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The Communist Party of China, which now celebrates its centennial, has seen its membership explode from 50-plus individuals when it was founded in 1921, to more than 95 million 100 years later.
Over the past century, the Party has transformed the once shattered and impoverished country into the world’s second-largest economy. The CPC has led China to achieve miracles of rapid economic growth and long-term social stability, which has had profound global implications.
Under the CPC’s leadership, the modernization goal that the Chinese people have been striving toward is no longer out of reach.
Western political theories fall short in explaining the CPC’s success. For a party that has remained committed to serving the people, the country’s 1.4 billion citizens are an inexhaustible source of strength.
A party of “our own”
The CPC is substantially different from Western-style political parties. In a nutshell, it is viewed by the Chinese people as “a party of our own.”
Born in the early 20th century, a period when the downtrodden Chinese people were struggling against foreign invasions and internal divisions, the CPC established its original aspiration and mission — to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation. The Party has been translating the needs of the people into concrete actions ever since.
CPC members have vowed to fight for the freedom, democracy and happiness of the people. Through their sacrifices, they have played a pioneering and exemplary role, with their influence transcending the boundaries of space and time. Committed to the cause, they have never gone back on their word.
Li Dazhao, one of the main founders of the CPC and also a man of great learning, was arrested, imprisoned and tortured in 1927. At the age of 38, Li, whose articles had inspired millions of Chinese youths, remained steadfast in his beliefs even in the face of death at the hands of a warlord. The gallows where he was hanged have been enshrined as the No. 1 cultural relic of the National Museum of China.
Data shows that as many as 3.7 million CPC members sacrificed their lives from 1921 to 1949 in striving for the establishment of the people’s republic. This figure does not include countless such individuals who died anonymous deaths.
This spirit of sacrifice has been carried forward by Chinese Communists in the country’s latest efforts to battle both extreme poverty and the COVID-19 epidemic. More than 39 million CPC members and cadres fought against COVID-19 on the front lines, of whom nearly 400 lost their lives, according to official figures.
Fully aware that poverty is incompatible with socialism, the CPC led the Chinese people to initiate reform and opening up, which changed the fate of countless individuals. Among them are Mo Yan, the peasant-turned-Nobel laureate, and Nan Cunhui, the billionaire who was once a roadside cobbler.
From 1949 to 2019, China’s per capita disposable income grew at an average annual rate of 6.1 percent in real terms.
The CPC leaders have been consistent with their people-centered philosophy. As early as 1934 when the CPC-led Red Army fought against the ruling Kuomintang party to liberate the Chinese people, Mao Zedong pointed out that “We must … solve the problems facing the masses — food, shelter and clothing, fuel, rice, cooking oil and salt, sickness and hygiene, and marriage.”
“In short, all the practical problems in the masses’ everyday life should claim our attention,” Mao said. Following through on his commitment, he declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
Decades later, echoing Mao’s words, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, repeatedly stressed that “the people’s aspiration for a better life is our goal.”
“No matter where our Party cadres are, they will always ask the villagers ‘What kind of good life do you expect to have?'” Xi said during recent a tour at the Qinghai province. “Let’s work together for a better life.”
Issues related to people’s livelihoods, including employment, income distribution, education, social security, medical care, housing, elderly care, childcare and food safety, all weigh heavily on Xi’s mind.
China has declared a war against pollution, as “lucid waters and lush mountains” are demanded by the people. The country has announced its ambition to peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Data shows that China has contributed a quarter of humanity-caused greening between 2000 and 2017.
The CPC has made it clear to all that the greatest political achievement for itself is improving the well-being of the people.
In the 1930s, Edgar Snow visited Yan’an, the then center of the Chinese Communist revolution, where the American journalist found “a rocklike solidarity” among the people of the region led by the CPC. The Red Army, though ragged and poorly armed, had a charm that made them invincible.
The unity between the people and the Party observed by Snow has remained unbreakable. In old times, people volunteered to provide food to the revolutionary soldiers and even dismantled their own wooden doors to make stretchers for the fallen.
In the fight against COVID-19, hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens have responded to the call of the Party and the government to quarantine themselves to prevent the spread of the virus. The engines of the “world’s factory” have been roaring and the country’s daily mask production capacity rapidly exceeded 100 million.
Today, CPC members can be easily found in all walks of life, including workers, farmers, students, private entrepreneurs, Chinese employees of foreign companies and internet influencers. Despite their different ages and jobs, they all “serve the people” — the most concise and accurate summary of the fundamental purpose of the CPC.
The Chinese people recognize the good governance of the CPC in their own ways: People raised red banners to express their gratitude to earthquake rescuers; Children stood on tiptoe to offer water to flood fighters; Octogenarians bowed to anti-epidemic medical convoys; Villagers in Xinjiang presented flowers to cadres who had helped them eradicate extreme poverty.
A report from Harvard University in 2020 showed that the Chinese people’s overall satisfaction with the government exceeded 93 percent.
The “mass line,” a methodology of the CPC that requires its members to stay close to the people, has been written into the Party’s Constitution. The CPC believes in pooling people’s wisdom and power.
The east China village of Xiaogang is widely hailed as “China’s number one reform village.” Back in 1978, 18 farmers in the poverty-stricken village took great risks in secretly signing an agreement to contract collective land to individual households. The household contract responsibility system that derived from Xiaogang was spread nationwide in a few years. The history of Xiaogang is widely cited as an example of the CPC pooling grassroots wisdom to solve national problems.
China’s “whole-process democracy,” a hallmark of socialist democracy that distinguishes it from Western political systems, runs through all processes including elections, decision-making, administration and supervision. All major decision-making is procedure-based and follows democratic deliberations.
In the formulation of the Party leadership’s proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan, extensive solicitations of comments and suggestions from various sectors were held. Online solicitations also received over 1 million comments within a matter of weeks.
A total of 546 comments and suggestions were finally reflected in the proposals, a drafting process which Xi called “a vivid example of the CPC’s intraparty democracy and China’s socialist democracy.”
The Party, which believes that China has no need for the model of democracy found in the West, has established a democracy that suits the country itself.
Over the past century, the Party has constantly adapted to the changing circumstances with policy changes — one latest such shift being China’s adoption of the three-child policy to improve the demographic structure of the world’s most populous country.
But one thing that remains unchanged is the CPC’s bond with the Chinese people, a relationship often described as being as “inseparable as fish and water.”
The Party sees corruption as the “greatest threat” to its survival and its relationship with the Chinese people.
In 1952, Liu Qingshan and Zhang Zishan, two corrupt senior Party officials, were executed in China, demonstrating the early anti-corruption determination of the CPC. This determination remains to the present day.
In recent years, the CPC’s anti-graft watchdog has ousted corrupt officials all the way from low-level “flies” to high-ranking “tigers.”
The investigation of Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, came as a shock to some outsiders who had doubted the CPC’s anti-corruption campaign would ever extend its reach to such heights.
When a grassroots-level government employee failed to pay for two apples from a local salesman in Shandong Province in 2015, he was disciplined. Yet this was not a case of making a mountain out of a molehill, as shown by a well-known anecdote of Mao. In 1948, when China was beset by civil war, the Communist army chose not to take a single apple from civilians, as “they were apples of the people,” according to Mao.
Underlying this commitment, Xi urged all CPC members to have the resolve and tenacity to persevere in the “never-ending” fight against corruption. In 2020, around 604,000 people were disciplined by China’s top anti-graft body.
The Party not only ensures it remains principled and professional but also guarantees it stands on the cutting edge of the times.
At the launch meeting of a recent campaign on Party history learning and education, Xi stressed the importance of maintaining the Party’s tight bond with the people. The campaign was the latest of the CPC’s efforts to unify its members’ thought, enhance discipline and boost their morale as they march ever forward.
Having embarked on a new journey, the CPC is leading the Chinese people to build China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful by the centenary of the People’s Republic of China. This will be the largest modernization drive achieved through peaceful development in the history of humanity.
Recently, three Chinese astronauts, all CPC members, flew into space and entered the in-orbit space station core module Tianhe, which will be their home for the next three months.
Foreign astronauts are welcomed to cooperate with their Chinese counterparts after the construction of China’s space station is completed, an embodiment of the CPC’s concept of “a community with a shared future for humanity.”
While a century of glory has been recorded in the annals of history, the CPC stands ready to write a new chapter for the people and by the people.
By Xinhua writers Gui Tao, Jiang Jiang, Wang Zichen and Li Zhihui