[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.]
“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.