Binding the baton in China


Since Xi Jinping’s assumption of the posts of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary and commander-in-chief last November, much attention has been paid to his instructions about raising the army’s ability to “get ready to fight and to win wars”.

However, a recent spate of reshuffles in the political-legal (zhengfa) departments – which encompass the country’s police forces as well as the courts and prosecutor’s offices – however, has shown that the new supremo is equally determined to strengthen the nation’s “preserving [socio-political] stability” (weihu wending, or weiwen) apparatus.

While zhengfa units including the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) have been given more authority, measures have been taken to boost internal checks and balances so as to curb corruption and abuse of power particularly among regional-level police officers. Moreover, the ironfisted implementation of the law has been coupled with more emphasis on defusing social contradictions on the spot.

The heart of the nation’s zhengfa establishment is the Central Political Legal Commission (CPLC), which is headed by Politburo member and former-Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu. Meng reports to Xi, who is the first General Secretary in recent memory to exercise direct control over the police apparatus.

That the powers of the CPLC have been enhanced was evidenced by the April appointment of Wang Yongqing as the commission’s secretary general. Wang, aged 53, who is a former director of the General Office of the State Commission for Public Sector Reform, simultaneously was named a deputy secretary general of the State Council.

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