Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, December 18, 2017

More party rule

Changes in law enforcement in China might require constitutional changes elsewhere.

China gets a new system to curb corruption—and ideological lapses — The Communist Party gives itself more policing and judicial powers
The abolition of shuanggui is the most visible part of a sweeping reform that in effect sets up an entirely new branch of government. Called the National Supervision Commission, it is designed to streamline administration, improve the implementation of policy and eliminate protectionist rules in the cities and provinces…

Unlike most countries, China has two pyramids of authority, the state and the Communist Party. High-ranking officials belong to both. Mr Xi is state president and general secretary of the party. The party hierarchy parallels the state one and outranks it. For example, the politburo, a party committee of 25, is more important than the state council, composed of government ministers. The shuanggui system belongs to the party. Ordinary jails, the police and the courts are parts of the state.

The new supervision system will be a mixture of the two. At the top is the new commission, which the law says will be led by the Communist Party and share space and personnel with the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). The CCDI is the party’s anti-corruption body and one of the most feared institutions in the country… Below the commission there will be a ladder of lower-level agencies that will work with courts and the procurators’ offices (ie, with the state judicial system). Like other government bodies, the agencies will report to the National People’s Congress, the rubber-stamp parliament, which is supposed to control them.

The new law would expand the CCDI’s powers. It will be allowed to investigate all officials, not just party members, and its mandate will include “improper conduct by state employees”, meaning that it will probe officials’ ethical standards and political beliefs, not just their compliance with the law…

If an expanded CCDI can improve law enforcement in this way, then many business people… will welcome the new system. But it is not clear whether it will improve the rule of law. What is really being abolished, says Jeremy Daum of the Paul Tsai China Centre at Yale Law School, is the pretence of the separation of party and state. Under the new system, suspects will not have the constitutional protection afforded to those accused of ordinary crimes. They will have no guaranteed access to a lawyer, for example…

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