New Regulations Muzzle Party Members (story in Chinese)

October 25, 2004

Citing Xinhua, the Ministry of Justice Web site announced that on September 22 the Chinese Communist Party enacted the "Rules on the Protection of Rights of Chinese Communist Party Members." Two of the Rules' articles explicitly forbid Party members from publicly disagreeing with the Party, or publicly expressing opinions inconsistent with Party dogma:

Article 7: Party members have the right during Party meetings to participate in discussions of Party policy and theory, and to fully express their opinions. Party members have the right during Party meetings to participate in discussions of central and local organizations regarding the organizations' policy and theory issues. In the process of discussing Party policy and theory issues, Party members should be conscious of maintaining a high degree of unanimity with the Party center, and may not publicly express viewpoints or opinions that go against the Party's fundamental theory, fundamental line, fundamental guiding principles, and fundamental experience.

Article 12: If a Party member disagrees with a Party decision or policy, they may, under the principle of firmly maintaining unanimity, express their reservations in a Party meeting or with a Party organization, and may also express their opinion to a higher-level Party organization, up to the central authorities. Party members may not publicly express opinions contrary to the decisions of the Central authorities.

These prohibitions appear more strict than those in the interim rules enacted in 1994 that the Rules are replacing. The 1994 rules required Party members to "maintain unanimity" (Article 9) but only prohibited "carelessly diffusing or broadcasting" criticisms of the Party (Article 11).