative law enforcement responsibility system. We must support the judiciary in its independent exercise of its powers in accordance with the law and improve the institutional arrangements for the division of responsibility, mutual cooperation, and mutual restraint of judicial powers. We must increase the efforts to popularize the law among all people and cultivate a rule of law environment in which the whole society handles affairs according to the law, goes to the law in case of trouble, solve problems using the law, to resolve contradictions by relying on the law.
Eight, uphold the handling of the dialectical relationships involved in the comprehensive rule of law. The comprehensive rule of law requires us to correctly handle the relationship between politics and the rule of law, reform and the rule of law, the rule of law and the rule by virtue, the rule of law, and the governing the Party according to regulations. The socialist rule of law must uphold the Party’s leadership, and the Party’s leadership must rely on the socialist rule of law. “Reform and the rule of law are like the two wings of a bird or the two wheels of a cart.” We must insist on advancing reform under the rule of law and perfect the rule of law in the process of reform. We must uphold the combination of governing the country by law and governing the country by virtue and realize the mutual complementary and enhancement of the rule of law and the rule by virtue. We must give play to the complementary effects of governing the country according to law and governing the Party according to regulations and ensure that the Party both governs the country in accordance with the Constitution and laws and strictly governs and administers the Party in accordance with internal Party laws and regulations.
Nine, uphold the building of a high-quality legal work team with both ability and political integrity. To comprehensively promote the rule of law, we must focus on building a socialist legal work team that is loyal to the Party, the country, the people, and the law. We must strengthen education on ideals and beliefs, carry out in-depth education on socialist core values and the philosophy of socialist rule of law, promote the formalization, specialization, and professionalization of specialized teams for the rule of law, and improve the level of their professional qualities and specialization. We must persist in moral education, cultivate morality and law, innovate the training mechanisms for rule of law talents, and strive to cultivate a large number of high-quality rule of law talents and reserve forces.
Tenth, uphold the seizing on the “critical minority” of leading cadres. Leading cadres’ concrete exercise of the Party’s ruling power and the state’s legislative, administrative, supervisory, and judicial powers is the key to the comprehensive rule of law. Leading cadres must take the lead in respecting the rule of law, respecting the law, understanding and mastering the law, abiding by discipline and law, defending the rule of law, enforcing the rule of law, and acting in accordance with the law, continuously improve their ability to use rule of law thinking and methods to deepen reform, promote development, resolve contradictions, and maintain stability, be a model of respect for law, study of law, compliance with law, and use of law, and drive the whole society to respect for law, study of law, compliance with law, and use of law with practical actions.
These new ideas, new thoughts, and new strategies are the latest achievements of the Sinicization of Marxist thought on the rule of law and are fundamental to the comprehensive rule of law. We must adhere to them long-term and continuously enrich and develop them.