1. Political Security is the Foundation of National Security.9
At the core of political security is the security of our sovereign power10 and the security of our institutions. At its most fundamental, political security means safeguarding the ruling position and leadership status of the Chinese Communist Party and safeguarding the institution of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. If political security cannot be guaranteed, the country will inevitably disintegrate like a sheet of loose sand. Then there will be no possibility for the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation.
Under New Conditions, our state faces a complex and changing developmental and security environment. It is clear that all kinds of risk factors—both the foreseeable ones and those that are hard to foresee—are on the rise. If [these risk factors] cannot be controlled promptly and effectively, they could evolve into political risks and could endanger the Party's leadership and national security.
As such, comrades of the Party, especially the leadership cadres at all administrative levels, must sharpen their risk awareness and hone their ability to guard against political risks. It is necessary to hone our political acuity and political discernment, and to treat the political security of the state as our top priority. Be on high alert for, spot early, and act swiftly [to resolve] problems that could easily induce political risks. It is necessary to pay special attention to sensitive problems whose initial stirrings or inherent tendencies [suggest that the problem] might escalate into a major crisis. All hidden perils must be promptly eradicated. Act swiftly to prevent non-public risks from growing into public risks and non-political risks from growing into political risks. Resolutely prevent and overcome the political paralysis that incapacitates our ability to sniff out enemy intentions, differentiate right from wrong, and discern the correct [political] direction.
2. Safeguard the Security of our Sovereign Power and the Security of our Institutions
As General Secretary Xi Jinping remarked, “The state’s political security, especially the security of our sovereign power and the security of our institutions, is our first priority.”11 The foundation of our governance is the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the institution of socialism. It is erroneous, harmful, and unconstitutional for any person to repudiate the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and our socialist institutions under any pretext. No one who behaves in such a manner will be tolerated.
It is necessary to unwaveringly uphold and strengthen the party's leadership and governing status. Our regime rests on Chinese Communist Party rule, with the consultative participation of various democratic parties.12 There are no opposition parties. There is no separation of powers between three branches [of government], with multiple parties taking turns to rule. The Constitution of our state affirms the ruling position of the Chinese Communist Party. It affirms the Party's place as the core of the political power structure, coordinating the various parts with total authority over the greater whole. The Party leads all.
The leadership and decision making core of the Party are the Central Committee, the Central Committee Political Bureau, and the Standing Committee of the Central Committee Political Bureau. The leadership of the Party is the fundamental guarantee of the proper execution of the various tasks of the Party and the State. The National People's Congress, the government, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the oversight organs, the judicial organs, the prosecutorial organs, the armed forces, various democratic parties and non-aligned persons, various corporate institutions and enterprises, the unions, the Communist Youth League, the [All-China] Women's Federation, and the other people’s organizations13 [shall] conduct their respective duties while collaborating with each other. We [cannot afford] for a single one to be missing.
On the important principle of upholding the Party's leadership, there can be no ambiguity or wavering. We must grasp the correct political direction, and persevere in our political stance and principles.
We must unwaveringly persevere in and perfect the institution of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. An institutional advantage is a state’s greatest advantage. Institutional competition is the most fundamental type of competition between states.14
If institutions are stable, so is the state. Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is a rigorous, comprehensive, and scientific system of institutions. Serving as the pillars and beam of [this system of institutions] are the fundamental institutions, the foundational institutions, and the important institutions. Among these the institution of Party leadership has the overall commanding position.
It is the Chinese people who most clearly see and have the greatest right to speak on whether the institution of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is good or bad, superior or inferior. We did not completely carry out Sovietization in the past. Now we will not completely carry out Westernization, nor any other “ization.” We do not walk the old path of rigidity and isolation, but neither will we walk the evil path of changing banners.15 We must maintain political resolution16 and strengthen our confidence in our institutions. We must continuously eliminate flaws in our apparatus, refine our institutions [so that they] become more mature and set in stone, and advance the modernization of our state’s governance system and governing capacity.
As for how we model our political institutions, we must grip “hard into the mountain green, whether from the East, South, West or North the wind gusts blow.”17 Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is the path on which our politics develop. Uphold the organic unity18 that occurs when the Party acts as leader, the people act as masters, and the state is governed by law. We must uphold and perfect the institution of the National People’s Congress, the institution of multiparty collaborative political consultation under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the institution of ethnic minority autonomous regions, and the institution of grassroot self-governance.19 It is evident that transplanting the institutions of other countries on our soil would fail. These institutions would not match our water and soil: it would be like setting out to paint a tiger but ending up with the likeness of a dog. This sort of [blind imitation] would bury the future prospects of the state. Only an institution that is rooted in the soil of our own state, absorbing its rich nutrients, can be relied on or put to good use.20
Hostile forces persistently seek to ferment a “color revolution” within our state, vainly attempting to subvert the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist institutions of our state. This is a real and present danger to the security of our sovereign power. As they plot “color revolutions,” Western countries often target their attacks on political institutions, especially its party institutions. They distort public opinion and amplify narratives that condemn the institutions and ruling parties of countries that are simply different from theirs, inciting the masses to take politics onto the streets. As a result, many countries fall into political turmoil and social upheaval, with their people uprooted and displaced.
Hostile forces at home and abroad have never abandoned their subversive intent to Westernize and divide our state. They do not rest, not even for a moment. In response, we must be clear-headed. We must be steadfast. When confronted with major issues of right and wrong, we must not be afraid to brandish our swords.21 In the face of contradictions, we must bravely rise to the challenge.
3. Resolutely Claim Victory in Ideological Struggle
Ideology concerns the banner [we follow], the path [we tread], and the political security of the state. History and real world conditions have repeatedly proven that [those who] sow chaos in a society and subvert sovereign power often begin by piercing a hole in the realm of ideology and sowing chaos in the thoughts of the people. Once the defensive line in thought has been breached it is difficult for other defensive lines to hold. In the realm of ideological conflict, we have no way to compromise and no place to retreat to. We must obtain total victory.
Under New Conditions, conflict in the ideological realm is sharp and complicated. Domestically, some erroneous perspectives and trends of thought emerge from time to time. Some use [the inevitable] problems of real world [execution] as a pretext to attack the leadership of our party and the institution of socialism in our country. Some do everything in their power to distort, vilify, and repudiate our party, our state, and our military, as well as our profound practice of [socialist] revolution, construction and reform. Some brazenly preach Western values.
On the international stage, Western hostile forces have not ceased their ideological infiltration of our country, not even for a moment. They do everything in their power to promote so-called “universal values.” This is [just like the proverb] “to advertise lamb chops but sell dogmeat.”22 Their goal is to vie for our defensive positions, vie for the people’s hearts and minds, and vie for the masses. They employ all possible means to hype up hot issues and difficulties, instigate dissatisfaction with Party committees and the government among the grassroots, stir up antagonistic feelings between the masses and the Party or between cadres and the masses, and to attempt to bring disorder to the hearts and minds of the people. “A lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”23 Hostile forces think they can use this logic to condemn our Party and our state as an absolute disaster without a single redeeming feature, seducing people to dance along to their magical flute.24 If we do not actively educate and correctly guide [the masses], others could strike the first blow, and preemptively seize discursive power.
For the Party, ideology work is an extremely important type of work. In ideology work we must firmly grasp in our hands the power of leadership, the power of supervision, and discursive power. We must not let it fall by the wayside lest we make an unsalvageable mistake of historic proportions. Implement the accountability system for ideology work, give it due importance, and have a timely grasp on the trajectory and dynamics of ideological trends. Dare to catch and intervene in problems of a political nature, problems whose nature is [related to fundamental] principles, and problems whose nature is related to guiding [the masses].25 Have the courage to brandish our swords against all kinds of erroneous thoughts. Be a warrior, not a gentleman. We must not be a fence-sitter, watch which way the wind blows, or cherish personal reputation to the point of inaction.
No media outlet or platform should ever provide space for or facilitate rhetoric that maliciously attacks the Party’s leadership or the institution of socialism, distorts the history of the Party and the state, or spreads rumors and stirs up trouble. [We must] prevent hostile forces from seizing the chance to interfere in or undermine [our relationship with the people], prevent concrete problems from developing into problems with political import, and prevent local problems from developing into a system-wide incident, and prevent the emergence of major ideological incidents or public opinion vortexes.
Doing well in the Party’s journalistic and public opinion work and fostering a benign public opinion environment: these are great matters of national stability and state governance.26 [As such] it is necessary to uphold the Party’s principles and institutions for media management. All communication platforms that engage in news information services, have the properties of media, or have public opinion mobilization functions must be included under the purview of this management. All news information services and personnel must be subject to access control.27 It is necessary to uphold the consolidation and expansion of mainstream public opinion, amplify the main melody, and propagate positive energy, and arouse the great power of an entire society pressing forward in unity.
Marxism is the fundamental guiding thought behind the founding of our Party and state. On the fundamental question of upholding Marxism’s guiding position, we must be resolute. We cannot waver even the slightest at any time or under any circumstance. The disintegration of sovereign power often begins in the realm of thought. Once a Marxist party abandons its Marxist faith–its socialist and communist convictions–it will crumble and disintegrate. Should communist party members be without faith and ideals, or should their faith and ideals not be sufficiently resolute, [they will suffer] from a sort of spiritual “calcium deficiency” and be afflicted with “soft bone disease.” In politics this will inevitably lead to deterioration; in economics, to greed; in morality, to degeneration; in everyday life, to corruption.
In society, unclear and even erroneous understandings [of Marxism] can also be found. Some believe that Marxism is obsolete and that what China is doing right now is not Marxism. Some say that Marxism is merely an ideological homily, lacking in theoretical rigor and systematicity. In practical work there are some fields where Marxism has been marginalized, emptied, and reduced to a label. It has experienced “aphasia” in certain academic subjects, disappeared from certain curricula, and lost its voice in certain forums. This situation demands a high degree of attention.
[In response to this situation] it is necessary to comprehensively implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, uphold the combination of fundamental principles of Marxism with China’s concrete realities and its outstanding traditional culture, and promote the Sinicization, contemporization, and popularization of Marxism, [thereby] constructing a socialist ideology of great cohesiveness and pioneering prowess.
It is necessary to educate and direct the entire Party to understand how Marxism, through the Party’s extraordinary journey, transformed China and the world; to comprehend [both] Marxism’s power [to reveal] the truth and its power [to direct] current practice; to deepen [the entire Party’s] understanding the theoretical qualities of Sinicized Marxism that allows it to both stay true to its origin and progress with the times; and to arm minds, guide practice, and to promote work by unremittingly upholding the latest achievements of the Party’s innovations in theory. It is necessary to carry out extensive propaganda and education campaigns and to strengthen ideological and public opinion guidance by centering [our work] on the important questions of why the Chinese Communist Party is “capable,” why Marxism “works,” and why Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is “good.” Draw the largest possible circle of thought, so that the entire people are tightly united through [shared] ideals, values, and sense of morality. This will cause [our] positive energy to be that much stronger and our main melody that much more majestic.
The internet has become the primary battlefield and the frontline of ideological conflict. It is the largest variable we are facing, and could very well become a thorn in our side.28 For a long time, Western Sinophobic forces have vainly sought to use the internet to “topple China.” Many years ago, Western politicians claimed that “with the internet, we have a new method to deal with China” and that “socialist countries throwing themselves into the embrace of the West will begin on the internet.”29 Following the rapid development of the internet a large number of internet personages, including new media professionals and internet “opinion leaders,” emerged online. Among them, some provide online platforms (merely “sharing their table”) and some are content contributors (acting as the “stars of the show”). [Both groups] are often able to influence internet discourse and should not be taken lightly. Our state’s ideological security and the security of our sovereign power depend on whether we can protect ourselves, hold out, and seize victory on the internet battlefield.
It is necessary to deeply study and assess hot topics on the internet. It is an evident reality that major incidents on the internet, as well as the major societal incidents induced by [these internet incidents], have never been the work of individuals acting on sudden impulses, but are the fruit of numerous actors rising up to act in concert. [These incidents] are intentionally chosen, follow a plan, and are organized and contrived ahead of time. In face of situations like these, it is necessary to possess a high degree of political vigilance and political discernment, and to maintain a high degree of connectivity—both online and off of it. We cannot allow them to wisp in and out of the fog, and must never allow these people to spread rumors, fan the flames [of discontent], or profit from muddied waters.30
The effective management of the internet depends on [two central] questions: who manages the internet and how one should manage it. Apply the Party’s principles for managing traditional media to the realm of new media. Increase the vigor of public opinion control. Accelerate the construction of a comprehensive internet management system. It is necessary to strengthen the management of the internet in accordance with the law, teach and guide netizens to follow rules on the internet, to use the internet in accordance with law and in a civilized manner, to express opinions rationally, and to participate in an orderly fashion.
It is necessary to attach a high importance to: online public opinion struggle; eliminating hidden dangers that will generate storms of negative opinion; strengthening online content construction; reinforcing positive publicity; nurturing an internet culture that is positive and healthy, uplifting and kind, that utilizes the core values of socialism and the fruits of human civilization at its finest to nourish [both] society and the minds of the people; and creating a clean and upright online environment for the netizen masses, especially the youth. Party committees and Party cadres at all levels must treat the maintenance of online ideological security as a mission crucial to protecting their patch.31 They must give full play to the advantages of our institutions, pay close attention to the threefold task of management, utilization and defense, advance on all fronts, resolutely win the struggle over internet ideology, conscientiously maintain the political security of the state, with security of our sovereign power and the security of our institutions at its core of political security.
Schools are not ivory towers, nor some type of Shangri-La, but the frontline positions of the ideological battlefield.32 Hostile forces have never ceased their subversion and sabotage of the leadership of the Communist Party of China or the socialist institutions of our state. The realm that they spend the most effort fighting for is [the loyalty of] our youth.
Foreign hostile forces regularly hold events at our schools. Some foreign religious organizations have centered their infiltration efforts on our institutions of higher learning. Some religious extremist forces even conduct infiltration aimed at minority students. We must clearly grasp the goal of education and cultivation. We must clearly, steadfastly affirm that the goal is to cultivate the next generation of socialist builders and successors. If all this cultivating only cultivates people who bite the hand that feeds them and who kick the wok that fills them, if it only cultivates the gravediggers of our institutions—that would be a failure in education!
Party committees at all levels must prioritize political and ideology work in institutions of higher education, strengthen leadership and guidance [over this work], form a work atmosphere where the leadership of party committees is unified and administrative efforts in all aspects with all departments are coordinated. Secretaries and administrators of high schools, universities, and department level party organizations must shoulder political and leadership responsibilities. They must earnestly implement a responsibility-based system for ideology work. They must dare to discipline, punish, and to brandish the sword. They must understand, shoulder, and fulfill the responsibility of protecting their patch. If anyone uses so-called “academic freedom” to slander Marxism and repudiate its guiding position, we should stand by our banner and resist these falsehoods. We must strengthen the management of school newspapers, academic journals, and the internet, enforce clear and strict discipline in teaching, securely grasp leadership over ideological work, and use Marxism to occupy the ideological battle lines in institutions of higher learning.
Political thought work in the schools must be done well. We must adjust our approach to reflect on past challenges and successes, advance our goals to reflect the times, and renew our methods to reflect historical trends. We must expand theoretical education on Marxism. We must use Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era to educate and forge the souls of our students, guide the students in strengthening their self-confidence in the path, theoretical system, institutions, and culture of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, and to deeply plant patriotic sentiment [in their hearts].
It is necessary to abide by the necessary rules of political and ideological [education], abide by the necessary discipline of education, and abide by the necessary patterns of student development.33 We must unceasingly increase our capability to guard against and purge the corrosive influence that erroneous political thought, separatism, and religious activity exerts on schools. Classroom teaching is the primary medium; we must make good use of it to promote reform and innovation in political theory courses, strengthening the rigor of thought, the depth of the theory, and its targeted application so as to satisfy the needs and expectations of the students’ growth and development. It is necessary to utilize new media and new techniques to revitalize this work, to promote a high level of integration between the traditional advantages of political thought work and information technology, and to increase the attractiveness and timeliness of [our work].
4. Comprehensively Implement the Party’s Ethnic Policies and Religion Policies
Unity and stability are blessings. Separatism and chaos are disasters. It is necessary to accurately grasp and comprehensively implement our Party’s important thought regarding the strengthening and reform of ethnic work, take forging the consciousness of common Chinese national identity as the main line, and resolutely and unwaveringly march on the correct path of resolving ethnic issues with Chinese characteristics. We must establish a shared spiritual homeland for the Chinese nation; advance the interaction, exchange and fusion of ethnic groups; promote the acceleration of modernization within ethnic regions; increase the extent by which ethnic affairs are managed by the rule of law; guard against and resolve hidden dangers and risks within the realm of ethnic affairs; and promote the high quality development of the Party’s ethnic work in the New Era.
Forging a consciousness of common Chinese national identity is the “connecting framework” of the Party’s ethnic work in the New Era. All work must fall within this framework. We must guide all ethnic groups to place the interests of the Chinese nation first in all circumstances. Their ethnic consciousness must be subordinate to and serve the common Chinese national identity. To safeguard ethnic unity and the unification of the state we must build a solid ideological Great Wall. We must raise the banner of ethnic unity, guide the masses from all ethnic groups to strengthen their identification with our great state, the Chinese nation, Chinese culture, the Chinese Communist Party, and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, all bound together as tightly as pomegranate seeds. We must manage ethnic affairs in accordance with the law, promote the modernization of the ethnic affairs management system and capabilities, and properly handle cases involving ethnic factors in accordance with the law. We must resolutely guard against major hidden dangers and risks in the ethnic realm. We must hold to our ideological battle positions. We must resolutely contain and combat the hostile forces at home and abroad that use ethnic problems to carry out separatism, infiltration, sabotage activities. We must construct a steel bastion of ethnic unity, social stability, and a unified state.
In the overall layout of the work of the Party and the state, religious work is of special importance. It is related to the development of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the flesh-and-blood ties of the masses and the Party, social harmony, ethnic unity, and a secure and unified state. We must: establish a comprehensive and powerful leadership mechanism, uphold and develop religious theory based on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, uphold the Party’s basic guidelines for religious work, uphold the Sinicization of religion in our state,34 persist in uniting the mass of religious believers around the Party and government, and construct positive and healthy religious relations. We must support religious organizations to strengthen their [capacity for] self-construction, and increase the extent by which religious work is conducted according to the rule of law.
We must comprehensively, accurately, and in all respects implement the Party’s policy on religious freedoms and rights, respect the religious faith of the masses, manage religious affairs in accordance with the law, uphold the principle of independence and autonomy, actively guiding the mutual adaptation of religion and socialist society to each other.
The Party’s religious work is, in its essence, mass work. The believing masses and the non-believing masses have the same fundamental political and economic interests; politically and economically, both are [part of] the popular foundation of the Party’s rule. Not only should we protect the right to religious freedom of the believing masses and unite the religious masses to the greatest possible extent, but we also must patiently and meticulously work among the religious masses.
Our state’s constitution guarantees religious rights to citizens, but we must also be vigilant against the danger of religious infiltration and the hidden political agenda of some religious appeals. The more hostile forces want to use religion as a pretext to make trouble, the more we must tightly unite the religious masses around the Party, and the better we must organize and lead the religious masses to work along with the broader masses to construct a modern and strong socialist state, and to unite in the struggle to realize the Chinese dream of the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation.
It is necessary to thoroughly promote the Sinicization of religion in our state, guiding and supporting the religions in our state to recognize core socialist values as their head, and strengthening the identification of leading religious figures and the believing masses with the motherland, the Chinese people, Chinese culture, the Chinese Communist Party, and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. Support the religious sphere in interpreting religious doctrine, laws, and teachings in a manner consistent with the demands of progress and the present era, resolutely guard against Western ideological infiltration, and self-consciously resist the influence of extremist doctrine. Increase the extent to which religious work is conducted according to the rule of law and manage religious work in accordance with the law. Do not permit any locality, groups, or religion to exist outside of the law. While we protect the lawful practice of religion, we must prevent the growth of unlawful religious practices, contain religious extremism, guard against infiltration, and strike against criminality. Religious activities should take place within the scope of the designated restrictions under the law. They must not damage the physical health of citizens, disrupt public order and good morals, interfere with state education, judicial and administrative functions, or social life.
It is necessary to uphold the principle of independence and autonomy, and make overall plans to advance the relevant work. It is necessary to strengthen the management of religious affairs on the internet. It is necessary to steadfastly resolve outstanding problems affecting the healthy perpetuation of religion in our state.
5. Guard Against and Resolve the Risks Facing Party Construction
It is necessary to uphold self-revolution, and ensure that the Party does not spoil, change color, or change its taste. Our party has such a long history, operates at such a large scale, and has held power for so long–how did it escape the historical cycle of rise and fall? Comrade Mao Zedong gave the first answer from the Yan’an cave: “The government will not become complacent only if it is under the supervision of the people.”35 After a hundred years of struggle, especially since the adoption of new practices after the 18th Party Congress, our Party has come up with a second answer: self-revolution.
Courage in conducting self-revolution clearly distinguishes our Party from other governing parties. The greatness of the Communist Party of China has not come from an inability to commit errors, but from [our determination to] never conceal fault for fear of criticism,36 from daring to face problems head-on, from courageous self-revolution, and our strong capacity for self-directed restoration and repair. The Chinese Communist Party has never represented any interest group, any power bloc, or the interests of any privileged class. Our Party does not have any special interest of its own. This is the source of our courage and confidence. [It is the reason] we dare to conduct self-revolution. It is precisely because of this selflessness we constantly reflect on our mistakes and regularly examine ourselves in a spirit consistent with historical materialism. [It is precisely because of this selflessness] we not only can escape being captured and corrupted by interest groups, power blocs, and privileged classes, but also excise those within the Party who are held hostage by these groups, organizations and classes.
Since the Party’s 18th Congress, we have pushed for the comprehensive and strict governance of the Party with steadfast resolve, stubborn willpower, and an unprecedented amount of effort. We have cleansed our moral foundation. We have kept our bearings to ensure that the entire Party is sailing the correct course. We have had great historical achievements and promoted great historical transformations in the cause of the Party and the state. We have had an immeasurable and far-reaching impact on the Party, the state, and the nation.
Yet at the same time it is necessary to recognize that comprehensive and strict governance of the Party has not yet been successfully accomplished. The Party faces the test of long-term rule, the test of reform and opening-up, the test of a market economy, and the test of the external environment. [These tests] are all distinguished by their long term and complex nature. The Party also faces the danger of slacking spirit, the danger of incompetence, the danger of losing touch with the masses, and the danger of passivity and corruption.37 These [dangers] are all distinguished by their acuity and severity. Within the Party, impurities in ideology, politics, organization, and work style are still outstanding problems that have not been fundamentally resolved. If Party discipline is not enforced, intra-party governance is not strict, and the outstanding intra-Party problems that the masses are strongly reacting to are not resolved, then it’s a matter of time before our Party loses its qualifications for rule. It will then inevitably be eliminated by history.
All comrades across the party must persist in an undying spirit of revolution. We must strengthen the political awareness that comprehensive and strict governance of the Party will always be a goal to strive for, and reject the sentiment that [intra-Party governance] is already strict enough, or that it cannot be made stricter. It is necessary to uphold the political construction of the Party, and always maintain the Party’s unity and unification. We must strengthen the Party’s ability to purify itself, enhance itself, renew itself, and elevate itself, and conduct the Party’s great self-revolution to the finish. No effort can be spared in overcoming any problem affecting the Party’s creativity, coherence, and combat power. All symptoms of diseases that injure the Party’s advanced nature and purity must be thoroughly eliminated. All malignant tumors growing from the Party’s healthy tissue must be resolutely excised. In particular, those who organize political gangs, small cliques, or interest groups within the party in order to plunder the interests of the state and the people, corrode the foundation of Party rule, or shake the sovereign power of the socialist state must be shown no mercy, resolutely investigated, and prosecuted.
The anti-corruption struggle is an important political struggle that we can neither afford to nor ever shall lose. General Secretary Xi Jinping has pointed out that “the biggest risk and challenge the Party faces comes from corruption and unhealthy trends within the party.”38 Corruption is the problem that is most destructive and lethal to the Party's ruling foundation, the one that will most easily overthrow the Party’s sovereign power. [Choosing] not to offend hundreds and even thousands of corrupt individuals, is to offend 1.4 billion people. The political ledger could not be clearer, nor the ledger of popular sympathy and support.
We must soberly recognize that a fierce competition between corruption and anti-corruption is still underway. [This competition] exhibits certain new features characteristic to this phase. Preventing numerous interest groups from combining into a force that captures [opportunities for] corruption is still a weighty and protracted task; effectively responding to the stealthy mutation, revival, and improvement of corrupt devices is still a weighty and protracted task; thoroughly clearing the breeding grounds of corruption and building an honest political environment is still a weighty and protracted task; cleaning up systematic corruption and eliminating hidden risks is also a weighty and protracted task.
The blacksmith’s hammer must be as firm as the iron it strikes.39 Uphold our policy of no restricted areas, full coverage, and zero tolerance, as well as uphold [a posture of] strict containment, high pressure, and long-term deterrence. Uphold the prosecution of both the party that initiates and the party that takes bribes, resolutely guard against the formation of interest groups within the Party, resolutely guard against various interest groups from capturing leading cadres. Lock power within an institutional cage. Set up, regulate, constrain, and supervise power in accordance with the law. Maintain the high-pressure posture of punishing corruption. Consolidate an indisputable victory in the struggle against corruption. Join together to advance [an environment] where none dare to be corrupt, none can be corrupt, and none want to be corrupt.40 Strengthen deterrence so that none will dare to be corrupt; reinforce the institutional cage that prevents corrupt; and strengthen the conscience of not wanting to be corrupt. Through this unceasing effort we will eventually attain an honest political environment41 and a harmonious society.42
9 The Chinese word guójiā 国家 is properly translated either as “country” or “state,” and the phrase guójiā ānquán 国家安全, here translated as “national security” is probably best translated as “state security”instead. The phrase “state security” would accord with many older official translations (as in “Ministry of State Security,” or the Guójiā Ānquán Bù 国家安全部), but in recent years official translations have favored “national security,” perhaps to better align Chinese institutions with American norms. To avoid confusing readers accustomed to terms like “National Security Commission” we are compelled to accept the subpar translation and relegate our objections to this footnote.
These objections go as follows: Like its English counterpart, the Chinese word for nation (mínzú 民族) refers to a large group of people who share a common history and culture but who do not necessarily live within the boundaries of the same polity. In contrast, guójiā explicitly denotes a political community. The security of a guójiā, therefore, is fundamentally about the integrity of the state institutions that bind this political community together, not the security of all members of a given nationality. This is stated explicitly in the 2015 National Security Law, which defines guójiā ānquán as a“situation where the state’s sovereign power [see note 10, below], sovereign rights, unity and territorial integrity, people’s welfare, and economic and social development, along with other state interests, do not face internal or external threat. [指国家政权、主权、统一和领土完整、人民福祉、经济社会可持续发展和国家其他重大利益相对处于没有危险和不受内外威胁的状态].
See “Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Guojia Anquan Fa (Zhuti Ling Diershijiu Hao) 中华人民共和国国家安全法（主席令第二十九号）[National Security Law of the People's Republic of China (Chairman Order No. 29)],” Zhongyang Zhengfu Menhu Wangzhan 中央政府门户网站 [Central Government Web Portal], 1 July 2015.
10 Translated here as “security of our sovereign power,” the term zhèngquán ānquán [政权安全] is difficult to render accurately into English. When Chinese translate English phrases like “regime change” into Chinese, 政权 (zhèngquán) is the word they most often us for “regime.” “Regime security” is therefore an acceptable gloss. Yet unlike the English “regime,” zhèngquán does not describe institutional architecture of rulership so much as the sovereign power that rulership grants.Thus its appearance in Mao’s most famous aphorism: “枪杆子里面出政权” [usually translated as “political power (zhèngquán) grows from the barrel of a gun”].
11 Xi Jinping first said this on Jan 12th, 2017, in an address to the Central Political and Legal Work Conference. “Xi Jinping: Yao ba weihu guojia zhengzhianquan tebie shi zhenquan anquan, zhidu anquan fangzai diyiwei 习近平：要把维护国家政治安全特别是政权安全、制度安全放在第一位 [Xi Jinping: We Must Place Safeguarding the State’s Political Security, Especially the Security o four Sovereign Power and the Security of our Institutions, as Our First Priority],” Xinhua 新华社, 14 January 2017. Available here.
12 In addition to the Communist Party of China, there are eight other legally authorized political parties in China. These parties are a relic from the Civil War, where numerous political groups joined with the CPC in a United Front to first defeat the Japanese and then drive out the Nationalists. Though Mao promised these groups a real share of political power, once the Communist Party of China secured control of China it swiftly moved to neuter their allies and strip them of any real influence. These parties still exist today under tightly controlled conditions. All must accept the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and none are allowed to freely recruit members absent supervision or restriction. The eight parties have a combined membership of 1.3 million people–a membership 90 times smaller than the CPC’s. That statistic comes from Susan Lawrence and Mari Lee, “China’s Political System in Charts: A Snapshot Before the 20th Party Congress,” Congressional Research Service Report, 24 November 2021.
13 All of these organizations are either official state organs (e.g. the National People’s Congress, the PLA, the judicial and prosecutorial branches) or part of the United Front system (the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the democratic parties, the official sanctioned unions, the Communist Youth League, and the Women’s Federation). The latter category are a set of social organizations designed towin over a broad array of social groups (students, the youth, workers in various industries, women) to support Party goals. For more information on this system see the glossary entry CHINESE PEOPLE’S POLITICAL CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE.
14 Here translated as “institution,” Zhìdù 制度 is often translated as “system.” It would thus be valid to translate this passage as
We must unwaveringly persevere in and perfect the system of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. A systemic advantage is a state’s greatest advantage. A competition between systems is the most fundamental type of competition between states.
We favor translating Zhìdù as “institution” to preserve the distinction between this word and tǐxì 体系 (translated below as“system”). There is one danger in this translation choice: the English word “institution” has two meanings. Institution can either mean a large, established organization (like an NGO, bank, or regulatory body) or an established set of procedures, practices or relationships (as in the“institution of marriage” or “institutionalized transfer of power”). The semantic range of the Chinese term zhìdù 制度 generally lies closer to the second of these meanings.
15 In Communist rhetoric banners and flags are standard metonyms for a political-ideological system as a whole (thus the name of the Party’s premier theoretical journal in the days of Mao: Hóng Qí [红旗 Red Flag]). To switch banners, therefore, would mean abandoning the Leninist system for some other form of government.
16 Dìng lì 定力, translated here as resolution, is a term most often associated with the disciplined concentration Buddhist monks muster in meditation. By implication, the passage is less an exhortation to stand resolute in the face of fear or danger than instruction to steel yourself with a spiritual resolution capable of banishing distraction and temptation.
17 The Study Outline quotes Qing Dynasty poet Zheng Banqiao (1693-1766)’s famous poem 《竹石》[“Bamboo Rock”]. The verse quoted praises the unyielding nature of bamboo that grows on sheer mountain tops, standing tall despite the savage weather it is exposed to. The analogy between this bamboo and the character of the ideal official would be obvious to Chinese readers.
18 From the era of Hu Jintao through the present, the phrase “organic unity” has been used to describe the Party’s putative ability to resolve the contradiction between the Party’s desire for a rule of law based governance–protection from arbitrary and exploitative behavior on the part of officials is judged necessary for economic development–with the Party’s countervailing desire to maintain a free and unencumbered ruling position. The unity of these desires was achieved largely by reinterpreting “rule of law” to mean something closer to “rule of law”–that is, the use of law and regulation to subject cadre behavior to the will of the Center without applying such controls to the Center itself. For a longer explanation of the concept and its history, see Evan Smith, “The Rule of Law Doctrine of the Politburo,” China Journal 79 (2018), 40-61.
19 On the multi party system, see note 12. Ethnic autonomous regions are administrative regions inside China where a large percentage of its inhabitants belong to a non-Han ethnic group. In its original conception this system promised to provide minority groups with the tools needed to preserve their unique cultural life ways and a measure of local self government. In practice these regions were far less autonomous than on paper, and even that limited autonomy has been sharply restricted in wake of social disturbance in Xinjiang and Tibet. A similar story can be told for the system of grassroots self governance, an experiment in government which once allowed local village and neighborhood committees a free hand to manage local affairs, but which have more recently been folded back into traditional Party hierarchies.
20 This is an allusion to a story from ancient China concerning the famed diplomat Master Yan. Dispatched from the state of Qi to negotiate with the king of Chu, Master Yan was subject to several tests by the foreign monarch. On one occasion the king tried to embarrass Master Yan by showing him an imprisoned thief who came from Qi. Whereupon:
The king looked at Master Yan and said: “Do the people of Qi enjoy stealing things?” Master Yan got up from his mat and responded: “I have heard it said that when an orange tree is planted south of the Huai River it produces oranges as fruit, but if you transplant it north of the Huai River, it produces bitter oranges. The leaves are the same, but the taste of the fruit is completely different. What is the reason for this? It is because the water and the soil are different. Now a person who is born and brought up in Qi would never think of stealing anything, but when they move to Chu they become thieves. Perhaps this is because the water and soil of Chu makes people enjoy stealing things?”
The implied parallel is clear: those who seek to graft Western institutions onto China are like southerners who try to plant oranges in winter climes, only to find that their favored fruit grows bitter instead of sweet. Olivia Milburn, trans., The Spring and Autumn Annals of Master Yan (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 349-350.
21 This figure of speech is rhetorical exhortation to be firm and unyielding in the face of opposition. It is not a call for physical violence against this opposition. A comparison might be made to English idioms like “going in guns blazing” or “bringing out the big guns” which despite their violent undertone are more often used metaphorically than in reference to actual armed conflict.
22 Literally, “hanging a sheep’s head but selling dog meat.” This idiom dates to the Song Dynasty: it is used to describe any situation where someone advertises falsely or feigns good to do ill.
23 As is true in the United States, in China this quotation is often attributed to the Nazi minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. The quotation is spurious. Neither Goebells nor other leaders of the Nazi Party ever openly endorsed the use of such “big lies.” Quite the opposite: Hitler claimed that it was the Jews of Germany who used the tactic of the “big lie,” while Goebbels’ clearest discussion of the concept came in accusations directed towards the British government, as when he wrote: “The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”
In this context it is interesting to see Chinese officials resurrect the term ‘big lie’ to describe Western proclamations on repression in Xinjiang, as Qin Gang did in an NPR interview last year.
See Steve Inskeep, “China’s ambassador to the U.S. warns of ‘military conflict’ over Taiwan,” National Public Radio, 28 January 2022; Randall Bytwerk, “False Nazi Quotations,” German Propaganda Archive, 2008.
24 The allusion is to the pied piper of Hamelin, who in legend used a flute to enchant all of the children in the village of Hamelin into abandoning their home. Given the anxieties expressed later in this chapter about losing the next generation of communists to the ideology of hostile forces, the story neatly fits the fears of the CPC leadership.
25 The language in this section is lifted directly from Xi Jinping’s address to the Sixth Plenary Session of the Eighteenth Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. See “Xi Jinping: Zai Dishiba Jie Zhongyang Jilu Jiancha Weiyuanhui Diliu Ci Quanti Huiyi Shang de Jianghua 习近平:在第十八届中央纪律检查委员会第六次全体会议上的讲话 [Xi Jinping: Address to the Sixth Plenary Session of the Eighteenth Central Commission for Discipline Inspection],” 中国民航局 [Civil Aviation Administration Of China], 3 May 2015.
26 The use of the term zhìguó lǐzhèng 治国理政, translated here as “state governance,” is significant. Xi Jinping’s collected works are known in English as the Governance of China, but in Chinese their title is Xi Jinping On State Governance 《习近平谈治国理政》. Describing public opinion work as a “great matter” of state governance is thus a (fairly unsubtle) way to emphasize its importance to Xi Jinping’s broader program.
27 Zhǔn rù guǎnlǐ 准入管理 is the Chinese translation for “access control,” a term whose origin lies in the fields of physical and information security, where it signifies a technique or system that manages who has access to resources in a computing environment. Many of the concepts that inform China’s internal state security system are drawn from information systems and information security theory. For more examples of these links, see Samantha Hoffman, “Programming China: the Communist Party’s autonomic approach to managing state security,” (PhD diss, University of Nottingham, 2017).
28 This section draws from the language of Xi Jinping’s August 19th, 2013 speech (in Chinese sometimes referred to as as the “8-19 Speech” [8-19 講話]), where Xi argued that the Internet is a double-edged sword that, if not properly regulated, can allow“hidden negative energy” [负面言论] to swell until it becomes the “biggest variable” [最大变量] impacting governance and social stability. Thus the internet has become the central battlefield in which ideological struggle plays out. The text of this leaked speech can be found at “Xi Jinping ‘8.19’ Jianghua Jingshen Zhuanda Ti Wangquanwen 习近平‘8.19’讲话精神传达提纲全文 [The full text of Xi Jinping’s ‘8.19’ Speech on Spirit ]”, China Digital Times, 4 November 2013.
29 Chinese media attribute these quotes to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. CST editors have not been able to find any speech or document where Albright made this argument so explicitly. The quotation is likely spurious. Most of Albright’s statements on China were delivered in the context of the debate over China’s entry to the WTO. Here is how she positioned the internet in those debates:
Joining the WTO will not transform China overnight. But it will reinforce trends in China that will certainly lead to greater economic openness and possibly political liberalization, as well…by accelerating the spread of telecommunications technologies and the Internet in China, we will help to reduce the power and reach of government censorship.
President Clinton was less circumspect, and famously defended China’s entry into the WTO by arguing that:
The change this agreement can bring from outside is quite extraordinary. But I think you could make an argument that it will be nothing compared to the changes that this agreement will spark from the inside out in China… When China joins the W.T.O., by 2005 it will eliminate tariffs on information technology products, making the tools of communication even cheaper, better and more widely available. We know how much the Internet has changed America, and we are already an open society. Imagine how much it could change China. Now there's no question China has been trying to crack down on the Internet. Good luck! That's sort of like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. But I would argue to you that their effort to do that just proves how real these changes are and how much they threaten the status quo. It's not an argument for slowing down the effort to bring China into the world. It's an argument for accelerating that effort.Bringing China into the W.T.O. doesn't guarantee that it will choose political reform. But . . . the process of economic change will . . . make the imperative for the right choice stronger.
These quotations are a far cry from the Study Outline’s claim that the Clinton administration believed the internet would cause China to “throw itself into the embrace of the West,” but are sufficient, perhaps, to justify Chinese fears of the internet’s regime-shattering potential.
Zuo Xiaodong 左晓栋, “Tongyi Sixiang, Tigao Renshi, Jiakuai Tuijin Wangluo Qiangguo Jianshe 统一思想、提高认识，加快推进网络强国建设 [Unify ideology,raise awareness, and hasten the construction of a strong internet power],” Zhongguo Ribao 中國日報 [China Daily] 17 October 2016; Madeleine Albright, “Address to the World Trade Center,” speech delivered at Denver, Colorado (9 May 2000); Bill Clinton, “Full Text of Clinton's Speech on China Trade Bill,” New York Times, 9 March 2000.
30 Or more literally, “to muddy the waters to catch fish.” The phrase is one of the traditional Thirty Six Stratagems; it describes anyone who fosters crisis to distract from or enable their pursuit of private gain.
31 The word translated here as “patch” [tu 土] is more literally translated as “soil,” and this soil can be seen as a metonym for the state as a whole. However, it is most often used in a narrower sense (as in Governance of China, vol 3: 263, where the phrase 守土尽责 is reduced in English translation down to cadres’ “due responsibilities”). As historian John Fitzgerald points out, most cadres are assigned to territorial administrative units; those who are not (such as those working in universities, SOEs, or central government agencies) have their pay and benefits “classified according to their equivalents in the hierarchy of territorial administration at central, provincial, city, and county levels, as if they were all positioned in a spatial grid of administrative authority.”This has a long precedent in imperial era China; then, as now, officials are encouraged to think of themselves as having special responsibilities for the specific spatial area they have been given authority over–their own “patch.” For a larger discussion of this issue see John Fitzgerald, Cadre Country: How China Became the Chinese Communist Party (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2022), 215-230.
32 Shangri-la is the closest English language equivalent to the actual allusion used here, the “Peach Blossom Spring” [桃花源]. The Peach Blossom Spring is a utopian fable reported by the 4th century poet Tao Yuanming, who imagined a serene village whose remote and hidden location kept it isolated from the rest of China for centuries, and was therefore unsullied by the violence and misfortune attendant to the rise and fall of dynasties. The manual thus reminds its readers that university campuses are neither intellectual utopias nor disconnected from broader Chinese society. Unlike the village of peach blossom spring, academia rises and falls with the rest of the political order–and indeed, university campuses might be the origin of the next fall if they are not carefully watched over.
33 In Chinese the phrase translated here as “rules,” “discipline” and “pattern” are all the same word [guīlǜ 规律], which connotes a governing law inherent to a process or activity.
34 In Chinese there are multiple terms for “China,” some denoting an ethnic group or nationality, others a cultural tradition, and yet others the Chinese state. It is this last term, Zhōngguó [中国], that is used inside the term we have translated as “Sinicization” [中国化]. Thus the manual is not directing religious groups to align their beliefs with Chinese culture so much as it is directing them to align these beliefs with the guidance and priorities of Chinese statecraft. For a larger discussion of this term see Joanne Pittman, “3 Questions: Sinicization or Chinafication?” China Scope, 3 February 2020.
35 This is a quote picked out from a dialogue between Mao and Huang Yanpei in July 1945, known as the “cycle conservation” or the “cave dialogue” [窑洞对]. Huang Yanpei was the founding pioneer of the China Democratic League, one of the six parties that joined the Communist Party of China under the United Front. He was invited by the CPC to tour Yan’an. After seeing the Communist base in Yan’an he asked how Mao was going to break out of the dynastic cycle of rise and fall. Mao replied that the Communists had already found a way out:
“We've already discovered a new path. We can break out of this cycle. This new path is democracy. The government will not become complacent only if it is under the supervision of the people. If everyone takes responsibility, a good system of governance will prevail.”
See “Lishi de Xiansheng: Zhiyou Rang Renmin Lai Jiandu Zhengfu,Zhengfu Cai Bugan Songxie 历史的先声:只有让人民来监督政府，政府才不敢松懈 [Voice of History: The government will not become complacent only if it is under the supervision of the people],” 中国数字时 [China Digital Times], accessed January 9, 2023.
36 Or more literally, “concealing sickness for fear of the treatment.”
37 In party literature these are known as the “four tests” 四个考研 and “four dangers” 四个危险. Xi Jinping usually discusses these dangers and tests in the context of securing the Party’s role over the longue durée. See, for example, Xi Jinping, Governance of China, vol 3 (Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 2020), 586.
38 This quote is pulled from Xi Jinping’s address to the Politburo Standing Committee on October 16, 2014. See “Xi Jinping: Dang Mianlinde Zuida Fengxian he Tiaozhan shi Dangnei Fubai he Buzheng Zhifeng 习近平：党面临的最大风险和挑战是党内腐败和不正之风 [Xi Jinping: The Biggest Risk and Challenge the Party Faces Comes From Corruption and Unhealthy Trends Withinthe Party],” 人民网 [People's Web], 16 January 2015.
39 This well-known Chinese aphorism is roughly equivalent to the English phrase “you must practice what you preach.” Xi Jinping used the phrase in his first press conference as General Secretary, at the conclusion of the 18th Congress on November 15, 2012.“Da tie Xuyao Zishen Ying 打铁还需自身硬 [The blacksmith’s hammer must be as firm as the iron it strikes]”, China Keywords, 7 September 2015.
40 I.e. create a political environment where the incentives for corruption are missing, while the incentives for integrity flourish.
41 Literally, “a future where the ocean waves cease and the river water clears.” This idiom originates in a Tang dynasty poem; it is a metaphor for a harmonious world.
42 Or more literally, “a future where heaven and earth are bright and glorious.” This idiom originates in the Yi Jing, a divination manual that dates to the Western Zhou period.