The Chinese Communist Party’s laser-like focus on maintaining its political leadership in China, while always evident, has been even more so during Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping’s decade. Looking at the collection of Xi’s discussions of the “Three Political Strengths” that appeared in Qiu Shi, the Communist Party ideological journal, I found this passage goes to the heart of matters (bolding added).
Stressing politics, we must improve political judgment. The historical process of our party leading the people in revolution, construction and reform has repeatedly proved a truth: having the political initiative is the most important kind of initiative. Political passivity is the most dangerous kind of passivity. To enhance political judgment, we must take national political security as the most important thing, be people-oriented, and support and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics and enhance our ability to scientifically grasp changes in the situation.
Ideological security is an essential part of China’s national security concept. Regardless of how it may appear to the outside world, the Communist Party is often in a defensive crouch, reacting strongly to any challenge not matter how minor it may appear. Americans, well aware of our country’s own serious problems, tend to underestimate China’s own problems political, economic and demographic. [See Paul French in Foreign Policy “A Shrinking China Can’t Overtake America“] Not to mention a serious lack of allies and of the hybrid vigor that emigration of talented people brings (still an important US strength despite recent hiccups).
Looking over a March 2022 document on the PRC Treasury website on the execution of the PRC National Budget, I noticed that overall spending on police at all levels exceeded military spending by nearly 50%. Public security spending includes all policing at all levels, and not just the political policing that goes on at all levels by the Ministry of Public Security and its provincial and local counterparts, some of which is for political security from calling on people and their employers if people get out of line, to bringing them to the station “to drink tea” and further escalations of sanctions. China’s Defense spending far exceeds that of all its neighbors.
The specific details of the main expenditure items of the central general public budget at this level are: general public service expenditure of 157.269 billion yuan, 107% of the budget, mainly due to the central budget investment in information technology construction, etc., and increased expenditure on the prevention and control of the new pneumonia epidemic in the customs system. Foreign affairs spending 49.096 billion yuan, 97.4% of the budget. Defense spending 135.758 billion yuan, completing 100% of the budget. Public security spending was 189.002 billion yuan, 102.1% of the budget. Education spending was 169.035 billion yuan, 101.6% of the budgeted amount. Expenditure on science and technology was 320.554 billion yuan, 99.3% of the budget. Expenditure on food and oil reserves was RMB 111.249 billion, 90.8% of the budget. Debt payment expenditure was 586.769 billion yuan, 97.8% of the budgeted amount.Excerpted from PRC Ministry of the Treasury, March 2022, “Report on the implementation of the 2021 central and local budgets and the 2022 draft central and local budgets” 关于2021年中央和地方预算执行情况与2022年中央和地方预算草案的报告
See also Chris Buckley’s 2011 article “China internal security spending jumps past army budget”, 2018 Wall Street Journal “China dramatically boosts spending on internal security” and the Wiki article Mass surveillance in China.
General Secretary Xi has focused on stamping out corruption (popular) , strengthening central control in a surprisingly decentralized country. When I worked in China during the late 1990s when China was working on its WTO accession, I used to wonder if the provinces would in effect join the China Trade Organization in order to make WTO acccession possible. Much progress was made on that score, although local protectionism and discrimination against businesses from other cities and other provinces remains a serious problem. [See the July 2022 Economist article “The trade war within China
Local protectionism is pernicious and persistent” and my late 1990s press clippings from the PRC press on the Chinesee economy. ]
Less popular has been the strengthening of already rigid media and publishing censorship and more vigorous prosecution and harassment of people, human rights lawyers along with peasants caught in local government imposed confiscatory land deals. [See the website of now-jailed Chinese peasant rights activist Huang Qi for examples.]
“The Four Consciousnesses” sige yishi 四個意識 enhance political integrity, develop a better understanding of the general picture, follow the core leadership of the Central Committee, and act consistently with CPC Central Committee policy.
“The Four Self-confidences” sige zixin 四個自信“confident in our chosen path, confident in our guiding theories, confident in our political system, and confident in our culture.”
“The Two Safeguards” liangge weihu 兩個維護 “‘Safeguard the core position of the Xi Jinping-led Party Central Committee and at the core position of the whole party’ and ‘Safeguard the authority of the Party Central Committee and centralized and unified leadership’”
The Three Political Strengths zhengzhi sanli 政治三力 strength in political judgement, strength in political insight, and strength to implement the political line.
Apr 04, 2021 Source: Qiu Shi [Seeking Knowledge] official ideological journal of the Chinese Communist Party.
We must carry Party history study and education for the entire Party is a major event in the political life of the Party. Recently, the 7th issue of Seeking Truth in 2021 published an important article by General Secretary Xi Jinping, “Speech at the Mobilization Conference on Party History Learning and Education”.
This journalist noted that the General Secretary in this important speech clearly emphasized the need to improve the “Three Political Strengths” of the whole party. The General Secretary asks of us:
”We must educate and lead the entire Party to absorb the positive and negative lessons from the historical experience of the Communist Party. We must unswervingly look to the Party Central Committee for guidance, and unceasingly work to improve our Political Judgment Strength, our Political Insight Strength and our strength to implement that political line. We must make real improvements in our Four Consciousnesses, hold firmly the Four Self Confidences, and in fact put into practice the Two Upholds. We must conscientiously in our ideology, politics and action maintain a high degree of consistency with the Party Central Committee, and ensure that the entire Party is united in holding to one line, with one ideology and pulls together strongly as one in the same direction.”
From December 24 to 25, 2020, General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed during the democratic life meeting of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee that our Party members must never forget the idealism that made them join the Communist Party, remember their mission, and unceasingly push forward the work of the Party and the people. We must strengthen our political consciousness, be good at seeing things from a political perspective, be good at grasping the overall political situation, and constantly improve our political Judgment Strength, our political Insight Strength and our political line implementation Strength.
This is the first time the General Secretary mentioned the “Three Political Strengths” in a public report, and since then, the General Secretary has emphasized it many times on different occasions.
To help you study better, here is a summary of the notes the journalist took.
Stressing politics means that we must improve our political judgment. The historical process of our party leading the people in revolution, construction and reform has repeatedly proved a truth: having the political initiative is the most important kind of initiative. Political passivity is the most dangerous kind of passivity. We must strengthen our political judgment, we must take national political security as the most important thing, be people-oriented, and support and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics and enhance our ability to scientifically grasp changes in the situation. We must accurately identify the nature of matters that we encounter, soberly identify right and wrong behavior, and develop the ability to reduce the risks involved in the challenges we face.
The comrades of the Central Committee’s Political Bureau should be good at thinking about fundamental, global and long-term issues related to the overall situation of the work of the Party and the state, strengthen strategic, systematic and forward-looking research and planning, be particularly clear-headed and bright-eyed on major issues and key links, be good at finding political issues in general affairs, be good at finding political problems that crop up in the course of ordinary work. They should be good at picking up on trends and at political issues involved in incipient problems, be good at grasping the political logic that lies amidst intricate contradictions and relationships, unswervingly hold to their political position and not deviate from it.
Stressing politics means that we must improve political insight. Leading cadres, especially senior leading cadres, are politically responsible, and must study the spirit of the Party Central Committee in depth, integrate it into our thinking, adhere to the spirit of the Party Central Committee to analyze the situation, promote work, and always maintain a high degree of consistency with the Party Central Committee. Comrades of the Central Committee Political Bureau are important organizers and promoters of the implementation of the spirit of the Party Central Committee, and thus should work even hard to improve their political insight, and understand “the great issues in national affairs” to heart and to be very clear about the responsibilities of their position.
Stressing politics means that we must improve the implementation of politics — policy implementation. Leading cadres, especially senior cadres, should always be in line with the spirit of the Party Central Committee, to in their work effectively and resolutely respond to the policies advocated by the Party Central Committee, implemented the decisions of the Party Central Committee, insist on never doing anything that is prohibited by the Party Central Committee, resolutely uphold the authority of the Party Central Committee and its centralized and unified leadership, not to fall behind, not to deviate, not to compromise the implementation of the spirit of the guidance from the Party Central Committee. We must always be thinking about the bottom line, taking the problem-oriented approach in all our work, to be detail-oriented, to prevent problems before they occur. We must strengthen the sense of responsibility, take responsibility to heart, assume responsibility, fulfill responsibility in the line, dare to face problems head-on, do not avoid contradictions, do not cover up problems, when problems arise dare to take responsibility for them.
--Democratic Life Meeting of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, December 24-25, 2020.
Leading cadres at all levels, especially senior cadres, must be based on the overall situation of the strategy for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the great changes that the world has not seen in a century. They must always keep the “greatness of the nation” in mind, constantly improve their political judgment, political insight, policy execution, and constantly improve their political ability to grasp problems at this new stage of development, implement the new development concept, and build a new development pattern, a strategic vision, to be expert, and to dare to assume responsibility for problems.
– January 11, 2021 at the opening ceremony of the special seminar for major leading cadres at the provincial and ministerial levels to study and implement the spirit of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CCP Central Committee
The overall strict governance of the Party must first be seen first and foremost as a political issue. We must constantly be improving our political judgment, our political insight and political execution.
— January 22, 2021 at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
Leading cadres at all levels, especially senior cadres, should constantly improve their political judgment, political comprehension and political execution, know the “greatness of the country” well, reflect the implementation of the spirit of the Party Central Committee into the practice of planning major strategies, formulating major policies, deploying major tasks and advancing major work, frequently check the table and benchmark, and promptly calibrate deviations.
–The Twenty-Seventh Collective Study Session of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, January 28, 2021
The democratic parties, the Federation of Industry and Commerce and people without party affiliation should continuously improve their political judgment, political comprehension and political execution, guide their members and the people they are associated with to constantly enhance their political, ideological, theoretical and emotional identification with the leadership of the CPC and socialism with Chinese characteristics, and always maintain their political nature of being of one mind and unity with the CPC.
–February 1, 2021, welcoming the New Year with people outside the Party
We should study the Party’s innovative theories in depth, strengthen the study and education of Party history, and at the same time study the history of new China, reform and opening up, and the history of socialist development, so as to constantly improve our political judgment, political comprehension, and policy implementation.
– February 3-5, 2021, upon Xi Jinping’s visit to cadres and masses of all ethnic groups in Guizhou
We must have a systems approach, improve our political judgment, political comprehension and policy implementation, take the initiative to recognize and respond to changed situations, strengthen our understanding of the big picture and think systematically, strengthen coordination on reform policy, on its progress and on its effectiveness, in order to on measures to improve effectiveness, and coordination, progress coordination and effect coordination, and give full play to the overall effects of reform.
–February 19, 2021, at the 18th meeting of the Central Committee for Comprehensively Deepening Reform
We must educate and lead the entire Party to absord the positive and negative lessons from the historical experience of the Communist Party. We must unswervingly look to the Party Central Committee for guidance, and unceasingly work to improve our Political Judgement Strength, our Political Insight Strength and our Political Implementation Strength. We must concientiously in our ideology, politics and action maintain a high degree of consistency with the Party Central Committee, and ensure that the entire Party is united in holding to one line, with one ideology and pulls together strongly as one in the same direction.”
– February 20, 2021 Party History Study and Education Mobilization Meeting
To be based on the overall situation of the great rejuvenation strategy of the Chinese nation and the changes unprecedented in the past century, anchor our work within the grand blueprint, dare to assume our role to make our contributions, strengthen forward-looking thinking in our particular areas of responsibility, and to constantly improve our political judgment, political insight, policy implementation.
– February 28, 2021, the comrades concerned in accordance with the provisions of the Central Committee of the Party and General Secretary Xi Jinping written report
Young cadres should take the forefathers and martyrs as a mirror, take the negative examples as a warning, constantly build the foundations of their faith, strengthen their ideological bones with the calcium of the spirit, stabilize the rudder of thought, and sharpen their sincere loyalty to the Party with firm ideals and beliefs. To consciously strengthen political training, accept the rigorous political life of refining themselves within the Party, and constantly improve political judgment, political insight, policy implementation, so that their political ability matches their job responsibilities.
–Opening ceremony of the Training course for Young and Middle-aged Cadres at the Central Party School (National School of Administration), March 1, 2021
2021年04月04日 10:52:00 来源： 求是网 作者： 学而时习工作室
2020年12月24日至25日，中共中央政治局召开民主生活会，中共中央总书记习近平主持会议并发表重要讲话。新华社记者 鞠鹏 摄
2021年2月1日，习近平、汪洋、韩正等在北京人民大会堂同党外人士欢聚一堂，共迎佳节。新华社记者 鞠鹏 摄
2021年2月20日，党史学习教育动员大会在北京召开。中共中央总书记、国家主席、中央军委主席习近平出席会议并发表重要讲话。新华社记者 翟健岚 摄
策划：学而时习工作室 编辑：尹霞 狄英娜 韩辰 审核：宋维强 监制：马建辉