Aside from ruling the world’s most populous nation, having the largest political party membership on the globe and being the architect of one of the fastest growing economies over the past three decades, the Communist Party of China (CPC) is so much more. Turning 96 this year, the Party has ruled China for nearly seven decades. It receives overwhelming support from the public, and the country’s impressive development has left the rest of the world amazed.
The Party is tasked with leading China to rejuvenation, but it also has its own mission: to be the strongest party in the world. The key to both successes rests on its unchanging faith to serve the people, as well as its staunch commitment to self-discipline and democracy.
When the CPC was born in 1921, it only had about 50 members. Its strength grew as it led China to rise from a poor nation scarred by brutal foreign aggression and tragic civil wars to become the second largest economy in the world. The Party now has 89 million members.
With the Party set to mark its 100th anniversary in 2021, it has set 2020 as the year for China to become a moderately prosperous society (xiaokang) in an all-round way. Much has already been done. In the past 30 years, 700 million people were lifted out of poverty.
Poverty has been taken even more seriously with Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, at the helm since 2012. “Not a single family living in poverty is to be left behind on our path to combating poverty,” Xi told villagers of Shenshan village in a trip to Jiangxi Province in February last year.
From 2013 to 2016, nearly 56 million rural people were lifted out of poverty. CPC members have a spirit, belief and dedication that have played a key role in China’s fight against poverty.
“For over 90 years, every victory claimed by China in the course of its revolution, its nation building and its reform drive is the crystallization of the CPC’s communist faith,” said Professor Dai Yanjun with the CPC Central Committee Party School.
Just before the CPC celebrated its 96th birthday this year, it issued a revised regulation to improve supervision and governance of its members. The revised rules say that “political inspection should be deepened, and inspections should mainly focus on upholding the Party leadership, improving Party building, and advancing comprehensive and strict rule of the Party.”
“Inspections should staunchly safeguard the authority and the centralized, unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, and ensure the CPC is always the firm and core leadership of the socialist cause with Chinese characteristics,” it said.
So far, there have been 12 rounds of Party inspections, covering provincial-level CPC organizations, central CPC and government departments, major state-owned enterprises, central financial institutions and centrally-administered universities. These inspections were but a fraction of CPC efforts to intensify intra-Party supervision and step up Party governance — a key feature of the “Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy” raised by Xi in 2014.
Over 200 centrally administered officials have been investigated so far, and more than 1.1 million people have received punishment for breaching Party regulations and discipline.
Jiang Shengxia, Party secretary of the village of Panlong in Anhui Province, did not believe she stood a chance when her village Party committee recommended her as a candidate to attend the 19th CPC National Congress slated for October. The CPC national congress takes place every five years. The delegates are not full-time, and come from all walks of life.
Having worked in the impoverished countryside for more than 30 years, Jiang had turned Panlong into a prosperous and well-known village in Anhui.
Her election as a delegate to the national congress — through elections by Party members at county, municipal and provincial level — showcases the ever-increasing democracy within the CPC.
Nationwide, 2,300 delegates will represent China’s 89 million CPC members at the 19th National Congress, which will discuss and set the future direction for the Party and state, and elect a new central leadership. The upcoming session will see a higher percentage of grassroots delegates working on the frontline compared with five years ago.
For the CPC, intra-Party democracy has long been viewed as precious. On the basis of democratic centralism, all CPC members can discuss Party policies, offer advice and carry out intra-Party supervision. “Democracy is in the genes of CPC members,” said Mei Liming, deputy head of the China Executive Leadership Academy of Jinggangshan.
His words were echoed by Professor Liu Dongchao, with the Chinese Academy of Governance: “Only by promoting intra-Party democracy and by motivating all Party members can the CPC continue to correct its own mistakes, consolidate its unity and inject more life into the democratic political system with Chinese characteristics.”