China tightens party loyalty requirements in sensitive year

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese public sector managers in education and media must adhere to new rules of party loyalty and “socialist statesmanship” to keep their jobs, the latest move to limit dissent in a sensitive leadership transition year.

Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the media during an official visit in Bern, Switzerland January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

President Xi Jinping has moved aggressively to consolidate his power since taking office four years ago, and will further stamp his authority on the ruling Communist Party at a once every five years congress later in the year, when important officials will retire and new ones will take their posts.

Xi has already moved to deepen the party’s tight control over areas like state media and to prevent too much debate about policy, especially as he pushes painful reforms such as cutting 300,000 people from the military.

New party rules, carried by state media late on Monday, reinforce the loyalty requirement.

“Due to the special ideological requirements of their work, the most important condition for leaders in newspapers, magazines, radios and TV stations is their that they have strong political faith and adhere to the spirit of party doctrines,” according to the new rules.

University leaders must be “socialist statesmen” who persevere in building their schools towards socialism, while primary, middle and high school teachers must make party loyalty a part of their work, according to the documents published by the organization and publicity departments of the Party’s Central Committee as well as three other government ministries.

Xi has called for party allegiance of universities, warning against the spread of “western values”, and has asked that media continue to guide public opinion in accordance with the party line. [nL4N1E41U4] [nL3N15Y3XV]

The new regulations apply to the hiring and firing of administrative managerial personnel in these institutions.

Staff in relevant institutions will be given contracts and tenures with term limits, allowing their performance to regularly come up for review, and helping to further shrink the number of people given an “iron rice bowl” of cradle-to-grave work and social care by the state.

Regular checks will be carried out to ensure individuals meet the new requirements for performance and term limits.

They also apply to scientific research bodies and public hospitals, where the provisions require additional professionalism and innovation.

Seventy percent of public institution staff work in the affected sectors, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Ben Blanchard, Robert Birsel