This week the Supreme People’s Court’s (SPC’s ) media outlets are carrying this 10 September report of the Central Inspection Group (CIG) #4’s mobilization meeting to inspect the SPC’s Communist Party group. The same group is also inspecting the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP). Senior leaders (that with a bureaucratic rank of deputy bureau chief and above 副局级以上干部) of the SPC and its institutions attended in person (as well as related personnel). Those in the SPC’s six circuit courts (巡回法庭) attended by videolink. Zhao Fengtong is heading (this English biography is outdated) the inspection group. He gave a speech at the mobilization meeting. President Zhou Qiang, who chaired the meeting, spoke as well. A search of Caixin’s website reveals that Zhao Fengtong has headed many such inspection groups. News of the inspection was announced on the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) website last week and other media outlets. The inspection is part of the current round of CIG inspections, which total 37 Party, government, and other entities. A CIG group last inspected the SPC almost three years ago. The previous mobilization meeting and inspector results were previously mentioned on this blog.
The China Law Society (a mass (government-organized non-government organization)) and the Ministry of Justice are being inspected in this round of inspections. Each has held its own mobilization meeting.
The inspection appears to be one example of the strengthening of Party leadership in the SPC. The inspection appears to be linked to language in earlier documents to strengthen the leadership of the Communist Party (加强党的领导) and to strengthen Party political construction (党的政治建设). The Party Center issued a document on political construction earlier this year.
The remarks that Zhao Fengtong made are consistent with the document on political construction. Some of the points that Zhao Fengtong and Zhou Qiang made are highlighted below (along with my brief comments in italics):
- the SPC, as a central organ, assumes a major political responsibility and glorious historical mission (重大政治责任和历史使命). This phrase is to be found in SPC policy documents supporting important government initiatives;
- Inspections are political supervision and a comprehensive political examination of the implementation by the Party Group of a Central and national organ of its political responsibility and duties (巡视是政治监督，是对中央和国家机关党组织履行政治责任和职责使命情况的全面政治体检). The term “political inspection” appears to be used frequently since earlier this year–the report on the previous mobilization meeting did not use this term.
- The focus is on inspecting how the SPC is implementing the Party line, direction and policies and the major decisions that the Party Center has announced (重点监督检查落实党的路线方针政策和党中央重大决策部署情况);
- The inspection will search out political deviance (深入查找政治偏差). This phrase is found in the document on political construction–“put efforts into discovering and correcting political deviation” (着力发现和纠正政治偏差).
President Zhou Qiang stated that the Party group fully supports the work of the inspection group, will correct the problems found, will not delay or blame. He mentioned that the institution will combine support for the work of the inspection group with current work (要把配合做好巡视工作与抓好当前工作结合起来). The SPC is a court, to whom the public looks for justice. Informal inquiries indicate that the SPC has an even larger civil and commercial caseload this year. Although earlier this year it raised the minimum amount in dispute for cases that it will take, the current state of the economy means that the SPC is facing a large increase in civil/commercial disputes. Domestic cases have a six-month deadline for resolution, placing a great deal of pressure on judges to resolve them timely, either by encouraging settlement or issuing judgments (or rulings).
As in the previous round, the CIG is inspecting the SPC for approximately two months. The inspection group has provided an email and telephone number for those wishing to provide further information.
Background on CIGs and how they operate can be found in a 2016 New York Times article (focusing on the Ministry of Public Security’s inspection) and this scholarly article by Professor Fu Hualing of the University of Hong Kong’s law faculty.