Party Rules 101 – Are all Party Committees the same? Answer is NO.

Explaining Party rules gives me the strange gratification of feeling like a lawyer that I have never felt when dealing with Chinese laws. So here it is.

Someone asked on Twitter: are all Party committees the same because they are all called “committees”? Is the Party committee, say, in a law firm or foreign joint venture company the same as to a provincial party committee? Are their members all public employees?

To understand the institutional structure of the Party, we need to know there are four types Party organizations:

1. Central Party Organization. 党的中央组织Its core is the Central Committee党的中央委员会. (The power of Politburo and its standing committee is derived from the Central Committee, in principle).

2. Local Party Organization 党的地方组织 in provinces, prefectures, cities and counties. These organizations strictly correspond to the administrative division. Each administrative unit has one and only one Local Party Organization党的地方委员会. Both central and local organizations have mandates to supervise ALL affairs within their territorial confines. It means that each is the highest decision-making body of the respective territory that it governs.

3. Grass-root Party Organizations (GPO)党的基层组织, which cover a wide range of scenarios. It can be set up anywhere (Mars, if possible) where you can find more than 3 party members. Depending on the size of the Party member demographic, you can have a GPO with a single or multiple tiers of structures. The lowest tier will be the party-cell党支部 and the highest party committee(基层)党委. There can be branches in between if the party member demographic is huge, which is the case for many state institutions. Most GPOs are not decision-making bodies. Simply put, their mandate is to recruit and indoctrinate Party members and to perform some other secondary administrative functions. In non-governmental public institutions, for instance, public schools and universities, the party-committee was relegated to a supportive role for a short period of time in the 1980s and then put back to a leading/supervisory role after 1989. So, the GPOs in these institutions are decision-making bodies, which are also responsible for recruitment, education…

4. Party-groups (PG)党组 or party-group under the name of party committee具有党组性质的党委 (meaning it has the mandate of a party-group but is called as party-committee). A PG is a party organization that is installed in the decision-making body of a state institution. This means that party-groups are the decision-making body of the decision-making body of given institutions. For instance, in the Supreme People’s Court, there will be a party-group (decision-making body) and a jiguan party-committee (grass-root). The PG will deliberate and make decisions on judicial affairs, including outcomes of some cases, but the jiguan party-committee does not. The same goes with all other state institutions, including the State Council, ministries, people’s congresses.

Of course, members of GPOs in private companies or organizations are not on the government’s payroll. But they may, I believe, receive operative funds from its supervisory party organization from time to time.

As to village-level Party organizations, I know the Party did not pay salaries to party-cadres in rural villages in the early period of the PRC and I believe it is still the case now. In other words, they are not public employees, let alone civil servants. But the Party may provide them subsidies, allowances and/or operative funds, I believe.

Ling LI

25 April 2019