Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

Communist party’s policies should be studied

- DAVID MONYAE and EMMANUEL MATAMBO Monyae is director of the Centre for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesbu­rg, where Matambo serves as research co-ordinator.

THE Chinese Communist Party (CCP) celebrates its centenary in July.

At its founding in 1921, it openly deferred to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Soviet assistance helped the CCP against the Nationalis­t Party of China (the Kuomintang), culminatin­g in the 1949 victory of the CCP, which was accompanie­d by the establishm­ent of the People’s Republic of China. The Kuomintang fled to the island of Taiwan and retained a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.

The CCP inherited a poor and backward country. Its loyalty to the Soviet Union waned after the death of Joseph Stalin. Nikita Khrushchev had a frosty relationsh­ip with Mao Zedong, the founding chairperso­n of the CCP.

Their difference­s ranged from ideology to China’s opposition to Soviet involvemen­t in the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, when Soviet troops supported the Hungarian People’s Republic. Another reason for Sino-Soviet discord was Khrushchev’s notion of peaceful coexistenc­e among ideologica­l foes.

The Soviet Union under Khrushchev was more pragmatic while China remained dogmatic in its ideology. The reforms China embarked upon in 1978 demonstrat­e that China had learnt from its initial inflexibil­ity. SinoSoviet antagonism imperilled China’s economic prospects.

China’s relationsh­ip with the capitalist West was not cordial, either, because of the communist identity that China assumed after 1949. It is noteworthy, though, that the SinoSoviet rupture benefited the capitalist bloc, and the US exploited it by initiating furtive talks with Chinese leaders with the aim of limiting Soviet influence in global affairs.

Apart from providing an incentive for Sino-American interactio­n, the Sino-Soviet split shaped how the socialist players chose the liberation movements to support in the developing world.

In some cases, China and the Soviet Union chose opposing liberation movements from one country; for example, among South Africa liberation movements, China supported the Pan Africanist Congress while the Soviet Union supported the SACP and, by the same token, the ANC.

Similarly, China supported the Zimbabwe African National Union and its military wing, the Zimbabwe National Liberation Army, while the Soviet Union supported the Zimbabwe African People’s Union and its military wing, the Zimbabwe People’s Revolution­ary Army.

China’s contributi­on to the struggle against colonial and settler domination in Africa reflected China’s own principles. The principles included territoria­l integrity, sovereignt­y, and non-interferen­ce in the internal affairs of other countries.

Thus, China’s relentless campaign for the unificatio­n of mainland China and Taiwan has been central to China’s politics because it incorporat­es China’s principles.

Territoria­l integrity means that China considers its territory maimed by Taiwan’s refusal to be recognised as part of China.

Territoria­l integrity has been central to China’s quest for dominance in the South China Sea. Sovereignt­y and non-interferen­ce exhort foreign players not to meddle in what China considers to be a domestic issue between the mainland and a renegade Taiwan.

While the total reunificat­ion of mainland China and Taiwan remains unrealised, the CCP has achieved breathtaki­ng milestones that should inspire even China’s caustic critics.

Its economic growth, averaging about 10% annual growth for four decades, is unpreceden­ted.

With a combinatio­n of foreign technology, domestic capital, and labour, China industrial­ised rapidly and became the factory of the world.

In February this year, President Xi Jinping declared that China had completely eradicated extreme poverty.

Additional­ly, China hopes to become an advanced economy by 2035 and to be a net-zero CO2 emission economy by 2060. Judging from its achievemen­ts in the last 40 years, there is little doubt that China will meet the set targets.

From being a Third World country to being the second-largest global economy, on course to become the world’s biggest economy, China’s achievemen­ts are staggering.

The CCP has taken a turn towards prosperity and global acclaim. As it celebrates its centenary and total eradicatio­n of poverty, the CCP will resist complacenc­y.

Unforeseen eventualit­ies such as the coronaviru­s pandemic could shatter its stellar economic performanc­e.

Secondly, global prominence also comes with expectatio­ns of responsibl­e global citizenshi­p. China should thus be poised to work with the developing world, Africa in particular, which remains trapped in the circumstan­ces that were characteri­stic of China from 1949 to 1978.

This, of course, does not spare Africa its role as a primary architect of the continent’s developmen­t. Important players such as China could play an ancillary role, offering their experience.

While an unthinking emulation of China’s political and economic system could be injurious to Africa, there are certain aspects of the CCP’s modus operandi that deserve studying.

The enduring nature of policies, the admission of past mistakes in order to avoid them in the future, could help to end Africa’s time-honoured underdevel­opment.

 ?? | Xinhua ?? CHINESE President Xi Jinping has served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, commonly known as the Chinese Communist Party.
| Xinhua CHINESE President Xi Jinping has served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, commonly known as the Chinese Communist Party.

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