On 29 April 2016, Supreme People’s Court (SPC) President Zhou Qiang, Vice President He Rong, and Xu Jiaxin, head of the SPC’s political department attended a nameplate unveiling ceremony at the Supreme People’s Court (SPC)’s branch of the Communist Party’s Central Party School at the National Judges College.
For those unfamiliar with the Party school system in China, the Central Party School (with local counterparts) is both think tank and indoctrination center for Party officials, “a furnace for tempering the Party spirit” (according to the Central Party school’s website) (for more, see these articles). According to press reports, the SPC has had a Party school since 1993 and has trained nearly 1000 officials. Under the Chinese political system, officials slated for promotion are generally required to attend Party school. Judge Xu pointed out that “the Party school must firmly uphold the basic principle of ‘the surname of Party schools is the Party,’ and ensure the political attributes of the political-legal institutions (机关党校要坚持“党校姓党”的根本原则，把握政法机关的政治属性). This is linked to a December, 2015 Politburo document calling for the strengthening of ideological and political education, and it is likely that the SPC issued a document implementing the Central Committee document (a report of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate one can be found here).
Does this take away from the SPC’s judicial education plans, announced last year, and analyzed here? Not really, as those plans prioritize ideological training. As one of China’s central political legal institutions, the SPC must implement the latest Party policies. Given the increased substantive demands on judges of the court reforms, the focus in judicial training still has to be on improved skills and substantive law training, as described in the five year judicial education plan. It seems from reports, also, that the SPC’s Party school has its practical side, with study groups sent down to the basic level to research (and eventually report) on issues in the basic level courts, the judicial counterpart of some of what occurs in the Central Party School.