Rule of law and rule of virtue in the history of China

[Editor’s Note. On December 9, the Politburo of the CPC held a collective study session entitled “Rule of Law and Rule of Virtue in our National History”. Politburo collective study sessions are meetings where academics and experts address the Politburo on issues relevant to policy making (see here, here, and here). The Politburo was briefed on the relationship between rule of law and rule of virtue in the history of China by Professor Zhang Yong, Dean of the Institute for Legal History at China’s University of Political Science and Law.

At the end of the Study Session, a speech on the nexus between rule of law, rule of virtue, and values was delivered by Xi Jinping. The translation of Xi Jinping’s speech is presented “as it is”. Your comments and corrections are most welcome.]

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“Law is the criterion, which must be respected at all times; morality is the foundation, which at no time can be ignored.”General Secretary Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at the 37th collective study session of the Political Bureau, focussing on advancing the modernization of the national governance system, and the governance capacity, deeply grasping the regulation of state governance, deeply explaining the dialectical relationship between rule of law and rule of virtue,  upholding the mutual combination of ruling the country in accordance with the law and ruling the country in accordance with virtue under the new historical conditions, allowing rule of law and rule of virtue to reciprocally integrate, promote each other,  reciprocally combine in national governance, to provide ideological compliance and a guide to action.

Virtue alone is not sufficient for the exercise of government; laws alone cannot carry themselves into practice”Laws are codified morality, morality is the law of the heart. Practice shows that both laws and morality can regulate social action, coordinate social relationships, maintain social stability, and have a place and a function in national governance. The effective implementation of law depends on the support of morality, and moral practice is not separated from the limitations of the law. Rule of law and rule of virtue cannot be separated, and one of them should not receive emphasis at the expense of the other. Since reform and opening up, our Party deeply summarized the lessons of experience, embarking upon the road of a socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics. Its distinctive feature is upholding the mutual combination of ruling the country in accordance with the law and ruling the country in accordance with virtue, stressing grasping the rule of law and rule of virtue with both hands, both of which should be firm.  Along the new journey towards comprehensively ruling the country in accordance with the law, and achieving the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, we can continue to uninterruptedly advance the modernization of national governance, and achieve a lasting peace and stability only by coordinating the power of law and the power of virtue, planning as a whole the construction of a legal system based on the rule of virtue, and the construction of a rule of virtue that is guaranteed by the rule of law.

Under the new situation, to uphold the mutual combination of ruling the country in accordance with the law and ruling the country in accordance with virtue, one must transform persons through virtue, and strengthen the support morality can provide to the rule of law, develop the educational role of morality, to create a favorable cultural environment for comprehensively ruling the country in accordance with the law. To realize the demands of the rule of law in a system of rule of virtue, diligence must be placed in allowing a mutual linkage, a mutual coordination, and a mutual promotion between the moral system and regulation by socialist law. To highlight the rule of law meaning of moral education,  attention must be paid to breed persons’ sense of faith in the law, notions of rule of law, and consciousness of rules. To implement the demands of morality in the construction of a legal system, a clear moral orientation of legal rules must be established, virtue and righteousness must be enhanced, the processes of law making, law enforcement and adjudication must be connected by the Socialist Core Values. Where circumstances are suitable, moral requirements must be promptly upgraded to legal regulations, to allow the socialist legal system to be based on good laws and good governance, worship virtue and seek the good.

Thought is the guide to action, and consensus is the engine of practice. For the law to play a role, first the whole society must have faith in the law. For morality to be respected, it is necessary to raise the moral quality of the entire People. Only by strengthening propaganda and education on the rule of law, and by strengthening the construction of morality, it will be possible to uninterruptedly raise the legal consciousness and the moral consciousness of the entire nation, making persons heartfeltedly believe and revere the constitution and the law, and  establish a good morality, to plant deep social roots for the rule of law and the rule of virtue.

Under the new situation,  to uphold the mutual combination of ruling the country in accordance with the law and ruling the country in accordance with virtue  it is necessary to nurture the law through morality, and use the means of rule of law to solve outstanding problems in morality, and escort the construction of a rule of virtue by severely enforcing the law and through a fair judiciary.Law is the baseline of morality, and it is also the guarantee of morality. Only by sustaining the rule of law through morality, there can be a system to support morality.Only by strengthening relevant law-making, bringing into play the judicial function of judging cases by upholding virtue and condemning evil, strengthening the control over dishonest and amoral actions  that cause strong reactions among the masses in accordance with the law, strenghtening the degree of law enforcement over unlawful conducts based on utilitarian considerations, and on counterfeiting, and letting those responsible for amoral conducts and violations of the law be punished, and pay the price Truth, Good, and Beauty will be promoted through the force of tule of law, striking against Falsity, Evil, and the Ugly.

Under the new situation, only by upholding the mutual combination of ruling the country in accordance with the law and ruling the country in accordance with virtue it will be possible for those who are superior to lead the subordinates, and to fully bring into play the key role of leading cadres.If people are not led, then they will not follow. If one is not the first, then he will not be trusted.”It does not matter whether it is the construction of the rule of law or the construction of the rule of virtue, leading cadres must enthusiastically promote them, and serve as a model.We must uphold leading cadres taking the lead in studying law, and being a model of compliance with the law as the key point of comprehensively ruling the country in accordance with the law,  and promote the regularization and institutionalization of leading cadres studying the law.Leading cadres should strive to become models of morality for the whole society. Only by refining themselves through morality, achieving  power through virtue, persuading the masses through virtue, and taking the lead in  paying attention to the family, to family education, to family behavior it will be possible to drive the whole society to rever virtue and act towards the good, to respect law and observe law through the noble character and integrity of members of the Communist Party.

Law pacifies the world, and morality softens the heart of man.Upholding combining rule by law and rule by virtue, it is of fundamental importance for the long-term development of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Let us unswervingly follow the Socialist road with Chinese characteristics under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with comrade XI Jinping as the core,  and build a rule of law China, promote the Core Socialist Values, open up new prospects for comprehensively ruling the country in accordance with the law and draw a new picture of ideological and moral construction.

法律是准绳,任何时候都必须遵循;道德是基石,任何时候都不可忽视。习近平总书记在中央政治局第三十七次集体学习时发表重要讲话,着眼推进国家治理体系和治理能力现代化,深刻把握治国理政规律,深入阐释法治与德治的辩证关系,为我们在新的历史条件下坚持依法治国和以德治国相结合,使法治和德治在国家治理中相互补充、相互促进、相得益彰,提供了思想遵循和行动指南。

徒善不足以为政,徒法不能以自行。法律是成文的道德,道德是内心的法律。实践表明,法律和道德都具有规范社会行为、调节社会关系、维护社会秩序的作用,在国家治理中都有其地位和功能。法律有效实施有赖于道德支持,道德践行也离不开法律约束,法治和德治不可分离、不可偏废。改革开放以来,我们党深刻总结经验教训,走出了一条中国特色社会主义法治道路,其鲜明特点就是坚持依法治国和以德治国相结合,强调法治和德治两手抓、两手都要硬。迈向全面依法治国新征程,实现民族复兴的中国梦,只有让法律和道德协同发力,统筹推进以德治为基础的法治建设、以法治为保障的德治建设,我们才能不断推进国家治理现代化,实现长治久安。

新形势下,坚持依法治国和以德治国相结合,就要以德化人,强化道德对法治的支撑作用,发挥道德的教化作用,为全面依法治国创造良好人文环境。要在道德体系中体现法治要求,努力使道德体系同社会主义法律规范相衔接、相协调、相促进。要在道德教育中突出法治内涵,注重培育人们的法律信仰、法治观念、规则意识。要把道德要求贯彻到法治建设中,树立法律法规的鲜明道德导向,弘扬美德义行,以社会主义核心价值观贯穿立法、执法、司法的全过程,把条件适宜的道德要求及时上升为法律规范,使社会主义法治成为良法善治,引导全社会崇德向善。

思想是行动的先导,共识是实践的动力。法律要发挥作用,首先全社会要信仰法律;道德要得到遵守,必须提高全体人民道德素质。既加强法治宣传教育,又加强道德建设,才能不断提高全民法治意识和道德自觉,使人们发自内心信仰和崇敬宪法法律,树立良好道德风尚,为法治和德治厚植社会根基。

新形势下,坚持依法治国和以德治国相结合,就要以法养德,运用法治手段解决道德领域突出问题,以严格执法、公正司法为道德建设保驾护航。法律是底线的道德,也是道德的保障。以法治承载道德理念,道德才有可靠制度支撑。加强相关立法工作,发挥司法断案惩恶扬善功能,依法加强对群众反映强烈的诚信缺失等失德行为的整治,加大对见利忘义、制假售假等违法行为的执法力度,让败德违法者受到惩治、付出代价,就能以法治力量弘扬真善美、打击假恶丑。

新形势下,坚持依法治国和以德治国相结合,就要以上率下,发挥好领导干部的关键作用。人不率,则不从;身不先,则不信。不管是法治建设还是道德建设,领导干部既应积极推动,也应以身作则。要坚持把领导干部带头学法、模范守法作为全面依法治国的关键,推动领导干部学法经常化、制度化。领导干部要努力成为全社会的道德楷模,以德修身、以德立威、以德服众,带头注重家庭、家教、家风,才能以共产党人的高尚品格和廉洁操守,带动全社会崇德向善、尊法守法。

法安天下,德润人心。坚持依法治国和以德治国相结合,是关系中国特色社会主义事业长远发展的根本大计。让我们在以习近平同志为核心的党中央坚强领导下,坚定不移走中国特色社会主义法治道路,把法治中国建设好,把社会主义核心价值观弘扬好,奋力开创全面依法治国新局面,共同描绘思想道德建设新图景。

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