In an earlier post (Evolving Leninism in the Chinese Communist Party?: Reforming Mechanisms for Intra-Party Discipline) I considered the evolution of intra-Party disciplinary mechanisms in China. The changes are interesting not merely from the technocratic perspective (that is do they make good governance sense?) but also from the theoretical perspective (are the changes consistent with and advance the development of Marxist Leninist thought and practice consistent with Chinese characteristics?).
One of the most interesting aspects of the Several Provisions on Advancing Capacity To Promote And Demote Leading Cadres (Provisional) 推进领导干部能上能下若干规定（试行） was the way in which it splashed onto the scene at the end of July and then, almost as quickly disappeared from notice. There might have been a sense that these provisions represented some critical additional step in the a sign of CCP instability, or of an imminent rectification campaign reorganization of the CCP that might have reflected current factional battles within the highest reaches of the CCP. Some of these insights might have been connected to the nature of the provisions--they are, in their own way, disruptive of the societal norms that have come to reflect practice within the CCP, especially at its lower and middle rungs. Yet, within the context of the recent efforts to strengthen CCP discipline, the provisions appear to be a natural development of the move both to control corruption and to significantly change the working style of CCP cadres. These are no small matters in a state in which the CCP serves a vanguard role. That vanguard role produces some sometimes substantial obligations on both Party and cadres. These cannot be ignored if the CCP is to retain its authority ion the process of socialist modernization.
The text of this Regulation and its translation can be found at http://cpc.people.com.cn/n/2015/0728/c64387-27375493.html and http://chinalawtranslate.com/cadrereadjustments/?lang=en:
1.1.1 Yonggang Zhang: Resolve The Problem That Leading Cadres Can Only Be Promoted But Cannot Be Demoted, People’s Daily, August 24, 2015 张永刚，解决干部能上不能下问题It is important to note, though, that these are not new notions. And indeed it is somewhat surprising that neither commentators nor CCP officials linked these efforts to either the CCP Constitution's General Program nor to Deng Xiaoping Theory. The challenges that produced Several Provisions on Advancing Capacity To Promote And Demote Leading Cadres (Provisional) 推进领导干部能上能下若干规定（试行）were very much on the minds of senior CCP leaders on the eve of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (无产阶级文化大革命). "The Party must exercise control over itself, over its members and its cadres. For a party in power, the heart of this matter concerns the cadres, because many of its members are working as cadres of varying ranks" (Deng Xiaoping, "Questions Concerning Cadres of the Party in Power," supra). The context, however, was different--the economics of Socialist Modernization has changed the landscape within which the CCP cadre is placed within the administrative and economic apparatus of China. Its parameters were nicely summarized by Deng Xiaoping:
That leading cadres can only be promoted but cannot be demoted is an outstanding problem in the management of leading cadres, which is also a significant point to the reform of leading personnel. In reality, some leading cadres think they will be just fine as long as they are not against laws and party disciplines and it does not matter if they make substantial contribution to the work. First of all, the Provisions will change this kind of ideas to that it would be fault if it were not contribution. Meanwhile, it will promote the assessment system and standard detailed. Cadre assessment is an important part to deepen the reform to the leading cadres management. Accordingly it raised the question that what kind of cadres shall be demoted under what situations. The Provisions answered this question.1.1.2 Bin Li, Make good use of the Baton of the Capacity to Promote and Demote, People’s Daily, June 29, 2015 李斌 用好能上能下的指挥棒
Establishing a peer accountability mechanism of power is an inevitable choice of promoting the construction of rule law and modern national governance. To introduce institutional pressure by the reform to the cadre personnel system will guide cadres to be more responsible and encouraging with their work. It also will create a good “soft” environment for reserving talents and elitist, stimulating the vitality of cadres, and bring more positive energy to the reform and development. The Provisions is a big and significant step in terms of the top-level design on talents selection.1.1.3 Zhengwei Fan, To Promote and Demote, It Has To Overcome Inaction, People’s Daily, July 30, 2015 范正伟， 能上能下，先要克服“好人主义”
The Provisions passes a clear signal that there is no longer “iron bowl” (a secure job). In the past, people used to believe that a cadre would get worried about his job only when he or she is watched by the discipline inspection commission. But since the adoption of the Provisions, one might be persecuted responsibility for not only being against laws and rules, but also failing to fulfill one’s duty or falling to contribute. The Provisions is a real touch on resolving being laziness, indolence and moderation. It also marks the transformation of a modern management system of cadre and personnel.1.1.4 Shengyu Shi, What to do after being demoted. Peoples’ Daily, August 4, 2015.时圣宇,下了之后怎么办
The Provisions focuses on solving the demotion of cadres. However, it raised another question: what to do after the demotion. The Provisions’ intention is to stimulate the vitality of cadres. Therefore, there should be a continue mechanism and process of long term follow up management for the demoted cadres. For those who continue the negative or slow action, it should increase the efforts on accountability. For those who correct the action and attitude positively, preform outstandingly, and achieve remarkable progress, there should be encouraged. Only in this way, can the Provisions create a real effective system for stimulating the activation of cadres and promoting a virtuous cycle.
At a recent meeting held by the Secretariat of the Central Committee to hear reports on organizational work, I suggested that cadres be demoted on a trial basis, beginning with cadres at the grass-roots level. For example, after serving two terms in office, the secretary of a brigade Party branch may return to production, and the head of a production brigade may become an ordinary commune member again. Cadres should not always be promoted to higher positions. They may be demoted and should always be ready for either a higher or a lower post, and be ready to lead others and be led. When being led, they can help the leader in the way an ex-secretary of a brigade Party branch helps a new secretary and an ex-head of a production brigade assists the new one. The ex-secretary or ex-head may be elected secretary or head again after leaving office for a couple of years. Enterprises and schools can do the same. In this way, cadres can be tempered. The Central Committee has not discussed this problem yet; I am the first to express an opinion about it. It is not good for a cadre to work at the grass-roots level in the countryside for a long time. After a person has served as secretary of a production brigade Party branch for one or two decades, he forms his own clique, and what he says is taken almost as “imperial edicts”. This hinders the promotion of democracy and the exercise of democratic centralism. If the secretary of a production brigade Party branch is demoted to the position of an ordinary Party member or the head of a production brigade to that of an ordinary commune member, they may be able to make a clear evaluation of the work they did and the work style they displayed while in office. This will help promote democracy. I hope when you go back, you will discuss this method with leading comrades of the bureaus of the Central Committee and the Party committees of provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions to see if it can be tried out in a few places. Personally, I think this may be a good way to approach the problem, and it will certainly not do us any harm. However, this cannot be applied to technical cadres in enterprises; it is not advisable to transfer engineers or competent workshop directors to serve as workers. This method can be tried first among some administrative Party cadres. For example, factory directors can be demoted to serve as workshop directors for a couple of years. Why should they always lead others instead of being led? In short, we should start with cadres at the grass-roots level, making it a rule that cadres be ready to take a higher or a lower post, so that everybody will become accustomed to the practice. In this respect, we are not doing so well as the capitalist societies, where people may be moved to higher or lower posts. I do not know what the Soviet Union is doing about it. Anyway, this is a formidable problem for us to tackle.One notes as well the work of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (Inspection Tour System of the Chinese Communist Party). With the turn toward Party work and working style over the last several years, it is no surprise that the CCP has begun to undertake the same sort of discipline it has imposed on the productive sectors of society as critical components of socialist modernization.
More effort should be made to control and supervise cadres. Recently Comrade Liu Shaoqi criticized the long-term lack of appraisal of cadres’ performance. Organization departments should take up this work. Supervision of cadres involves only a few aspects, such as, first of all, requiring Party cadres to take part in the regular activities of the Party organization. At an enlarged working conference of the Central Committee held last January it was noted that it was difficult to supervise many high-ranking cadres who only took part in the regular activities in Party branches. This has been the case for years. During those years we suggested that senior cadres take part in such activities in a Party committee or a leading Party members’ group once every quarter or half a year to discuss their work, and engage in criticism and self-criticism to see whether they have made an effort to correctly and firmly implement the Party’s guiding principles and policies. This is not merely a matter of individual self-cultivation; it is also a type of supervision and a part of the regular activities of the Party organization. This is quite suitable for those high-ranking cadres. There is no question about this suggestion; the point now is to put it into practice. All ordinary Party members and cadres should take part in Party branch or group activities at regular intervals to receive supervision from the Party. The exercise of democratic centralism is also a form of supervision. In addition, supervision is also exercised by Party members and non-Party people, by the Party’s supervisory system and the organization department’s appraisal system. This supervision is mainly over the cadres, including principal, leading cadres at corresponding levels. It would be of tremendous benefit if we could set up and improve day-to-day control and supervision of cadres and restore the system for appraising cadres. It is easier to solve problems as soon as they come up among cadres than to launch a movement for this purpose. (Deng Xiaoping, "Questions Concerning Cadres of the Party in Power," supra).
Though times and context have changed, the challenges to the CCP have not. And certainly, from an ideological perspective, the obligations of the CCP, in its vanguard role, to serve as an example of self discipline, remains as important. Particularly important, in the current push to strengthen CCP democracy and democratic centralism, is the important insight that cadre entrenchment, especially at the lower levels of the CCP organization can be as corrosive to CCP democracy and its vanguard obligations, as the dangers of cults of personality at the higher levels of the CCP (and on the latter see 中国共产党党组工作条例（试行 ) “Regulation of Leading Party Members' Groups of CCP (Trial Implementation)” passed May 29, 2015 . Beyond mass line and anti-corruption campaigns, the ability fo the CCP to generate collective decision making and a collective working style may well be strengthened by the institution of systems of rotation fo CCP cadres in line with their abilities and to ensure that no clique becomes entrenched at any level of the CCP. And indeed, notions of collective leadership appear to be a central emerging element in the construction of the CCP going forward (see, e.g., Hu Angang, China's Collective Presidency (Springer 2014, which I examine HERE).