July 1, 2021 is a special day for China. The day marks the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) which led the country to become a key world power in politics, economics and social status.
It was not an easy journey for the Chinese. Poverty, hunger and battle lay in the path to development and this journey has been worth every step given the position China holds in the world today.
Even though Western powers try to downplay China’s rise, China is a factor that cannot be ignored in economic and political power as well as in technological advances. China’s rise as a hegemony is due to its visionary leadership and steadfast policies. It is due to this reason that China has now become the world’s second largest economy in just over 40 years.
The history of 100 years cannot be simplified in a few lines. Although it is difficult to capture the Chinese people’s perseverance, commitment and incredible determination to make communism work, it is important to at least highlight a few key milestones.
The CPC is the vanguard of the Chinese working class, representing the interests of the Chinese people and providing leadership to the Chinese socialist cause.
It is guided by Marxism, Leninism, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping Theory to achieve socialist modernisation. The CPC’s history runs back to the end of World War I when it was born in 1921 after the Russian Revolution. Chinese intellectuals adopted Marxism as the only way for progress, according to Britannica.
After May 1919, the movement against imperialism and feudalism broke out in China awakening the Chinese working class. According to the China Daily, Chinese revolutionists including Chen Duxiu, Li Dazhao and Mao Zedong set up communist groups across the country and organised workers’ movements opposing imperialism.
As Marxism was integrated with the Chinese workers’ movements, it laid the foundation for the establishment of the CPC.
Between July 23 and 31, 1921, communist groups held the first National Congress of the CPC, and the Communist Party of China was officially founded. In August 1921, the CPC set up the Secretariat of the Chinese Labor Organisation in Shanghai (China Daily). After a long armed struggle, the CPC established the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
“The boat has sailed through turbulent rivers and treacherous shoals and has voyaged across violent tidal waves, becoming a great ship that navigates China’s stable and long-term development,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping, marking CPC’s centenary.
“We put people at the centre, stay true to our original aspiration, keep our mission well in mind, break the waves and sail out on our journey ahead and we will certainly realise the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” he added.
The CPC is organised as a pyramid and has a large membership at the grassroots counting nearly 92 million, which is about 6.6 percent of the population (CGTN).
Of these about 2,300 are selected as delegates of the National Congress which convenes once in five years. Of the National Congress delegates another 380 are selected for the Central Committee from which the Politburo members are selected.
At present, the membership is 25. Some of them hold state leaderships and also serve as ministers. Out of them, the Standing Committee is selected which currently has seven members. The leadership is the General Secretary who is now President Xi Jinping (CGTN).
The National People’s Congress has a majority of CPC members while the rest of the seats are for other political parties. This is to allow the diversity of opinion in decision making.
The CPC operates on democratic centralism where policies are discussed and debated before being implemented. The CPC’s core values are loyalty and stability through which it drives forth the development agenda.
Open market economy
China has set a unique footprint in the global economic scale being an open market economy with a communist ideology. 1978 was a significant year for China and the world when it opened its economy under the CPC leadership.
The modernisation from being an agrarian economy brought huge benefits to China making it an economic miracle due to the rapid progress it saw in a short period with the boom in manufacturing.
Economic experts project that the Chinese economy would soon surpass the US becoming twice the size of the latter in a couple of decades. As such, soon it is set to be the dominant nation in the world.
Once this happens, we would see a different world order rather than one that is governed by Western ideals. The world would be governed by Eastern morals, according to expert predictions. Modernity does not mean westernisation as China is shaped by history and culture apart from technological and economic advances.
China is rooted in its history. It is a‘civilisation state’ rather than a nation state which is the Western ideal, as British journalist and academic Martin Jacque pointed out.
It has its strength in its diversity, different governing systems such as in Hong Kong and Taiwan models but adheres to one ‘civilisation state’. The relationship between the state and the people is strong in China whereas the actions of the CPC is legitimated by the people. Thus, the strength of the CPC lies in the Chinese people and vice versa, making the CPC one of the most successful political parties in the world.
The single party rule works because it is not continuously challenged by internal and external parties as in the West, making China stable and consistent. The CPCis thus an example to developing nations like Sri Lanka.
On the occasion of the centenary, many of Sri Lanka’s political leaders sent congratulatory messages to the CPC at a virtual conference, recently. As reported by Xinhua, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said, “I extend my warmest congratulations. I believe that this centenary is significant for all of us. China is not just a country. It is a great civilisation. The Chinese people have laid trust on a self-reliant economy and CPC drove this vision forward.
This has made China a global superpower. China was always our historic ally. But I say, China is our bosom friend. A friend will always be there for you in happiness and sorrow. Like the murals on a wall. China has supported us even when we were fighting a war. We remember that forever.”
Former Prime Minister and leader of the United National Party, Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the CPC has led China to become one of the largest economies in the world. Leaders of major Sri Lankan political parties and cabinet ministers attended the virtual conference and issued statements praising the CPC’s domestic and international accomplishments, according to Xinhua.
As CPC’s 100-year journey surges forward with great momentum, its original aspiration remains even firmer one hundred years later.