CPC at 100
History of the Communist Party of China, popularly known as the CPC, is well recorded and different scholars have divided it into various phases according to each one’s own perception and understanding. I would like to divide it into following five phases:
1. 1921-1949: Establishment of the party – Liberation of China
2. 1949-1976: Consolidation of power, national construction on “self-reliance” basis, Cultural Revolution, smashing of the Gang of Four
3. 1976-1998: Introduction of open-door policy and economic reforms, establishment of SEZs and open coastal cities
4. 1998-2012: Consolidation and acceleration of economic reforms and open door policy
5. 2012-2021: Launching of anti-corruption drive, expansion of market economy with Chinese characteristics, Belt and Road Initiative, poverty alleviation, the projection of a nationalistic and assertive China on the world stage
The year 1976 is a very important year in China’s recent history. Deaths of Premier Zhou Enlai, Marshal Zhu De, Chairman Mao Zedong and massive earthquake in Tangshan were of great significance which saddened the entire nation. Party leadership very wisely handled the internal crisis and decided to end the isolation, adopt open door policy and gradually introduce economic reforms.
“Re-emergence” of Chairman Deng Xiaoping at the helm of affairs of the Party marked the beginning of a new era of “opening up” and “economic reforms”. Instead of blindly following any of the existing models of economic systems and economic reforms, CPC decided to adopt a cautious approach.
Transition was not easy and smooth and it encountered multidimensional problems within the party and also in the society at large. Not to mention the external problems. Deng Xiaoping’s 1992 southern tour reinforced the determination for reforms and opening up program.
CPC leadership developed a unique mechanism of internal discussion and regular multilayer review of the policies being implemented. Immediate adjustments were made to make the policies more attractive, investor-friendly, practical and suitable for China.
The period between 1977 and 1982 and later from 1988 to 1991, witnessed the comprehensive infrastructure development, construction of roads, rail, air and sea ports, and high-rise buildings at a speed, which was unbelievable. With the encouragement of relevant government departments, number of privately owned and run street vendors and companies were rapidly increasing all over.
This economic development would never have been possible without the correct party leadership and its unique policies of market economy with “Chinese characteristics”. It may not be easy for an outsider to fully comprehend the word “Chinese Characteristics” without basic understanding of Chinese social values and governance system.
Patriotism, hard work, complete faith, trust and confidence in CPC leadership is the driving force behind China’s economic miracle. A sense of participation in the national development was visible everywhere and each individual was working hard in whatever capacity or position, in accordance with the guidelines provided by the party and the state. This made possible smooth implementation of the economic reforms without endangering the basic political model.
Fundamental tenet of CPC is to serve people of all nationalities wholeheartedly. CPC leadership at every level is always close to masses hence enjoys their trust and confidence. During the past few decades comprehensive increase in living standards and disposable income of the people, uplifting of more than 800 million people from poverty line, better health and education facilities, substantial increase in average life expectancy, attention to environmental issues, highest foreign exchange reserves in the world, becoming of the world’s second largest economy, advance scientific and technological innovations including 5 G technology, space missions, AI are just a few examples of the achievements of the Chinese people under CPC leadership.
Effective and swift handling of natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and, most recently, Covid-19 further enhanced the confidence of the people in the party and its leadership.
Belt and Road initiative is an expression of China’s desire of a “community with a shared destiny for mankind”. China is not only ready to share its successful experience of economic and technological development but also to provide necessary financial resource and transfer of technology.
During recent spread of Covid-19 pandemic, despite difficulties at home, so far, China is the only country which has not only provided necessary medical supplies but also vaccine to almost 100 countries/areas.
Under CPC leadership, China’s foreign policy is based on “five principles of peaceful coexistence” and by strictly adhering to these principles, China has earned the respect of the global community.
In short, during a period of 100 years, CPC freed the country after long struggle with internal and external forces, established Peoples Republic of China, overcame the initial difficulties including frictions within the party, faced global isolation and sanctions but survived.
By following the principal of “self-reliance,” it regained its position in the community of nations. Within a short period of time, Peoples Republic of China became the second largest economy in the world and lifted 800 million people out of poverty. No one doubts that targets set by the CPC leadership in 14th Five Year Plan (2021-2025) will be achieved, laying a solid foundation for a moderately developed country.
The key to success of the CPC is flexibility of its policies with the sole objective of making the country strong and prosperous, ensure wellbeing of its citizens, and play an active and due role for global peace and development.
The CPC Central Committee celebrated the 100 years of the founding of the Party and held several high-profile events. The World Political Parties Summit was one major flagship event that brought together over 20 heads of government and state, representatives of 500 political organizations from across 160 countries and over 10,000 senior CPC delegates.
The importance of the CPC Summit lay in the fact that this global moot was held in the backdrop of the G7 Conference, and NATO Summit in which US President Joe Biden made competition with China the foremost subject of his discussions with his NATO and European allies.
President Xi Jinping, who is also General Secretary of the Party, used his keynote address at the CPC Summit to send a broader message to an attentive world.
The Summit underlined the theme of people’s wellbeing as the foremost responsibility of the political parties around the world to emphasize the importance of making the process of development participatory and inclusive. This indicated that the development gap between the Global North and South is increasing that can only be bridged if political parties prioritize the pro-people policies.
Reiterating his idea of creating a community of shared interests, President Xi Jinping democratized the notion of development and growth, calling it a right of every nation and not an exclusive privilege of the select few. He made it clear that no country or nation deserves to be left behind on the path to development.
“We need to enable all countries to step up development cooperation and see to it that the fruits of development are shared by all,” Xi urged the participants of the summit.
Without naming any names, the Chinese leader furthered the idea of multilateralism and urged the world that “we should be opposed to the practice of unilateralism disguised as multilateralism and say no to hegemony and power politics.”
Indirectly responding to the criticism of China’s increasing global footprint, President Xi rejected any notion that his country was seeking hegemony, expansion or extending its sphere of influence. A noteworthy point was his declaration that Beijing will remain part of the developing world, working for a rules-based international order through mutual consensus and cooperation.
Pitching the successes of the CPC in terms of poverty-reduction as a role model for the world, the Party’s General Secretary expressed his readiness to share CPC’s experience with the rest of the world. He proudly mentioned how the CPC worked hard to lift 98.88 million rural people from extreme poverty since 2012, an achievement that enabled China to meet SDG targets ten years ahead of the 2030 deadline. He also assured more cooperation for the availability of Covid-19 vaccines to the developing countries.
President Xi used his emphasis on multilateralism as a foil to highlight how the US under Trump retreated into a cocoon of ‘America first’. Leaving nothing to imagination as to who he was referring to, he stated: “Looking at the angle of ‘My Country First’, the world is narrow and crowded and often full of fierce competition.” He also called for rejection of countries that promoted the idea of ‘technology blockades’ and engaged in ‘developmental decoupling.’
The CPC Summit was an instance of political diplomacy to reiterate China’s positions on issues that not only matter to Beijing but also to the wider world. The new party-to-party relationship that the CPC Central Committee seeks to forge with the political organizations around the world is defined by a conscious policy to base the ties on the foundations of shared interests.
In exploring the ways and means to strengthen linkages with friendly countries including parliamentary, educational and cultural exchanges and avenues for win-win partnerships, the CPC has a stellar record of public service that supports its credentials for such joint undertakings.
The renewed push for a greater international visibility of the CPC is driven by the need for responding to the criticism it has faced particularly from the Western countries. It is eager to project its people-centric development model to kill what it terms as propaganda.
Amid serious threats to the rules-based order, China is continuously urging the world to promote multilateral approach and economic globalisation as building blocks for strong and responsive global institutions.
The World Political Parties Summit reiterated the call to privilege cooperation over confrontation, this time with a robust support from a wide community of world leaders and political organizations.
The writer, a Chevening scholar, studied International Journalism at the University of Sussex and is a regular contributor to The News
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