Opinion / Editorials

A fight that has to be won

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-10-27 07:44

The signal from the Fourth Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party is clear: The Party has felt the acute need of highlighting the authority of law.

Wang Qishan, chief of the Party's anti-corruption watchdog, however, issued a grim reminder of the difficulty to make officials heed Beijing's calls. Even under the daunting pressure of the two-year crusade against power abuse, Wang conceded, rampant corruption continues.

For not a few Party officials, that the Party must "govern the country in accordance with law" is at times mistaken as they, as individuals, are masters of the law and its institution. The widespread corruption and power abuse exposed recently are proof that the rule of law is incomplete, if not impossible, unless the Party subjects itself to the scrutiny and oversight of law.

Chairman Mao Zedong once said that educating the masses is a serious challenge. It still is. But a greater challenge today is to educate, and discipline, officials.

The CPC has a tradition of emphasizing education. Every generation of CPC leaders has had its brand of intra-Party education campaigns. But its reliance on officials' awareness of rules and discipline has been of little help. That even laws and vows of harsh punishment have failed to deter widespread abuse of power in public offices indicates that corrupt officials won't stop their nefarious activities until they are thrown out in the Party's house-cleaning operation.

Ours is a society that values examples. "A lower beam can't be upright if the upper one isn't", goes a popular axiom. Corrupt officials have not only ruined the Party's once fine image, they have set bad examples for society, severely lowering public morale, as well.

The success or failure of the current anti-corruption campaign that Wang spearheads will have a great impact on the CPC's endeavors to renew its quality and to rebuild its image. It is a fight the Party can't afford to lose. But judging from what Wang has revealed, it will be an extremely tough one.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Party's discipline watchdog, has been impressively efficient in conducting probes against corruption and has thus become a source of fear for corrupt officials. But it is unrealistic to pin all our hopes of a clean government on one single watchdog. The CPC has more than 80 million members. To improve its self-regulatory capabilities, it must first make its grassroots watchdogs bite. The prevalence of abuse, on the other hand, exposes an amazing state of paralysis.

More importantly, officials must be convinced that they really do not enjoy any privileges in the eyes of law and that the Party's efforts to promote the rule of law will be within the confines of law.

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