Xinhua Insight: "Conformity," China's political consensus

2016-03-16 13:15:34 GMT2016-03-16 21:15:34(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English
BEIJING, March 16, 2016 (Xinhua) -- The closing meeting of the fourth session of the 12th National People's Congress is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 16, 2016. (Xinhua/Yang Zongyou)BEIJING, March 16, 2016 (Xinhua) -- The closing meeting of the fourth session of the 12th National People's Congress is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 16, 2016. (Xinhua/Yang Zongyou)

BEIJING, March 16 (Xinhua) -- As China's annual parliamentary session draws to an end, the "four consciousnesses" has emerged as a popular catchphrase frequently underpinned not only by top leaders, national lawmakers, but commentators and news anchors.

Observers say the essence of the concept boils down to the unwavering conformity with the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC)'s leadership, which is vital in China's final countdown in building a moderately prosperous society by 2020 as well as for the country's future destiny.

CONFORMING WITH CPC CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Prior to the parliamentary session, Qiushi Journal, the flagship magazine of the CPC Central Committee, published a commentary on March 1, underscoring the need to promote the "consciousnesses of the ideology, the whole, the core and the line."

Faithfulness to the Party's core leadership is characterized by staunch loyalty to "the CPC Central Committee, [its] General Secretary Xi Jinping as well as to Party theories, guidelines, principles and policies," it said.

On the day that the Qiushi article was published, Liu Yunshan, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, said that "conforming with 'the line' is a significant political principle," and it is where the Party's strength and advantages lie.

In his government work report delivered on March 5, Premier Li Keqiang also underscored the importance of maintaining political integrity, being aware of the bigger picture, following the CPC as the core of the Chinese leadership and acting in accordance with CPC Central Committee policies.

The consciousnesses of "the ideology" and "the whole" are not new in the Chinese political arena. They have been brought up since the CPC initiated the reform and opening up drive more than three decades ago.

The concepts require CPC officials to adhere to the correct political direction, always bearing in mind the ultimate interests of the party and the nation in making decisions and implementing Party policies, to ensure that China will always focus on economic development and stick to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

It is thanks to this practice that the CPC and the Chinese people have been united for the same goal of development, growing the Chinese economy to the world's second largest and making it an important growth engine for the world economy.

The consciousnesses of "the core" and "the line," however, were raised during a recent CPC campaign to improve conducts of officials, focusing on the "three stricts and three honests." The slogan refers to "being strict in morals, power and self-discipline," along with "being honest in decisions, business and behavior."

Experts say "the core" stresses the adherence to the Party's core leadership, requiring the CPC's 87 million members to follow the leadership of the CPC Central Committee, especially its Political Bureau and Political Bureau Standing Committee, and to closely unite around the General Secretary, who is the core of the core.

The consciousness of "the line" demands officials to conform with the CPC Central Committee, its General Secretary as well as to Party theories, guidelines, principles and policies. The centralized and unified leadership should be followed and its authority be upheld.

The "four consciousnesses" has been perceived by many as the latest move in the CPC top leadership's series of new governance concepts and strategies since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012.

NO DEVIATION IN DIRECTION

The "four consciousnesses" has been brought up as China aims to attain its goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects in the next five years, said Shi Zhihong, a national political advisor.

"The CPC has to fulfill the pledge it made to all the Chinese citizens on time and ensure not a single person, region or ethnic group has been left out," said Shi, also former deputy director of the Policy Research Office of the CPC Central Committee.

"This task leaves unprecedented pressure and challenges to the CPC," he added.

China's population is expected to reach 14.2 billion by 2020. It would mean much to the world if such a big country could avoid the middle-income trap.

"It entails a high degree of unity in both volition and action within the Party to lead the entire nation to achieve this goal. The 'four consciousnesses' has been brought up to achieve such unity, with conforming with 'the line' as the highlight," Shi said.

Facing downward economic pressure amid fragile global recovery, China's economy has entered what policymakers refer to as the "new normal," a phase of moderating growth driven more by consumption instead of exports and investment.

To ensure the huge Chinese vessel sails to the expected destination, every Chinese should paddle forward under the instruction of the helmsman -- the CPC Central Committee, with Xi as general secretary, Shi noted.

VITAL FOR CHINA'S FATE

Experts say conforming with the CPC central leadership, safeguarding its authority and ensuring its orders well implemented are a matter of principle which is vital to the Party and the nation's destiny.

The CPC's innovative theories and thoughts have helped to navigate China to success both during the war against Japanese aggression and the era of reform and opening up, according to Shi.

"It's unimaginable to govern the world's biggest political party and a country with a 1.3-billion-strong population without a centralized and unified leadership," Shi said.

Shi noted, however, the call for conformity does not mean a suppression of public opinions. "'The line' is the collective wisdom of the entire Party and Chinese people."

Grassroots wisdom in the new plan for the country's economic and social development in the next five years, which was approved by the national legislature on Wednesday, has been pooled from various sectors through legislators and political advisors at all levels.

With China's diverse level of development and conditions in different regions and industries, the consciousnesses of "the core" and "the line" have been championed to pool strength from various sectors for a single end, said Zhang Zhao'an, economist with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

"A firm core leadership is crucial for laying down a top-level design under the current complex economic situation both at home and abroad," Zhang said.

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