Recently, a swindler under the false identity of a "director of the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee" successfully cheated a Sichuan official out of a fortune of 470,000 yuan (US$62,571). The news captured the public eye immediately when it was released on websites. While they jeered at the miserable unlucky official, people were also astonished by the influence of the Department over Chinese officials.
The Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee always wears a mysterious veil in public. Mainly in charge of personnel affairs within the Party system, the department rarely comes into the spotlight. In the past three years, however, things have changed significantly. The department has held four press conferences to become more transparent to the public.
On July 7, 2005, Li Jingtian, then deputy head of the department, made his media debut at a press conference. This was the department's first close contact with journalists from home and abroad.
In 2006, the department's deputy head, Ouyang Song, attended two press conferences held by the State Council Information Office on March 1 and July 13 respectively.
On August 2, 2007, together with the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Organization Department convened a press conference to release the latest progress of inner-Party inspection.
Of the four press conferences, the first three mainly focused on a nationwide education campaign to preserve the advanced nature of CPC members. However, many questions not earmarked for the conference theme were posed by Chinese and foreign journalists. Some of the questions were tricky. A similar scene also took place during the fourth news conference. All the journalists tried to grasp another precious opportunity to get deeper insights into the department's daily operation.
According to a Party member, the recent appearances of the Organization Department shows that the Party is becoming more and more modernized.
Press conferences held by the Organization Department are rare, but news about the department is frequently heard, especially when new circulars on personnel arrangement are issued. The name of the department's deputy head usually appears in media reports when the appointment or removal of major leading officials takes place.
Before the election of delegates to the 17th CPC National Congress started, the Organization Department issued two documents to answer questions of universal interest.
Responding to public curiosity about the department, Zhang Quanjing, former head of the department, said that the organization functions just like any other. The only difference was that sometimes, organizational work had to be kept secret. He elaborated that under special occasions, such as when an official's privacy was involved, when an appointment or removal had not been finally decided, and when opinions and suggestions were not fully considered, the department would not release relevant information to the public. Zhang said this was part of the work requirement and it didn't run counter to the democracy of cadre elections and the openness of Party affairs.
Directly under the CPC Central Committee, the Organization Department is mainly responsible for making suggestions on the adjustment and appointment of the leading group of government departments and Party institutions that are subject to the administration of CPC Central Committee, and is responsible for organizing the implementation of programs concerning the training and selection of leading cadres.
According to statistics, from 2003 to the end of 2006, more than 15,000 leading Party and government officials were selected nationwide. Of them, over 390 were at the bureau level and over 3,800 at the county level. Meanwhile, some 200,000 cadres assumed their duties after an open competition. Of them, some 500 were at bureau level and 28,000 were county level.
Currently, the CPC is working hard to reform its official selection system. Democratic recommendation and democratic appraisal are now essential and fundamental selection procedures. Several methods are implemented across the country, such as issuing announcements before appraising cadres, issuing public notifications before appointing an individual to a leading post, putting newly-selected cadres on probation and deciding an appointment by anonymous ballot of the plenary session of Party committee.
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, many prominent figures have taken charge of the Organization Department, including Deng Xiaoping, Hu Yaobang, Wei Jianxing and Zeng Qinghong.
Like other commissions under the CPC Central Committee, the Organization Department is headquartered on western Chang'an Avenue. To the northwest of Zhongnanhai, where China's top state organs are located, the department's office building faces Xidan, the busiest commercial area of Beijing, to the south. Unlike the former office compound hidden in a narrow Hutong, the grand eight-story building won a top architectural prize for its innovative design and streamlined appearance.
(Source: China News Service, translated by Chen Xia for China.org.cn, October 13, 2007)