UNPERTURBED AND UPBEAT
The CPC celebrates its centenary with new milestones
Safeguarding world peace. Contributing to global development. Preserving international order. Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, characterized China’s international engagement with these catchphrases at a ceremony in Beijing on July 1 marking the 100th anniversary of the Party’s founding.
“The Party cares about the future of humanity, and wishes to move forward in tandem with all progressive forces around the world,” Xi, also Chinese President and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, said.
While it does not bear aggressive traits, the Chinese nation will never allow any foreign force to “bully, oppress, or subjugate” it, Xi added.
In the context of a changing international landscape, it is relevant that the CPC sends a clear message. Indeed, it has reason to be confident and articulate. The Party has come a long way from a small group of revolutionaries to the world’s largest political party leading the greatest economic miracle on the planet and delivering prosperity to the most populous nation.
Mindful of the long, arduous journey it has traveled, the Party is ready to take the centenary as a new start.
From poverty to prosperity
A highlight of Xi’s speech was the announcement that China has built a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
This goal was first introduced by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979. It has since been advanced by successive CPC leaderships.
At the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017, Xi reaffirmed the Party’s commitment to it as the first centenary goal, to be achieved by the time the Party celebrated its 100th anniversary.
This is to be followed by a further centenary goal: turning China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful by 2049, the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Moderate prosperity, or xiaokang, is rooted in traditional Chinese culture. It is viewed as a threshold accomplishment necessary for the long-term project of creating datong, or a great unity of peace and harmony, Josef Gregory Mahoney, a professor of politics at East China Normal University in Shanghai, said.
In addition to a well-developed and comprehensive system of social welfare, Confucius depicted the datong society as one with a deeply socialistic ethos, where the infirm and elderly are provided for, where people take care of all children as though they were their own, where doors and gates can remain unlocked, Mahoney said.
Many of the developments seen since China adopted the reform and opening-up policy in 1978 and especially more recently align closely with some of Confucius’ core concepts, he said. These include tremendous efforts to eliminate corruption, eradicate absolute poverty, advance the rule of law, develop the green economy and address pollution.
Xiaokang is the latest stage completed in what Xi often describes as a “relay race” involving generations of CPC members.
The CPC was born at a time of drastic upheaval. Following the Opium War in the mid-19th century, China was plunged into misery by foreign aggression coupled with domestic strife.
This dire state of affairs prompted visionaries to begin exploring a path to lift the nation out of the crisis. After repeated setbacks in this quest they turned to Marxism.
For instance, various movements in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) aimed at ending turmoil and rejuvenating the ancient civilization, such as the peasants-led Taiping Rebellion and the top-down Hundred Days’ Reform, but all failed.
The Revolution of 1911 led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen overthrew the feudal
autocracy that had ruled China for more than 2,000 years. But it did not bring about peace and stability. Though China followed in the steps of Western countries to adopt parliamentary politics and a multiparty system, social unrest persisted.
From 1912 when the first cabinet was formed to 1928, the head of state was replaced 10 times and the prime minister 59 times, a government white paper on China’s political party system published in late June noted. In effect, feuding warlords called the shots while foreign powers continued to hold sway.
Against this backdrop, the October Revolution in Russia, in which revolutionaries seized power and established a Soviet republic in 1917, sparked interest in Marxism-Leninism in China. In this theory, progressives saw a new solution to China’s problems, and the CPC’s founders took Marxism as their guiding philosophy in a bid to “seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation,” Qin Xuan, a professor with the School of Marxism Studies, Renmin University of China, said.
In his classic work Red Star Over China, based on a trip to the then CPC base areas in north Shaanxi
Province in 1936, U.S. journalist Edgar Snow wrote that “in those days it was fashionable to be a Communist and nobody was very sure exactly what it meant except that many bright young men were Communists.” Indeed, the CPC’s founders included prominent scholars such as Peking University professors Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao.
Snow predicted the communist revolution would “eventually win” as he noted the CPC gained support with popular policies such as eradicating child slavery and
His prediction came true with the founding of the PRC in 1949 after 28 years of fighting, including wars against Japanese aggression and the corrupt, dictatorial Kuomintang regime, which succeeded the warlords. The CPC then put in place a basic socialist system largely by changing private ownership to public ownership in different sectors of the economy.
In the late 1970s, it initiated the reform and opening-up drive, ushering in a period of robust growth. China has been the world’s second largest economy since 2010 and its per-capita GDP crossed the $10,000 benchmark in 2019.
China completed an industrialization process that took developed countries centuries in just decades.
Its success shows the Western path is not the only road to modernization, Qin said.
The Munich Security Report released at the Munich Security Conference in June described China as an “unperturbed country” based on data from over 10,000 respondents in 12 countries. It concluded that the level of risk perceived is relatively low in China, possibly a sign of the confidence of the Chinese people in the strength of their country.
On the journey ahead, the CPC will “develop whole-process people’s democracy, safeguard social fairness and justice, and resolve the imbalances and inadequacies in development and the most pressing difficulties and problems that are of great concern to the people,” Xi said.
It will also exercise rigorous self-governance, rooting out elements harming the Party’s advanced nature and purity, he added.
Senior diplomat Liu Guijin’s four-decade-long career is dotted with unforgettable moments such as a small talk with South African leader Nelson Mandela. But the one that consummated his service came when he received the July 1 Medal, the highest award for a CPC member, from Xi on June 29.
“It is really a great honor—not only for me, but for all the diplomats,” Liu, 76, said.
Liu, who has spent most of his time working with African countries, is the first special representative of the Chinese Government on African affairs. He helped create the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, a multilateral platform involving 53 African countries.
While dedicated to improving the wellbeing of the Chinese people, the CPC also “aspires to work for the peace and progress of the world community,” Liu said.
China has sent more than 40,000 peacekeepers to UN peacekeeping missions, more than any other permanent member of the Security Council, and is the second largest contributor to UN peacekeeping funds.
China has provided grants, concessionary loans as well as technical and personnel assistance to other developing countries while sharing with them its experience in poverty alleviation.
Xi has proposed the idea of a community with a shared future in light of the fact that no country can address alone the many challenges facing humanity. The Belt and Road Initiative, also put forward by Xi with the aim of enhancing connectivity along and beyond ancient Silk Road routes, has resonated in the international community. Some 140 countries have signed agreements for cooperation with China under this framework to date.
“We will work to build a new type of international relations and a human community with a shared future, promote high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative through joint efforts, and use China’s new achievements in development to provide the world with new opportunities,” Xi said in his July 1 speech.
Under the leadership of the CPC, China has caught up with the latest developments and is making increasingly greater contributions to the advancement of humanity, Qu Qingshan, head of the Institute of Party History and Literature of the CPC Central Committee, said.
China is a stabilizer and engine for the world economy, contributing 30 percent of global growth, Qu said. In 2020, the world suffered a severe recession under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s GDP grew 2.3 percent year on year, making it the only major economy to register positive growth and rekindling hope for the rebounding of the world economy, Qu said.
Paid-in foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland surged to 481 billion yuan ($75.3 billion) in the first five months of this year, a 35.4-percent year-on-year increase over 2020 and a 30.3-percent rise over the same period in 2019, the Ministry of Commerce said.
“We will continue to champion cooperation over confrontation, to open up rather than closing our doors, and to focus on mutual benefit instead of zero-sum games,” Xi said.