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The Chinese Communist Party: Its Mission and Contributions

CARLOS MARTINEZ looks at a milestone publication from the Communist Party of China that outlines the continuity of its political system, its approach to democracy and how it intends to develop into a prosperous, advanced socialist society by 2049

ON AUGUST 26 2021, the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) central committee released an important document: the CPC: Its Mission and Contributions.

The publication, consisting in its English translation of over 28,000 words, clearly represents a wide-ranging discussion within the CPC, reflecting on its contributions of the last hundred years and its goals and challenges for the future.

Marxism

The document emphasises the basic continuity at the heart of the CPC’s mission. Since its founding in July 1921, the CPC has devoted itself to the project of building socialism, establishing China’s sovereignty, creating a better life for the population and contributing to a peaceful and prosperous future for humanity.

Although the CPC has gone through many phases, it has stuck resolutely to its core mission, principles and ideology. Forty-five years after the death of Mao Zedong, much to the frustration of the ideologues of capitalism in Washington and London, the CPC remains committed to Marxism — described in the document as “the single guiding ideology, the very soul of the CPC and the banner under which it strives.”

Adapting Marxism to China’s specific conditions and continually working to develop it, the CPC has been able to achieve extraordinary goals and solve seemingly insurmountable problems.

As the document states, “socialism can solve problems that other social systems cannot… the party’s history of struggle is a process of continuing to adapt Marxism to the Chinese context and to explore creative and innovative ideas.”

In adapting Marxism to constantly changing and highly complex conditions, China’s leadership has shown itself to be considerably more capable and creative — dialectical, one might say — than its detractors in some sections of the Western left, suffering from some combination of dogmatism, sectarianism and eurocentrism.

The CPC has always creatively developed Marxism and considered it to be an evolving, living science in constant need of developing, updating and refining. In Xi Jinping’s words, “Socialism with Chinese characteristics is socialism, not any other ‘ism’.” Deng Xiaoping tirelessly explained that “reform and opening up” came with certain dangers and that those that “got rich first” might expect their wealth to translate into political power, as is the case in the capitalist world.

To protect against this, he formulated the Four Cardinal Principles: adherence to the socialist road; adherence to the dictatorship of the proletariat (in its specific form of the people’s democratic dictatorship); adherence to the leadership of the Communist Party of China; and adherence to Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. Each generation of the CPC’s leadership has upheld these principles and China remains red.

Marxism will continue to form the core ideology of the CPC. “Experience has proved that the CPC’s choice of Marxism is correct. On the journey ahead, considering China’s realities in contemporary times the party will continue to adapt the basic tenets of Marxism to the best of China’s traditional culture and use Marxism to observe, understand and steer the trends of our times in the 21st century.”

People’s democracy

The document includes a detailed discussion of China’s socialist democracy, which it describes as a whole-process democracy incorporating extensive discussion and consultation, people’s congresses, community and workplace committees, social organisations, community-level self-governance and democratic management in enterprises, alongside an extensive system of regional ethnic autonomy.

The authors point out that democracy is a shared value of humanity, “not something to be claimed by any one country.” There is more than one model of democracy and yet the Western “liberal democracies” insistently put forward their own system as if it were the embodiment of universal truth.

China, emerging from thousands of years of feudal authoritarianism followed by a century of war and invasion, has had to chart its own path of governance by and for the people. By most measures, its evolving socialist democracy is far more democratic than its Western counterpart, in which money plays the biggest role.

Peace and co-operation

The document takes a firm stand against hegemonism, unilateralism and the New Cold War, pointing out that China’s rise has been accompanied by a peaceful foreign policy, a rejection of interventionism and a commitment to multipolarity.

The document notes that, in its pursuance of global peace and collaborative development, the CPC has proposed such ideas and initiatives as the five principles of peaceful coexistence, the global community of shared future and the Belt and Road Initiative.

It has consistently supported international law and adherence to the UN Charter and it is a key player in regional and global institutions including the G20, Brics, the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Since the day of its first successful nuclear weapons test in October 1964, China has advocated for comprehensive nuclear disarmament, calling for “complete prohibition and thorough destruction” of all nuclear weapons.

It was the first country to adopt a no-first-use policy and to commit to never using nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear power. Nato meanwhile has consistently refused to adopt such policies, insisting on the right to pre-emptive nuclear strike — that is, the right to unleash a nuclear holocaust.

While the Biden administration in the US takes forward Trump’s New Cold War, the CPC promotes a totally different system of international relations, in favour of “building a global community of shared future, with the goal of creating an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.”

Towards an advanced socialism

In spite of the CPC’s world-historic achievements, “the past hundred years have been the prologue.” The document makes clear that there is a long way to go in the struggle to build socialism and communism in China.

The most important medium-term objective is, by the time of the PRC’s centenary in 2049, to develop into “a great and modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful.”

This means continued rapid improvements in living standards, a strong emphasis on green development, tackling inequality, continuously expanding and enhancing social welfare and using advances in science and technology to create a richer, more meaningful life for everyone.  

Progress is being made along this road. With its per capita income recently having surpassed $10,000 (£7,250), China has joined the ranks of the upper-middle income economies and is on its way to become a high-income country. The urban-rural income gap is steadily shrinking and China now has a middle-income population of at least 400 million people.

In the last two decades, China has paid a great deal of attention to building a modern social security system. Its basic medical insurance covers the entire population. All children are entitled to nine years of free education. Pensions, unemployment benefits and injury insurance are being expanded every year. Such progress, in an enormous developing country in Asia, is truly impressive and laudable.

Xi Jinping’s repeated comments this year about common prosperity and the actions that are being taken by the government to rein in the power of wealthy individuals and large private businesses indicate that China is taking very seriously the challenge of stimulating high-quality growth, reducing inequality and delivering prosperity to the entire population.

The CPC: Its Mission and Contributions will certainly be of benefit to China’s friends around the world, helping to us to better understand and analyse China’s history and future.

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