Content
china-gets-a-new-system-to-curb-corruption-and-ideological-lapses
Plane Filling Motif with Human Figures. 1921. M.C.Escher. Source: Wikiart.org

China gets a new system to curb corruption — and ideological lapses

THREE hours into his marathon speech to the Communist Party congress in October, as delegates glanced surreptitiously at their watches, Xi Jinping, China’s president, sprang a surprise. “The practice of shuanggui,” he suddenly announced, “will be replaced by detention.” Shuanggui is a system in which party members accused of corruption are locked up in secret jails, beyond the reach of the judiciary and isolated from family or lawyers. In 2016 Human Rights Watch, an NGO, documented cases of beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions and other forms of torture in shuanggui jails. That makes it sound as if Mr Xi’s unexpected move is a step forward for human rights. It may not be.

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. A draft law governing the commission appeared in November; three provinces, Beijing, Zhejiang and Shanxi, have been giving it a trial run as it undergoes a public review. It is proving highly controversial, but is likely to get the go-ahead nationwide in March.

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. It is responsible for Mr Xi’s purge of officials. 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. The new supervisors will be able to interrogate, search, wiretap, detain and punish suspects.

The extension of the graft-busters’ authority reflects Mr Xi’s belief that the current arrangement, in which the party is responsible for cracking down on corruption but only indirectly controls the police and judiciary, is no longer enough. The president’s concerns seem to have broadened from corruption to party discipline, ideological correctness and the need to clamp down on local officials who ignore the orders of the central government.

The new system is likely to intensify the anti-corruption campaign, to judge from the results of the three pilot schemes. In all of them, the number of cases handled shot up in the first eight months of the year compared with the same period in 2016 (when the old rules still applied), by 30% in Beijing, 40% in Shanxi, a province west of the capital, and 92% in Zhejiang, near Shanghai. Shanxi’s anti-corruption chief attributed the rise to efficiencies created by pooling the resources of party and state.

No smoke without some ire

A sense of the system’s likely impact comes from inspection tours organised this summer by the Ministry of Environmental Protection of factories in the north-east, China’s rust belt. The aim of such tours is to close down those that are exceeding legal limits on pollution. The ministry makes them all the time but its edicts are typically flouted. This time was different. Inspectors from the CCDI came along. Terrified polluters promptly closed dozens of foundries and smelters.

If an expanded CCDI can improve law enforcement in this way, then many business people, as well as those living in China’s most polluted places, 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, and though family members are supposed to be informed of an arrest, that requirement can be waived if it would hamper an investigation. Suspects can also be detained for longer than before: six months, not four. Jiang Ming’an, a professor at Peking University and a university friend of Li Keqiang, the prime minister, worries that the appeals system “does not seem effectively to protect the legal rights of detainees.” Chen Guangzhong of China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing argues that the legislature’s powers to supervise the supervisors need to be strengthened. He proposes a two-year nationwide trial to ensure due process.

Han Dayuan, the dean of the law school at Renmin University in Beijing, goes further, suggesting that the proposed system marks such a sweeping change that it requires a constitutional amendment. These concerns appear to be falling on deaf ears, however. Mr Xi has already given the system his seal of approval. The law is likely to be approved at the next meeting of the legislature, in March. The Communist Party’s authority is set to become even more entrenched.

Published on The Economist.

    • Intellectual paths in central Europe

      Samuel Abrahám World Politics
      intellectual-paths-in-central-europe

      How can intellectuals of central Europe maintain their moral principles and independence, yet support democracy, in an age when the region is again traversing a rocky road paved with nationalism and populism?

    • The Curious Case of Paul N. Whelan

      Igor Lukeš World Politics
      the-curious-case-of-paul-n-whelan

      How likely is it that Paul Whelan is an American spy?

       

      At the end of December 2018 Russian authorities announced the arrest of Paul Whelan. He had received a USB flash drive from a Russian man who came to his hotel room in Moscow. Minutes later Mr. Whelan was arrested, charged with espionage, and taken to Lefortovo prison. If convicted, he would face 10 to 20 years in prison.

       

      Mr. Whelan, 48, is not an accredited diplomat. He is Canadian by birth, and also a citizen of the United States, Great Britain, and Ireland. He was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve but left with a “Bad Conduct Discharge,” having been court-martialed for larceny on the grounds that he had attempted to misappropriate more than $10,000 and was guilty of writing bad checks. It was subsequently reported that Mr. Whelan, prior to his current trip, had been to Russia several times and was a passionate collector of Russian souvenirs. His family claims he had gone to Moscow to attend a wedding of an American friend who was getting married to a Russian citizen. His most recent job in the United States has been described as providing security for the facilities of an automotive components’ supplier.

    • The “full truth” is unobtainable

      John Lloyd, red. Přítomnosti Society
      the-full-truth-is-unobtainable

      Ideal journalist characteristics by John Lloyd.

    • Momentous ‘eights’ in Czecho-Slovak history

      Jacques Rupnik Czech Politics
      momentous-eights-in-czecho-slovak-history

      Et n’oublions pas le Goofus Bird, oiseau qui vole en arrière car il ne se soucie pas de savoir où il va, mais d’où il vient. (J. L. Borges, Le livre des êtres imaginaires.)

    • The Anti-European Tradition of Europe

      Andrei Plesu World Politics
      the-antieuropean-tradition-of-europe-andre-plesu

      Our featured year-end article explores the dichotomies of the formation of today’s Europe and the conflicts, tensions, and solutions therein.

       

      Europe has a long tradition of self-segregation, of multi-dimensionality, of debates on national identity that can go as far as internal conflict. The first failure of our ‘common home’ was the fracturing of the Roman Empire into a western and an eastern segment. Rome broke away from Byzantium, Catholicism from Orthodoxy, Protestantism from Catholicism, the Empire from the Papacy, East from West, North from South, the Germanic from the Latin, communism from capitalism, Britain from the rest of the continent. We easily perceive the differences that make up our identity; we are able at any time to distance ourselves from ourselves. We invented both colonialism and anti-colonialism; we invented Eurocentrism and the relativisation of Europeanism. The world wars of the last century began as intra-European wars; the European West and East were for decades kept apart by a ‘cold war’. An impossible ‘conjugal’ triangle has constantly inflamed spirits: the German, the Latin and the Slavic worlds.

    • Czech Security Information Service's straightforward Annual Report

      European Values Think-Tank Czech Politics
      czech-security-information-service-s-straightforward-annual-report

      Compared to most of the security institutions in Central Europe, the Czech Security Information Service (BIS) managed to describe Russian and Chinese intelligence activities in the Czech Republic in a remarkable detail. There are several points in the latest Annual Report we would like to highlight:

       

      • Russian and Chinese activities threatening the Czech security and other interests are a continuous priority for the BIS. While Russian activities “continuously focused primarily on influence operations and exploitation of Czech sources”, the Chinese changed up their tactics and focused more on intelligence infiltration instead of influence.
      • The size of the Russian diplomatic mission which includes a high number of individuals with affiliation to the Russian intelligence services represents several risks, especially because of the reckless attitude of Czech politicians and civil servants towards unclassified but non-public information.
    • Please, start taking pro-Kremlin disinformation seriously

      Vydavatelstvi MJS World Politics
      please-start-taking-pro-kremlin-disinformation-seriously

      Open Letter by European Security Experts to President of the European Commission J. C. Juncker and High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

       

       

    • Zeman a nuclear power

      Dalibor Rohac Czech Politics
      zeman-a-nuclear-power

      Murky Nuclear Business in New Europe.

    • One Hundred Years of Czech Provincialism

      Igor Lukeš Politika
      one-hundred-years-of-czech-provincialism

      Dear readers, in conjunction with the 100 – year anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia we are pleased to present the following article by renowned historian Igor Lukeš. (Martin Jan Stránský, Publisher)

       

      Despite years of Nazi and communist occupation, the Czech Republic is now a member of NATO and its relations with the United States and other allies in the West are strong. It was heartwarming to see General James Mattis observing the Czech Army’s pass-in-review on October 28th. Given the Czech Republic’s geographic location, this is not a small achievement, and it is good to celebrate it.

       

      At the same time, we need to anticipate problems and prepare to face them before they become insurmountable. It is a truism but one worth repeating that friends not only support and sustain each another, they also tell each other the truth, even when it is uncomfortable, inconvenient, or outright painful. This is what I propose to do today. I will argue that the Czech Republic

    • One Day can Change a Country

      Anna Stransky World Politics
      one-day-can-change-a-country

      The Netherland’s relationship with Russia drastically changed after July 17th, 2014, when the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down.

    • Why is chain migration so controversial?

      The Economist World Politics
      why-is-chain-migration-so-controversial

      The American president’s family benefited from it. He himself is less keen.

    • The Czech Republic’s present for its 100 year anniversary: an alcohol-basted pig

      Martin Jan Stránský Czech Politics
      the-czech-republic-s-present-for-its-100-year-anniversary-an-alcohol-basted-pig

      “I like reporters, perhaps I will invite them for dinner to the Saudi consulate“.

       

      Thus spoke the president of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman on Oct 24.  Besides his acknowledged alcoholic dysfunction, the current president is an outspoken supporter of Russia and an avid hater of journalists.

       

      So Czech Republic, happy birthday to you and to your citizens, who tolerate being represented by a foul-mouthed drunk on this, the centennial anniversary of the country. 

       

      But to be fair, the Czech Republic is not alone. On the other side of the pond there is another country that is trying to ignore the surrealistic nightmare of its current president as well.  Both presidents are hostage to their pathologic narcissism, with its resultant degradation of values.

       

      Martin J Stránský MD

      Publisher, Přítomnost and The New Presence (www.pritomnost.cz)

      Great-grandson of Adolf Stránský the country’s first Minister of Commerce in 1918 and one of Czechoslovakia’s founders.

    • We are the future of Europe, says Viktor Orban

      Martin Jan Stránský World Politics
      we-are-the-future-of-europe-says-viktor-orban

      When we lose, we stay. And we will return.

      – excerpts from a private speech by Viktor Orban.

    • Russia´s post-invasion trauma

      Vydavatelstvi MJS World Politics
      russia-s-post-invasion-trauma2

      From the Friday´s Fleet Sheet Edition.

    • The Stupidification of Democracy Has Spilled into the Czech Lands

      Vydavatelstvi MJS Czech Politics
      the-stupidification-of-democracy-has-spilled-into-the-czech-lands

      A Czech journalist Jan Urban gives thoughts on the current post-modern political reality (not only) in the Czech Republic, reminding us on the principles of democracy. "One of the best analysis I have read in years" Martin Jan Stránský, publisher of The New Presence.

    • China Seeks Influence in Europe, One Business Deal at a Time

      Vydavatelstvi MJS World Politics
      china-seeks-influence-in-europe-one-business-deal-at-a-time

      Czech president Milos Zeman and his baffling policy towards China under scrutiny of NY Times.

Our Supporters:

                                                    30 05 2018 KJ                 30 05 2018 Uprazeno 

Our Partners:

logo pozadi cervena udalostiart-for-good-logo1Xantypacd12 8DeSYo4 HLIDACIPESlogoFINALv6 2016-10-02 Logo RR 2016 1

logo big   cze-logo   Peroutak logo1