Strengthening CPC Leadership: The Key to Developing Socialism with Chinese Characteristics

By: Xu GuangchunFrom:English Edition of Qiushi Journal April-June 2017|Vol.9,No.2,Issue No.31 | Updated: 2017-Jul-17 10:34
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I. Leadership by the CPC: the most essential attribute of socialism with Chinese characteristics

Marxism, communism (socialism), and communist parties are all members of the same family. Communism (socialism) and communist parties are products of Marxism: communism (socialism) is the path and goal of social development envisioned by Marxism; while communist parties are the proletarian political parties proposed by Marxism to lead humanity in realizing the goal of communism (socialism). Together, Marxism, communism (socialism), and communist parties form a mutually-dependent, integrated whole that cannot be separated. Socialism, as a transitional stage towards communism, has two essential prerequisites: the guidance of Marxism and the leadership of a communist party. These two requirements reveal the most fundamental attributes of socialism.

Socialism with Chinese characteristics represents a new path, theory, and system for the development of socialism in China. It has taken shape through almost a century of bitter searching, struggle, and exploration under the leadership of the CPC, during which the Chinese people have endured countless battles, weathered the most grueling of conditions, and overcome all manner of trials and tribulations. On this journey, the CPC led the Chinese people in carrying out a bloody, 28-year struggle, during which they toppled imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism (the three “great mountains” that weighed on the backs of the Chinese people), carried out the new democratic revolution, and founded the People’s Republic of China, thus creating conditions for the establishment of the socialist system in China. On this journey, the CPC led the Chinese people through the socialist revolution, which established socialism as China’s basic system and set in motion China’s socialist transformation, thus laying down sound foundations for the subsequent development of Chinese socialism. And on this journey, the CPC has led the Chinese people in launching reform and opening up, a new revolution that has established the system of Chinese socialism, propelled the Chinese people towards affluence and strength, transformed a once poor and backward country into the world’s second largest economy, and created a miracle in the history of human development. From this historical process, we are able to appreciate a truth: were it not for the strong leadership of the CPC, the new democratic revolution could not have succeeded and there would be no new China; were it not for the strong leadership of the CPC, the socialist system could not have been established and China’s socialist transformation could not have taken place; and were it not for the strong leadership of the CPC, the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics could not have been blazed, and the Chinese people could not have become affluent or strong. The CPC was not only the strong leading core of China’s revolution and socialist transformation, it is also the strong leading core of the cause of Chinese socialism today. This is why Xi Jinping remarked, “The leadership of the CPC constitutes the most essential attribute of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the greatest strength of this system.” These remarks reveal the pivotal position and role of the CPC in the cause of Chinese-style socialism.

Li Huanying, a medical expert, takes the oath to join the Party. “I think I may be qualified,” said Li, born in 1921, the year when the Communist Party of China (CPC) was founded. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER LI WEN

How, exactly, is CPC leadership the most essential attribute of Chinese socialism? This is embodied in the following aspects: First, the CPC is the pioneer, leader, guide, promoter, and practitioner of Chinese socialism. Second, CPC leadership is the decisive factor that guarantees the continuation and development of Chinese socialism. And third, the goals that the CPC pursues conform exactly to the direction in which Chinese socialism is advancing.

How is CPC leadership the greatest strength of China’s socialism? This is embodied in the following aspects: First, the CPC acts as the strong leading core of Chinese socialism. Second, the CPC represents and actualizes the fundamental interests of the Chinese people. This enables it to fully motivate the people to devote themselves to the cause of socialism in China, and lead all Chinese people in advancing this cause. Third, CPC leadership ensures that Chinese socialism moves firmly in the right direction, is driven by a force of unparalleled strength, and is supported by a strong foundation. 

II. Strengthening and improving CPC leadership: a prerequisite for upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics

In 2012, the report to the 18th National Congress of the CPC stated that developing socialism with Chinese characteristics would be a long-term, arduous task of historic importance, one that would call on us to carry out great struggles with many new historical features. On this basis, Xi Jinping has highlighted four aspects of these great struggles. 

1. The enormity of these struggles 

To uphold and develop China’s socialism, China must win great struggles with many new historical features. In his speech marking the 95th anniversary of the CPC’s founding in July 2016, Xi described these “great struggles” as responding to major challenges, withstanding major risks, overcoming major obstacles, and resolving major problems. If these major challenges, risks, obstacles, and problems are not promptly responded to, withstood, overcome, and resolved, they will directly undermine our ability to uphold and develop socialism in China. The enormity of these struggles dictates that we must strengthen and improve CPC leadership, and substantially raise its capacity to lead and govern, so as to ensure that the cause of Chinese socialism advances towards victory. 

2. The complexity of these struggles 

In his speech at a symposium on philosophy and social sciences, Xi Jinping stressed five key questions that China must answer as it carries out its great new struggles. First, as ideas and values in our society become increasingly dynamic, the mainstream is juxtaposed with the non-mainstream, and different trends of thought contend, how can we consolidate the position of Marxism as our guidance? Second, as China enters a new normal of economic development and the international environment for development undergoes deep shifts, how can we implement our new principles of development, better guarantee and improve standards of living, and promote social equity and justice? Third, as reforms enter a more difficult stage, problems continue to emerge on various levels, and all kinds of risks and challenges mount, how can we raise the standard of our reform policies and promote the modernization of our national governance system and capacity? Fourth, as different ideas and cultures interact, integrate, and clash on a global level, how can we accelerate China’s establishment as a country with a leading socialist culture? Fifth, as we enter an important stage of our efforts to comprehensively govern the CPC with strict discipline, and the CPC faces mounting dangers and tests, how can we continue to raise the CPC’s capacity to lead and govern, and ensure that the CPC remains the strong leading core of the cause of Chinese socialism? The complexity of these struggles dictates that we must strengthen and improve CPC leadership, empowering the CPC to command the overall situation and solve tough problems with a strong sense of duty, firm political resolve, outstanding leadership, innovative theories, and rich practical experience. This will help to ensure that Chinese socialism is upheld and better developed.  

3. The universality of these struggles

In an important speech at a national conference on the work of Party schools, Xi Jinping highlighted 13 specific problems from a range of major issues, both theoretical and practical, that exist among Party members and that have been the subject of widespread public concern. These 13 problems have the following two characteristics. First, they are almost universal in scope, touching on the “five-pronged” overall plan for developing socialism with Chinese characteristics, on the “Four Comprehensives,” and on the CPC’s theories, principles, and policies. Second, these problems are the subject of almost universal concern: given that these problems have a bearing on the future of the CPC and country, on the state of the economy, and on the wellbeing of the people, they have not only been the subject of widespread concern within the CPC and all sectors of Chinese society, but have even received widespread attention abroad. These two characteristics imply that our great struggles to uphold Chinese socialism are similarly universal in scope and subject to universal attention. Therefore, to solve these major problems and win victory in our struggles, it is imperative that we strengthen and improve CPC leadership, enabling it to fully leverage its political advantage of being able to unleash the enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity of the people and rally all fronts and social sectors, so as to form strong synergy in the push to further develop socialism with Chinese characteristics.

4. The long-term nature of these struggles

The long-term nature of these struggles dictates that we must strengthen and improve CPC leadership. Socialism with Chinese characteristics represents a new path, theory, and system for developing socialism, which has been created on the basis of China’s most fundamental national condition: the fact that China will remain in the primary stage of socialism for a considerably long period of time to come. The primary stage of socialism is a long-term, historical stage of development, and the series of great struggles we are preparing to carry out are also long-term in nature. This means that we must strengthen and improve CPC leadership if we are to ensure that our direction and goals remain unchanged, our drive does not dwindle, and our innovation does not stop during this protracted campaign. Only this way can Chinese socialism advance into new territory. 

III. Strengthening and improving CPC leadership in a new period: fundamental, priority, and key points 

In his speech marking the 95th anniversary of the CPC’s founding in July 2016, Xi Jinping made comprehensive and incisive remarks on stepping up Party-building and strengthening and improving CPC leadership.

1. Grasping the fundamental point

What has enabled the CPC to lead the Chinese people from victory to victory during its near century-long journey? Above all else, the CPC has relied on two things: the fighting spirit of Chinese Communists and their devotion to the people. What, then, must we rely on to further the cause of Chinese socialism? The answer is the same: the fighting spirit of Chinese Communists and their devotion to the people. In his speech, Xi stated, “Whenever we move forward, we must remember the path we have trodden; no matter how far we go and how glorious our future may be, we can never forget the past, and we can never forget why we embarked on this journey in the first place. As we confront the future and face challenges, our Party must stay true to its cause and continue marching forward.” Staying true to our cause and continuing to march forward are fundamental to our efforts to step up Party-building and strengthen and improve CPC leadership.  

2. Highlighting priority points

Our efforts to step up Party-building and strengthen and improve CPC leadership should be approached from eight angles. These are as follows: First, we must uphold the guiding role of Marxism; continue to closely integrate the basic principles of Marxism with China’s realities and contemporary features; promote innovation in both theory and practice; and constantly advance the adaptation of Marxism to suit China. Second, we must remember that our Party established communism and socialism as its program at the time of its founding; remain committed to the great ideal of communism and the common ideal of Chinese socialism and constantly advance the cause for our ideals. Third, we must remain confident in the path, theories, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics; uphold the basic line of the Party with unswerving resolve; and constantly advance the great cause of Chinese socialism. Fourth, we must advance the five-pronged overall plan for developing Chinese socialism; promote the “Four Comprehensives” strategy; engage in an all-out push to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects; and work constantly towards attaining the “Two Centenary Goals.” Fifth, we must firmly uphold reform and opening up; have the courage to comprehensively continue reform; further emancipate our minds, release and develop productive forces, and boost social dynamism; and drive reform and opening up to a new depth. Sixth, we must firmly believe that the people are the foundation of the CPC and the source of its strength; remain committed to serving the people and relying on them in all endeavors; give full scope to the enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity of the people; and keep working to make their life better. Seventh, we must remain firmly committed to the path of peaceful development and to a mutually beneficial strategy of openness; strengthen friendly ties with all countries; and work with all peoples to advance the grand cause of peace and development for humanity. Eighth, we must preserve the pioneering nature and purity of the CPC; raise our ability to govern and lead; enhance our capacity to withstand risks, resist corruption, and prevent degradation; and bolster a grand new undertaking of Party-building.    

3. Focusing on key points

There are six key points that we must focus on. First, we must preserve the pioneering nature and purity of the CPC. Second, we must do a good job of governing the CPC before we can do a good job of governing the country, and that means governing the CPC strictly. Third, we must maintain a high standard for political norm within the CPC and comprehensively purify the political environment. Fourth, we must continue our effort to improve Party conduct, so as to ensure that the Party always stands with and maintains its bond with the people. Fifth, we must always remain alert of the need to combat corruption, foster integrity, and prevent degradation. Sixth, we must strengthen our ranks and raise the competence of officials. These key points reflect the fundamental requirements and objective laws of Party-building and CPC leadership. Embodying the new circumstances and features of Party-building and CPC leadership in a new period, they point out a clear direction and goals for our efforts to step up Party-building and strengthen and improve CPC leadership.  

Xu Guangchun is Director of the Consulting Committee for the CPC Central Committee’s Project for the Study and Development of Marxist Theory.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.21, 2016)