The CPC Is a Political Party Diligent and Effective at Study

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-09-20 13:58
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 The CPC has always been diligent and effective at study, a fine tradition and a valuable lesson learned through experience. The Resolution of the CPC Central Committee on Some Important Issues Regarding Strengthening and Improving Party Development Efforts under the Current Conditions adopted at the 4th Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee clearly defined the strategic task of making the CPC a Marxist party that is even more conscientious about study. This is a continuation and development of the CPC's fine tradition and Party building experience, and is of strategic importance to the Party’s efforts to improve its ability to govern. 

 I. Party building based on study

 The CPC was born at a time when a group of progressive Chinese people came together studying Marxism. Between the end of the 19th century and the dawn of the 20th when Old China was quickly being reduced to a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society, a large number of Chinese patriots began struggling to find a way to rescue the nation. The salvoes of the October Revolution brought Marxism-Leninism to China. A group of progressive Chinese intellectuals early on recognized that only Marxism could save China. They began eagerly studying Marxism in various ways and through various forms and rapidly introduced Marxism to the Chinese people. It was just this study of Marxism that led them to propose setting up the CPC.

 The CPC has always recognized the importance of study since its founding. The first Party Congress specifically defined the task of studying and spreading Marxism, calling on Party members to diligently expose people to Marxism so that more people would study Marxism and join the revolution. The first meeting of the 3rd CPC Central Executive Committee held in 1923 passed the Resolution on the Issue of Study and Publicity requiring Party members to intensify efforts to study and discuss the fundamental principles of Marxism and the Party’s platform and Party Constitution. Party leaders established the Hunan Self-study University in Hunan and the Shanghai Popular Women’s School so that more cadres could study Marxism.

 Developing the Party through study requires not only placing great importance on study, but also being effective at study. The key to ensuring that study is effective is to combine theory with practice. After the failure of the Great Revolution, the CPC alone shouldered the historical task of leading the Chinese revolution. Finding the correct road of revolution, one that was in line with conditions in China, became a historical issue that the Party had to solve: Should Marxism be viewed as a dogma or a guide for revolutionary action and should Marxist works be taken into consideration first or the actual conditions in China when dealing with China’s problems? Mao Zedong and the other leaders of the revolution, in view of the fact that the counter-revolutionary forces were concentrated in the large cities and the principal revolutionary forces were the peasants, decided the correct strategy was to energetically follow an approach of relying on the forces in the countryside to surround the cities and seize power through the use of arms. Comrade Mao stated, “Of course we should study Marxist books, but this study must be integrated with our country’s actual conditions.” “Victory in China’s revolutionary struggle will depend on the Chinese comrades’ understanding of Chinese conditions.” This conclusion of Mao Zedong clearly answered the question of how to study and apply Marxism.    

 During the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, the tasks and situation confronting the CPC underwent tremendous changes, and this meant that efforts to study and apply Marxism needed to be improved to cope with the resulting new issues. At the 6th Plenary Session of the 6th CPC Central Committee in November 1938, Mao Zedong defined the strategic task of “tailoring Marxism to suit conditions in China.” The introduction of this task marked the beginning of an entirely new era in the study of Marxism by the CPC. The entire Party carefully studied Marxism “closely relating the study to the study of the practical issues facing the Chinese revolution” from the 6th Plenary Session of the 6th CPC Central Committee through the rectification movement in Yan’an in 1942 and from then to the convening of the 7th National Party Congress in 1945. Through this period of study, the entire CPC improved its understanding of Marxist theory to an unprecedented degree, and the CPC established the ideological line of first of all taking into consideration actual conditions and seeking truth from facts and formed the three major styles of work, closely linking theory with practice, maintaining close ties with the people, and criticism and self-criticism. At the 7th National Party Congress, the achievements made in applying Marxism to conditions in China were summarized as Mao Zedong Thought, which was confirmed as the guiding ideology of the Party. This marked the maturity of Party in terms of ideology, organization and work style and its emergence as a powerful Marxist political party.

 Officials of Changjiang Li Autonomous County of Hainan Province have been working hard to develop a circular economy in recent years by training Party cadres, encouraging members of Party organizations to increase their studies and promoting the development of innovative approaches to stimulate local economic development. Pictured are county Party members from the countryside receiving on-site training at a bee farm in Qicha Town, Changjiang County on February 2, 2010. / Supplied by Xinhua

 II. Learning warfare through warfare

 The ability of the CPC to direct warfare was learned from its experience in revolution, just as Mao Zedong said, we “learned warfare through warfare.” 

 First, from our study we formed a set of principles and methods for developing a people’s army. The early revolutionary troops during the period of warfare known as the Land Revolution came from a wide variety of sources. Mao Zedong and the other leaders of the Party and Chinese Red Army were aware from the beginning of the importance of educating the soldiers concerning the nature, objectives and tasks of the people’s army, establishing a political work system consisting mainly of political study and education, overcoming the various non-proletarian ideologies present among the troops and establishing the absolute leadership of the Party over the army in order to lay a solid foundation for the development of a people’s army during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the War of Liberation. Following the conclusion of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and during the War of Liberation, the people’s army fully formed a firm and correct political orientation, an industrial and simple style of work and flexible strategies and tactics.

 Second, through study, we formed a comprehensive system of strategies and tactics in line with the reality of China’s revolutionary war. The approach we adopted in China’s revolution was to besiege the cities from the countryside and seize state power by armed force, and there was no previous example on earth from which we could learn. While fighting in the Land Revolution, the Red Army under the leadership of the CPC learned through experience and trial and error in order to create strategies and tactics for the armed struggle in the countryside with the focus on guerilla warfare. This enabled the revolutionary forces to not only secure a firm foothold in the rural areas, but also to greatly expand the area they controlled. This was like a spark starting a prairie fire. During the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, the CPC not only adopted a strategic approach of waging a protracted war suitable for resisting Japanese aggression in view of the overall situation, it also developed its guerilla strategies and tactics and led the people’s armed forces to victory in the rear of the Japanese occupation forces. During the War of Liberation, the CPC reviewed the situation and created the ten major military principles of the People’s Liberation Army, which greatly improved its military command skills and enabled the Party to rapidly lead the PLA forces in winning a complete victory.

 Third, we studied culture and many other areas of knowledge in order to meet the needs of the revolutionary war. The CPC never let up in its efforts to learn about culture and other areas of knowledge during the long years of the revolutionary struggle. In November 1938 the CPC Central Committee set up a special cadre education department to train and educate cadres. In January 1940 the Secretariat of the Central Committee issued a circular requiring Party cadres to devote two hours a day to study. Later, the Secretariat declared May 5, the birthday of Karl Marx, as “Study Day.” The studies of the cadres not only covered politics and theory, but also vocational knowledge and scientific and general knowledge. During this time, the Party also set up the Chinese People’s Military and Political University for the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, the Northern Shaanxi Public School, the Lu Xun Academy of the Arts, the Marxism-Leninism Institute, the CPC Central Party School and the China Women’s University in Yan’an to strengthen cadre education. Conditions in those institutions were primitive, but the cadres were, as Mao Zedong said, “learning the most advanced scientific knowledge of the time while living a Stone Age life.”

 The study drive in Yan'an had an obvious tremendous impact on the rest of China. Tan Ka Kee, the celebrated leader of Southeast Asian Overseas Chinese, visited the Military and Political University for the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the China Women's University in Yan'an in 1940. In comparing the situation he saw in Yan'an with the cliques and debauchery of the Kuomintang he observed in Chongqing, he sighed and said, "China's hope lies in Yan'an.”

 III. Figuring out how to build a new China

 On the eve of the founding of New China the CPC moved its Central Committee from the village of Xibaipo to Beiping. Mao Zedong likened the move to an exacting test. What did he mean by a test? In essence he meant that it would be a test of the Party’s ability to direct the founding and development of New China. Mao Zedong and the other leaders of the CPC were profoundly aware that they would need to study hard to pass that test. He stated, “We must do our utmost to learn how to administer and build the cities,” “to learn the techniques of production and the methods of managing production” and “learn what we did not know.”   

 In the early days of New China, the Party placed great importance on the use of institutions of higher learning and all types of vocational and technical schools to train large numbers of various professional and technical personnel. In addition, the Party improved education for Party cadres in order to strengthen their ability to administer the affairs of state. The many Party cadres quickly began studying general and vocational knowledge and skills, rapidly raising their educational level, and many of them learned how to manage economic, cultural and educational affairs. In three short years, the Party led the Chinese people in rehabilitating and developing the national economy and rapidly turned Old China into New China.   

 Following the rehabilitation of the national economy, the CPC introduced the strategic task of socialist industrialization and socialist transformation of agriculture, handicraft and capitalist industry and commerce. During this process, Mao Zedong introduced the slogan, “Learn from Foreign Countries.” He pointed out that we must learn from the strong points of all nations and all countries. He said that we must be good at learning and should combine learning from others with making our own innovations. In those days, the CPC and the Chinese people studied the approaches of other countries, mainly those of the Soviet Union. It should be said that what we learned at that time from the Soviet Union played a very important role in China’s development. However, as China became more experienced in carrying out its own development, the CPC gradually began to see certain shortcomings and mistakes in the Soviet approach.   

 In April 1956 Mao Zedong issued “On the Ten Major Relationships” in which he clearly pointed out that China should view the experience of the Soviet Union as a negative example, review China’s own experience and work out a development path suited to conditions in China. The process of working out this path lasted for ten years, from 1956 to 1966. This was a tortuous decade in the development of Chinese socialism, as well as a decade in which the CPC was trying to work out what socialism is and how to develop socialism. China made tremendous achievements as well as big mistakes during this time. And the rectification of those mistakes also required study. One of the approaches was to call on and arrange for the cadres to study. In November 1958 Mao wrote a letter to all Party cadres from the Central Committee down to the local level titled, “My Suggestions,” requiring all cadres to study Stalin’s Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R and Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin on Communism. From reading these two books the cadres learned the differences between socialism and communism and gained a better understanding of socialist commodity production, use of the rule of value and other relevant issues. At that time Mao Zedong thankfully declared that the rule of value “is a great school.”   

 Soon after Mao Zedong called on the whole Party to study those two books, he recommended that leading cadres read the Soviet work, Textbook on Political Economics. He read the book first himself over a period of two months. Following his lead, leading Party cadres, particularly high-ranking leading Party cadres, carefully read the book, studying the fundamental principles of Marxist political economics in a fairly systematic manner. Through this study activity, the CPC gained a new perspective on adapting Marxism to conditions in China and theoretical innovation during the period of socialism. While the cadres were reading the book, Mao said, “The Communist Party of any country and the ideological circles of any country should create new theories, write new works and produce their own theoreticians.” Experience has shown that this reading activity has an important and long-lasting impact on the development of the Party’s ideological theories.

 IV. Restudying the question of how to develop socialism with Chinese characteristics

 Since the institution of the reform and opening up policy, the Party has been carrying out the historical mission of leading all the people of the country in building socialism with Chinese characteristics. Deng Xiaoping stated, “All Party comrades must learn well and always keep on learning.”   

 Why restudy? First of all, for a long time the Party maintained a dogmatic understanding of the conclusions expressed in classic Marxist works concerning what socialism is and how to institute socialism. Sometimes even non-Marxist ideas were mistaken for Marxist ideas. This meant the Party needed to restudy Marxism to put its ideology back on the right track. Second, because there was no example to follow for instituting a reform and opening up policy or developing socialism with Chinese characteristics, and there were many aspects of socialist modernization with which we had no contact in the past, we needed to restudy Marxism to gain experience and new knowledge.   

 The decision to restudy Marxism was taken prior to convening the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee. After the entire Party re-examined and discussed the Marxist classics, the Party confirmed the return of the ideological line of seeking truth from facts, completed the return to order and the rectification of the Party’s guiding ideology and opened up a road of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. At the same time, more and more people throughout society began showing their respect for knowledge and for highly skilled persons, and began studying scientific and general knowledge as well as vocational and technical knowledge.   

 Profound changes took place in China and the world at large between the late 1980s and the 1990s, which posed new demands on the Party leadership. Jiang Zemin introduced the slogan, “Study, study, then study some more!” In September 1993 the Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Volume III, was published, and cadres throughout the Party began reading it. The 14th CPC Central Committee at its 4th Plenary Session held in September 1994 introduced the strategic task of carrying out a great new project of Party development. The primary task in this project was arming the thinking of the entire Party with the theory of Deng Xiaoping on developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. In September 1997, the 15th National Party Congress formally designated Deng Xiaoping Theory as the guiding ideology of the Party. The CPC Central Committee launched a concentrated study activity for leading cadres at the county level and above to stress study, political awareness and integrity to teach cadres about the nature and work style of the Party, which lasted from March 1999 through September 2002. The first part of the theme of this activity was diligent study, a thorough study of a combination of Marxist theory with the integrity and work style of the Party. As a result of their study and experience, the Party introduced the important thought of Three Represents based on Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory. (“The Three Represents” means that the CPC represents advanced productive forces, represents advanced culture and represents the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people. )   

 China’s reform and opening up policy entered a new phase after the 16th National Party Congress. The Party Central Committee with Hu Jintao as its General Secretary decided to take a new approach to development in line with the current situation, introducing the major strategic concept of the Scientific Outlook on Development. The 16th Party Central Committee at its 4th Plenary Session held in September 2004 passed the Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Strengthening the Party’s Governing Capacity to address the major issues confronting the Party’s self-development efforts, which defined important measures to improve all aspects of the Party’s governance. An education drive was successfully held throughout the Party from January 2005 to June 2006 focusing on the important thought of Three Represents to preserve the advanced nature of Party members. In September 2008 the Party Central Committee issued Opinions on Careful Study throughout the Party of the Issue of How to Apply the Scientific Outlook on Development, which made arrangements for all comrades to study how to apply the Scientific Outlook on Development on a group-by-group basis. While this activity was taking place, Hu Jintao called on leading cadres at all levels to intensify efforts to learn new knowledge and master new skills. Large numbers of Party cadres, especially leading Party cadres at all levels, heeded the call to implement the Scientific Outlook on Development by diligently studying knowledge about modern finance, modern science and international economics, laws and regulations. During the course of this activity, China took vigorous and effective measures to counteract the tremendous difficulties brought on by the international financial crisis and ensured that economic development would continue to be stable and rapid. In particular it should be pointed out that the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee chaired by Hu Jintao continuously carried out group study sessions, setting a good example that encouraged the whole Party to engage in study.                   

 We may say that to date the CPC is the only political party in the world that has openly declared its intention to be a political party that places great importance on study. By introducing the strategic task of becoming a Marxist party that places great importance on study, the Party has once more presented a new image to the world. 

(From Qiushi in Chinese, No. 2, 2010)


Note:  Author: Executive Deputy Director of the Party Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee

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