Photo taken on Jan. 22, 2020 shows Zhou Qiong, a doctor from the respiratory medicine department at Union Hospital affiliated to Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Zhou, also a Communist Party of China (CPC) member, had joined the "assault team" during the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in central China's Wuhan last year. (Xinhua/Cheng Min)
CANBERRA/BEIJING, July 18 (Xinhua) — Not many foreigners living in China have realized what an important and ubiquitous role the members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) play in their daily life.
Neither waving flags nor shouting slogans through megaphones, most CPC members are just ordinary people performing commonplace duties — community workers, teachers, welders, veterans, doctors, police officers and village officials.
They are from all walks of life, and in the eyes of foreigners, they are also sincere friends and public-spirited servants.
NORMAL CHINESE, PUBLIC-SPIRITED
Rod Campbell, research director at Canberra’s Australia Institute, spent two years at Gansu Agricultural University in northwest China. “All my colleagues were CPC members,” he recalled. “I know lots of CPC members. They are normal Chinese people.”
He has seen misunderstandings in Western media about CPC members. “The simplistic nature of reporting … is problematic. It doesn’t really represent how China works.”
According to Campbell, what many in the West don’t know or understand is that most Chinese people are supportive of the CPC and the government.
“That’s something widely misunderstood (in the West),” he told Xinhua. “There is an attitude in the West that China should somehow be like us, and that Chinese people want, really deep down, a system like ours. It’s not the case.”
“I try to imagine if China had, instead of the Communist Party, a different social political system … could it achieve what has been achieved? I very much doubt it. I really doubt it,” said Michael Crook, chairman of the International Committee for the Promotion of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives, who has spent decades in China, witnessing the tremendous development China has achieved under the leadership of the CPC.
“I know that around me, many of my friends are members of the Chinese Communist Party. They are my friends,” said Crook, adding that “the Party members … are some of the really decent people who are public-spirited.”
Talking about why so many people are joining the CPC, Crook said that in his experience, “the people who join the Party, they’re not joining for selfish motives. They are joining because they care. And they want to help the people around them, and improve the society.”
RESPONSIBILITY, NOT PRIVILEGE
“Through a century of growth, the Party has always led, fighting with and for the people, under the flag that’s red,” American Mark Levine wrote in a song he composed and posted on his WeChat account for the 100th anniversary of the CPC’s founding.
Levine, 73, teaches at the Minzu University of China. He was among the 70,000 people who gathered at Tian’anmen Square in central Beijing on July 1 to attend the celebration of the CPC’ s centenary.
“If I look at what I’ve been able to see during my years in China, it’s almost miraculous … They (the achievements) were made by the people of China, but they were made under the leadership and the teachings of the Communist Party,” he told Xinhua.
In the 2000s, Levine got a job as an English teacher in east China’s Jiangsu Province — before moving to Beijing two years later. Levine said that while in China, he saw “even more” development than he had expected.
“Great progress had been made in education, medical care,” he said. “We can see the tremendous accomplishment in the fight against COVID-19.”
Years of living in China have also allowed him to know CPC members better. “They are supportive,” he said. “People join the Party because they realize it’s not a privilege, it’s a responsibility.”
MORE THAN IDENTITY
South African boxing coach Eduardo Santander has lived in China for ten years. For him, the CPC was just an obscure concept until he met a client who is a CPC member.
The man was a public servant who spoke frankly of his income, which didn’t seem that high, Santander said, adding that he certainly appeared to be a very hard-working individual.
“He told me that they arranged COVID-19 tests for lots of people, and helped them with vaccinations,” Santander said. “He and his colleagues always work overtime.”
That was when Santander realized what it means to be a CPC member: they do more, and are expected to do more, than other people. “During my decade, China has had big changes. People like this man must have contributed a lot,” said the coach.
Santander’s observation is shared by 29-year-old American teacher Elena Portillo. She smiles when talking about the “lovely” woman in her community who is always cheerful and helpful.
“I thought party membership was only a political identity,” she said. “But in China, such an identity means a lot. During the pandemic, she was stationed at the entrance of our community, taking temperatures and registering visitors. It was winter, and she was stomping her feet in the cold wind.”
“She will not earn any more money for the extra work, nor become famous for what she does,” Portillo said. “If there were more people like them, a country would be able to solve its problems more efficiently.”