We expect to have a fuller analysis later this week of the full “Decision” from the 4th Plenum of the 18th Central Committee released by Xinhua News Agency late yesterday.
But while you wait, there are a number of official summaries and interpretations that might be helpful in unpacking the significance of this document, which the China Copyright and Media blog has already — at great pain and sacrifice — translated into (something as near as possible resembling) English.

President Xi Jinping has outlined his plans for “governing the nation in accord with the law.” What does he really mean?
Just to name a few options out there, Xinhua quickly released President Xi Jinping’s own “explanation” of the document yesterday — an explanation that itself will require more explication.

Xinhua has spoken to five “experts” about the significance of the “Decision.”
And finally, Xinhua has also posted a “25-sentence summary” of the “Decision” today that might help simplify matters.
Obviously, all of these official explainers should come with a huge caveat: They are designed to promote the Party’s agenda, not just transparently explain it.
Let us turn for the moment, however, to another interesting piece, this time by People’s Daily Online, addressing one of the most important questions lingering behind this ostensible move toward “rule of law”: the role of the Chinese Communist Party.
That’s right, the red elephant in the room.
In the piece, posted late yesterday to its current affairs channel, People’s Daily Online reviewed Xi Jinping’s remarks on one central and unmovable aspect of rule of the nation according to law, or yifa zhiguo (依法治国) — the “leadership position of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Notice the language from Xi Jinping about the need to assert CCP rule “with self-confidence and with great fanfare.” And note the explicit reference to attempts “by a few” to conflate “socialist rule of law” with “Western political and legal systems,” a trend that must, according to Yang Xiaojun (杨小军), a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, be “nipped in the bud.”

Interpretation: Why Does Xi Jinping Say We Must Self-Confidently Assert the Party’s Leadership Status? (解读:习近平为啥说要理直气壮地讲党的领导地位?)
People’s Daily Online, Current Affairs Channel
October 28, 2014, 8:59PM
Tonight, the CCP Central Committee Decision Concerning the Comprehensive Advancement of Major Questions on Governing the Nation According to the Law was formally released. Entrusted by the Politburo, Xi Jinping has provided some explanations about the drafting process of this decision.
Among these [explanations] is the question of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and its relationship to rule of the nation according to law (依法治国). He emphasizes that our country’s Constitution, as the basic law, expresses the Party’s successes in leading the people in carrying out revolution, [national] construction and reform, and it establishes the leadership role of the Chinese Communist Party as a product of history and the people’s choice. As to this point, [he says], [we] must assert it with self-confidence and with great fanfare.
“We say ‘with self-confidence’ because to say so is the truth,” said Central Party School professor Xin Ming (辛鸣) in an interview with People’s Daily Online. We must, [he said], have the fullest confidence in the leadership of the Party. History and experience have shown that the leadership status of the Party is correct, and it is endorsed by the people. The “Decision” raises five [issues that] must be “firmly supported” (坚持), and of these it places firm support for the leadership status of the Chinese Communist Party before all others, in order to give no quarter to those who seek to obscure or deny the truth.
Xi Jinping points out in his explanation of the “Decision”: “The crux of whether or not the major task of thoroughly promoting rule of the nation according to law can be handled adequately is a matter of the correctness of our political direction (方向), whether the political guarantee is strong.”
Professor Xin Ming points out that regardless of whether viewed from the standpoint of rule of law theory or our experience of rule of the nation according to law over the past 17 years, without the leadership of the Party there would be no way of achieving the objective of rule of the nation according to law, and therefore no way of achieving national strength and prosperity, the rejuvenation of the [Chinese] people, or the happiness of the people. In terms of the building of rule of law, we have referenced all the fruits of human civilization in order to ensure the rule of law path under socialism with Chinese characteristics is traveled more surely and healthily.
We say “great fanfare” because the Chinese Communist Party must make its attitude and position clear both domestically and internationally. Xi Jinping emphasized that we must speak clearly to the masses of cadres the basic nature of our country’s socialist rule of law, being clear about its roots and setting the record straight.
Chinese Academy of Governance professor Yang Xiaojun (杨小军) points out that because many legal concepts lately are “exotic” (舶来品), some people have equated “ruling the nation in accord with the law” (依法治国) with Western political and legal systems. This difference in understandings has created diverging paths. And so there is a need to strengthen internal propaganda and education, nipping this trend in the bud and ensuring that rule of the nation according to law can proceed smoothly.

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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