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[Hunan Daily] Interview with Deng Lianfan, Professor of HNUC and Director of Provincial Clean Government Construction and Collaborative Innovation Center

2017-04-27 10:06:40

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Deng Lianfan, doctor, professor of HNUC, director of the Hunan Provincial Clean Government Construction and Collaborative Innovation Center. He has been engaged in the cross-over study on the construction of the rule of law and administration of integrity for a long time, and advocating the creation of “the sciences of Anti-corruption law" and "the Science of Anti-corruption". He has published more than 50 articles on integrity, and 3 research monographs on the construction of administration of integrity in People's Daily, Guangming Daily, China Discipline Inspection and Supervision and Procuratorial Daily. In addition, he has won the first prize of the 12th Hunan Philosophy and Social Science Outstanding Achievements, and the first prize in the essay competition of the 6th Chinese Law Youth Forum of China Law Society.

Carry forward the Traditional Culture of Administration of Integrity, Help to Win the Justice Combat against Corruption

The traditional Chinese culture of administration of integrity is an indispensable part of Chinese traditional culture. Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core pays attention to the reference to and flexible use of integrity system, culture, and wisdom in our history. This year is the first year to implement the project of inheriting and developing Chinese outstanding traditional culture. In the context of the overwhelming victory of the anti-corruption combat while the situation is still grave and complex, how should we better inherit and develop our traditional Chinese integrity culture, so as to achieve creative transformation and innovative development in the process of pushing ahead the project of inheriting and developing Chinese excellent traditional culture and speeding up the construction of philosophy and social science with Chinese characteristics? For this question, the reporter of Hunan Daily interviewed Deng Lianfan, the director of Hunan Clean Government Construction and Collaborative Innovation Center.

1 In traditional culture, the culture of administration of integrity has been vigorous and uplifting power.

Hunan Daily: Chinese culture is broad and profound, and has a long history. Among which the culture of integrity has been widely cited and make people quite content even in adversity because of its unique and profound connotation. General Secretary Xi Jinping copiously quoted a lot of authoritative works, of which the majority are about integrity. Therefore, it is bound to inherit the culture of integrity when inheriting outstanding traditional culture. So, what kind of characteristics does integrity culture has?

Deng Lianfan: from my point of view, the major feature of the integrity culture is that it has been an eternal, vigorous and uplifting power among traditional culture.

Integrity culture has a long history and everlasting charms. Rites of the Zhou, one of the Confucian classics, has put forward “The Six Integrities”, i.e. being kind-hearted, competent, devoted to work, law-abiding, and clear about what is right and what is wrong, as the standards for evaluating officials’ performances.  Su Shi (1037–1101) composed a poetic essay named Integrity is the Basis among Six Virtues for this, in which he believed that officials should be evaluated from six aspects, i.e. being kind-hearted, competent, devoted to work, law-abiding, and clear about what is right and what is wrong, but integrity should come first. The standards for cadre appointment nowadays, i.e. morality, competence, work attitude, performances, and integrity, with integrity as the top priority, have the same meaning as the “Six Integrities”. For thousands of years, the evolution of integrity culture can be called as a hard journey. The famous scholar Wang Yanan has ever said: “historians said bluntly that the Twenty-four Histories of China is a history book of mutual slaughter, but from another perspective, it is also a history book of corruption”. Actually, if we change our perspective, the Twenty-four Histories is also a book of anti-corruption.  It is just in the combat between rectitude and corruption, good and evil that meaty and unique integrity culture grows, which has been the feature of Chinese culture.  Across time and space, well turned phrases such as “Integrity is the basis of government”, “Integrity and justice are the treasures of officials” have been sticking. Upright officials such as Baozheng (999 -1062) and Yu Chenglong (1617—1684)have been respected much by the ordinary people and praised by officials in past dynasties. A good example of this is that Zhu Rongji has ever said in a press conference on March 15, 2000 that “I would be satisfied only if all the Chinese people say I am a upright instead of a corrupt official after I retire”.

2 Sense of propriety, righteousness, integrity, and shame are an organic whole. Integrity is the basis, without which, sense of propriety and righteousness cannot exist.

Hunan Daily: it is true that since ancient times, integrity culture has always been full of positive energy. Then, as the “positive role” in historical culture, what kind of status does integrity culture enjoy in the outstanding traditional Chinese culture system?

Deng Lianfan: “Sense of propriety, righteousness, integrity, and shame are the four cardinal virtues in running a nation”. “Integrity is the basis of government”. “The way of governance is to take integrity as the top priority”.

When talking about traditional Chinese culture, integrity culture can never be overlooked. Wang Qishan published a byline in People’s Daily in 2014, in which he pointed out that “ the core of traditional Chinese culture is the eight moralities: filial piety, respect for brothers, loyalty, honesty, and sense of propriety, righteousness, integrity, and shame, which are the DNA of Chinese culture. So far, nobody can challenge these eight phrases.” No matter in the “four cardinal virtues” or the “eight moralities”, “integrity” always has its place, which reflects its fundamental role.

I think, sense of propriety, righteousness, integrity, and shame are an organic whole, and each word has its own focus. The sense of propriety, righteousness and integrity starts from positive perspective, while the sense of shame from negative perspective, and integrity is the basis of positive moralities.Some familiar expressions such as “probity and self-discipline”, “if you are heartless, I won’t be righteous”, “relationship breaks and righteousness ends”, “guide with morality and assimilate with rites” and “behaviors beyond rites are within punishment” reflect the different focuses of integrity, righteousness and rite, i.e. on ourselves, on coping with relationships between two people and the relationship among three and more. According to the philosophy that “one is the child of the divine law, after one come two, after two come three, after three come all things”, integrity, righteousness and rite are one, two, three respectively, and integrity is the basis, without which, righteousness and rite won’t exist. Therefore, it is not difficult to understand why the past dynasties attached so much importance to anti-corruption, why CPC has emphasized so much that clean government construction and anti-corruption combat are related to the survival of CPC and our country, and why CPC takes corruption as the biggest threat and integrity as Party members’ distinctive character and discretion in conduct. In a vivid figure of speech, traditional integrity culture is regarded as a bright pearl in outstanding traditional Chinese culture.

3 The inheritance and development of traditional integrity culture is just like the woods sprouting in spring.

Hunan Daily: Integrity is really important. It is both a spiritual pursuit and a code of conduct. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has paid great attention to integrity construction as well as the inheritance and development of traditional culture. As the juncture between integrity construction and traditional culture inheritance and development, traditional integrity culture is becoming more and more popular.  Does the “spring” for the inheritance and development of traditional integrity culture come?

Deng Lianfan: yes, I did statistics. The 18th Central Political Bureau has carried out 39 collective studies, many of which involve culture including traditional culture. Especially in the 5th collective study, the theme was “anti-corruption and build a clean government” of our history. General Secretary Xin Jinping emphasized when he presided over the study that we should actively draw on the outstanding integrity culture in our history so as to improve our ability to resist corruption and defense risks. The preferential routing of the study on traditional integrity culture has not only reflected the importance that Political Bureau has attached to this culture, but also the unique value and role of it.

Looking from concrete practices, the creative transformation of traditional integrity culture has been obvious to all. For example, after the 18th CPC National Congress, efforts in inspection have been strengthened, especially the series of reform and innovation of the inspection team in structure, type, method, etc, which have greatly improved the power and efficiency of their inspection, and played an extremely important role in anti-corruption of both powerful and ordinary officials. While the inspection system is typical “made in China”, as much of the innovation in inspection originated from the inspection system in our history. Another example is that after the 18th CPC National Congress, the Party repeatedly emphasized that the political view and integrity of the candidates should be strictly evaluated in talent selection and appointment, which is the inheritance and development of one of China’s ancient traditions—“Ju Xiao Lian”, which means to recommend talents based on filial piety and integrity.

“Water begins to rise and woods start to sprout in spring”, likewise, the inheritance and development of traditional integrity culture will certainly be full of vitality. The central government has set the tone at the end of last year, the overwhelming victory of anti-corruption combat has come into being, the objective of making officials not dare to corrupt has been initially realized, the system of making officials not able to corrupt has been increasingly improved, and the dam preventing officials from thinking of corruption is under construction. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out when he made an important speech in the 7th plenary session of the Central Discipline Inspection Commission on January 6 that the transformation from “not dare ” to “not able ” and then to “not want” should rely on the construction of ideal and faith, which is the soul of CPC, and rely on affirming ideal and faith through cultural self-confidence, because without the foundation and nourishing of outstanding Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialism culture, it is hard to have profound and persistent belief and faith. Such important discussion means it is very important to play the role of traditional integrity culture in the transformation from “not dare ” to “not able ” and then to “not want”.

4 The culture of administration of integrity takes administration of integrity as its “soul” and culture as its “body”. Administration of integrity refers to both clean government and beyond politicized meaning.

Hunan Daily: speaking of the culture of administration of integrity, the understanding of administration of integrity will definitely be involved. Some people think that the conception of “administration of integrity” has its own limitation, i.e. it is limited in politics, and has no enough extension, therefore it cannot reach all. How do you understand the conception of “administration of integrity”, and the view mentioned above?

Deng Lianfan: administration of integrity culture takes administration of integrity as its soul, and culture as its body. Administration of integrity is the key point which differs administration of integrity culture from others. It is generally believed that administration of integrity refers to politics of integrity, government of integrity and governance of integrity. But that is not the case. As administration of integrity has two meanings: we should not only interpret it from the perspective of politics, but also from the perspective of society and life. It is not enough to interpret administration of integrity only from politic perspective, as it doesn’t comply with the practices of China and world in anti-corruption nowadays, or with traditional administration of integrity culture, or word formation characteristics.

Looking from the practices of China and the world in anti-corruption, they are not limited in politics and public officers. All the enterprises and institutions are carrying out clean government and Party initiative. Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong, China sets Law Enforcement Department, Corruption Prevention Department, and Community Relations Department, among which, one of the legal responsibilities of Corruption Prevention Department is “to provide corruption prevention advices as per the requirements from private sectors and individuals ”, and the legal responsibility of Community Relations Department is “to educate the public to know about the scourge of corruption "and" fight for public support against corruption”.

From the perspective of traditional administration of integrity culture, integrity is not a requirement only for public officers. The two ancient Chinese sayings “Integrity and sense of shame are more important than life” and “People of integrity won’t accept food handed out in contempt”, together with the plaque hung in Yuelu Academy which reads “loyalty, filial piety, integrity and moral courage” indicates that integrity is not only applicable for politics.

Looking from the word formation of “administration of integrity”, it is an organic combination of integrity and administration. Administration doesn’t only refer to politics, and administration of integrity doesn’t only mean politics of integrity. Politics of integrity is quite common, and is out of question itself, but it is only one aspect of administration of integrity. Administration (or zheng in Chinese) is a polysemic word, which not only refers to politics, government, but also the “major business of some department of the state”, for example, the administration of finance, post; and the business of a family or group, such as the administration of household and school. Therefore, administration of integrity can be interpreted as business and affairs relating to integrity, which are seen everywhere. ICAC omits the Chinese word “zheng” in its Chinese short name on the official website, which indicates that the core of administration of integrity is integrity instead of administration, and administration of integrity is beyond political field.

5 The construction of “the Science of Administration of Integrity” is an important selection of creatively transforming and innovatively developing the traditional culture of administration of integrity.

Hunan Daily: you have been advocating the creation of “the Science of Integrity” since two years ago, now you are dedicated to “the Science of Administration of Integrity”. Are these two the same in essentials while differing in minor points? In the context that the central government grandly launches the project of inheriting and developing the outstanding traditional Chinese culture, what kind of new thoughts do you have?

Deng Lianfan: yes, I ever advocated the creation of “the Science of Integrity”, but from the previous new understanding of “administration of integrity”, there is no essential difference between “the Science of Integrity” and the “the Science of Administration of Integrity”. “the Science of Administration of Integrity” can be simply referred to as “the Science of Integrity”, similar to the Science of Literature, the Science of Law and Medical Science, etc.

“Filial piety, respect for brothers, loyalty, honesty, and sense of propriety, righteousness, integrity, and shame” are the important parts of traditional Chinese virtues. The culture of administration of integrity is a key part, the inheritance and development of which needs efforts from various aspects. That is the original intention why I advocated the creation of “the Science of Administration of Integrity”.

The theoretical study on the administration of integrity has long been fragmented, and lack of special researchers. It doesn’t match the profound traditional culture of integrity and the intensive construction of administration of integrity in China. There are many reasons, while the lack of “the Science of Administration of Integrity” is an important one. The creation of “the Science of Administration of Integrity” can help to improve the theoretical study on administration of integrity and the practice of its construction.

In the Opinion on Implementing the Project of Inheriting and Developing the Outstanding Chinese Traditional Culture, to persist in creative transformation and innovative development is an important principle. To create “the Science of Administration of Integrity”, so as to make knowledge of integrity systematic, and the study on integrity a discipline, is a basic method for traditional culture of integrity to realize creative transformation and innovative development. Meanwhile this Opinion makes “analyzing the essence of culture in depth” and “running through the national education” the first two items in the list of “key tasks”. The creation of “the Science of Administration of Integrity” and the gathering of researchers can help the two key tasks take roots in inheriting and developing traditional culture of integrity, and consolidate the necessary foundation of knowledge and talents for it.

East wind brings spring, and everything comes back to life. I am full of confidence and looking forward to the flourishing of “the Science of Administration of Integrity” nationwide. Last year, General Secretary Xi Jinping put emphasis in the Symposium on Philosophy and Social Sciences to speeding up the construction of Philosophy and Social Sciences with Chinese characteristics. He required “to speed up the development of new and interdisciplinary subjects with important practical significance, so as to make these disciplinary study the important breakthrough of Philosophy and Social Sciences of China”, and “to be good at refining identification concept, creating new concept, category and expression that are easy to be understood and accepted by international community, and guiding international academic circles to research and discussion. This job should be started from discipline construction.There is no “Science of Administration of Integrity” in foreign countries. Its construction in China matches the instruction of General Secretary Xi Jinping in his speech above. As the researchers of integrity theory, it is our responsibility to research the great practice achievements and institutional achievements of Party Central Committee in administration of integrity, enrich the theoretical achievements in this field, and better coordinate it with practice achievements and institutional achievements.

6 To win the combat against corruption, we need efforts from various aspects.

Hunan Daily: I think, the Science of Administration of Integrity should not only study the outstanding historical culture, but also practical problems, so as to promote efforts in anti-corruption. General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized in 7th plenary session of the Central Discipline Inspection Commission on January 6 “deepening anti-corruption combat” and “wining the combat against corruption for sure.” In which direction do you think the combat against corruption should be deepened? And how to deepen it?

Deng Lianfan: the public hate corruption most. Public mind is the most important politic issue. The construction of Party conduct and anti-corruption combat is on the way for ever. “To deepen the combat against corruption” is a required question. Only through continuously deepening this combat can we get final victory. It is also a multiple-choice question, which needs efforts from various aspects.

While maintaining the state of great pressure, efforts should also be strengthened to get at the root. Treating symptoms and effecting a permanent cure are indispensable. Nowadays, the overwhelming victory of anti-corruption combat has come into being, the objective of “no dare to corrupt” has been initially realized, but the situation of anti-corruption is still grave and complicated. On one hand, a large number of corruption still exists, on the other hand, a number of new corruption grows secretly.  Those who take advantage of very opportunity to benefit themselves and those who don’t withdraw even in face of anti-corruption combat are often seen. Therefore, to maintain the state of high pressure, and meanwhile strengthen the efforts to get to the root, so as to improve the tendency of “not able to corrupt” and “not want to corrupt” has become the only way.

When punishing dominant corruption, efforts against recessive corruption should be also be strengthened. In the context of high pressure on corruption, some corrupted officials give themselves more cover. Some corruption phenomena have changed their forms and continue underground, therefore, it is quite necessary to improve information publicity and make power exerted openly so that corrupted officials have nowhere to hide.

When misconduct is being firmly punished, the problem of administrative omission should also be well solved. Embezzling money, engaging in corrupt practices, the abuse of power, etc are corruption, while administrative omission is actually also corruption. Nowadays, administrative omission is a more prominent problem, which urgently needs further reform of "decentralization, combination of decentralization and control, and service optimization", to optimize work procedures, improve incentive and restraint mechanism, strengthen efforts of accountability, and improve government’s affinity, implementation capacity and credibility.

When deepening the construction of politics of integrity and government of integrity, the cultivation of “business of integrity” should be focused on, so as to establish a “close but clean” relationship between politics and business. The construction of politics of integrity and government of integrity should always be the top priority of anti corruption combat. Ma Yun, Dong Mingzhu and Wang Shi are all getting great attention because they have promised they will never offer a bribery. In the construction of new relationship between politics and business, we may as well draw on the expression “scholar-merchant”, build “close but clear” relations between politics and business, and further reduce corruptions such as collusion between officials and businessmen, trade of power for money, benefit transfer, etc.

While tightening the cage of system, institutional corruption should also be prevented. To be a blacksmith, you should have a strong body. Therefore, an institution with flaws cannot shoulder the task of anti-corruption. Several years ago, Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the State Bureau of Corruption Prevention ever carried out pilot of “assessment of institutional integrity ”. Strengthening the efforts in institutional assessment, discovering and correcting institutional corruption in time can help to defend the reputation and authority of the institution, release more institutional power and improve the tendency of “not able to corrupt” fundamentally.   (Hunan Daily Reporter: Feng Qingqing)

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