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Developing Coordinated Systems and Mechanisms to Combat Corruption

By Miao Qingwang Source: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2020-05-25

Corruption is the biggest threat confronting the CPC, and therefore combating corruption is a major political struggle that will greatly impact the future of the CPC and the country. The report to the 19th National Congress of the CPC stated, "We will strengthen deterrence so officials dare not be corrupt, strengthen the cage of institutions so they are unable to be corrupt, and strengthen their vigilance so that they have no desire to commit corruption. Our political environment will, through tireless efforts, like seas fallen calm and rivers running clear, be clean and free of corruption." In line with the guiding principles of the 19th National Congress, the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee designated the establishment of coordinated systems and mechanisms to ensure officials have no will, no opportunity, and no desire to commit acts of corruption (hereinafter referred to as the "Three No's") as an important component of efforts to uphold and improve the oversight system of the Party and the state. This is a major move for upholding and improving the Chinese socialist system, and for promoting the modernization of our national governance system and capacity.

I. A strategic plan put forward by the CPC Central Committee based on its assessment of the current situation and future trends

General Secretary Xi Jinping officially outlined the need to ensure integrated implementation of the "Three No's" during an important speech he delivered at the Third Plenary Session of the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). He said, "The steps we must take to ensure that officials have no will, no opportunity, and no desire to engage in corruption are not separate efforts, but rather one integrated effort. It is therefore important that we link each of these three components together. While imposing strict punishment and creating deterrence, we must strengthen the cage of institutions to regulate the exercise of power, and strengthen education on the nature of the Party to raise political awareness. By doing so, we will soon clear all traces of corruption from our political environment." Through our efforts to implement the "Three No's" in an integrated manner, we have applied the basic tenets of Marxism, bolstered our Party's concepts and experiences concerning the fight against corruption, and revealed the fundamental patterns underlying the fight against corruption. Our efforts in this regard are a vivid demonstration of how Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is being used to promote strict and comprehensive governance of the Party.

1. This plan is a rational summary of our efforts to comprehensively govern the Party with strict discipline and combat corruption since the 18th National Congress of the CPC.

The CPC has always attached great importance to self-governance and anti-corruption work, and has always emphasized the need to address both the symptoms and root causes of corruption through comprehensive measures. Since the 18th National Congress, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core has incorporated comprehensive governing the Party with strict discipline into the "Four Comprehensives" strategy, and worked determinedly to regulate Party conduct, tighten discipline, and fight corruption. The concept of the "Three No's" has been reflected in much of this work. For example, by taking a zero-tolerance stance against corruption, and making sure all acts of corruption are strictly punished and all acts of embezzlement are cracked down upon, we are ensuring officials have no will to engage in corruption; by promoting case-based reform, reinforcing the cage of institutions, and improving regulatory measures, we are ensuring officials have no opportunity to engage in corruption; and by reporting on corruption cases and releasing the confessions of officials who have committed disciplinary and legal violations, and promoting education on the nature of the Party, the rule of law, and morality, we are ensuring officials have no desire to engage in corruption. Moreover, by implementing the Central Committee's eight-point regulations on improving Party and government conduct, strictly handling flagrant disciplinary violations, and making relevant information public, we are ensuring officials have no will to engage in corruption; by intensifying public oversight, and creating better, regularized institutions for improving Party conduct, we are ensuring officials have no opportunity to engage in corruption; and by guiding Party members and officials in boosting their Party consciousness and in drawing a clear line between public and private interests, we are ensuring officials have no desire to engage in corruption. Lastly, by carrying out inspection tours as a means of intraparty oversight in order to accurately identify problems and maintain effective deterrence, we are ensuring officials have no will to commit acts of corruption; by effectively rectifying problems found in inspection tours and making good use of relevant achievements to promote reform and improve institutions, we are ensuring officials have no opportunity to engage in corruption; and by remedying deficiencies in implementation of the requirements to regulate intraparty political activities and clean up the political environment within the Party, we are ensuring officials have no desire to engage in corruption. It is precisely by promoting strict internal governance through implementation of the "Three No's" that the CPC has been able to thoroughly remold itself and enhanced its abilities to purify, improve, and reform itself.


The "four forms" link together rules, discipline, and the law. They serve the functions of teaching and warning people not to engage in corruption while also punishing and acting as deterrence against such behavior, and are an important tool for ensuring that officials have no will, no opportunity, and no desire to commit acts of corruption. Between January and September, 2019, the first and second forms were applied in 92.3% of the cases, while the third and fourth forms were applied in 7.7% of the cases. The proportion of cases in which the first form was applied rose from 63.6% in 2018 to 68.4% in the first three quarters of 2019. We have ensured that those who have engaged in minor misconduct are put under pressure and made to feel embarrassed of their errors, thus producing positive political and social effects by educating the vast majority of violators while punishing a tiny minority. IMAGE BY ZHANG QING 

2. This plan is integral for improving the oversight systems of the Party and the state and strengthening checks on the exercise of power.

The oversight systems of the Party and the state are an important component of China's state system and governance system, and an important institutional guarantee promoting self-reform of the CPC as it governs the country over the long term. There is an inherent connection between our efforts to implement the "Three No's" and our efforts to improve the oversight systems of the Party and the state. On the one hand, improving the oversight systems of the Party and the state, pooling energy and resources to combat corruption, strengthening the centralized and unified leadership of the Party, and expanding the coverage of oversight and enhancing its effectiveness will serve to reinforce deterrence so officials have no will to engage in corruption, strengthen the cage of institutions so they have no opportunity to engage in corruption, and increase their awareness so they have no desire to commit acts of corruption. On the other hand, implementing the "Three No's" and continuously raising our capacity to control corruption will prove what we have achieved through our efforts to reform and develop systems and mechanisms for oversight and restraints, and make the Chinese people more determined and confident with regard to these efforts. Only by implementing the "Three No's" and achieving concrete results in this regard can we safeguard our oversight system and realize long-term stability of the Party and the state.

3. This plan is necessary for further advancing strict Party self-governance and building upon our crushing victory in the fight against corruption.

Despite the fact that we have won a crushing victory in our fight against corruption, we still face a serious and complex situation since there are still many cases of corruption yet to be tackled, and new cases are still emerging. As we have learned from petitions, reports, inspection tours, supervisory activities, and investigations, corruption results from the interplay among a number of factors. These not only include insufficient penalties, inadequate institutions, and lax oversight, but also the selfish desires of certain officials and the feeling that they can get away with their inappropriate conduct, as well as political, social, historical, and cultural influences. The fact that the causes of corruption are so complex means that we must apply a variety of methods to controlling corruption since no single measure could work on its own. Punishment can create strong deterrence, but cannot be internalized as genuine self-restraint; institutions and oversight can reduce opportunities for corruption, but cannot make people have good intentions; and education can help people cultivate integrity, but cannot punish reprehensible conduct. These methods have different functions so they cannot replace one another, but they are also deeply interlinked and mutually reinforcing. It is crucial that we implement the "Three No's" in an integrated manner and address both the symptoms and root causes of corruption so that we can make our anti-corruption work more proactive, systematic, and effective. By doing so, we will combat corruption and uphold integrity through a uniquely Chinese approach.

II. Accurately understanding the meaning and requirements of the "Three No's"

The concept of the "Three No's" is based on deep insights into the causes of corruption, the laws of Party self-governance, and current tasks and trends. It is a rational and effective approach that is applicable to all aspects of our efforts to exercise strict governance over the Party. We must have a thorough and holistic understanding of this concept, and take steps to ensure that it is upheld, consolidated, improved, and developed in practice.

1. The "Three No's" form an integral whole that cannot be broken apart.

They are mutually integrated and interlocked, embodying the dialectical relationship between internal and external causes and between self-imposed and externally-imposed discipline. "No will" comes first. It involves discipline, the rule of law, and deterrence, and aims to increase the cost of engaging in corrupt behavior. By enforcing heavy penalties, we can deter those with corrupt intent from crossing the line because they are unwilling to pay the price. This also sets the conditions for ensuring "no opportunity" and "no desire." Next, "no opportunity" is the key. It involves institutions, oversight, and restriction, and aims to deprive people of the chance to engage in corruption. By imposing restraints through oversight and strengthening the cage of institutions, we can take away the opportunity to engage in corruption from those who would dare to do so. This also serves to consolidate the effects of ensuring "no will" and "no desire." Finally, "no desire" is the foundation. It involves understanding, awareness, and culture, and aims to eliminate the motivation behind corruption. By fostering the values of celebrating integrity and rejecting greed, we can eliminate the motivations behind corruption at their source. This also pushes "no will" and "no opportunity" to a higher level. If we fall behind in implementing any one of the "Three No's", our overall progress in combating corruption and the overall effects of these efforts will be impaired. We must therefore ensure coordination in their implementation so that they are able to add to each other in their effects.


In Zhejiang Province, an official from the Chun'an County discipline inspection and supervision committee holds a mini class during a visit to Muwang Village in order to help local Party members and officials analyze cases of misconduct. County and township-level discipline inspection and supervision officials from Chun'an County have used research and inspection trips as an opportunity to bring cautionary education and mini classes to village Party members and officials. Through methods such as distributing educational materials like collections of representative cases and using cases to discuss disciplinary and legal regulations, they have stepped up the intensity of cautionary education for primary-level Party members and officials. PHOTO BY MAO YONGFENG

2. The time is ripe to implement the "Three No's."

Since the 18th National Congress, confronting issues of loose, lax, and soft standards in the governance of the Party and a large number of outstanding corruption cases, our Party has adopted tough measures in a resolute effort to curb the spread of corruption, and addressed the symptoms of corruption to gain time for addressing root causes. Meanwhile, we have launched education campaigns regarding implementation of the Party's mass line, observance of the Three Guidelines for Ethical Behavior and Three Basic Rules of Conduct (referring to the need to be strict with oneself in practicing self-cultivation, using power, and maintaining self-discipline; and to be sincere and earnest in one's thinking, work, and behavior), and the need for all Party members to have a solid understanding of the Party Constitution, Party regulations, and Xi Jinping's major addresses and to meet Party standards. We have also promoted full coverage of inspection tours and the program of conducting oversight through internally stationed inspectors, and formulated and revised a series of Party regulations and national laws, gradually stepping up the intensity of our efforts to treat the root causes of corruption. As it stands, we have already achieved overwhelming success in our fight against corruption. The entire Party and all Chinese people are confident in this fight as never before, research into the causes of corruption and countermeasures against corruption is driving deeper, and a high level of consensus has been reached with regard to addressing both the symptoms and root causes of corruption. All of this demonstrates that we are equipped with strong foundations to implement the "Three No's."

3. The "Three No's" must be implemented in an integrated and coordinated manner.

The task of implementing the "Three No's" is highly political, professional, and policy-based, meaning that we must adopt rational and coordinated planning. We must remain firmly aware that we are working as part of a broader united effort, and focus on integrating history and reality, theory and practice, and the requirements of the Central Committee and actual conditions of localities in order to develop creative means of implementation. We must also focus on upholding dialectical materialism, and persist in analyzing and handling issues from an interconnected, historical, comprehensive, and dynamic perspective, so as to make our initiatives objective, equitable, accurate, and effective. In addition, we must focus on coordination between oversight on accountability through the enforcement of disciplinary regulations and on punishment through the enforcement of the law, between oversight conducted through disciplinary inspection, supervisory bodies, internally stationed inspectors, and inspection tours, and between intraparty oversight, oversight by state organs, and public oversight, with a view to creating synergy through coordination.

III. Improving and developing approaches for implementing the "Three No's"

In order to build upon our crushing victory in the fight against corruption as we move forward, we must implement the decisions and arrangements made at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, make our efforts more systematic, integrated, coordinated, and efficient, and accelerate the development of systems and mechanisms for implementing the "Three No's," in a continued effort to raise the quality and level of anti-corruption work.

1. We must continue to strengthen deterrence so officials have no will to engage in corruption.

Corruption is completely incompatible with the nature and objectives of our Party, and therefore letting acts of corruption slide is a crime against the Party and the people. We must resolutely advance the fight against corruption, ensuring that our efforts subject all officials to the same level of scrutiny, leave no stone unturned, and show zero tolerance for corruption. We must impose tight constraints, maintain a tough stance and a long-term deterrence, and punish both those who take bribes and those who offer them. By doing so, we will greatly reduce the number of outstanding corruption cases and keep the number of new cases from increasing. We must make resolute efforts to handle corruption cases in which political and economic issues are interwoven. All corrupt officials, who have failed to exercise restraint since the 18th National Congress and particularly those who have had the insolence to continue behaving recklessly since the 19th National Congress, must be investigated and punished once their transgressions are discovered. We must intensify anti-corruption efforts in key areas, sever the chain of interests linking those trying to tempt officials and officials that succumb to such temptation, and break the network of power-for-money deals. We must continue to address instances of corruption and misconduct that are of immediate concern to the public, and severely punish cases of corruption related to poverty alleviation and public wellbeing as well as those involving mafia-like organizations and the offering of protection to these organizations, in a continued effort to bolster the people's sense of fulfillment, happiness, and security. We will coordinate anti-corruption efforts such as international pursuit of fugitives, escape prevention, and recovery of proceeds of crime, and deepen our participation in international efforts to control corruption, thus building a net that deprives corrupt officials of any means of escape.

2. We must effectively reinforce the cage of institutions so officials have no opportunity to engage in corruption.

Corruption is at its essence the abuse of power. Therefore, to fight against corruption, we must strengthen restrictions and oversight on the exercise of power. We must uphold and improve the oversight systems of the Party and the state, and use intraparty oversight as a guide to facilitate integration and coordination between various types of oversight, in an effort to ensure that oversight covers all Party members, officials, and everyone working in the public sector who exercises public power. We will thus guarantee that the Party's guidelines, principles, and policies and the Central Committee's major decisions and arrangements are fully implemented, and that the power granted by the Party and the people is properly exercised. In line with the principle that powers and responsibilities must be defined in law, we will rationally identify the powers, functions, and responsibilities of Party and government bodies and their internal institutions, ensure that their powers and responsibilities are clearly stated, promote the open and transparent exercise of power, improve mechanisms for effectively detecting problems, rectifying errors, and precisely enforcing accountability, and reduce room for rent-setting or rent-seeking practices in the exercise of power. We will strengthen oversight over departments and industries that have considerable power, funds, and resources, and promote reform of oversight mechanisms and development of oversight institutions in key areas such as approval and regulation, law enforcement and the administration of justice, project development, resource development, finance and credit, public resource transactions, and government spending, in an effort to root out hotbeds of corruption. We will promote national anti-corruption legislation, formulate and revise relevant Party regulations and national laws, and ensure that powers, affairs, and officials are governed on the basis of institutions. At the local level, we will improve Party conduct and promote clean government, develop regular, long-term oversight mechanisms, and urge Party members and officials to serve the people honestly and justly.

3. We must continuously boost the awareness of officials so they have no desire to commit acts of corruption.

We must strengthen education on morality, Party discipline, and national laws, and provide guidance to Party members, officials, and personnel exercising public power on remaining true to our original aspirations and mission, upholding our ideals, convictions, and objectives, strengthening our confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of Chinese socialism, strictly abiding by rules and disciplinary regulations, drawing a clear line between public and private interests, rigorously maintaining family virtues and positive family education, and adopting the correct worldview, outlook on life, and values, so as to erect a mental barrier that shields them from corruption and degradation. We must ensure that intraparty political activities are carried out in earnest, conduct conscientious criticism and self-criticism, and promote values like loyalty, honesty, impartiality, integrity, and sticking to the facts, in an effort to create a clean political environment. We must put core socialist values into practice, and dig deep into the best of China's traditional culture, revolutionary culture, and advanced socialist culture to find elements that advocate probity, with a view to cultivating the political integrity and political character of our Party members and officials.

4. We must boost coordination of our efforts to implement the "Three No's." 

To achieve integration between the "Three No's," we must build a thorough grasp of their intrinsic logic, strengthen top-level design, and make relevant efforts coordinated and interlinked. By doing so, we will ensure that implementation of the "Three No's" is holistic rather than fragmented, and concrete rather than abstract.

First, we need to strengthen unified leadership and ensure fulfillment of the "two responsibilities." This represents the organizational guarantee for implementation of the "Three No's." We should promote coordination between the fulfillment of principal responsibility and responsibility for oversight. Party committees and Party leadership groups at all levels must assume the principal responsibility, taking into account both economic and social development and efforts to improve Party conduct, simultaneously furthering reform and preventing corruption, and standing firm at the forefront of the fight against corruption. Discipline inspection commissions and inspection teams at all levels should earnestly perform their assistance and oversight responsibilities, assisting Party committees and Party leadership groups in organizing, coordinating, and overseeing implementation, and ensuring that competent departments perform their duties. We must refine the functions of groups coordinating anti-corruption efforts at all levels, and give full play to their role as a platform for directing, coordinating, guiding, and promoting anti-corruption work under the unified leadership of Party committees. We should foster a stronger sense of responsibility among officials, and diligently conduct regular oversight. Through comprehensive methods including conducting routine observations, having open discussions, carrying out inspections and spot checks, holding meetings of members in leadership positions, accepting petitions and reports, overseeing rectification based on the findings of inspection tours, responding to opinions on promoting Party conduct and clean government, and making suggestions on improving disciplinary inspection and supervision, we will identify problems early on and nip them in the bud in order to prevent minor mistakes from turning into major errors.

Second, we need to link the "Three No's" together and achieve overall coordination. This is the basic method of implementing the "Three No's." While implementing "no will," we should also focus on tapping into the functions of "no opportunity" and "no desire." We should look for problems in institutional loopholes to make suggestions on disciplinary inspection and supervision, and use ideals, convictions, and Party policies to educate and transform those under inspection so that they admit their mistakes, express regret, and correct their errors. While ensuring "no opportunity", we should draw on effective practices in our implementation of "no will" and "no desire," study institutional loopholes exposed in cases of corruption, and give consideration to the ideas of corrupt officials whose cases have already been handled on how to improve reform and institutional development, in a bid to make our regulations, institutions, and oversight measures more targeted. We should also study patterns of thinking and understanding to help our institutions become more deeply rooted in people's hearts and more practical and effective. While implementing "no desire," we should also focus on exerting the deterring role of "no will" and the constraining role of "no opportunity." We should use past cases of corruption to warn others not to engage in such behavior, employing materials such as confessions for this purpose. We should also institutionalize the contents, methods, and results of such educational efforts in order to boost awareness of the need to abide by disciplinary regulations and the law throughout the Party and society.

Third, we need to focus on principal problems and take timely measures in line with local conditions. This is an important strategy in implementing the "Three No's." We must make our goals play a stronger guiding role, and strive to ensure that officials are honest, the government is clean, and political integrity is upheld through our determined efforts to fight corruption. Adopting a problem-oriented approach, we need to target inadequacies, imbalances, and areas lacking coordination in our implementation of the "Three No's." While maintaining a good grasp of the big picture, we should highlight specific problems, addressing areas of weakness through precise and targeted measures. We need to pay attention to combining unified and independent efforts. Under the centralized and unified leadership of the Central Committee, we need to balance the relationship between top-level design and linkage at different levels, and between unity and disparity, thus advancing our efforts according to individual levels and categories rather than adopting one-size-fits-all solutions.

Fourth, we need to encourage thinking in line with the law and disciplinary regulations, and effectively exercise the "four forms" of oversight and discipline enforcement. This is an important vehicle for implementing the "Three No's." In order to straighten out the relationship between discipline and the law, and ensure that disciplinary inspection commissions and supervisory commissions work as one, we must implement strict governance over the Party, and prioritize discipline. We must resolutely enforce discipline whenever disciplinary violations take place, rather than substituting the law for disciplinary regulations or enforcing discipline only when unlawful activities take place. At the same time, we must guarantee the implementation and observance of both disciplinary regulations and the law, perform duties in strict accordance with the Supervision Law, and work with judicial bodies when occupational crimes are involved. In applying the "four forms," we should abide by the principles of allowing people to learn from their mistakes to prevent more from occurring in the future and seeking rehabilitation for those caught up in corruption. With this in mind, we should take into account factors such as factual evidence, the attitude of the offender, and the use of discipline and the law, apply each form in a precise manner, and carry out mutual transformation between the "four forms" in a careful and prudent manner, so as to ensure that our Party members are regulated strictly but with genuine concern. We must strictly abide by rules, disciplinary regulations, and the law, uphold the principle of seeking truth from facts, speak with honesty and clarity, have a clear understanding of the importance of the rule of law, regulations, procedures, and evidence, and carry out initiatives in strict accordance with prescribed rules, procedures, and limits on authority in order to ensure that each of our initiatives can prove its worth in practice, survive public scrutiny, and stand the test of time.

Fifth, we need to enhance international cooperation, and deepen exchanges and mutual learning. This is an important factor in implementing the "Three No's." We need to be adept at drawing on the past to guide the future, earnestly study the history of China, especially the history of the CPC and the New China, review past experiences in fighting corruption, and continue to deepen our understanding of relevant underlying patterns. We need to actively adopt a global perspective, promote international exchanges and cooperation on anti-corruption efforts, and learn from the useful practices of other countries. 

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 24, 2019)