How Third Plenum Reports are drafted

By Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 8, 2013
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The Communist Party of China (CPC) will hold the Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee on November 9-12 in Beijing. The report issued by the plenum will be the result of a lengthy process of deliberation and discussion.

The CPC Political Bureau met on Oct. 29 to review the draft report of the Plenum. The draft has been issued to ministry and provincial chiefs for comment and the final version will be issued at the plenum.

In a remark interpreted as a tone-setter for the report, President Xi Jinping said in Wuhan this July that "the market should play a more fundamental role in allocating resources."

The document, entitled The CPC Central Committee's Decision on Several Major Issues on Comprehensively Deepening Reform, is a guideline document similar to those unveiled at previous Third Plenums. These documents are the outcome of a painstaking process of drafting and redrafting.

A review of the past four Third Plenums since 1993 shows that the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau directs the drafting of the guideline documents. Finalizing a draft typically requires five meetings of the Standing Committee and two to three full Political Bureau meetings over a six-month period, during which the draft is revised many times.

The Third Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee is a good example. Nine plenums and 30 principal-leaders meetings were held over a period of more than six months to revise the document 41 times.

Xinhua reports in recent years illustrate the complex process involved in drafting Third Plenum guideline documents:

In the first half of the year in which a Third Plenum is to be held, a drafting team is established. The CPC General Secretary gives instructions on the overall content and basic framework of the document.

Three months later, the first draft of the document is presented to the Standing Committee and the full Political Bureau for a first-round review. The draft is then issued to all organs across the Party and central and local governments for comment, while opinions from non-Party figures and experts are also evaluated.

The draft is then handed to the Central Committee for another round of review, before it is presented to the Third Plenary Session for formal deliberation.

Each of the Third Plenary Sessions over the past three decades has passed such a "guideline document" directing China's development over the following years.

In 2003, Wen Jiabao assumed office as China's Premier. The same year, he acted as director of the drafting team, with Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan appointed as his deputy. They had previously worked together on a similar draft for the Third Plenary Session of the 14th CPC Central Committee in 1993, according to Wang Mengkui, a former director of the State Council Research Office. This was the first time local leaders had been invited to participate in drafting such documents.

The last Third Plenary Session, held in 2008, focused on agriculture. Provincial leaders from Anhui and Jilin, both major agricultural bases, were asked to provide input.

In drafting the guideline document, grassroots opinions are also taken into account. Before the unveiling of the document for the CPC's 16th Central Committee, President Hu Jintao visited Beijing, Guangdong, Sichuan, Tianjin, Hunan and Jiangxi. Other top CPC and government leaders also carried out field trips across the country.

The drafting of the 17th CPC Central Committee's Third Plenary Session featured a similar but more elaborate process. The drafting team was divided into seven panels to conduct field research in 12 provinces. They held 51 seminars, in which the opinions from more than 850 local leaders, scholars and grassroots representatives were heard.

Starting this July, the seven members of the Political Bureau's Standing Committee have conducted extensive field research nationwide.

President Xi, in his tour of Hubei Province, said that when facing contradictions in China's development process, the solution lies in comprehensively deepening reform. He said the whole nation must correctly handle the relationships between emancipating the mind and seeking truth from facts, between steady progress and making breakthroughs, top-down planning and crossing the river by feeling the stones, making broad strides and sticking to a steady pace, and reform and development versus maintaining stability.

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