Institutional Reform with Introspective Revolutionary Spirit

The fourth plenary meeting of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 13, 2018. by Xu Xun

Reform of Party and state institutions represents an introspective revolution marked by profound changes to improve governance. China continues deepening reforms in all areas, and only by tackling obstacles and solving problems plaguing Party and state institutional function systems can we improve and develop the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and give full play to the advantages of China’s socialist system.

This reform is neither a groundbreaking change to the social system and political structure nor a minor tweak, but a profound self-revolution.

Marxist economic philosophy outlines the objective laws of the contradictory movement and interaction between the economic base and the superstructure of a society. When the superstructure is not fully adapted to the economic base, it must be changed with reform to fix the underperforming parts. Proactive reform of the superstructure will promote and even greatly emancipate productivity.

Considering the continuous development and improvement of the economy, society and living standards, the superstructure has to be constantly reformed to meet new requirements. This is a basic law of the development of human society.

Party and state institutions belong to the superstructure, so they have to adapt to the requirements of the economic base. During the process of deepening reforms in all areas, the Party and state institutional function system is not only an integral part of socialism with Chinese characteristics, but also provides tremendous support for the improvement of governance capacity.

Facing new requirements to fulfill various tasks in the new era, the current structure and functionality of Party and state institutions are neither totally suitable for implementing the five-sphere integrated plan and the four-pronged comprehensive strategy, nor for modernizing China’s system and capacity for governance. So, deepening the reform of Party and state institutions is a pressing task.

Reform of Party and state institutions will strengthen the superstructure and fuel an introspective self-revolution that will ultimately improve the socialist system.

As a saying goes, when every mean is exhausted, change is needed. Development causes changes. And development leads to sustainability. This self-revolution through top-level design requires adjustment of the social structure and improvement of social systems from top to bottom. It is intended to bring profound changes that promote the modernization of the system and capacity for governance of the state. Therefore, it should be well planned and carried out in an orderly manner, step-by-step. This reform should follow the principles of adhering to the overall leadership of the Party, committing to a people-centered approach, ensuring optimization, coordination, and high-efficiency and ensuring every dimension of governance is law-based. Any reform causes temporary pains, and some even demand the determination of “cutting off a limb to save the whole body.”

Friedrich Engels once remarked that we must understand things in relation to the conditions of our times, and these conditions determine how far our understanding will reach. Institutional reform is a process that will neither be accomplished overnight nor once and for all. It requires us to focus on solving problems based on the changing realities. If necessary, we can drill through mountains and build bridges over waters to promote the self-revolution of institutional reform to its end.

The author is an associate professor at the Institute of Marxism under the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC.

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