Communist Party of China at 100 years
The Communist Party of China, (CPC) founded in July 1921 is just some months away to its centenary anniversary. A party founded against the backdrop of what the Chinese, called “century of humiliation” in reference to the 19th century when the country was overrun by foreign powers including the seizure of Hong Kong, and Macao by the British and Portuguese imperialist powers respectively. Despite the collapse of the imperial dynasty in 1911 that has ruled China for thousands of years, and the establishment of republic, the problems of the country remained. The outcome of the 1911 revolution that swept away the last Qing dynasty was quickly grabbed by warlords who continued to ally with foreign powers.
The decisive moment of national awakening actually came with the May 4th movement, when national grief turned into defiance following the failure of the victorious imperialist powers conference in Paris to restore some of China’s national treasures, rather the conference carved up the country into spheres of influence of imperialist powers. The failure of the Paris peace conference to ameliorate China’s national condition provided the historical catalyst for anti-imperialist resistance.
With the echoes of the victory of the Russian Bolshevik revolution in 1917 and the lively debate among the Chinese intelligentsia on the theory of Marxism-Leninism and its fitness to drive sustainable struggle for national independence and peoples liberation, the founding of the Communist Party of China was both epochal and game-changer in the trajectories of China’s national destiny previously hobbled by the strangle-hood of feudalist rule and imperialist oppression.
Through a relentless revolutionary struggle guided by the scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism, the Communist Party forged a patriotic united front of all Chinese patriots across all social strata and ethnic groups to found and establish the People’s Republic of China in 1949, bringing to an end, both century of national humiliation and the turmoil of warlord rule and ineffectual bureaucratic capitalism.
The challenge of construction, stability and modernization of the New China became the crucial and vital endeavour, of the Chinese people of all walks and different political persuasion under the leadership of the Communist Party. The historical choice of the Communist Party by the Chinese people as the core of their national leadership in a broad coalition of the patriotic alliance of people of all walks of life, helped to galvanize unity of purpose, distilled national priorities, and sharpened focus on critical variable, necessary to drive modernization on a sustainable basis.
However, the turning point in the national construction effort of modern China came in the last month of 1978 at the 3rd plenary session of the 11th central Committee of the Communist Party of China, when it adopted economic construction as the main focus of the work of the party and the government.
The main content of this decision was reform and opening up to the outside world.
This decisive moment in the history of the party and the country, aroused a nationwide enthusiasm, cementing the reputation of the CPC not only as a party with dignified historical past but one that is engaged to the present and focus to the future. Re-affirming its Marxist-Leninist theoretical foundation, the party proclaimed that its insight that have guided its trajectories through revolution, reconstruction and reform were gained from its fidelity to Marxist-Leninist theory of scientific socialism. The party made bold to say that Marxist-Leninist theory enabled it to gain a realistic insight into China’s unique national and historical condition and that its construction of socialism with Chinese characteristics which is the theoretical rationale for its reform and opening up, correspond to the country’s existential reality and the trend of the time.
The outcome of this rigorous and exerting process of “seeking truth from facts” was the awe-inspiring comprehensive growth of China national aggregates that most of the world have come to know and even describe as “Chinese miracle,” which was actually not a miracle but an outcome of a party touch with the people and more importantly in touch with reality, which it constantly evaluates in the light of new conditions and circumstances.
As 1978 was epochal and pivotal in the history of the party and the country, the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012 was a vital historical turning point. The election of Xi Jinping as the General Secretary and subsequently elected to the presidency of the country in March, 2013 brought new confidence and renewed vigour in the party. Soon after, Xi Jinping took over as the General Secretary, the Central Work of the Party and government became the elimination and eradication of absolute poverty that have ravaged the country for millennia, for which the party reform and opening up since 1978 has considerably reduced. In eight years and just in time, before the 100 anniversary of the party, nearly 100 million Chinese were relieved of absolute poverty, leading the country to its current stage of moderate prosperity in all respects for all Chinese people.
In engaging the new realities and the extant and current national condition, the party following its tradition of developing a theoretical guide to its work has in its collective wisdom made a key breakthrough. The “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” represent the party theoretical innovation and a national rallying point to drive deeper the reforms in the ceaseless effort at modernization and rejuvenation.
The “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a New Era” is the profound outcome of toil and exertion of the party.
Already, the Communist Party of China has articulated critical and important initiatives for inclusive and participatory global governance, providing important inputs to consolidate the emerging international order of multilateralism and the centrality of the United Nations system in international affairs. Through the contribution of the Belt and Road initiative, a global framework of cooperation featuring infrastructure connectivity and people to people contacts, the party and the Chinese people has opened a new vista of opportunity to construct a community of shared future for all humanity.
The visible and enigmatic profile of the contemporary China-Africa cooperation was the culmination of the steady vision of the party, since the founding of modern China in 1949, that the country and Africa are bound by the pains and grief of common victimization by imperialist domination and brutal colonial exploitation and are destined to work together to achieve economic self-reliance and prosperity for their respective peoples.
In a hundred years, the Communist Party of China has gained considerable experience in solving practical problems and more importantly, has put this experience in the world public domain through cooperation with several political parties especially in the developing countries including Africa.
It is therefore hoped, that many political parties in Africa would soberly engage the experience of the CPC and draw important lessons to improve their capacities and capabilities in seeking solutions to the challenge of unlocking their respective national potentials and improving the qualities of life of their respective peoples.
•••Onunaiju is of Centre for China Studies, Abuja.