Editor's note: This is the ninth in a series of articles on Zhongnanhai, the seclusive political enclave in central Beijing, and the power struggles that have transpired within the Communist Party there. The series will appear on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
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BEIJING--A central government ministry worker found out the hard way that ordinary citizens are not the only ones under the scrutiny of the Chinese Communist Party.
A few years ago, the man in his 50s received a phone call at his desk. “Could you come to my office? I have something to talk about.”
The man immediately knew the caller was the deputy secretary of the Communist Party committee in the ministry because they conversed on a daily basis.
Communist Party committees are established in any group or organization with more than 100 party members. The committees can be found in government agencies, state-run companies and universities.
An important function of committees is to keep watch over the activities of party members.
When the man entered the deputy secretary’s office, he was told to take a seat.
“It appears you are acquainted with an official of a certain foreign embassy,” the deputy secretary said.
The deputy secretary mentioned the name of the foreign embassy official and pointed out that the man and another worker of a different central government ministry had dined with the embassy official.
While maintaining a cordial tone, the deputy secretary said: “Embassy officials in Beijing all have special duties. Relations with foreigners will not be allowed in the same manner as those between Chinese. You should refrain from further contact.”
The man was stunned to learn that the party committee was aware of his personal activities on a day-to-day basis. He decided to cut off all contact with the embassy official.
The party committee was informed about the contact by a bureau within the Public Security Ministry, which is in charge of dealing with anti-state activities and maintaining public order.
Within Zhongnanhai, the individual in charge of managing so-called party affairs is Liu Yunshan, a Politburo Standing Committee member. His predecessor was Xi Jinping, who has since become general secretary.
Liu’s post is one of the more important ones among the top leadership ranks.
Late last year, Liu held a meeting related to the anti-corruption campaign called for by Xi.
“Communist Party committees at all levels should thoroughly recognize the importance of this duty,” Liu said at the meeting.
He called on all party committees to ensure that the will of Zhongnanhai reached all organizations in China.
After Liu gave his instructions, party committees throughout the nation held meetings and study sessions to promote the anti-corruption campaign.
Doubts were raised in the past within the Communist Party about this organizational structure.
In the 1980s, Zhao Ziyang called for a separation of the roles of the Communist Party and government in his quest as general secretary to reform the political structure.
However, after he was ousted in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the reform effort failed.
What was maintained was the structure that enabled orders from Zhongnanhai to reach every nook and cranny of society.
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The previous installments of this series are available at:
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