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The Party Leadership System

Carol Lee Hamrin

Changes in the Chinese Party and state political system during the 1980s were important efforts after Mao's death to redress serious flaws in a governing structure that has inhibited economic development, exacerbated social conflict, and suppressed personal freedoms. Discussions of political reform by Chinese researchers over the past decade indicated, however, that they have had much difficulty in understanding the exact nature of the leadership system and in identifying necessary and possible changes. The tragic events of 1989 showed clearly that reforms of the Party leadership system over the decade were far from sufficient to prevent the recurrence of economic instability and large-scale social disaster.

In any effort to understand the purposes and flaws of the system, a large part of the analytical problem is that the formal institutions and flow-charts discussed in the public domain do not capture the essence of the actual functioning system, which includes organizations and relationships not discussed in public. In part, this opaqueness seems intended to obscure the extent and means of Party control over Chinese society; it originated in the underground mentality of the 1930s and 1940s when secret Party control of ostensibly independent organizations was a central element of united-front policies. Many Chinese themselves are only vaguely aware of the "shadow" structure and process that links the Party with the more visible formal bureaucratic organs and that guide, coordinate, and interact with the latter.


Lack of clarity in part also reflects the many changes over time in China's relatively unstable governing structure. To say there are gaps in knowledge is thus an understatement. Information restrictions make us feel like the unfortunates gazing at the shadows on the wall in Plato's proverbial cave. Recent information has allowed us to discern the basic shapes of the shadows, and their movement. For now, we still "see through a glass darkly."

In this chapter I attempt to generalize about the hidden part of the system at its apex, where a handful of senior leaders are the nerve center for three gigantic bureaucracies with at least 5 million cadre (600,000 Party, 4.4 million government, and an unknown number military), assigned to scores of central units and subordinate clone structures in the localities. This elite in turn supervises 10.8 million cadre in state enterprises and 13 million in state education, science, and health units.[1] How do the top leaders organize themselves to use this structure to understand and direct developments in China?

Not surprisingly, there is constant fluidity here, and there has been much evolution over time. Problems change; political considerations and socioeconomic crises intervene; powerful leaders with quite different personalities shape the system to suit their preferences. Nevertheless, a rough outline sketch of the structure and process of the Chinese leadership system can be drawn.

In this sketch, a little-understood level of Party organization emerges as particularly important in defining leaders' duties, shaping their relationships, and linking them with the bureaucracies—the powerful central commissions (weiyuanhui ) and central leading small groups (lingdao xiaozu; hereafter this type of organization will be referred to in a generic sense as leading groups or LGs). These organs, each led by a member of the Politburo or its standing committee, include in their membership the senior Party, state, and military officials with expertise and responsibility in a given specialized functional sector or system (xitong ). Their primary task is the formation of major policy goals and guidelines. Lower-level organs, including State Council leading groups, work out concrete policies and oversee policy coordination and administration.

The following description and analysis of the leadership system leads to the conclusion that control of leading groups is a key aim of actors in China's perennial power struggles, which implies that the groups have considerable effectiveness in centrally coordinating and directing complex policy programs. But direct evidence is still insufficient to resolve the issue of how, and how effectively, leading groups actually function to


shape the vast and fragmented Chinese bureaucratic system. No doubt this has varied over time and under different leaderships.

Evolution Of The Leadership System

In late 1987 two researchers in the Party History Research Institute provided new insight into how the central leadership structure had evolved prior to 1978, as follows.[2] Beginning in 1942, with a reorganization of the wartime base areas to overcome lack of coordination among Party, government, military, and mass organizations, the fundamental principle of highly centralized Party leadership was established. Policy directives by Party committees at the various levels were to be implemented unconditionally by the Party groups (dangtuan ) of the military-political commissions (junzheng weiyuanhui ) set up within each military, government, and mass organization. Party committee members divided functional responsibilities among themselves.

A variation of this structure, modified according to the Soviet system, emerged after 1949. Party committees were set up in each non-Party organization and given responsibility for supervising (not actually engaging in) administrative work. This was done through subdivisions corresponding to the propaganda, organization, and united-front departments of the Central Committee. But at the same time, Party core groups (dangzu ) in each organization were responsible directly to the next higher level (whether Party committee or core group is unclear) for actual implementation of policy. This central-command system was closely related to the militaristic mass-campaign approach to governance continued into the immediate post-1949 period of reconstruction and reorganization. There were periodic attempts to limit Party involvement in direct administration, but these ceased with the campaign against "decentralism and localism" following the purge of Gao Gang and Rao Shushi.[3]

During the 1950s the leadership structure was modified several times in attempts to suit the increasing complexity of state administration and the proliferation of cadre, but without weakening overall Party control. A small handful of senior leaders (at that time a small Politburo or a small Secretariat, eventually the Politburo standing committee) decided


macropolicy and supervised governance through bodies responsible for daily administration in three separate bureaucracies: Party and mass work was handled in meetings convened by Deng Xiaoping as secretary-general or after 1956 in the Secretariat led by Deng as general secretary; military affairs were under the military commission; and government matters (economic and foreign affairs) were discussed in State Council plenary session attended by all vice-premiers and ministers. (The source does not discuss legislative, judicial, and police work.)

In October 1955, in addition to the normal central committee departments responsible for Party work, the central committee and each provincial Party committee set up new subordinate departments as functional counterparts to the main government and judicial subsystems. These included industry and transport, finance and trade, culture and education, and judiciary departments.[4] After this time there was little cadre mobility across systems. These new departments originally were intended to manage personnel affairs but not professional, policy matters. There was an effort to separate responsibility for three stages of the policy process: Party organs making general policy decisions; judicial and planning organs fleshing them out as laws and economic plans; followed by government implementation.

Beginning in June 1958 at the height of the Great Leap Forward with a decision to foster recentralization of leadership in the Party, however, the Party exercised more and more direct administrative authority, greatly reducing the autonomy of state, judicial, and social institutions, as well as of the press. The Politburo retained the power of decision over major principles and policies, but transferred authority for concrete policy, legislation, and oversight from state and judicial bodies to the Secretariat. The government became essentially the executive organ of the Party rather than the state, with only minor authority for policy details. In 1959 judicial organs were merged into the public security organs at all levels, and the Ministry of Justice and notary offices were abolished. All state supervisory organs were replaced by Party supervisory committees (jiancha weiyuahui ). Meanwhile, the Party's Military Commission strengthened its control over the military bureaucracy as well.

Great Leap Forward slogans, like "The Party exercises overall leadership" and "The Party secretary in command," were institutionalized when Party committees took direct control in economic enterprises and social institutions; Party core groups did the same in state and judicial organs. Policy execution often took the form of mass campaigns.


Central to this change in structure was the formation, beginning in 1958, of the Central Committee's leading small groups (lingdao xiaozu ), duplicated in lower-level Party committees. This introduced dual subordination in professional affairs for each organ—to the relevant LG at the same level, as well as in the next higher level. The original central leading groups were responsible for policy oversight of five sectors: finance and economics; political (legislative and security) and judicial work; foreign affairs; science; and culture and education. It would appear that this reorganization was aimed in part at creating one group to consolidate and coordinate the economic subsectors; using one group to coordinate both Party and government foreign affairs work; and giving science-and-technology higher priority and autonomy by separating it from culture. These leading groups have remained the most important leading groups through the 1980s.

At first, during the Leap, the concentration of power in Party organs accompanied a general decentralization of power. But over time there was a reconcentration of power at higher and higher levels. In the 1960s regional Party committees with no counterpart governments took over much of the authority of lower-level committees. The Maoist personality cult reflected and fortified a structural bias toward personal dictatorship in each Party organ. The Party secretary in charge of any unit, functional system, or leading small group had considerable discretion in his sphere of authority and often ended up making arbitrary, uninformed decisions on major matters of state. Yet not he but the powerless administrators were required to achieve actual policy implementation. Authority and responsibility were increasingly divorced, resulting in ineffective government. The Cultural Revolution was the natural product of the development of the negative aspects of this monolithic (yiyuanhua ) Party leadership structure, the basic structure that reemerged after the institutional anarchy during that time.

Norms Of The Leadership System

Functional Systems and Coordinating Points

Formal organization charts of the Chinese political system showing the three main bureaucracies, as well as academic studies of the functional systems that cross bureaucratic lines, still tend to leave mysterious the actual working relations among bureaucracies, systems, and units. During the 1980s new information about the details of this leadership system revealed attempts to institutionalize horizontal coordination mechanisms to overcome the inherent tendency of the vertical hierarchies to produce uncoordinated or even conflicting demands and policies. There were informal personal ties and professional communications, of course. But


at least in the mid-1980s there were also "comprehensive coordination points" (zong.kou zi ) and subordinate coordination points (kou ) intended to integrate related functional systems and subsystems so as to create general policies and to effect coordinated policy implementation.[5]

This coordinating system was referred to as gui kou , that is, administration according to fixed or specified coordination points (kou could be translated more literally as "channels" or "gates"). This xitong and kou system was replicated further down the line, in the provincial and municipal leadership setups.

There was a pyramidal structure to this coordinating system, such that from bottom to top, there were tiers of organs and groups that had an increasingly broad scope of responsibility and weight of authority. Presumably, as a policy problem was kicked up the pyramid because of either urgency or controversy, it was more apt to be considered in a comprehensive, strategic context. The tiers of coordination points might be envisaged as these:

1. Paramount leader (zuigao lingxiu ) with ultimate overall authority, who had the strongest (sometimes sole) influence over divisions of responsibility within the Politburo.

2. Politburo standing committee members plus select elders who were responsible for coordinating all major policy decisions. With the leader, they decided who among them would oversee each of the handful of penultimate policy arenas. They had to answer both to each other and to the paramount leader.

3. Party leading small groups or committees that oversaw each of the main policy sectors (related functional systems). Each was headed by one or two Politburo standing committee members, although the actual work might be coordinated by a deputy head or a secretary-general.

4. Administrative offices or departments (in the Central Committee, State Council, and army) that channeled policy information and recommendations upward and decisions downward to appropriate implementing organs. These usually would be headed by members of the Secretariat, the State Council standing committee, or the Military Commission, and might also be Politburo members.


Division of Responsibilities

The central leading groups and commissions and their subordinate bodies typically had sweeping mandates. Detailed descriptions of the work of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission and the Science and Technology LG, for example, revealed similar broad tasks of policy planning, command, and coordination, as well as supervision over personnel and implementation.[6]

The Finance and Economics LG had similar responsibilities, including coordination, investigation, and research, proposing major policies, supervising policy implementation, and sponsoring reform experiments. The Foreign Investment LG was to

(a) draw up policies and plans for using foreign investment and submit these suggestions to the State Council; (b) supervise the work of localities and government departments involved with foreign investment and undertake arbitration and adjustment when major problems arise; (c) and supervise the relevant authorities in their task of drafting investment laws.[7]

Units subordinate to the LGs were responsible for actually carrying out these many varied tasks, since LGs themselves had very small staffs. For example, in 1984 the administrative body for the Foreign Investment LG was upgraded from a "Special Economic Zones (SEZ) work group" in the State Council General Office to an SEZ Office, with a mandate to

(a) research, draft documents for and to manage the SEZs, the implementation of Guangdong and Fujian Provinces' "special policies and flexible measures," and the relevant general programs and policies of development and construction of Hainan Island and the opening up of coastal cities; (b) coordinate and resolve contradictions that appear in implementation; (c) examine and study the situations and experiences of all countries concerning the running of economic development zones, export processing zones [etc.]; and (d) to assume the burden of other matters assigned by the Central Committee and State Council pertaining to the work of opening to the outside.[8]

A number of tentative conclusions can be drawn regarding the policy process according to the system of LGs:


"Central authorities," meaning the Politburo, reserved the ultimate right to determine general programs and major policies.


These high-level decisions probably were made most often at the Politburo standing committee level, which met once each week.[9] Decisions were heavily influenced by information and recommendations brought to it by the responsible head of the LG or commission involved. He would be held responsible by peers and elders for developments in his policy arena.

The full memberships of the Politburo and of the State Council met only about once a month, in plenary session, judging from official Chinese press reports on their activities that were released regularly for a time after the Thirteenth Congress. Their agendas appeared to include only the most major issues, such as the coastal development strategy or the reorganization of the State Council. Their executive bodies—the standing committees—probably met once or even twice each week, for several hours at a time. Each time, the agenda was likely to be limited to one or two major topics for discussion, perhaps with minor issues presented for pro forma approval. Given the heavy work load, it is quite likely that much of the thorough consideration of policy was done by the LGs, while the drafting and shaping of policy documents was done by their staff offices.[10]

The frequency of LG meetings was unclear. A. Doak Barnett's study of the foreign affairs apparatus indicated that the Foreign Affairs LG had no regular schedule for its meetings, but met "fairly frequently," and at times "as often as once a week."[11] Outside specialists on an LG agenda topic were often invited to provide briefings or even join in the discussion. The openness of discussions in LGs may well have differed markedly, depending on the personal style of the leader. Barnett was told that Li Xiannian was "fairly permissive," thus creating an atmosphere for genuine discussion in the Foreign Affairs LG. Others have said that Zhao Ziyang often would come to the Foreign Affairs LG meetings with decisions already made at higher levels, just informing them and giving directions for implementation. This LG might not be typical, however, given the sensitivity of the issues and the limited distribution of information. The business of the other LGs might have been more open.

There was a tradition of annual meetings convened by LGs as part of


the annual planning process. These meetings passed on instructions and vetted the opinions of lower-level units in a given functional system. Such sessions were probably used to discuss longer-term plans as well. The Foreign Affairs LG brought ambassadors home each summer for a wide-ranging discussion and briefing session with Beijing-based staff. The national political and legal affairs conference usually was held in March. Some functional national conferences, however, were very irregular. The Science and Technology (S & T) conference met only in 1985 and 1988.

The LG offices were responsible for delegating the task of "fleshing out" general policy guidelines as specific, concrete policy work plans and supervising their implementation. Staff offices did not make formal policy decisions but rather coordinated policy research and experiments, channeled information and draft policy papers, and made the formal assignments for actual implementation by the relevant organs. And of course, as in any bureaucracy, many policy adjustments no doubt were made "on the ground," in the very process of guiding daily operations at lower levels.


The LGs through their staff offices were supposed to perform a wide variety of tasks that would protect burdened (and often elderly) decision-makers. They were troubleshooters, problem-solvers, and arbitrators, particularly for complex, major issues that crossed geographic and bureaucratic lines of responsibility. If the Planning and Economics commissions failed to resolve a policy disagreement, for example, something all too common in fact, it was bucked up to the Finance and Economics LG staff office or higher.


LGs and their offices were clearly much more than coordinating bodies, however, since they were tasked with coming up with new ideas and future plans and with conducting experiments with policy. They were responsible too for recommending organizational changes to improve management.


Major crises would either come to an LG or prompt the creation of a special temporary LG or commission. An example in early 1988 was the investigation group under state councillor and secretary-general of the Finance and Economics LG, Zhang Jingfu, that looked into an air crash and a train accident. The group investigated, assigned blame, and recommended both remedial measures and punishment for those responsible—including the resignation of the new Central Committee alternate and minister of railways, Ding Guangen.



In the course of carrying out their duties, LGs touched on many personnel issues: coordinating more rational assignments; checking on the ideological and organizational environment of cadre; and inspecting and chastising irresponsible officials. We know that the Organization Department shared some of its personnel responsibilities with both the United Front Work Department[12] and the Propaganda Department.[13] It seemed probable that the LGs also would have had at least an advisory or veto role in assignments of leading officials in the organs under their supervision. The fact that control over LGs was such a sought-after political prize for senior leaders tended to corroborate their influence over personnel and organization decisions as well as financial and material resources within their arena.

Lines of Authority

The leading groups officially were not line authorities. Documents and requests, as well as research papers, were sent directly to the formal Party, state, or military institutions, not funneled solely through the LGs. Policies shaped within the LGs had to be endorsed by the relevant formal organization, whether the Politburo or the Secretariat, the State Council, or the Military Commission, and then documents were issued by the relevant general office.[14] Nonetheless, the possibility remained that LG leaders and members may have passed orders directly to unit leaders, bypassing official channels.[15]

The exact process of interaction between formal and informal authorities was not known and probably differed considerably by issue and system. Theoretically, the LGs would frame policies, and their staff offices would draft documents for discussion and approval by other bodies. The directors of the LGs presumably had considerable flexibility in determining which issues needed to be brought before the Politburo for


decision or just to the Secretariat, State Council, or Military Commission for administrative action; which should be brought to full plenary sessions or just to the smaller executive standing committees; and which warranted full discussion or merely rubber-stamp approval.

Chronic Problems And Post-Mao Reforms

The sub-Politburo level of organization, including LGs or committees and staff offices, for the sake of analysis could be likened to the White House staff organizations, such as the National Security Council and the Office of Management and Budget, and the domestic affairs councils, such as the Council of Economic Advisors, in that they provided personal policy support for the president. In both systems, these organizations could operate something like an "inner cabinet" chosen and shaped personally by the top leader. In both systems, short-term domestic political considerations and personal and party loyalties tended to weigh heavily in policy recommendations and decisions within these bodies. These staff organizations were largely immune from outside oversight.

A brief comparison of the two functionally similar setups in the United States and China is helpful in pointing out the vast differences between the Chinese and the American "inner cabinets" in terms of independence and scope of power and influence. In the United States, the many limitations on the independence and influence of the inner cabinet include most importantly the limits on the president's own powers posed by constitutional limits on tenure, the electoral process, the need to obtain rather than command congressional cooperation, and the independence of the courts and the press. Major White House organs also have statutory definitions of their authority and composition. These types of limits on power are either nonexistent or very weak in China.

Moreover, the power of the inner cabinet in the United States is reined in by the stability and strength of the regular executive bureaucracies, with their professional permanent staff, and the direct and independent access to the president by most regular cabinet members, whose experience and stature usually outweigh that of White House staff. In China, by contrast, the inner and outer cabinet members are often the same people wearing two hats, as concurrent Party and government officials; as a result, there are much weaker checks and balances between bureaucracies.

American cabinet members, even though they too are political appointees, are constrained in their work by the congressional approval and review processes, and their limited ability to change and control their own permanent employees, protected by independent personnel sys-


tems. The institutions and processes of both Party and state that might have provided checks on the "cabinet" in China, however, have been severely weakened over the decades by constant reorganization, purges, and abrupt changes in policy direction. The informal as well as the formal norms of operation are easily ignored or overridden.

The most obvious difference between the Chinese and the American "inner cabinet" is in the scope of authority. The Politburo's policy groups are ultimately responsible for the direction of all government, economic, and social institutions nationwide. All countries, of course, face the problem of how to link concentrated executive leadership with administrative bureaucracies and nongovernmental groups. But most systems have large social sectors that are autonomous of the government. In China the enormous confluence of leadership over all sectors within one small body, and often in practice one individual at the apex of the system who has wide discretionary authority, greatly magnifies the impact of personality and politics on the system.

Beginning in August 1980, Deng Xiaoping periodically expressed an urgent need for reforming this Party and state leadership system, not merely making changes in personnel. He blamed poor governance on overconcentration of power, arbitrary and patriarchal personal rule, life tenure and special privileges, the holding of concurrent posts, overstaffing, lack of distinction between Party leadership and government administration, as well as a general lack of accountability according to rules. He called for "radical reform," focused on the organs at the highest levels. Deng's stated priorities—in reaction to the disaster of Mao's latter years—were to ensure against personal dictatorship and to create realistic policies.[16]

After the restoration of the Party Secretariat in February 1980 under Hu Yaobang as general secretary, and the reorganization of the State Council in September under Zhao Ziyang as the new premier, Deng, Hu, and Zhao experimented with major changes in the Party and state structure as well as in personnel. In general, the changes were modeled after the Eighth Party Congress setup of 1956–66, with some innovations, such as the creation of the Central Advisory Commission. Procedural, institutional, and legal reforms in this period are best viewed as mechanisms for the Party to delegate authority and responsibility and to create forums for the expression of public opinion, but without giving up its monopoly on power.

By 1986, however, these changes were viewed by many as insufficient


and even superficial. It was openly acknowledged that the bureaucracy had quickly regained and surpassed its former size—like mushrooms after the rain. Corruption was spreading; oligarchy had replaced autocracy. Partial streamlining, rejuvenation of the cadre ranks, and professionalization of policy research and implementation served to regularize procedures and create more realistic policy. But many in the elite became convinced that only the symptoms had been treated, while the disease—labeled "bureaucratism," for short—remained chronic, even potentially fatal to the effectiveness and legitimacy of Party rule. Chen Yizi, a senior adviser to Zhao Ziyang on economic and political reform (who fled China after June 1989), listed some of the continuing flaws resulting from Party monopoly of power: (1) the Party is immersed in routine work and ignores major policy problems; (2) the Party becomes absorbed in addressing conflicts of interest, and social disputes over specific policy decisions by Party and government lead to endless confusion and disputation over trifles; and (3) Party monopoly of all policy decisions means that public grievances over policy failures inevitably create discontent with the Party.[17]

In June 1986 Deng Xiaoping again lent the weight of his authority to a new phase of political restructuring; on Party Day, July 1, his August 1980 speech on leadership reform was republished as the "blueprint" for political reform. Over a dozen cities were allowed to begin experimenting with political reform, and a central Political Reform Study Group was organized in September, with a mandate to draft a reform plan, only some of which was publicly endorsed at the Thirteenth Party Congress.

Continued Political Abuse of the Leadership System

Knowledge of these political-reform preparations in 1986 motivated leading intellectuals to speak out in speeches and articles recommending far-reaching changes in the system, even touching on separation of powers and multiparty elections. This in turn raised expectations and demands of students for democracy when election of candidates to the National People's Congress (NPC) began in the fall. The student demonstrations in turn precipitated the fall of General Secretary Hu Yaobang, but a major cause was his conflict with key Party elders over control of high-level Party leadership organs, where Hu had been forced to share


power ever since the Twelfth Party Congress.[18] This clash over senior shares of power was a classic example of how the politicization of the system continued to work against stable, effective government.

In 1985–86 Deng and Hu had been trying to turn over some of the functional leadership responsibilities to younger people affiliated with Hu, most notably Hu Qili in Party administration and ideology, Qiao Shi in political-legal and personnel affairs, and Qin Jiwei in military matters. Their plans included reorganizing the leadership units responsible for these arenas to make them more responsive to the needs of the reform program. There were calls for changes in these management systems along lines already pioneered by Zhao in economic and science affairs. But Hu Yaobang's competitors perceived a grab for power wrapped in the mantle of reform.

Much of the actual power struggle was carried out through reorganizing and reassigning membership in Party leading groups or commissions. As a result, institutional reforms became intertwined with—and subverted by—the power struggle. For example, from 1983 to 1986 each ideological campaign had involved a name change and reorganization in the propaganda LG, with the directorship (under supervision of Hu Qiaomu) passing back and forth between Deng Liqun and Hu Qili. Whereas in early 1987 Deng Liqun was in charge of the group set up to "combat bourgeois liberalization," Hu Qili regained influence in the spring when the slogan shifted to include "promote reform and opening up." It is likely that there was a similar shift in control over economic policy in early 1987, when a new campaign to "increase production and practice economy" probably required Zhao Ziyang to share his authority in this sphere with more cautious economic leaders, including Li Peng.

Through 1987, although Zhao nominally became the acting general secretary and supervised the drafting of the Thirteenth Congress work report, most of Hu's responsibilities were assumed by a group of Party elders whom Deng assigned to head new leading groups with responsibilities for the personnel and organizational arrangements to be announced at the congress.[19] In a sense, this group acted as a functioning


Politburo while reformist leaders like Wan Li, Hu Qili, and Tian Jiyun were under a cloud. By summer 1987, however, a more balanced group was responsible for the congress arrangements: Zhao, Yang, Wan Li, Hu Qili, and Yao Yilin. The changing composition and focus of the special groups set up to look into political reform also reflected the political struggle of 1987.[20]

Trends under Zhao Ziyang

In his report to the Thirteenth Congress, General Secretary Zhao Ziyang proclaimed the intent to continue earlier efforts to create a more efficient and open governing structure by defining—and enforcing—a more limited role for the Party. Because of pressures from conservatives and Zhao's need to strengthen his grip on Party organs, it became clear that political reform would involve dividing functions, not separating powers, among China's governing institutions. That is, the Party would delegate authority to, but not share power with, legislative, executive, and judicial bodies. The logic of the approach was spelled out in a lengthy article from the Party History Research Office published in December 1987: (1) solving problems in leadership structure is the fundamental step required to democratize the state; (2) reform of the leadership structure is the key to political reform and an important component of comprehensive reform; and (3) separating the Party from the government is the key link in changing the leadership structure.[21]

The Party was to limit its direct involvement to the strategic policy-making and personnel functions essential to its continued dominance of the political system. By the late 1980s the Party leadership had delegated a modicum of concrete policy-making and executive power to the government, legislative power to the National People's Congress, and judicial authority to the courts. In addition to further progress on these fronts, in 1988 there seemed to be some incipient movement toward reducing the independence of the military bureaucracy and making it truly a state institution. The legislative "branch" is clearly in transition as a result of the turnover of leadership from Peng Zhen to Wan Li; but little was said about plans for future reform in elections or lawmaking. Greater future


autonomy was also being promised to nonstate organizations, but again little movement in that direction has occurred.

This strategy of separating functions and delegating authority was limited to the lower and middle reaches of the system and is premised on changes in precisely the opposite direction at the very top. The power of the Politburo standing committee and its leading small groups or commissions, which had macropolicy decision and command authority over all three bureaucracies, was being strengthened. This trend was clear in changes at this level reported in the Hong Kong press in the months following the congress.

The primary motive of reformers in making such changes seemed to be to improve bureaucratic accountability and efficiency as well as policy realism, rather than to introduce democratic checks on the exercise of power. In speeches in 1986, both Vice-Premier Wan Li and the State Council secretary-general, Chen Junsheng, complained of continuing poor work performance in the bureaucracy, as manifested in lack of policy creativity, avoidance of responsibility, persistent wrangling, and nondecision. Chen highlighted both a cultural and an institutional inability to resolve conflicts of interest and coordinate consensus decisions in a positive manner at the lowest possible level. He referred to a chronic "escalation of coordination," such that decisions were constantly being referred up the ladder of authority, and blamed this phenomenon on overcentralization of power, overstaffing, and a too detailed division of labor. As a result, the central leadership was bogged down in details, with no time, energy, or ability to determine strategic programs.[22]

In response to such problems, Zhao Ziyang emphasized the importance of delegating power, clarifying responsibility, and introducing work evaluation and internal supervision systems at every tier. One approach to improving coordination was to expand membership in the central leading groups to include representation from all relevant organizations, with some overlapping membership between groups.

Public supervision was viewed as a necessary but distinctly secondary aim of reform; it still was to be achieved indirectly, through public opinion surveys and appointed or indirectly elected representatives to the legislature and united-front organs. There was only hesitant progress


toward achieving "transparency" (toumingdu ) of the political process through freer press discussion of government structure and actions. Yet this is a prerequisite for any public supervision, given the general public ignorance regarding the purpose, functions, and laws or regulations related to China's governing bureaucracies, not to mention the habitual fear of critiquing government performance.

Another goal of leadership reform—to diminish high-level factionalism—was never mentioned explicitly but seemed implicit in the obvious effort under Zhao to limit the involvement of Party elders in the central leadership organs as well as to make membership largely statutory and thus less open to personal factional appointment and manipulation. The plans to eliminate Party core groups in the government and introduce a civil service system were intended to regularize the functioning of the government, by helping to insulate it from appointment and command according to personal loyalties rather than professional qualities. It also would have helped to clarify duties and lines of authority. But expanding the scope of the civil service and introducing similar mechanisms into other bureaucracies, including Party and security apparatus, would have been critical to the success of civil service reform. So would an expansion of the transparency and supervision of the government from the outside, whether it be in sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress or the public media.

Events of late 1988 and 1989 were traumatic setbacks for this political-reform process. Succession politics took over the leadership agenda, focusing energies once more on control of elite organs of power. The reemergence of this style of politics at the end of Deng Xiaoping's ten year tenure indicated the enormous difficulty of digging up the roots of flaws in the system. Leadership instability in late 1989 and 1990 was characterized by institutional reorganization and an ongoing purge of personnel throughout the bureaucracy. A hiatus in political reform seemed inevitable until some time after Deng's passing when a post-Deng leadership had taken solid form.

Politburo Leadership Arrangements

The work arrangements of the Politburo remained the heart of the leadership system—in terms of both power politics and policy coordination—throughout the 1980s. Despite instability in the system and changes over time, elements of pattern regularity or "norms" for Politburo behavior were discernible that will continue to shape China's future into the post-Deng era. The select group of Politburo standing committee members and elders who oversee broad arenas of specialized responsibilities rely to a great extent on personal leadership of the Politburo commissions and


LGs to do this. The Military Commission and the Discipline Inspection Commission are the only functional groups established by the Party constitution, but they appear to play roles in the leadership arrangement similar to that of the other groups, which are established and defined by policy directives.

These organs thus are a prime focus of the constant maneuvering for power. And the organizational norms shape the unwritten rules of behavior. An important but largely invisible strategic aim of the power game is to "lock up" one or more policy arenas under sole control of yourself and your supporters, while making sure the control of the others is divided among two or more individuals, preferably also including your own supporters. Creating, abolishing, reorganizing, and renaming leading organs is a favorite tactic. Enhancing the authority or scope of a policy arena increases the status of its leader, and vice versa. But all of this politicking must be done without blatantly violating the rules of collective leadership and informal requirements that leaders and members of LGs have some relevant functional experience and expertise. To inhibit monopolies of functional power, the norms require dual or even multiple lines of authority, a practice endemic throughout the political system.

The preeminent power of the senior leader can here be seen in practical institutional terms, for he exercises a great deal of discretion in assigning the functional responsibilities within the Politburo and intervening in any policy arena. But ideological and institutional norms provide a means of checking his power as well, although they are weak. The top leader is constrained to balance appointments at this level among factions based on personal loyalties. The chronic nature of the problem of succession is also easily understood in institutional terms. An aspiring successor seeks to place loyalists in positions of influence in all arenas, as Hu Yaobang sought to do in 1985–86, and Zhao Ziyang in 1987–88. But in doing so, he must avoid either threatening the power of the incumbent leader or galvanizing opposition from rivals claiming the high moral ground of collective leadership—nearly impossible tasks.

The flexibility, ambiguity, fluidity, and personal nature of these lines of authority thus should be underscored, but a general outline sketch of the unwritten norm follows.[23]

1. National security (guojia anchuan ) affairs. This arena usually is kept in the hands of the top leader as chairman of the Military Affairs Commission (Deng, like Mao before him). Little is known about this powerful arena, but it seems that at times it may have had wideranging authority for both military affairs and internal security.

2. Political-legal (zheng[zhi] fa[lu] ) affairs. Normally, internal security,


along with the legislative and judicial functions, is channeled through a Political and Legal Affairs Commission or LG, which oversees the National People's Congress, the procuratorate and court systems, as well as the police and intelligence forces. Currently, the ministries of state security, justice, public security, and probably civil affairs and supervision are in this arena, judging from official cabinet lists. In the 1960s this arena included the Party's Investigation Department.

3. Party (dangwu ) affairs. These normally are overseen by the top Party executive—now the general secretary, perhaps with a senior deputy. Intra-Party communication, record keeping, and research is the responsibility of the General Office.

Closely coordinated supervision over propaganda and personnel work—what is often referred to in the Chinese press as "ideological-political work"—is sometimes channeled directly through the Propaganda and Organization Departments and sometimes first through a Propaganda and Ideology (xuanquan sixiang ) LG and an Organization and Personnel (zuzhi renshi ) LG. The former group has had a variety of names over the years; the latter group may have been reconstituted only recently or may function only prior to national Party meetings, which confirm high-level appointments. For an unknown length of time after 1969, the two were combined. The Discipline Inspection Commission and various temporary organs, such as the Rectification Commission (1983–87), have served as overlapping (sometimes competing) forums for oversight of cadre.

A United Front (tong[yi] zhan[xian] ) LG oversees both reunification work (through the Taiwan Work LG and the Hong Kong—Macao Work Committee) and domestic "united front" relations with non-Party groups. The United Front Work Department oversees the People's Political Consultative Conference, the noncommunist parties, policy toward intellectuals, and government and social organs for religious and minority affairs.

Traditionally, Party work includes rural policy—originally conceived of as "peasant organization work" in the broadest sense, and thus covering rural population control, youth-to-the-countryside work, rural education, and so forth.[24] There are specialized youth,


labor, and women's organizations. Political reform, too, appeared to be a policy arena tightly controlled by party organs.[25]

4. Foreign affairs (waishi ) work. This arena often has been narrowly conceived as diplomatic relations and is supervised by the Foreign Affairs LG. Under both Mao and Deng the senior leader has retained responsibility for China's overall foreign policy orientation, including relations with the superpowers. This would be a logical duty for the "commander-in-chief." Geographic or functional responsibilities in foreign affairs are delegated to other senior leaders, and decisions for foreign military, Party, cultural, and economic relations are shared with the appropriate functional LGs.[26]

5. Government (zhengfu ) affairs. Traditionally, these have been conceived of largely as economic affairs and normally are run by the top economic administrator (premier), often with another leader (ranking vice-premier).[27] This work is channeled through the Finance and Economics LG and its subordinate specialized leading groups or work groups, and the Science-and-Technology LG.

This outline of leadership organs strongly suggests that much of the actual work of the Politburo is done "in committee," with the functional commissions or LGs serving as forums for policy discussion by the members of the Politburo, supported by advisers and policy research organs. Recent reports of Politburo plenary meetings reveal what most have suspected, that the full body meets briefly and infrequently (now once monthly for a morning) to consider policy options already researched and discussed in the LGs, approved by members of the Standing Committee and privileged elders, and then packaged for ratification by the Politburo.

The importance of knowing the unofficial divisions of labor at the top


is reflected in comments by economic specialist Ma Hong, while visiting Japan in April 1987: "As Party general secretary, Hu Yaobang was only in charge of Party affairs. He was not involved in the business of economic reform. Comrade Deng Xiaoping and Premier Zhao Ziyang have been leading economic reform. I myself never discussed reform plans with Mr. Hu. It seems that people in Japan were unaware of the parameters of his job. It is wrong to think that he had overall authority."[28]

Hu Yaobang ran into political difficulty by 1986 in part because he sought to expand control beyond Party affairs, thereby encroaching on the turf of key elders. And Zhao Ziyang's irregular practice of retaining control of economic affairs after leaving the premiership was one source of his problems in 1988–89 (along with his efforts to restrict interference from "retired" elders). It was widely assumed that he was forced to share more of his economic authority with Li Peng and Yao Yilin in late 1988. Thus, the norms of functional divisions of power continued to play a critical role in Chinese politics.

The Sub-Politburo Leadership Structure

The normal membership of a central leading group or commission comprises (a) the group head; (b) usually a deputy or even two; (c) statutory members (defined by regulations) who sit on the LG because of formally assigned functional duties in the bureaucracy; and (d) discretionary members such as advisers, who are often outgoing retirees, or a secretary-general chosen personally by the leader. The head and the deputies are most likely appointed by the senior leader or general secretary, no doubt through an arduous process of political balancing and compromise with other factional leaders. An LG typically brings together all the senior officials in China with responsibility for different aspects of a comprehensive functional arena.

An important question for further research is the extent of involvement in LG deliberations—as full or "ex officio" members, advisers, and observers—by elders seemingly "retired" to the Central Advisory Commission or to the NPC standing committee. Deng Xiaoping in 1980 envisaged that both the Discipline Inspection Commission and the Central Advisory Commission would give "guidance, advice, and supervision," and the NPC constitutionally supervises the State Council. The definition and scope of these duties is unclear.[29]

A report by Bo Yibo on the work of the advisory commission in 1983 revealed that a number of its standing committee members had been assigned specific leadership duties much beyond the level of mere ad-


vice.[30] This type of involvement may have helped to set the stage for the "comebacks" of the elders in 1987 and 1989, including membership in leading groups responsible for preparing the Thirteenth Party Congress, when they recommended key organizational and personnel changes.[31]

The staff work for an LG may be done either through a section of the relevant General Office or a separate office (bangongshi ) that has a ministry-level or vice-ministry-level ranking.[32] The staff will be located in the Party, the government, or the military, depending on the post of the leader assigned. For example, when Zhao Ziyang gave up the premiership after the Thirteenth Congress, he retained control of the Finance and Economics LG. However, its office in the State Council was abolished, and a new section opened up in the Party's General Office, with new personnel. The office physically moved from the State Council section to the Party section of the Zhongnanhai compound.[33]

Both LGs and offices are subdivided functionally. For example, in the Finance and Economics LG before the Thirteenth Congress Li Peng was in charge of "such industrial sectors as energy, transportation and raw material supply."[34] The office had three sections: policy investigation and research; daily work (administration); and Party affairs (propaganda and personnel).[35] In the State Council, the deputy secretaries-general each have responsibility for the sectoral LG offices or sections of the General Office.[36]


Politburo members have their own personal sources of policy information and advice, of course. But there is also an extensive system of policy research offices (zhengce yanjiushi ) and investigation-and-research small groups (diaocha yanjiu xiaozu ), sometimes referred to as "brain trusts" (zhinengtuan ), operating at several levels within this leadership system. These organs and their personnel probably would be comanaged by the Propaganda LG and the relevant LG's office staffers responsible for research. For instance, in 1979 four research small groups were organized for the new State Finance and Economics Commission (functioning as an LG) by Party propaganda specialist Deng Liqun under the supervision of Politburo member Hu Qiaomu, but they were also responsible to the commission's secretary-general, Yao Yilin. At the same time, all government organs were told to create policy-research offices.[37]

I suspect that a desire to "liberate" policy-research specialists from the propaganda czars partly explained the proliferation in the 1980s of research centers answering to Zhao Ziyang's office in the State Council and to the various LGs rather than to the Secretariat. Examples included the State Council's General Office policy-research office; the Economic, Technical, and Social Development Research Center under the Finance and Economics LG; the S & T Development Research Center jointly under the Science and Technology Commission and the S & T LG; and the Economic System Reform Institute under the Reform Commission, which serves the Economic Reform LG.

Following the retirement of Hu Qiaomu and Deng Liqun in late 1987, as decision-making power had been shifted back from the Secretariat to the Politburo, the Secretariat's policy-research office was disbanded and new research organs were set up under the Politburo. There was mention of an investigation and studies room of the Party General Office.[38] The structure and membership of many such research groups is fluid, with individuals pulled in from permanent bodies, such as the Academy of Social Sciences or the research sections of commissions and ministries. Staffers from the general offices and these research organs together provide most members for temporary drafting groups (qicao xiaozu , or weiyuanhui , or tanzi ) set up to draft policy documents.


A Working Model

On March 6, 1958, a joint circular from the Central Committee and the State Council established a Central Foreign Affairs Small Group (zhonggong zhongyang waishi xiaozu ) and a State Council Foreign Affairs Office. This directive can serve as a simplified basic model of the normative structure and function of LGs.[39] Chen Yi, Politburo member, vice-premier, and foreign minister, became director (zu zhang ) of both organs, with responsibility for "leading all aspects of foreign affairs work."

Other LG members were the Politburo alternate and vice-foreign minister Zhang Wentian; Secretariat member Wang Jiaxiang; vice-foreign minister (and probably also a leader in the Party's Investigation Department), Li Kenong; head of the State Council's Overseas Chinese Affairs Office and deputy director of its Foreign Affairs Office, Liao Chengzhi; deputy director of the State Council Foreign Trade Office and president of the Chinese People's Institute for Foreign Affairs, Liu Ningyi.

Foreign military and Party relations were represented respectively by Chen Yi as a marshal and member of the Military Commission, and by Wang Jiaxiang, who oversaw the Party's International Liaison Department. In recent years the statutory members of the LG have included the equivalents to those of 1958 but have been expanded to include official representatives from the International Liaison Department, the Ministry of National Defense, and the NPC's Foreign Affairs Committee.[40]

The 1958 circular went on to specify that the State Council Foreign Affairs Office was to be the "working body" (banshi jigou ) of the LG and the "general coordinating point" (zong kou zi ) for the State Council's management of foreign affairs work. All the (meager) evidence thus far suggests that staff offices are fairly small, ranging from ten to forty staffers.[41] Actual administrative responsibilities are handled by the organs with formal responsibility. Thus, in 1958 management duties for international activities of the government and mass organizations were assigned to six lower-level coordination points (kou zi ).[42]

The circular called on the localities to set up corresponding systems to "unify the leadership over foreign affairs work." At the local level, military relations are included, but not Party ties, which are likely handled through parallel Party staffing and administrative organs.

The foreign affairs system probably has changed less than others over time, but there have been permutations. In 1985 there were two foreign


affairs offices, ranking as "first-level organs directly subordinate to the Central Committee and to the State Council" and, in regard to relevant problems in foreign affairs, they could separately issue documents directly to relevant units.[43]

By the mid-1980s there was a large research apparatus serving the Foreign Affairs LG. This included the small staff of the State Council's International Studies Center, the foreign affairs section of the Secretariat's policy-research office, the Institute of Contemporary International Relations, and the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, for all of which senior adviser and former ambassador Huan Xiang had some responsibility before his death. The Foreign Ministry's Comprehensive Issues Bureau and Institute of International Relations also are used by the LG.

Variations and Conundrums

Variations on the basic LG model have been apparent over time. An obvious one is that some of these functional leading organs are called commissions, and some, LGs. In early 1980 the Political and Legal Affairs Commission replaced the Political and Legal Affairs LG; this was reversed in mid-1988 and was rumored to be changing again in 1990. The use of commission format only for military and for political and legal affairs suggests a throwback to the powerful "political-military commissions" set up in the CCP in the early 1940s, patterned after the Soviet and Comintern system of the 1930s. "Commission" may imply more direct command rather than guidance over subordinate administrative units. This distinction was suggested in a report on the 1988 change in political-legal work, but in fact it has been a distinction without a difference for most of the PRC's history.[44]

At times, leading groups have been established in the name of the State Council rather than the Party. For example, the equivalent of the Finance and Economics LG from 1948 to 1953 and again in 1979 was a state Finance and Economic Commission. The State Council Science and Technology LG, set up in 1982 under Zhao Ziyang's leadership, seemed in every way but name to be a central Party group. I was told by the staff of the Science and Technology Daily that the paper was subordinate to the Central Committee, even though it was officially the newspaper of this "State Council" LG. These anomalies may largely reflect the tactical use of reorganization for specific power or policy purposes.

Regarding the ranking of these leadership organs, the Military Commission both constitutionally and in practice ranks higher than the oth-


ers; for a time, the Party constitution mandated that its leader must be a member of the Politburo Standing Committee. The other LGs are also perceived by Chinese officials to differ in power and influence, but it seems that this depends largely on the personal status of the group leader.[45] For example, Zhao Ziyang automatically gave extra clout to the Finance and Economics LG by remaining its leader for a time after he was appointed general secretary, just as he effectively upgraded the S & T LG and the Economic System Reform Commission by heading them as premier.

Other, more specialized LGs, headed by lesser-ranked vice-premiers or state councillors, would appear to be subordinate to the more comprehensive LGs, although the exact relationship is not known. Obvious examples are the Foreign Investment LG and the Electronics LG; directors of both were also members of the Finance and Economics LG, responsible, respectively, for foreign economic relations and for industry and communications.

Other variations in the model, which may in part reflect the relative importance of a given arena, include the size, number, and stature of the staff office(s) and the addition of an administrative layer, such as a small group or a working group in between the LG and its office or offices.[46] As an example, in 1986 the Finance and Economics LG set up a State Council economic-reform-plan work group headed by Tian Jiyun, served by an existing economic-reform planning office with its six subgroups for reform in prices, finance and taxation, investment, monetary policy, wages, and foreign trade.[47]

Another point of confusion is the exact relationship of LGs to the Secretariat and the Politburo, and their relationship to each other. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Secretariat appeared to operate as a central layer in a vertical line of authority running from the Politburo


down to the State Council, but in the early 1980s the Secretariat and the State Council appeared more equal in stature. Barnett in 1985 referred to the Foreign Affairs LG as belonging to the Secretariat even though it has always been headed by a member of the Politburo Standing Committee.[48] One possible explanation for this seeming contradiction would be dual leadership; one media article said that LGs answer to "the Secretariat and Politburo." Another possibility is that Barnett's findings reflected a temporary de facto shift of decision making from the (increasingly aging and inactive) Politburo to the Secretariat as of 1984, a trend reversed at the Thirteenth Congress in 1987.


Through the decade of the 1980s, despite periodic professions of intent to introduce more democratic and efficient reforms into the Party leadership system, each round of reform was in fact aborted by leadership struggle. In every instance reform leaders perceived and acted on the prior imperative to consolidate control of the central Party apparatus, thereby rendering "reforms" meaningless in terms of the secondary priority of improved governance. In early 1990 the leadership publicized new regulations that strengthened Party control over the "multiparty cooperation" system in a transparent and cynical effort to justify a halt to serious political reform. These setbacks along the way jeopardized the prospects for maintaining the gains of economic reform. But the collapse of similar Leninist political structures in Eastern Europe fueled not only a growing conviction within the bureaucratic elite that only a fundamental change in this system could offer hope for China's future, but also a fearful determination in the leadership never to let that happen.

Appendix A: Typical Central Leading Units

The Political and Legal Affairs Commission was set up in 1980 and "(a) under central guidance, researches and handles the major problems in political and legal work nation-wide and submits proposals to the Center; (b) assists the Center in handling requests from subordinate units for instructions on reports (which are still to be sent directly to the Party, government, and military organs, not to the commission); (c) in coordinating the work of all political and legal organs, fosters a uniform consciousness and uniform action regarding problems common to each, in accordance with the general program and policies of the Center; (d) examines and studies the conditions of thorough execution of the program and policies, and of state laws and decrees; (e) examines and studies the


organizational and ideological situation of the political and legal cadre; (f) and handles other work as assigned by the Center."

The S & T LG was set up by the Central Committee and the State Council in 1982 (and the S & T Commission reorganized) "for the purpose of strengthening leadership of S & T work and to put each aspect of S & T work of the army and the people nationwide under the unified planning and unified command of an authoritative and efficient elite organ and to advance work in coordination." (This is a nearly exact quotation from Deng Xiaoping, when demanding changes in the irrational assignments of technicians and use of S & T resources by the Planning Commission, in Deng Xiaoping, "Decide on Major Construction Projects, Make Proper Use of the Talents of Scientists and Technicians," 14 October 1982, in Build Socialism with Chinese Characteristics [Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1985], 8.)

The LG's essential tasks were to "(a) unify, organize and manage the ranks of personnel in S & T nationwide, and transfer, concentrate, and employ them according to need; (b) unify the long-term plan for leading S & T, including the S & T restructuring plan for industries and key-point enterprises, and make each plan able to interpenetrate and to dovetail; (c) study policy decisions on important technological policies; (d) decide on the introduction and absorption of important technology; and (e) coordinate the S & T work of each department."

Appendix B: Leadership Mechanisms

Politburo members may carry out their oversight responsibilities in a variety of ways, of course, informal as well as formal. Besides family members, personal assistants and bodyguards, each has a staff of aides (secretaries), who may be assigned as liaison for specific arenas (political, military, and so on). In the Chinese system, like the Soviet system, these secretaries tend to be better educated than the leaders and actually do much of the work, making important decisions on their own. According to one foreign expert who worked in the propaganda system through the 1960s, each unit knew to call directly to the secretary assigned it by Lu Dingyi, who headed the Propaganda LG.

Little is known about the workings of the secretarial system at this level, but the fact that former political secretaries of top leaders have regularly become prominent officials in their own right was suggestive of the key roles they play. Examples include Gan Ziyu, science, planning, and propaganda official, once Nie Rongzhen's secretary; Wu Mingyu, former State Science and Technology Commission vice-chairman and later deputy director of the State Council Economic, Technological, and Social Development Research Center, Zhang Jingfu's former secretary; Zhou Taihe, Economic System Reform Commission adviser, Chen Yun's former secretary; and He Guanghui, the Reform Commission's deputy director, former secretary to Li Fuchun and Bo Yibo; Wang Xicheng, former Finance and Economics LG office director and later Propaganda Department deputy director, Li Xiannian's former secretary; and so on. Zhao Ziyang appointed his own political secretary, Bao Tong, as the secretary to the Politburo


standing committee. What his role was, or his relationship to staff offices and other secretaries, personal or organizational, is not known.

Appendix C: Evolution Of Political Reform Group

The Central Political Structure Reform Study Group was established in September 1986 under Zhao Ziyang, according to Ta Kung Po , 7 April 1988, 2, in FBIS-CHI-88-070, 12 April 1988, 30–31. The group included Hu Qili, Tian Jiyun, Bo Yibo, and Peng Chong. Its staff office was the Political Reform Research Center (Xinhua , 27 February 1988) run by Zhao's secretary and Politburo Standing Committee secretary, Bao Tong. Staff members included Zhou Jie, deputy director of the Party's General Office; Yan Jiaqi, director of the Political Science Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; and the vice-minister of the Economic System Reform Commission, He Guanghui, former secretary to Li Fuqun and Bo Yibo. At that time, reformers Hu Qili, Tian Jiyun, and Bao Tong seemed to play the leading roles. In November they set up seven special groups to study the separation of Party and government functions, Party organization and inner-Party democracy, delegation of powers and structural reform, the cadre and personnel system, socialist democracy, the socialist legal system, and the basic principles for political structural reform.

One of the seven special study groups, on cadre and personnel-system reform, originated several months earlier as a joint work team of the Organization Department and the Ministry of Labor and Personnel; see Liaowang Overseas Edition 20 (16 May 1988), 16–17, in FBIS-CHI-88-101 (25 May 1988), 23–25.

Beginning in September 1986, experimental political reforms were carried out in some localities, and these speeded up after the Thirteenth Congress. Examples include the abolition in the Chengdu Military Region of 109 redundant or "temporary" organizations such as excess cadre offices, self-study university offices, and policy-implementation(!) offices. In June 1987 the Hunan Party and government dissolved 72 of their 141 nonpermanent offices. In December 1987 the Beijing Haidian district Party committee closed down its departments for commerce, education, and rural affairs, as well as its street affairs committee.

After the fall of Hu Yaobang, however, Hu Qiaomu, Deng Liqun, and the Central Party School president, Gao Yang, joined the work of the main political reform groups as "visiting members," and gradually through 1987 leadership shifted to less reform-minded officials. Early in the year a new group was set up under He Guanghui to focus on the practical and immediate issue of restructuring the central organs in the course of the upcoming Party and state congresses. It may have been this group that recommended the return of power to the Politburo and the effective downgrading of the Secretariat to an administrative status similar to that of the State Council.

The central study group was disbanded in September, and a new LG for the Reform of Central Government organs was set up under Li Peng, with the Organization Department director, Song Ping, as deputy director, and as members the General Office director Wen Jiabo; the State Council secretary-general,


Chen Junsheng; the minister of personnel, Zhao Donghuan; and He Guanghui, who headed the LG's office. After the Thirteenth Congress, in mid-December, the Politburo agreed on an overall framework for restructuring the central organs, to be implemented through the Secretariat and the State Council. Liaowang Overseas Edition 17 (25 April 1988) [no page numbers given], in FBIS-CHI-88-080 (26 April 1988), 23–26, mentions that the group under Li Peng was responsible for formulating implementation procedures. They substantially revised the plan, which was then approved on 28 November 1987 by the Politburo Standing Committee prior to review by the Second Plenum of the new Politburo.

Appendix D: Coordination Points For Management Of International Activities (1958)

1. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: for the NPC Standing Committee, the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, all political and legal affairs departments in state organs, the Red Cross, and General Relief societies. (It is not clear to what extent intelligence and counterintelligence is coordinated with the MFA).

2. Ministry of Foreign Trade: for the Ministries of Finance and Commerce, the People's Bank, the International Trade Advancement Society, and "various units" involved in industry and commerce.

3. Foreign Cultural Liaison Committee: for departments concerned with the arts, education, science, sanitation, sports, news, publishing, broadcasting, and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

4. National Science Planning and Technical Commissions (later the State Science and Technology Commission): for scientific and technical cooperation activities and exchanges with foreign countries by the Academy of Sciences and each government department.

5. Ministry of National Defense: international activities in military affairs.

6. Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission: overseas Chinese affairs.


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