Chinese Communist Party

founding and sole ruling party of the People's Republic of China

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), officially the Communist Party of China (CPC), is the founding and sole ruling party of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Its current General-Secretary is Xi Jinping. The CCP was founded in 1921 by Chen Duxiu and Li Dazaho. Mao Zedong was a founding member of the party and rose through its ranks to become its leader and chairman in 1943. The CCP under his leadership emerged victorious in the Chinese Civil War against the Kuomintang, and in 1949 Mao proclaimed the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Since then, the CCP has governed China as the leader of the United Front coalition with eight other parties, and has sole control over the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Each successive leader of the CCP has added their own theories to the party's constitution, which outlines the ideological beliefs of the party, collectively referred to as socialism with Chinese characteristics. As of 2021, the CCP has more than 95 million members, making it the second largest political party by party membership in the world after the Bharatiya Janata Party based in India.

When this characteristic is brought into the Party, it develops into ultra-democratic ideas politically and organizationally. These ideas are utterly incompatible with the fighting tasks of the proletariat. ~ Mao Zedong

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  • In the sphere of theory, destroy the roots of ultra-democracy. First, it should be pointed out that the danger of ultrademocracy lies in the fact that it damages or even completely wrecks the Party organization and weakens or even completely undermines the Party's fighting capacity, rendering the Party incapable of fulfilling its fighting tasks and thereby causing the defeat of the revolution. Next, it should be pointed out that the source of ultra-democracy consists in the petty bourgeoisie's individualistic aversion to discipline. When this characteristic is brought into the Party, it develops into ultra-democratic ideas politically and organizationally. These ideas are utterly incompatible with the fighting tasks of the proletariat.
  • Beginning in the late 1970s, China overcame centuries of stagnation precisely because Mao’s successors understood that they had to decentralise the People’s Republic, giving economic if not political power to the people. If western commentators are right, Xi Jinping wants to go in the opposite direction. If the Chinese are lucky, he will turn out to be an enlightened absolutist, like Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew. If they are unlucky, he will be just another emperor who fondly dreamt of controlling a fifth of humanity.
  • To counter threats to its control, the CCP has sought to further embed itself across layers of Chinese society and the economy.
  • Authoritarian regimes also find a judicious use of the past a useful means of social control. In the 1990s, when the Chinese Communist Party grew concerned about the waning of communist ideology and the demands for greater democracy, which had led to the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989, they called in Chinese history In 1994, a member of the Politburo, the central body of the Party, attended a memorial for the Yellow Emperor, a probably mythical figure from five thousand years ago who was said to be the father of all ethnic Chinese. It looked suspiciously like ancestor worship, one of the many traditional practices the Communists had condemned. The following year the authorities allowed a major conference on Confucius. Twenty years earlier under the approving eyes of Mao, Red Guards had burned the great Confucian classics and done their best to destroy the sages tomb. The Party also sponsored a major campaign for Patriotic Education, which emphasized, as the official directive put it, “the Chinese peoples patriotism and brave patriotic deeds.” The Great Wall, which had in previous decades been condemned for its cost in ordinary Chinese lives, now became the symbol of the Chinese will to survive and triumph. Very little was said about the joys of socialism, but Chinas past achievements were neatly linked to Communist Party rule: “Patriotism is a historical concept, which has different specific connotations in different stages and periods of social development. In contemporary China, patriotism is in essence identical to socialism.” In other words, being loyal to China means being loyal to the Party. Chinese history was presented as the story of the centuries-old struggle of the Chinese people to unite and to progress in the face of determined interference and oppression from outside. Chinas failure to get the 2000 Olympic games, the Opium Wars of the early nineteenth century, foreigners condemning the brutal crackdown in Tiananmen Square, and the Japanese invasion in the twentieth century were all wrapped up into one uninterrupted imperialist design to destroy the Chinese nation.
  • The CCP’s presence on overseas campuses subverts academic freedom, while undermining the integrity and security of the international research enterprise by enticing foreign researchers to engage in deceptive and illegal activities for the PRC’s economic, scientific, and military gains.
  • The Party is always there, but you can’t always see it. And yet, citizens always know that there is a limit to what they can do that is bound by whatever the Party is deciding at a particular time. It is obviously the core institution in China at a political level. Even though there are a number of other political parties, they’re irrelevant in any genuine sense. So if you want to understand China, you need to understand the Party and its relationships with different aspects of society and the system.
  • Yet China remained a one-party dictatorship and its labour camps – the infamous laogai – continued to hold between four and six million inmates in shocking conditions. Mao’s gigantic image was still displayed in Tiananmen Square. There was no true pluralism of intellectual and political discourse at the highest official levels. Interest groups of employers were not allowed to function. Trade unions were emasculated. The importance of military power went on being promoted. Tibet languished under China’s despotism and its levels of literacy and material provision remained low; and the construction of a railway across its territory, much vaunted in Beijing as showing its wish to share the benefits of modernisation, was seen by Tibetans as a means of reinforcing central control. Great regions such as Xinjiang in the north-west of the People’s Republic were held in a suffocating grip. There the Chinese authorities feared that Islam and Uigur nationalism might breed a separatist movement. Freedom of religious expression was only patchily respected across China. Falun Gong, an indigenous faith of massive popularity, was systematically persecuted. Communist doctrines remained an obligatory ingredient in the school curriculum and a qualification for a serious public career. Marxism-Leninism was otherwise honoured only in the breach.
    • Robert Service, Comrades!: A History of World Communism (2010)
  • Rural discontent was spreading. Peasants had benefited from the dissolution of the land communes under Deng Xiaoping and traded their growing harvests for profit. But they were taxed ever more heavily. Regional and local administrators illegally dispossessed them of their fields on the edges of cities. The cranes and bulldozers were kept working twenty-four hours a day in the great cities as the massive economic boom continued. Where was it going to end? There was no equivalent in the history of world communism. Ideas of ‘market socialism’ – for example, in the USSR in the 1920s, Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Hungary in the 1970s – had never proposed a system with the capitalist sector outgrowing the parts of the economy owned by the state. Chinese leaders from Deng Xiaoping onwards asserted that they were developing a ‘communism with Chinese characteristics’. The red-dyed gauze no longer occluded reality. The communist order was retained only as a means of rigorous political and ideological control; its economic and social components were blown to the winds. Concepts of Mao Zedong Thought were abandoned except insofar as they promoted the goals of national identity, centralised administration and superpower status. An extraordinary hybrid was created.
    • Robert Service, Comrades!: A History of World Communism (2010)
  • China had become the only communist state which developed a vibrant economy by giving it over to capitalism. By the beginning of the third millennium the country was already pointed in the direction of becoming the world’s largest manufacturing nation. It was its social cohesion and political durability that remained questionable. Deng was the last supreme ruler to have taken part in the Long March; his successors lacked the aureole of legitimacy as revolutionary veterans. Measures to deal with popular discontent were either crudely punitive or merely palliative. Party officials, faced with a choice between Maoist ideology and self-enrichment, invested in apartment blocks, coal-mines and computer technology. No one was able to tell how long this situation could last. No one today can tell any better.
    • Robert Service, Comrades!: A History of World Communism (2010)
  • The CPC’s longevity is due in large measure to its ability to sum up the lessons of history and change course quite drastically, if required.
  • It is more important than ever to understand the nature and power of this organisation; its strengths and weaknesses; its ability to capture the imagination of the people — and interestingly, the youth. It has refuted prognostications of its demise with its capacity for reinventing, regenerating and renewing its compact with the people, strengthened, among other things, by its ability to continue learning from history. The world is dealing not merely with a nation state but with an authoritarian party-state that foregrounds its civilisational culture — and at its helm is an organisation that is steering the country towards its own tryst with destiny. It remains to be seen whether the CPC is still on the right side of history, but the party is by no means over.
  • Xi Jinping has done his best to dismantle Deng Xiaoping’s achievements. He brought the private companies established under Deng under the control of the CCP and undermined the dynamism that used to characterize them. Rather than letting private enterprise blossom, Xi Jinping introduced his own “China Dream” that can be summed up in two words: total control. That has had disastrous consequences. / In contrast to Deng, Xi Jinping is a true believer in Communism. Mao Zedong and Vladimir Lenin are his idols. At the celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the CCP he was dressed like Mao while the rest of the audience was wearing business suits.
  • The United States and other democratic nations do so much business with China that there is a tendency to turn a blind eye towards the Communist Party’s abysmal human rights record. The Chinese Communist Party’s strategy of liberalizing its national economy while harshly rejecting democracy has become the model for modern dictatorships. Hu Jintao and his party control all media in China, between 250,000 and 300,000 Chinese citizens, including political dissidents, are incarcerated in “reeducation-through-labor” camps and the conviction rate in normal criminal trials is 99.7 percent. Less than 5 percent of trials include witnesses. China executes more people than all other nations combined most of those executions are for nonviolent crimes. Amnesty International has reported that school children have been bused to public executions as field trips.  
    • David Wallechinsky, Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators (2006), p. 3
  • Communism was to be China’s weapon for modernization, according to the party’s propaganda. It would make the country rich and strong. But Mao’s agenda went further than the creation of a modern, wealthy country. He wanted to transform Chinese society and people’s ways of thinking. It was “old China” that was to blame for the country’s weakness, Mao thought, more than even British, Japanese, or American imperialists. He liked to compare traditional, Confucian forms of thinking to women with bound feet, hobbling along while being disdained by others. His “new China,” on the other hand, should be youthful, progressive, and militant. Those who stood in the way were “pests” to be exterminated; landlords, priests, and capitalists were holding China back on purpose, in order to serve their own interests. They had to go, as did all those forces that blocked the new society the Communists would create. For Mao this was a millennial struggle. It was China’s last chance to redeem itself and retake its rightful position in the world.
    • Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A Global History (2017)
  • Many believe that the death of Mao Anying changed the course of Chinese history. Had he survived, it is argued that Chairman Mao planned to make him his successor, inaugurating a dynastic leadership of the Communist Party similar to the system implemented in North Korea by Kim Il-Sung and his successors. There are other, probably unfounded rumors that rival CCP leaders, rather than egg-fried-rice, caused the death of Mao Anying.

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