Courts and the “absolute leadership” of the Party

Over at the Supreme People’s Court Monitor blog, Susan Finder has an excellent post on a recent speech by Liu Guixiang of the Adjudication Committee of the Supreme People’s Court. There are a number of interesting things in the speech, but this is just a short note about one thing that struck me: his call to uphold the “absolute leadership of the Party” (要坚持党的绝对领导).

Now, calls to uphold the leadership of the Party are a dime a dozen. But “absolute leadership”? That seemed a new one to me, so I did some checking around. I looked in Google and in the CNKI database for both journals and newspapers (full text) for instances in any year, ever, of (A) “courts must uphold the leadership of the Party” (法院要坚持党的领导) and (B) “courts must uphold the absolute leadership of the Party” (法院要坚持党的绝对领导). Here are the results in terms of number of hits.

“leadership” “absolute leadership”
Journals 1 1
Newspapers 17 1
Google 8350 2

Obviously, the search term I used was highly specific; I wanted to be sure not to come up with any false positives, and was confident that the corpus of Chinese texts out there was sufficiently large that I’d still get some meaningful results. That seems to have happened. Pretty clearly the phrase “absolute leadership” is quite unusual as applied to courts. If anyone has thoughts about what’s going on here, please comment.

I’m attaching my results here.

Posted in: Law

7 thoughts on “Courts and the “absolute leadership” of the Party”

  1. From my experience of living in China 1997-2008, teaching American law at several law schools in China and having used a Chinese lawyer on an issue of trying recovering family real estate in Guangdong province owned before WWII currently in the control and under the dominion of a local government entity of the PRC and the crushing of human rights’ lawyers over the last 4 or so years in China I have a point of view relevant to your request. Control. control and more control. The CPC is the government, the authority. The Chinese Constitution and its legislative bodies are facades. It might be said state power is being molded into imperialism.

    1. Thanks. My specific question was not about Party leadership generally, but rather about the specific expression “absolute leadership” as opposed to just “leadership” and what its provenance and significance might be, since the Party pays very close attention to verbal formulas and virtually nothing is said by accident.

  2. Yes, very interesting. Li Ling noted that “absolute” CCP leadership is mentioned in the January 2019 CCP Zhengfa Work Regulations and writes,, “1. It declares the absolute leadership of the Party over the work of all zhengfa institutions, including courts and procuratorates. The assertiveness of this declaration indicates a complete and unambivalent severance from the judicial independence framework.” I checked through other CCP documents (not an exhaustive search) over the past few years, including those concerning 依法治国 and 法治 work generally and found “absolute” CCP leadership mentioned only in the 19th PC documents and 总纲 of the revised 2017 CCP Charter/Constitution relating to CCP absolute leadership of the PLA [中国共产党坚持对人民解放军和其他人民武装力量的绝对领导], which was also mentioned in the 4th Plenum Decision of 2014 and added to the CCP Charter in 2017. So absolute leadership over the PLA and zhengfa system….

  3. This kind of slogan terms overwhelmed in China are actually without any academic sense, because they are produced by the CCP. Those individuals or organizations who created these words won’t pay too much attention of any logic errors. For instance, in Hu Jintao era, Hu invented (of course, by penholders) the slogan of ‘Principle of Three Supremacy’ , which is ‘the supremacy of constitution, supremacy of law, and supremacy of the leadership of CCP ‘. Hu required that those legal persons(legislatures, courts, and lawyers) should adhere to this principle when carrying out their work. But, as law professor of Peking University He weifang pointed out, supremacy means ‘the only one on the top’, why there are three supremacies? And, among the three supremacy, which one is supreme?
    I can collect numerous this kind of anti-logic (insane) propagandas in China. I think this only reflect one reality, that is, the CCP is too arrogant toward its subjects to care about the logic of their slogans.
    If you guys are interested, I can continue this topic with more examples and analyses.

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