Thursday, October 23rd, 2014...4:03 pm

Analyzing China’s 4th Plenum Outcomes

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China just concluded the 4th Plenum of the powerful Communist Party Central Committee, now let’s take a look at what happened and what did not.

1. The only official document issued so far is the Communique, which summary I’ve given below.

2. No words on the outcoming of Zhou Yongkang, former security czar who has been investigated for corruption. This may surprise many, because the 4th Plenum is largely expected to decide on Zhou’s fate. But to publicize the decision on Zhou now would greatly distract the public and the media from the Plenum’s other priorities. So even though the decision on Zhou has been made, it is not going to be announced for another 3-4 days.

3. For the same reason, decisions regarding anti-corruption efforts in the military, promoting rule of law in the military are also not highlighted in the Plenum’s Communique. But it doesn’t mean those issues were left out.

4. Overall, the Plenum struck the right tone on a number of rule of law issues including transparency, reforming cadre evaluation system, make the judiciary independent of the administrative branch, and it even paid lip-service to the Constitution, but without concrete plans of implementation, a lot of these goals sound a little cliche. Especially when it talks about intra-Party rule of law, it still reaffirms the basic framework that the Party is above the law.



  • Comprehensive push for governing by law; the goal is to establish a rule-of-law system with Chinese characteristics.
  • Constitution is core of the legal system, strengthen the implementation of the Constitution. – No word on establishing constitutional court, or how to achieve this goal.
  • Justice, equality, and transparency throughout the entire legislative process.
  • Strengthen Party leadership of legislation.
  • Make sure citizen’s rights of a person, property rights, and political rights are not infringed.
  • Government should execute its functions according to law; the institutions, functions, powers, processes, and responsibilities should be coined in law; establish “government power list system”.
    • In February this year, State Council publicized its “government power list,” which is a list of items requiring administrative approval and licensing from all State Council departments.
    • Local meetings on “government power list system” basically centers around the approval items, drawing lines between the government and the market, eliminating unnecessary administrative powers, etc.
  • The legal process of major administrative decisions must include public participation, expert discussion, risk assessment, legal examination, and group discussion. Within various administrative organs, internal legal examination system needs to be set up to evaluate the legal validity of major decisions. A lifetime responsibility system needs to be set up to trace and track the responsibilities for major decisions.
  • Transparency should be the norm: decision, implementation, management, service, results should be open.
  • Optimize the function and power configuration of the judiciary. Push for the separation of judicial power and implementation power. The Supreme Court should have circuit court. Research and experiment on establishing cross-administrative-jurisdiction courts and procuratorate. Research on using procuratorate to bring public-interest lawsuits.
  • People’s supervision – didn’t make clear what’s different from before.
  • Establish legal service system that covers rural and urban areas. Optimize legal aid system.
  • Raise quality/professionalism of the legal personal.
  • Strengthen intra-Party legal system. Include the results of legal construction into cadre evaluation as an important metric. – didn’t make clear how this is done.
  • Stripped Li Dongsheng, Jiang Jiemin, Yang Jinshan, Wang Yongchun, Li Chuncheng, and Wan Qinliang of their party affiliations.
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