A ceremony marking the centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is held at Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, capital of China, July 1, 2021. (Xinhua/Yin Gang)
BEIJING, July 5 (Xinhua) — Two scholars with Cornell University in the United States recently observed that over the last two decades, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has built contacts with more than 400 political parties in over 160 countries, and that such exchanges reflect pull factors rather than an outward push by the century-old party.
Thomas Pepinsky and Jessica Chen Weiss, both experts on governance, noted in a joint article published in June by Foreign Affairs, a leading U.S. magazine on international relations, that there are ruling parties seeking counsel from the CPC on governance issues.
Among the enormous successes of the CPC, which celebrated its centenary on Thursday, the one that has perhaps provoked the most thought is the unparalleled support it enjoys from the Chinese people. In a Harvard University survey published in July last year, as many as 93.1 percent of Chinese citizens expressed approval for their central government.
Therefore, for representatives of political parties and organizations worldwide who will attend a high-level dialogue with the CPC on Tuesday, one of the most riveting subjects would be: What right things has the CPC done to make itself the unvarying choice of the Chinese people?
Two years ago in Rome, as his meeting with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping was coming to a close, Roberto Fico, Italian lower house speaker, popped a question.
“What did you feel when you were elected Chinese president?” asked Fico, curious about Xi’s feelings when he was elected to lead China, a country much bigger than Italy.
Governing such a huge country requires a strong sense of responsibility and hard work, replied Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. “For the good of my people, I will put aside my own well-being. I am willing to be selfless and devote myself to China’s development.”
Serving the people wholeheartedly has been the fundamental purpose of the CPC — a party taking pride in coming from the people and being rooted in the people.
“The Party has always represented the fundamental interests of all Chinese people; it stands with them through thick and thin and shares a common fate with them,” Xi said at Thursday’s centenary ceremony at Tian’anmen Square, the symbolic political heart of China. “The Party has no special interests of its own — it has never represented any individual interest group, power group, or privileged stratum.”
“Looking back over the one hundred years of history, always staying with the people is the secret of the CPC’s great achievements in the annals of history,” said former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.
“China has suffered many misfortunes and difficulties, including the aggression caused by Japan, but the CPC has always worked with the people to overcome many difficulties,” he added.
The latest of such misfortunes struck around the turn of 2020, when the deadly COVID-19 epidemic broke out, claiming lives and sinking economies around the world.
It is also this people-centered philosophy that enabled the Chinese leadership to carry out what the World Health Organization dubbed “perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment efforts in history” and make China the first country to control the pandemic.
“We are willing to save lives at all costs,” Xi said. “No matter how old the patients are and how serious their conditions have become, we never give up.”
In China’s central Hubei Province alone, where the disease was first reported, more than 3,600 COVID-19 patients aged over 80 have escaped the clutches of death.
The CPC “is a people’s party, which is rooted in people,” said Jawad Anani, Jordan’s former deputy prime minister.
“Though our Party’s founding mission is easy to define, ensuring that we stay true to this mission is a more difficult task,” Xi remarked at the CPC centenary ceremony.
In May 2019, the CPC launched a campaign among all its members themed “staying true to the original aspiration and founding mission,” which is to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation.
Committed to promoting people’s well-being, the CPC has enabled China to make remarkable economic leaps in a very short period of time, said Fabien Roussel, national secretary of the French Communist Party.
A little more than four decades ago, the policy of reform and opening up was adopted under the leadership of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1978, unleashing the creativity and entrepreneurial potential of the Chinese people and laying the foundation for what has now become a vibrant socialist market economy open to the outside world.
Tej Bunnag, former Thai foreign minister and ambassador to China during 1986-1990, has borne witness to China’s transformation from an impoverished backwater to a major contributor to the world economy.
He recalled his first trip to China in 1973, when Shenzhen was “just a small fishing village.” “Now it’s an international city of more than 10 million residents and a high-tech hub,” said the 77-year-old China observer.
From 1978 to 2020, China’s GDP rocketed from 367.9 billion yuan (56.67 billion U.S. dollars) to 101.6 trillion yuan (15.7 trillion dollars), upgrading the country from a low-income to a middle-income one.
Fast economic growth lifted most people in China out of poverty, yet the CPC was not satisfied. It vowed to eliminate poverty and complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
“This is a society to be enjoyed by each and every one of us,” Xi has said. “On the march toward common prosperity, no one must be left behind.”
Since 2012, the Chinese leadership has treated poverty alleviation as a major priority, putting forward new thoughts and ideas, and making new policies and arrangements.
Eight years later, the number of Chinese people living under the poverty line had been reduced from 100 million to zero in 2020, which means more than 10 million people out of poverty every year on average, or one person lifted above the poverty line every three seconds.
“Through the continued efforts of the whole Party and the entire nation,” Xi declared at Thursday’s ceremony, “we have realized the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.”
“This means that we have brought about a historic resolution to the problem of absolute poverty in China,” he said.
China’s success in poverty reduction is a “miracle,” said Khuon Sodary, second vice-president of the Cambodian National Assembly and a member of the standing committee of the Cambodian People’s Party.
“This success has clearly reflected the CPC’s goal that has prioritized the Chinese people’s well-being and livelihoods,” she said.
“The rise of something may be fast, but its downfall is equally swift,” educator Huang Yanpei said to late Chinese leader Mao Zedong during a visit to Yan’an, the CPC’s revolutionary base, in 1945.
“Has any person, family, community, place, or even nation ever manage to break free of this cycle?” Huang asked.
This conversation has been repeatedly invoked by Xi as a warning of complicated and long-term risks faced by the governing CPC.
For him, a common denominator that leads to the decay of political power is internal erosion, especially corruption.
He highlighted “self-reform” or “turning the blade inward and scraping the poison off the bones” as a prime means to forestall the vicious circle and maintain good health and strong vitality of the party.
“I believe the one who can defeat us is ourselves, no one else,” Xi warned when addressing senior officials at a seminar at the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC in January 2018.
Accordingly, it has been made a priority to crack down on malpractice by party officials, particularly those losing faith in the party, taking bribes, leading extravagant lives, or being autocratic.
Since 2012, the CPC has taken comprehensive and zero-tolerance policies to fight corruption, noted Dmitry Novikov, deputy chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Russia.
“It is important that the very conditions leading to corruption are destroyed,” Novikov said, citing the CPC’s practices such as strict internal party management, steady discipline, and a stern struggle against formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic pointed out that anti-corruption forms the precondition for development and is essential to leading the world’s biggest political party.
CPC members “symbolize the future of all other people” in China and “need to be a role model to all the others,” said Vucic.
The CPC’s battle against corruption, he added, has given “significant strength” to the party’s leadership to show the nation and the world that “China is very resolute” in the rule of law and in bringing higher living standards to the people.
“Only the wearer of the shoes knows if they fit or not,” Xi said at Russia’s Moscow State Institute of International Relations in March 2013 on his first overseas trip as Chinese head of state.
“Only the people can best tell if the development path they have chosen for their country suits or not,” he added.
Through decades of painstaking explorations and hard struggle, China, under the leadership of the CPC, has established that socialism with Chinese characteristics is the only path to rejuvenation and prosperity.
The CPC, observed Tej, the Thai diplomat, has been firmly marching on that path, flexibly adapting to changes and improving its policies.
This, he said, is a source of the party’s strengths.
Jessie Duarte, deputy secretary-general of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, said “it is important that nations adopt ideologies and developmental paths which are true to their own history, national identity, and unique circumstances instead of just following what others are doing.”
China never copies others’ models, neither does the country urge others to copy its own.
Instead, China has consistently advocated that each country should choose a development path in accordance with its own circumstances and its people’s needs, and all countries should respect and learn from each other.
“The world will be lifeless and dull, if there is only one single model and one single civilization,” Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said.
“Democracy is not Coca-Cola, which, with the syrup produced by the United States, tastes the same across the world,” he said.
People were told that the Western system of democracy is the best way for social progress, yet what the CPC has achieved proves that there is another feasible model, said Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is also chairman of the country’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.
Dogu Perincek, chairman of Turkey’s Patriotic Party, said the CPC is truly admirable for respecting other parties’ choices of path in line with each country’s unique conditions.
“It does not impose its position,” he said. “When telling its stories, it always says ‘these are our experiences.'”