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Xie Chuntao: The CPC: Why and How It Works in China?

Submit Time:18-10-2019 | Zoom In | Zoom Out

Author:Xie Chuntao | Source:English Edition of QiuShi Journal April-June 2019|Vol.11,No.2,Issue No.39


The Communist Party of China was founded 98 years ago, and has now governed the country for 70 years. Over this period, the Chinese nation has made the impressive leap from standing up and becoming prosperous to growing strong, thus bringing forth the “China miracle” that has astonished the world. It is not by chance that the CPC has been able to lead the people toward such tremendous success; the Party is equipped with qualities that made certain it was up to the task.

1. It has lofty ideals and aspirations.

Every political party has aspirations, but the aspirations of each party can be very different from each other. While many political parties scramble for power and profit in service to their respective groups, the CPC represents the interests of the broadest possible majority of the Chinese people.

In the century before the founding of the CPC in 1921, China was a backward and beleaguered country stuck in a state of poverty and weakness. Many people of high ideals searched tirelessly for a way out of this predicament, but none succeeded. From its founding, the CPC assumed the historic mission of saving the Chinese nation from its miserable state and bringing about its grand rejuvenation. In the 28 years that followed, the CPC led the Chinese people through bitter and bloody struggle, overturning the reactionary rule of imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat-capitalism and establishing the People’s Republic of China. This allowed the Chinese people to finally stand up. Socialism was later established as China’s basic system, which represented the greatest and most profound social transformation in Chinese history.

Since reform and opening up which began in the late 1970s, the Chinese people have captured great achievements in national development under the leadership of the CPC. At present, China is firmly positioned as the world’s second largest economy, the Chinese people have become better-off and reached a moderately prosperous standard of living overall, and considerable advances have been made in building democracy and the rule of law. China has completed, in the space of mere decades, the process of industrialization that took developed countries several centuries, bringing about a miracle in the history of world development.

There is nothing more convincing than historical fact. Over the past century, the CPC has made enormous contributions to the country, the nation, and the people while always remaining committed to its lofty ideals and aspirations. It is clear why the Chinese people have chosen to follow the CPC. No matter how much the environment changes or how grave the challenges that lay ahead, the CPC will remain true to its original aspirations and devoted to its mission.

2. It has the guidance of well-founded theories.

The development of concepts and theories is crucial for a political party. Within the party, concepts and theories are used to guide members, telling them how to take action and what the reasons are for doing so. In relation to the public, they are used to inspire the people to follow the party and pool together boundless strength in the process. The CPC attaches great importance to theoretical innovation, and is committed to using innovative theories to sharpen the minds of Party officials and unite the people.

From the day of its founding, the CPC made Marxism its guiding ideology. With Mao Zedong as their chief representative, Chinese Communists combined the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism with the actual practice of the Chinese revolution and created Mao Zedong Thought, under which the New Democratic Revolution was completed, the PRC was founded, socialism was established as the country’s basic system, and much progress was achieved in socialist economic, political, and cultural development. After the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee in 1978, Chinese Communists, with Deng Xiaoping as their chief representative, developed Deng Xiaoping Theory. This offered effective answers to a series of fundamental questions on building Chinese socialism, and thus successfully opened up the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. After the Fourth Plenary Session of the 13th CPC Central Committee in 1989, Chinese Communists, with Jiang Zemin as their chief representative, developed the Theory of Three Represents, which successfully launched China’s socialism into the 21st century. After its 16th National Congress in 2002, Chinese Communists, with Hu Jintao as their chief representative, developed the Scientific Outlook on Development, thus successfully upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics from a new and historic point of departure. Since its 18th National Congress in 2012, Chinese Communists, with Xi Jinping as their chief representative, have integrated theory with practice to systematically address the major questions of our times, which are what kind of Chinese socialism should be upheld and developed in the new era and how we should go about doing this, thereby giving shape to Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and ushering in a new phase for Chinese socialism.

By contrast, one of the main reasons why communist parties in the former Eastern Bloc collapsed one after the other is that they suffered from protracted ideological stagnation. Their theories were unable to evolve in step with the times, and therefore could not guide new initiatives or even explain contemporary realities.

3. It has mechanisms for selecting and appointing officials on the basis of merit and ability.

The standards and procedures used by a political party to select officials are extremely important, because these directly determine whether or not the party in question can maintain its advanced nature and purity and remain a vital and cohesive organization. The CPC has always attached great importance to making organizational improvements, particularly with regard to strengthening the ranks of Party officials, and has selected and trained cohort after cohort of highly competent leading officials.

Since the day of its founding, the CPC has consistently emphasized its pioneering nature, and imposed strict requirements on admitting new Party members. In recent years, the Party has remained committed to using the recruitment process to limit the number, improve the structure, raise the quality, and exert the roles of Party members. On this basis, the education and assessment of applicants seeking Party membership has become even more rigorous in order to guarantee that members measure up to mandatory standards of quality.

As early as the revolutionary period, the CPC set out the requirements for building the ranks of Party officials, including that it shall select officials on the basis of their merits and not their origins, that it shall choose candidates based on their moral integrity and professional competence, and that it shall resolutely oppose localism and nepotism. These requirements have guaranteed that the Party has flourished and remained united. Since reform and opening up and especially since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the Party has constantly explored ways to foster, select, and utilize officials more effectively, and relevant systems have steadily improved. General Secretary Xi Jinping stated that good officials must “hold firm convictions, be committed to serving the people, work diligently and pragmatically, have the courage to take on responsibility, and be honest and upright,” and put particular emphasis on the requirement for officials to be loyal, ethical, and responsible. The CPC has established a series of well-founded principles and a full set of systems and mechanisms for the cultivation, selection, utilization, and management of officials. These concepts, principles, and systems, such as selecting officials on the basis of merit and not origin, requiring that they are professionally competent while putting moral integrity above all else, assigning them to positions that suit them and giving them tasks that they are equipped to handle, emphasizing the development of their abilities by incrementally moving them to higher positions according to their performance and giving them the experiences of working in multiple positions, and bringing them to Party schools for training, are playing an increasingly large role in the development of the official ranks, and are receiving growing recognition from other political parties.

4. It has strict discipline and rules.

As political organizations, political parties generally have their own constitutions, rules, and disciplinary codes. However, parties with rules and disciplinary codes as strict as those of the CPC are rare. The CPC has always taken this subject very seriously; it has not only established a complete disciplinary code and set of rules, but also ensured that they have been rigorously enforced.

From very early on, the CPC put great stress on strengthening discipline within the Party. In 1927, the Fifth National Congress of the CPC made the decision to establish the Central Supervision Commission, which was responsible for supervising discipline within the Party. During the Agrarian Revolutionary War, the CPC introduced the practice of organizing the Party branch on a company basis in order to strengthen the leadership of the Party over the military, and also formulated the Three Main Rules of Discipline and the Eight Points for Attention. Starting from the Yan’an period (1935-1948), the Party’s disciplinary code was gradually enriched and refined as the CPC Central Committee drafted and implemented a whole set of rules and disciplinary standards.

Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, Xi Jinping has responded to the loose, lax, and weak enforcement of Party discipline which prevailed for a time by stressing the importance of closely integrating the ideological development and institutional governance of the CPC, and emphasizing that more rigorous discipline is key for strict and comprehensive governance of the Party. The Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core views the strict enforcement of the Party’s political discipline and rules as being especially important in the effort to clean up the political environment of the CPC.

Since the 18th National Congress, the Central Committee has drafted and revised a long list of important intraparty regulations. These regulations contain strict discipline and rules, and thus offer institutional safeguards for ensuring that the CPC remains the strong leading core of the Chinese socialist cause.

5. It has the courage to reform itself.

The CPC is not only equipped with the prowess to lead social revolution, but also the courage to reform itself. This has allowed it to form the abilities and mechanisms necessary to purify, improve, and reform itself, ensuring that it can, by its own initiative, rectify any problems that arise within itself.

During the New Democratic Revolution, Chinese Communists with Mao Zedong as their chief representative were successful in correcting various erroneous tendencies within the Party. For example, through the Yan’an Rectification Movement, they completely eliminated dogmatism and instilled the guiding principle of seeking truth from facts in the hearts of all Party members, which helped the Party grow more mature. It was also during this period that the fine practices of criticism and self-criticism took shape, practices which led the entire CPC and the Chinese people to successfully create socialism with Chinese characteristics. Chinese Communists never take a soft stance when it comes to corruption within the Party, and this is an important reflection of the CPC’s courage to reform itself. The CPC severely punished officials who were discovered to be corrupt during both the Agrarian Revolutionary War and the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. The executions of Liu Qingshan and Zhang Zishan in the early days of the PRC are even more well-known examples of this. All of this goes to show that the CPC has zero tolerance for corruption.

Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core has built a deep understanding of problems that exist within the Party. Emphasizing that “it takes a good blacksmith to make good tools,” the Party has resolutely clamped down on misconduct and fought corruption with the determination to both “cage the tigers” and “swat the flies.” The experience that CPC has gained since the 18th National Congress in comprehensively governing itself with strict discipline proves that it has already pioneered a new path for successful self-governance. Just as the CPC is capable of triumphing over its rivals, it also has the ability to resolve problems that exist within itself.

6. It has strong leadership abilities.

The leadership of the CPC is the most essential attribute and greatest strength of the Chinese socialist system, and the Party is the highest force of political leadership. The CPC has demonstrated its strong leadership abilities throughout the historical process of leading the people toward the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

China practices a system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC. The CPC is the governing party while other parties participate in the political process under Chinese socialism, and they consult with each other in the interest of national development and public wellbeing. The CPC is committed to acting as the overall leader and coordinator, and encourages people’s congresses, government institutions, political consultation committees, supervisory organs, judicial organs, procuratorial organs, people’s organizations, enterprises, government-affiliated institutions, and social organizations to coordinate their actions and form greater synergy under its leadership. This leadership system boasts distinct advantages in that it can ensure the centralized and unified leadership of the Party, maintain a stable political environment and consistent policies, and muster immense force for carrying out decisions once they have been made.

Moreover, the CPC has exhibited its strong leadership abilities across a variety of fields. Since reform and opening up, under the leadership of the CPC, we have effectively coped with changing situations, faced down floods, overcome earthquakes, and defused crises. This is a full testament to the strength of the socialist system and the strong leadership abilities of the CPC.

(Originally appeared in People’s Daily, May 8, 2019)

Xie Chuntao is Vice President of the School of the CPC Central Committee (Chinese Academy of Governance).

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