In preparation for the two sessions of parliament, the CPC Central Committee met to discuss – among other things – changes to the constitution. It is useful to see these in the wider context, since some international commentators have been making a bit of noise about the removal of term limits to the presidency. As you will see, what the document actually suggests is that the terms for president and vice-president be the same as delegates for the National People’s Congress.
And it turns out that Xi Jinping Thought (in full: Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era), meshes rather well with my project on ‘Socialism in Power‘. Xi Jinping Thought has already been written into the constitution of the CPC, fostered more than 100 university research centres and entered into the school curriculum.
Here is the full list of proposals from the Central Committee, made public the other day:
The proposal, raised to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), was made in accordance with the new situation and practice of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.
— New thought
The CPC Central Committee proposed writing Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era into the country’s fundamental law. The Scientific Outlook on Development was also proposed to be included.
According to the proposal, under the leadership of the CPC and the guidance of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, the Scientific Outlook on Development, and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, the Chinese people of all ethnic groups will continue to adhere to the people’s democratic dictatorship and the socialist road, persevere in reform and opening to the outside world, steadily improve socialist institutions, develop the socialist market economy, develop socialist democracy, improve the socialist rule of law, apply a new vision of development and work hard and self-reliantly to modernize the country’s industry, agriculture, national defence and science and technology step by step and promote the coordinated development of the material, political, cultural and ethical, social and ecological advancement, to turn China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful and realize national rejuvenation.
— United front
The CPC Central Committee proposed including patriots devoted to national rejuvenation as part of the patriotic united front in the Constitution.
According to the proposal, in the long years of revolution, construction and reform, there has been formed under the leadership of the CPC a broad patriotic united front which is composed of the democratic parties and people’s organizations, and which embraces all socialist working people, all builders of socialism, all patriots who support socialism, and all patriots who stand for the reunification of the motherland and devote themselves to national rejuvenation. This united front will continue to be consolidated and developed.
— Harmonious relations among all ethnic groups
Harmonious socialist relations among ethnic groups were proposed to be written into the Constitution.
Socialist relations of equality, unity, mutual assistance and harmony have been established among the ethnic groups and will continue to be strengthened, according to a proposed revision to the preamble.
The State protects the lawful rights and interests of the ethnic minority groups and upholds and develops a relationship of equality, unity, mutual assistance and harmony among all of China’s ethnic groups, according to a proposed revision to a clause of Article 4.
— Community with shared future for humanity
The CPC Central Committee proposed writing building “a community with a shared future for humanity” into the Constitution.
The expression that China will “adhere to the peaceful development path and the mutually beneficial strategy of opening-up” should be added to the preamble, read the proposal.
China’s achievements in revolution, construction and reform are inseparable from the support of the people of the world. The future of China is closely linked to the future of the world, according to the proposal.
The proposal read that China consistently carries out an independent foreign policy, adheres to the five principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, peaceful coexistence, adheres to the peaceful development path and the mutually beneficial strategy of opening-up in developing diplomatic relations and economic and cultural exchanges with other countries, and works to build a community with a shared future for humanity. China consistently opposes imperialism, hegemonism and colonialism, works to strengthen unity with the people of other countries, supports the oppressed nations and the developing countries in their just struggle to win and preserve national independence and develop their national economies, and strives to safeguard world peace and promote the cause of human progress.
— CPC leadership
A sentence stressing the Party’s leadership was proposed to be added into the Constitution.
“The leadership of the Communist Party of China is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” read the proposal.
— Core socialist values
The addition of core socialist values into a clause was also in the proposed package.
The proposal read that the State advocates core socialist values, and the civic virtues of love of the motherland, of the people, of labour, of science and of socialism.
— Oath of allegiance
The CPC Central Committee proposed inclusion of pledging allegiance to the Constitution into the fundamental law.
All state functionaries shall take a public oath of allegiance to the Constitution when assuming office, read the proposal.
— Chinese President and Vice-President
The CPC Central Committee proposed revising the clause “The term of office of the President and Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China is the same as that of the National People’s Congress, and they shall serve no more than two consecutive terms” to “The term of office of the President and Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China is the same as that of the National People’s Congress.”
— New cabinet function
The CPC Central Committee proposed to list ecological advancement as a new function and power of the State Council, or cabinet.
Apart from economic affairs and urban and rural development, the State Council also has the function and power of directing and administering ecological advancement, according to a proposed change to a clause under Article 89.
— More cities with legislative power
Chinese cities, with subordinate districts, would be granted the power to make local laws and regulations under the proposed constitutional amendment.
The people’s congresses and their standing committees of these cities would be able to adopt local laws and regulations under the condition that they do not contradict the Constitution, national laws and regulations, and provincial laws and regulations, according to the proposal.
The local laws and regulations would take effect after being approved by the standing committees of provincial-level people’s congresses.
— Supervisory commissions
The CPC Central Committee proposed listing the supervisory commissions as a new type of state organs in the Constitution.
According to the proposal, supervisory organs will be listed together with administrative, judicial and procuratorial organs of the State, all of which are created by the people’s congresses to which they are responsible and by which they are supervised.
A new section about supervisory commissions is proposed to be added to the third chapter titled “The Structure of the State” in the Constitution.
The country sets up the national and local supervisory commissions, according to the document.
A supervisory commission will consist of one director, several deputy directors and a number of members. The director will serve the same term as that of the people’s congress of the same level.
The director of the national supervisory commission shall serve no more than two consecutive terms.
The organization, functions and powers of supervisory commissions are prescribed by law.
As the supreme supervisory organ, the national supervisory commission will oversee local commissions and answer to the NPC and its standing committee.
The supervisory commissions at higher levels will lead the commissions at lower levels.
Local supervisory commissions at various levels will be responsible to the state power organs that created them and to the supervisory commission at the next level up.
The supervisory commissions will independently exercise their power of supervision and not be subject to interference by any administrative organ, public organization or individual, said the proposal.
It also asked the supervisory organs to coordinate with judicial organs, procuratorial organs and law enforcement departments, and check each other in handling duty-related offenses.
The NPC will be given the power to elect and remove the director of the national supervisory commission, while the NPC Standing Committee shall supervise the national supervisory commission and appoint or remove deputy directors and members of the commission at the recommendation of its director.
Local people’s congresses at and above county level will elect and have the power to remove the directors of the supervisory commissions at the corresponding level, while their standing committees shall supervise the supervisory commissions at the corresponding level.
Members of the standing committees of the NPC and local peoples’ congresses at and above county level shall not hold office in supervisory organs.
In addition, supervision will no longer be a duty for the State Council and local governments at and above county level, according to the proposal.