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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


September 20, 1948

This decision was drafted by Comrade Mao Tse-tung for the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. In his "Report on the Amendments to the Party Constitution" delivered at the Party's Eighth National Congress on September 6, 1956, Comrade Teng Hsiao-ping described the significance of this document as follows:

For a long time the tradition in our Party has been that decisions of important questions are made by a collective of the Party, and not by any individual. Although violations of the principle of collective leadership occurred in our Party from time to time, yet once discovered they were criticized and corrected by the Central Committee of the Party. The decision by the Central Committee in September 1948 on strengthening the Party committee system played an especially great role in strengthening collective leadership the Party.... This decision was put into practice throughout the Party an is still in force.... The significance of this decision is that it summed up the Party's successful experience in the conscientious practice of collective leadership, urged those organizations which had made collective leadership merely nominal to correct their mistake and extended the scope of the application of collective leadership.

The Party committee system is an important Party institution for ensuring collective leadership and preventing any individual from monopolizing the conduct of affairs. It has recently been found that in some (of course not all) leading bodies it is the habitual practice for one individual to monopolize the conduct of affairs and decide important problems. Solutions to important problems are decided not by Party committee meetings but by one individual, and membership in the Party committee has become nominal. Differences of opinion among committee members cannot be resolved and are left unresolved for a long time. Members of the Party committee maintain only formal, not real, unity among themselves. This situation must be changed. From now on, a sound system of Party committee meetings must be instituted in all leading bodies, from the bureaus of the Central Committee to the prefectural Party committees; from the Party committees of the fronts to the Party committees of brigades and military areas (sub-commissions of the Revolutionary Military Commission or leading groups); and the leading Party members' groups in government bodies, people's organizations, the news agency and the newspaper offices. All important problems (of course, not the unimportant, trivial problems, or problems whose solutions have already been decided after discussion at meetings and need only be carried out) must be submitted to the committee for discussion, and the committee members present should express their views fully and reach definite decisions which should then be carried out by the members concerned. The same procedure should be followed by Party committees below the prefectural and brigade levels. In the higher leading bodies there should also be meetings of the leading cadres in the departments (for ample, the propaganda department and the organizational department), commissions (for example, the labour women's and youth commissions), schools (for example, Party schools) and offices (for example, the research offices). Of course, we must see to it that the meetings are not too long or too frequent and they must not get bogged down in discussion of petty matters lest the work be hindered. On important problems which are complicated and on which opinions differ, there must, in addition, be personal consultations before the meeting to enable the members to think things over lest decisions by the meeting become a mere formality or no decision can be reached. Party committee meetings must be divided into two categories, standing committee meetings and plenary sessions, and the two should not be confused. Furthermore, we must take care that neither collective leadership nor personal responsibility is overemphasized to the neglect of the other. In the army, the person in command has the right to make emergency decisions during battle and when circumstances require.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung