As I wrote last week, the Regulations on Disciplinary Punishments play, in the economy of intra-Party legislation, the same role the Criminal Law of the PRC plays in the state’s legal system. The structure of the Regulations closely mirrors the structure of the Criminal law.
Chapter 1 of the Regulations lists their goals and principles, Chapter 2 specifies the concept of “disciplinary responsibility” (art. 6), and describes disciplinary punishments for Party members and Party organizations. Chapter 3 contains rules on:
Continental criminal codes list conducts that constitute crimes against the personality of the State in the first chapter of the special part. The choice as to how to organize some European criminal codes reflects the ideas that prevailed at the time when codes were drafted.
The CCP was established at a different time and in a completely different context. The choice to open the special part of the Regulations with a chapter on violations of political discipline is consistent with the role the CCP plays in China’s political system. As Zhang Hui (deputy secretary of the CCDI) stated earlier today to the press: “political discipline is the most important and most fundamental discipline“.
But…what is political discipline? In my understanding, political discipline includes all the rules of conduct necessary to protect the personality of the Party.
The point of the personality of the Party is still very much debated by Western scholars of Chinese law. The general consensus, a consensus that dates back to the late 1980s, is that under the law of the PRC the Party has no legal personality. I will not go into the legal technicalities of this argument. Under this argument, if under PRC law legal personality is acquired when a group of natural persons creates and successfully registers an organization, and if the CCP never registered as a social organization, then the CCP has no legal personality under PRC law.
This argument misses a key distinction between the CCP and CSOs. The CCP was established to reach an openly acknowledged goal: changing the pre-1949 political order, and creating a new social, moral, and political system. The CCP is a membership-based, political organization that pursues a revolutionary goal. CSOs may be membership-based organizations but, they do not pursue a revolutionary goal in the same sense as the CCP did between 1921 and 1949.
The concept of political personality may be more useful to understand the reason why conducts as “using the internet to oppose the opening up and reform policy” violate Party discipline.
But, again…what is the political personality of the Party? The political personality of the CCP is given by the motivations, values, and behavioral tendencies that prevail among the members of the CCP. Chapter 6 of the Regulations has the goal to avoid that Party members deviate from the promise they have made to do or not to do something, and to believe or not to believe in certain values in political morality, and to act upon them.
The promise a person makes when he or she decides to join the Party is not limited to maintaining a generic belief in the worldview and values presumably shared by the majority of Party members. The worldview protected by Chapter 6 possesses different sides and different facets, and therefore it is expressed in various ways. The ways in which this worldview is expressed and acted upon depend on the contexts where political activities occur. Political activities are understood broadly, as involving the day-to-day operations of Party organizations (organizational discipline); the professional conduct of individual Party members (integrity); the impact Party members have on society (mass discipline); their work performance (work discipline), and finally the way in which Party members live their lives after work (life discipline).