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The Chinese Communist Party’s Control of Finance

In today’s global financial crisis, the Chinese Communist Regime frequently emphasizes the importance of its regulation of finance. Two recent articles from an official media of the Chinese Communist Party (the CCP) reflect this idea. These two articles were written by Yan Haibo and Jiang Yong, respectively, and were both published in Outlook Weekly on August 17, 2009. The first is titled “A History of the Party Leadership’s Role in the Financial sector;” [1] and the second is titled “Control the Leading Role in the Financial Sector.” [2] The two articles dealt with the same subject, “Finance, as a key point of the strategy for the country’s security and development, not only needs professional technical regulations, but, even more importantly, it needs strong guidance from the ruling party (the CCP).” [3]

Outlook Weekly is a large weekly news magazine that covers current political and economic issues. It is published by Xinhua News, the official news agency of the Chinese Communist regime. Outlook Weekly is known for its “journalistic, authoritative, ideological, and readable” characteristics. It is also known for “an emphasis on exclusive reports and important news topics, authoritative and in-depth reports on significant domestic and international issues, and accurate and perceptive analyses of development trends of political, economic, and social phenomena both nationally and globally.” [4] The author Yan Haibo is an associate research fellow at the Research Center for Current Issues of the Compilation and Translation Bureau of the CCP Central Committee. Author Jiang Yong is a research fellow at the Economic Security of China Institute of Contemporary International Relations. [5]

In the article titled, “A History of the Party Leadership’s Role in the Financial sector,” Yan states, “Throughout the past years, the CCP has placed great importance on leadership tasks related to the economy and finance. With regard to different situations and tasks during various periods, the CCP has raised different requirements for the work in the area of finance.” “Financial work affects important political and military missions; the guidance that the party provides on financial work can efficiently create unusual combat power.” [6] Yan listed some examples of the CCP taking control in the financial sector to illustrate his point.

“In July 1947, at the Meeting of the CCP Central Committee held at Xiaohe, [7] Mao Zedong again pointed out the importance of implementing correct financial and trade policies, and emphasized that we must strengthen strict regulations under harsh external conditions.” [8]

“In September 1948, at the meeting of the Politburo, the CCP made the decision to have unified leadership on financial work and the issuance of currency. Right before the victory of the revolution, facing the task of taking over city management, the party advised the military leaders that they should ‘be good at handling financial issues.’ Only this unified leadership can meet the challenges of the changing tasks in new situations.” [9]

“In the earlier days of the People’s Republic of China …, the party Central Committee fully realized that, in the economy and in finance, there is essentially a war without gun smoke. Winning or losing this war would directly affect the consolidation and development of the regime, as well as industrial and agricultural production, and the stability of people’s lives.” [10] Therefore, “our party (the CCP) timely established the Central Finance and Economics Commission as a command center to lead the nation’s economic work in a unified manner.” [11]

Based on these, the author explained, “Under complicated political and economic situations, our party (the CCP) assigned tasks relating to the economy and finance as if it were at ‘war.’ This shows our party’s clear understanding and wise insight.” [12] There was an earlier article in Guangming Daily (August 3, 2009) titled, “The International Financial Crisis and National Security Strategy,” that had a more detailed explanation of this conclusion. It said that, “Military force is the foundation for maintaining a nation’s stability. As the national interest continues to grow and our nation’s global impact continues to rise, the crucial position of the military forces in protecting our country’s peaceful rise is getting more obvious. But facing this ferocious international financial crisis, the economists outside the military have not been able to give professional suggestions regarding issues such as readiness, utilization, and development of our military force in fending off this crisis. On the other hand, most of the experts in strategic and military development inside the military lack in-depth understanding of finance and economics, and therefore cannot provide scientific guidance regarding the above issue (the issue of how to develop the national security strategy during the global financial crisis). [13]

In the second article “Control the Leading Role in the Financial Sector,” Jiang Yong made the point that, “Finance is the heart of modern economics. Financial competition is the heart of international competition. Financial security is the core issue of the economic security of the country.” [14]

“China’s economy is currently facing the difficult situation of ‘the pitfall of the US dollar,’ the loss of asset value, and the international financial crisis. This shows that the field of finance cannot just be controlled by financial firms and professional groups; the crucial policies related to financial reform cannot just be determined by financial firms and professional groups, and the degree of success of financial reforms cannot only be judged by these financial firms and professional groups themselves. The ruling party (the CCP) should exercise strong leadership on finance, just as it does with the military, so as to effectively respond to the ‘war without gun smoke.’” [15]

“Finance is a concept in economics, but it is also extremely political. The importance of finance is not only reflected in ‘how to serve,’ but also in ‘who it serves.’ Marxism has a clear understanding of the political characteristics of financial tasks: the main leading role must be held in the hands of the proletarian party, which represents the interests of the majority. It was said in the Communist Manifesto that after the proletarians gain power, this ‘most advanced state’ can ‘control credit and loans, in the hands of the state by owning all of the country’s resources, and through the state banks that own the state capital and enjoy exclusive monopolistic power.’ Marx and Engels also held that one must ‘adjust the field of credit and lending according to the entire population’s interest, and in turn be able to destroy large financial capitalists’ control.’” [16]

 “The CCP is China’s ruling party. The key to doing things well in China is the party. The CCP represents the interests of the vast majority of Chinese people. It stands on the people’s side to protect the nation’s interest, and the largest number of people possible. Currently, the most important task in front of us on the issue of the party leading on finance is how to reflect the party’s mission, fundamental position, and ideological direction.” [17]

“The security of the financial industry directly affects the security of the regime. We need to attach great importance to financial security, and even more so in peaceful times.” “Everything that has happened since the financial crisis explosion started in the United States has told us that the situation of financial security has never been so urgent. The loss that the international financial crisis has caused to our financial assets, and the deeply negative effect that the international financial crisis has had on our economic development and society’s stability, all directly threaten the security of the regime.” “The loss of national interest will definitely be accompanied by a slowing down of economic growth, individuals’ income reduction, unemployment, and inflation. This load will impact every citizen, and therefore the deterioration of the regime’s governance caused by this will threaten the ruling party’s status.” “Therefore, the ruling party (the CCP) must take great care of the economy and finance, and achieve stronger leadership on finance.” [18]

“Looking back in history, the party has always paid great attention to the issue of strengthening the leadership role on finance to enhance the party’s ability to rule. Especially as our country gradually enters the socialist development period, the position of the party, the situations it faces, the tasks that it takes on its shoulders, and the party’s own conditions, have all changed a lot. It is changing from a revolutionary party to a ruling party, and its sole task is now to lead the people to develop socialism.” “A complete implementation of the Concept of Scientific Development in the financial sector will ensure the fast and good development of the economy, protect economic security, and promote a harmonious society. We need to be on guard against those arguments that advocate so called ‘independence’ in the field of finance and secretly resist the party’s leadership.” [19]

“The leadership role that the party takes on financial tasks is all-round and comprehensive. With requirements based on the domestic and international situation, the party will coordinate the financial tasks at a high level, taking the rise and decline of the nation, and the survival and death of the Chinese people into consideration. The party will make sure that the direction is correct, the planning is for the overall development, the strategy is comprehensive, the policies are scientific, and the environment is healthy. The party not only needs to control the CCP’s development of the financial system, but it is also responsible for the policies and direction in the financial arena. With the long-term goal of our country’s socioeconomic development in mind, the party not only needs to propose the development strategy of the financial industry according to the party’s mission, but also needs to formulate major financial policies, be responsible for the appointment and dismissal of important positions, as well as supervise the implementation.” [20]

“Our party made an attempt to strengthen the financial institutions. In June 1998, in order to cope with the Asian Financial Crisis and enhance the leadership role the party had on finance, the Financial Working Commission of the CCP Central Committee was formed. As an agency of the CCP Central Committee, this committee was responsible for developing the party’s ideology, structure, and work style in the financial field.”  “Because some administrative relationship was not clearly defined, this committee was later removed.” [21]

“As a developing country that is gradually opening up and as an emerging market, China is facing more and more financial problems and many economic and social conflicts that involve finance. Therefore the CCP should take control of finance just as it has taken control of the army so as to achieve the CCP’s leadership position on finance. We suggest forming an organization just like the Financial Working Commission of the CCP Central Committee, which is responsible for developing important guidelines, decisions, national financial strategies, and policies, and for supervising the agencies that carry out the work. This will be important for ensuring that the financial work in our country will have the correct direction and that the decisions are made scientifically. It will also be important for ensuring that our country has an undefeated position and an invulnerable position in today’s ever-more complicated and harsh international economy and financial competition.” [22]

The CCP achieves control of domestic and international finance through government actions. One example is the development of the Shanghai World Financial Center. Sun Lijian, the Assistant Dean and a professor of finance at the School of Economics at Fudan University, Shanghai, wrote an article on on May 15, 2009, titled “The Financial Center Is Essentially Currency Domination.” The author said, “From Central Bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan’s idea of a super-sovereign  reserve currency to Wang Qishan’s request to balance rights with obligations regarding the IMF reformation; from the Foreign Ministry spokesman’s worries about the United States launching a currency print machine to the State Council’s approving the proposal for constructing the Shanghai World Financial Center, we see that China and Asia have already begun to pay great attention to the issue of currency domination. This is a fundamental improvement. This is because Asia, such an economically active region, does not yet have an ‘international currency’ that can play a major role on the global economic stage.” [23]

 “The development of the Shanghai World Financial Center is part of the bigger picture of the strategy for obtaining ‘currency domination.’” The author’s understanding is that, “From the tactical point of view, globalization of the Asian dollar or RMB, and developing the Shanghai World Financial Center do not offer a ‘comparative advantage’ for the current China’s economic growth or for Asia’s financial situation. Strategically, if we ignore currency domination, then the economy of China and even the economy of all of Asia will be in a vulnerable position in the industrial chain of the global economy. They will not be able to hedge against the penetration by the outside crisis, or let outside economic identities reap the great benefits from China and Asia’s economic growth while sharing all the risks at the same time. Thus it will often end up being ‘they receive many benefits, and we take the risks.’” “This is because the Chinese government has realized that following the world’s voice to strengthen RMB appreciation is much better than passively accepting the pressure of RMB appreciation and opening capital accounts.” [24]

[1] Outlook Weekly, August 17, 2009
[2] Outlook Weekly, August 17, 2009
[3] Ibid.
[4] Homepage of Outlook Weekly
[5] Same as [1].
[6] Ibid.
[7] Xiaohe, or Xiaohe Village, is located in the north of Shaanxi Province. The 1947 meeting held at Xiaohe took place during China’s Civil War period, with a focus on tasks related to the PLA’s strategic transition into a nationwide offensive against the KMT army.
[8] Same as [1].
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Same as [2].
[12] Same as [1].
[13] Guangming Daily, August 3, 2009
[14] Same as [2].
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Ibid.
[23] Xinhua, May 15, 2009
[24] Ibid.