Who Do We Represent, Who Do We Rely on, and Who Are We

Thoughts on Implementing the Party’s Mass Line

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-12-28 18:43
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 In an important speech made to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), General Secretary Hu Jintao pointed out that the CPC’s approach of “coming from the people, taking root in the people, and serving the people” ensures that the Party will stand firm and never falter. In the speech, Hu Jintao went on to say that we must firmly establish Marxist viewpoints on the people, conscientiously implement the mass line of the Party, and maintain our close ties with the people. Our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture are, in essence, directed towards the people. We say this because their purpose is to convey messages to the people, mobilize the people, and serve the people. It is important that we earnestly study and put into practice the guiding principles of the important speech made by Hu Jintao to mark the 90th anniversary of the CPC. We must adhere to the belief that the people are supreme; to a materialistic interpretation of history which regards the people as the real heroes; and to a concept of governance whereby the Party is established for the public good and governs for the people. In regard to our guiding thoughts, we should establish a correct attitude towards the people and adopt a stronger public standpoint; in regard to our work, we should do more to reflect the will and meet the demands of the people; in regard to our ideology and work style, we should feel more for the people and bring ourselves closer to them. By doing the above, we will have succeeded in fully demonstrating who we represent, who we rely on, and who we are; our work will be backed by the widest, deepest, and strongest possible support from the people; and we will find ourselves with an endless source of strength.   

  January 26, 2011, a performance named “Bring Happiness to Local People” was held in Mianzhu City of Sichuan Province, an earthquake-hit area. This performance was organized by the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Wang Ping

 I. Who do we represent—Everything that we do is for the people. We must serve the people with sincerity, and urge them to fight for their own interests 

 Every political party has its own orientation, objectives, and aspirations. The question of who a party serves and whose interests it represents will have a fundamental bearing on the direction of that party. Ever since the founding of the CPC, the liberation and happiness of the people have been clearly written on the Party’s banner, and in practice, the Party has remained true to these aspirations in all of its efforts. This is how the Party has been able to win the support of the people, and how it has been able to bring together a massive force for progress. Our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture represent an important aspect in the cause of the Party. Therefore, the key to who we represent is found in the nature and tenets of the Party. During the years of the revolutionary war, Mao Zedong clearly stated that the question of who we represent is a fundamental one, and a matter of principle. He emphasized that the culture we create should be national, scientific, and oriented towards the people. According to Mao Zedong, culture and arts should not only be integrated with the people, but should also serve the overwhelming majority of the people, while the purpose of initiatives in publicity and education should be to make the people aware of their interests and their tasks. So, in fact, this clearly answers the question of who our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture are for. Today, the state of the world, the country, and the Party are very different than they were back then, as are the content, forms, and tasks of our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture. However, regardless of how they have changed, the fact that they are there to serve the people has not changed, nor has the principle of representing the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people. 

 In order to fully demonstrate who we represent, the most crucial thing is that we assume a solid public standpoint, stand firmly with the people, and put ourselves in their shoes. A number of elements are embodied within our public standpoint, such as the view of historical materialism in Marxism; a profound recognition of the historical standing and role of the people; a scientific understanding of the laws that govern the development of society; and also the firm will of the Party to maintain its advanced nature. Only with a true understanding of what it means to adopt a public standpoint will we be able to serve the public conscientiously, willingly, and sincerely. Adopting a public standpoint implies that we must remember that the interests of the people come before everything else, communicate with the people with a strong sense of accountability, and serve the people with immense zeal. 

 1. Guiding the people through publicity and mobilizing public enthusiasm. The role of the Party’s leadership is to point the people in the right direction and encourage them to create and strive for happiness through their own efforts. For our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture to serve the people, we must, by adopting effective means of publicity and mobilization, show the people where their interests lie, and guide them on as they fight for these interests. At present, following the correct path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the Party is leading the people in an effort to drive forward scientific development, promote social harmony, and build a moderately prosperous society in all respects. This is a historic choice, one that not only accords to the will of the people, but also to their interests; it is also a great project, one that will lead to happiness and create better lives for the people. This is where the people’s greatest interests lie, and urging our people to commit to the path, the theories, and the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics is, in fact, the only way that their interests can be truly represented. We must, revolving around the core tasks and the overall arrangement of the Party and the state, publicize the theories, principles, and policies of the Party; communicate the goal of scientific development and the priority of transforming China’s pattern of development at a faster pace; make clear the inherent links between the policies of the Party and the interests of the people; and clearly convey the close bearing that economic and social development has on the improvement of living conditions. When the people correctly distinguish between short-term interests and long-term interests, personal interests and collective interests, and limited interests and overall interests, they will be better equipped to devote their energies to construction and their hearts to development. Keeping the grand blueprint for China’s development firmly in mind, and setting out to develop core socialist values, we should, in consideration of the actual situations faced in local development and in the lives and work of cadres and members of the public, continue to use the latest achievements in adapting Marxism to China’s conditions to equip the whole Party and educate the people, engage in widespread and in-depth publicity of current situations and policies to encourage the people to devote themselves to reform and development, and to urge them to work hard for a better tomorrow.  

 2. Reflecting public will and working for the interests of the people. The values that guide our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture, namely, to speak and act on behalf of the people, are derived from the tenets of the Party. Regardless of whether we are publicizing the views of the Party or reflecting the will of the people, our ultimate goal is always to serve, safeguard, and develop the interests of the people. Our efforts must be directed toward grassroots society and serving the people. We must show concern for the needs of the people, safeguard their rights and interests, speak in the voice of the people, and do what they want us to do. Through such efforts, we will create public satisfaction, and further demonstrate that we are here to serve the majority, and not the minority. Efforts need to be made to embody the views of the Party whilst also reflecting the views of the people, and to maintain the correct course ahead whilst taking into full consideration the public opinion. We must always bear in mind the nature of our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture, regard the voice of the people as our primary beacon, strengthen our public perspective, address problems directly, and focus on issues of major concern, so as to bolster the bridge that links the Party and the government to the people. We should focus on the people, praise and show affection toward the people, give more publicity to the work and the lives of the people, do more to demonstrate the inner thoughts of ordinary people, give more coverage to members of the public in our newspapers and on our TV screens, fully showcase moving events in the lives of the people, and make great efforts to sing loudly in praise of workers. We must be astute in sensing the feelings of the people, show concern for the demands of the people, be assertive in identifying topics for publicity, give more publicity to issues concerning the wellbeing of the public, do more to explain issues of widespread concern and difficulty, reflect the voice of the people, and respond to the concerns of the people, so as to ensure that our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture are able to better serve the people. 

 3. Satisfying the non-material needs of the people and improving cultural livelihood. The basic task of our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture is to satisfy the cultural demands of the people and promote their all-round development by providing them with cultural products and services that are healthy and progressive. Non-material demands are becoming increasingly strong as the material living quality of the Chinese people continues to improve. More and more, culture is becoming vital to the wellbeing of the people, with culture being regarded as a symbol for quality of life. Faced with a diverse range of demands for culture, we must continue to shift the emphasis of our efforts by tilting the balance of cultural products, facilities, and services towards local communities, towards rural areas, and towards ordinary people, so that ordinary people can benefit more from the achievements that have been made in the reform and development of culture. Previously successful initiatives that have been well received by the public, such as cultural schemes for public benefit, free access to museums, memorial halls, cultural centers, libraries, and art galleries, and the development of public service networks for culture, should be strengthened, deepened, and expanded on. Socialist culture is culture for the general population; it is neither elitist culture, nor is it noble culture. Therefore, culture must serve the people wholeheartedly, not halfheartedly, and we must be totally clear about whom culture is oriented towards. Creative activities should be primarily directed towards the people, and specifically, towards ordinary people. We should make culture more accessible, create more cultural works that are affordable and practical for ordinary people, and provide more cultural services that ordinary people enjoy. In order to keep the development of culture on the right track, we should strengthen our guidance over the creation and production of cultural products. We should serve the people whist guiding them, and satisfy the demands of the public whist enhancing their cultural attainment. This will allow us to better exert the role that culture plays in guiding society, educating the people, and promoting development. 

 II. Who do we rely on—From the masses, to the masses, we must draw on the merits of the people as a source of impetus   

 To accomplish great things, we must have great strength. If we do not understand who we rely on, we will be unable to find our strength, and our social ideals, no matter how wonderful, will be nothing but a fantasy. According to the materialistic concept of history, the masses are the decisive force in the development of human society; they are the true creators of history, and the only true heroes. The CPC came out of the masses, and has always relied on the people for its support. History has shown us that whenever the cause of the Party has been challenged, and whenever China’s fate has hung in the balance, it has always been the strength of the people that has kept us on the path forward. Our belief in the people, our firm reliance on the people, and our close bond with the people is the foundation on which the success of the Party’s cause is founded. In fact, all aspects of our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture, both conceptual and artistic, originate from the creative actions of the people, be it theories, values, and moral standards, or music, dance, calligraphy, paintings, poetry or song. Therefore, we can say that the foundations, the wisdom, and the strength of our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture lie with the people. 

 In order to fully demonstrate who we rely on, we must firmly keep in mind that the people’s subjective status, and maintain our fundamental approach of “from the masses, to the masses.” The people are not only the creators of material wealth, but also the creators of non-material wealth. A good policy must be built on the opinions of the people: the opinions of the people are solicited, systematically integrated, and then fed back to the people as a means of motivating their action. Faced with an endless stream of new problems and new situations, we must fully emphasize the subjective role of the people, unleash the creativity of the people, and draw from the wisdom of the many if we are to maintain the vitality of our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture. 

 1. Respecting the creativity of the people and exerting the positive creative role of the people in cultural development. By showing respect for the creativity of the people, and unleashing the creative enthusiasm of the people to the greatest extent, we will be able to win the widest possible support for our work, and ensure that it displays strong vitality. As our society and economy continue to develop, the entire Party and society are becoming increasingly culturally aware, and the public are demonstrating unprecedented enthusiasm towards the development of culture. At the current stage, the success of our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture rests on whether or not we can mobilize wider public participation in the creative process. In response to developments in society, we must further improve our policies, widen channels, and diversify carriers, so as to bring a range of cultural resources into full use and facilitate public participation in the development of culture. Doing so will give the people full rein in the promotion of cultural prosperity, and culture will become something that is built and shared by the people. The most striking and vibrant forms of culture are those which are created and performed by the people themselves, and it is these that the public identify with most. Therefore, we must encourage innovation and creation among the public, support independent initiatives in education and culture, and launch public cultural activities in various forms and on various levels. Efforts should be made to create a social atmosphere conducive to public participation in creative activities, and public enthusiasm towards cultural development should be both sustained and utilized by all means possible. These efforts will help us to further liberate productive forces in the cultural sector, leading to an enormous surge in cultural creativity among the public.

 2. Drawing on public wisdom and practices as a source of impetus for our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture. There is nothing more profound than the lives of the ordinary people, and no wisdom greater than that of the general public. The people live at the very core of society, a position that allows them to observe things in greater detail and perceive circumstances with deeper insight. So, the driving force behind the progress of our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture must be the actions and creations of the people, and the wisdom of the people must be used as a means of broadening our horizons and improving our approaches. As we plan our work, formulate plans, and issue policies, we should, to the greatest possible extent, listen to the opinions and suggestions of the public on a wider scale, practice democracy, draw on the greater wisdom, consult the people, find out the needs of the people, and seek advice from the people. If we work behind closed doors and act arbitrarily, we will be unable to make rational policies, and the policies we make will not be accepted by the public. So, we must dig deep into the actual lives of the people to obtain “first-hand information”; extract bright ideas from the everyday language of the people; draw creative elements from the vibrant artistic expression of the people; and find new inspiration for our work from everyday life in local communities. This is how we should promote the constant renewal of our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture, and how we should make new breakthroughs. 

 3. Subjecting our work to public judgment and regarding public satisfaction as the main criteria. The standards we work to not only hint to the orientation of our work, but also reflect the values that we hold to. The question of what standards to employ and how to gauge our work is, in essence, a question of who we are accountable to and who we aim to satisfy. Considering that the CPC represents the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people, it is the people that should judge our successes and our failures. There is no tool more adept at gauging the quality of our work than public opinion. Therefore, regardless of whether we are making policies, issuing regulations, conducting appraisals or giving commendations, we must give emphasis to the judgment of the people, and give the people a greater say. By no means can we act as our own judges or engage in self-approval. The standards of the people must be the standards that we work to, and it is the people who should be the judges. Public appraisals cannot just be for show; they must be binding. We should encourage the things that the public support, do the things that the public hope for, and be resolute in rectifying the things that the public oppose. We need to regularly ask ourselves whether we are working towards the requirements of the people, and whether our measures and methods need improving. We must strive for genuine public satisfaction, and not what we deem to be public satisfaction. Our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture should always reflect the will of the people, as this is the only way that they will stand the test of practice, public opinion, and history.  

 III. Who are we—We must care for the people, regard them as our masters, and constantly maintain the right relationship with them

 The ultimate purpose for us to understand who we represent and who we rely on is to understand who we are. This is a matter of the utmost importance for every single Party member. Only by knowing who we are will we be able to understand ourselves and know what to do. The only way we can improve ourselves is by keeping the people at the center of our thoughts, founding the growth of our wisdom and talents on the creativity of the people, remembering our roots, preserving our commitment to serving the people, and using our power without the desire for personal gain. 

 To fully demonstrate who we are, it is essential that we maintain the right relationship with the people. The Party has stood alongside the people through times of hardship and times of joy, through which it has gained a profound insight into the relationship between the Party and the people. In fact, many comparisons have been used to demonstrate the relationship between the Party and the people, such as the boat and the sea; the fish and the water; the servant and the master; and the student and the teacher. Each of these comparisons serves to emphasize the standing of the people and the role that they play, cautioning us to remember our position and our identity. Maintaining the right relationship with the people is an important aspect that we must consider as we develop a contingent for publicity, ideology and culture. Maintaining this relationship is an important requirement for our cadres in publicity, ideology and culture, and an important point of focus in our efforts to improve our ideology and work style. With practice as our classroom and the people as our teachers, we must proceed from reality, integrate into communities, and interact with the public in depth, so as to forge our character, purify our minds, and improve our style of work. Doing so will allow us to constantly enhance our capacity in our publicity, ideological, and cultural work. 

 1. Our roots lie with the people. Therefore, we must maintain our close ties with the people. We are all a part of the people. The public are the foundation of our growth and our progress. Maintaining close ties with the people is not only an embodiment of the Party’s nature and its tenets, but also a requirement that could not be more natural. Jiang Zemin said that “The most fundamental of the Party’s numerous strengths is its close ties with the people.” The Party’s rise to power was followed by major advances and improvements to conditions in China. While these improvements have made it easier for us to maintain our close ties with the people, they have also increased the risk of lapses in our style of work. In the eyes of some people, the “fish and the water,” which describes the relationship between the Party and the people, has become the “the frog and the water”; namely, they “jump” into the “water” when they need something, and “jump” out again when this need has been satisfied. Our means of transport and communication may be more advanced than they were in the past, but why is it that some people are more distant from the people than they were before, and communicate with them even less? Well, to be honest, this is because they have become apathetic towards the people. Those of us engaged in publicity, ideological, and cultural work are, in fact, working for the people, and the work that we are engaged in involves the exchange of ideas and the linking of minds. Therefore, it is especially important that we show stronger feelings for the people, establish public sentiment, integrate into communities, become one with the people, and address the people face-to-face, heart-to-heart. Only by understanding the state that people live in, and immersing ourselves in their joys, angers, sorrows, worries, and difficulties, will we be able to genuinely feel for them and serve them conscientiously and willingly. Getting into communities and interacting closely with the public must be regarded as a philosophy that we adhere to in our work at all times. We need to become more involved in local communities, where we can experience local working conditions first-hand, learn of the joys and sorrows of local people, and identify the grain of public thought. This will not only bring us closer to the people, but will also help us to find angles of approach and allow us to tie our initiatives in publicity and education to the lives of the people. The public are just like our friends. So, we should make friends with more ordinary members of the public and those who are in difficulty. We must listen to their expectations and difficulties, try to understand their inner thoughts, and seek to become totally integrated with them, so as to serve as their genuine confidants.  

 2. The people are the source of our material and non-material strength. Therefore, it is essential that we are thankful to the people, and repay them through our actions. The Chinese people have a fine tradition of showing gratitude. Gratitude is something that we often talk about in our daily lives. The gratitude of Party members and cadres must, first and foremost, be directed toward the people. They are the ones who have fostered us, and made possible the success of the great cause of the Party. It is the people that have given us a stage on which to act and an arena in which to display our talents. Without the people, and without their support and efforts, we would have nothing to rely on, and nothing to keep ourselves standing. Without the people, we would have nothing, and we would achieve nothing. Showing gratitude toward the people must be a political requirement and a basic quality exhibited by all Party cadres engaged in publicity work. We must, regardless of where we are or what we do, preserve this sense of gratitude toward the people, because serving the people is an obligation to which we are eternally bound. Only by caring for the people will the people care for us; and only by being close to the people will the people be close to us. It is important that we maintain a pure and sincere heart, put the people above all else, and serve the people with the same affection that we treat our parents and loved ones. Before we make an appeal or try to reflect something, we must first consider the actual circumstances that the people face; before we create something or offer something, we must first consider what the people really need. We must, with our greatest efforts, fulfill what the people expect and what the people like. Through our efforts, we will ensure that the notion of gratitude toward the people is not only present throughout all our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture, but also evident in our cultural products and services. Our gratitude should be manifested as solid actions for the benefit of the people.  

 3. The people are the decisive factor in whether we succeed or fail in the causes we pursue. Therefore, we must regard the people with a sense of revere, and fulfill the promises that we have made. Our ancestors said that “Success comes from prudence, and failure from neglect,” and “A successful official is one who knows fear.” Deng Xiaoping said, “Party members shouldn’t be too prudent, but they shouldn’t be overly daring either; they must be fearful of the Party, and of the people too.” The rise and fall of political regimes and parties over the course of world history has shown us, time and again, that there is no power greater than that of the people. Those who revered their people were rewarded with support and solidity, while those who neglected their people were cast away. The people are like a mirror, one through which we should see our own reflections. In this way, we should make corrections to the things that we aspire toward in life, scrutinize our attitudes toward responsibility, measure our commitment to our tasks, and strive for self-respect, self-awareness, self-vigilance, and self-encouragement. In his speech to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the CPC, General Secretary Hu Jintao stated that the Party, under new conditions, is facing “four major tests” and “four major dangers.” This comes as a warning to all Party members, cadres, and to those of us involved in publicity, ideological, and cultural work. Those of us involved in publicity, ideological, and cultural work must have an enormously strong sense of danger and responsibility; we must hold to our solemn commitment to the people, remember that our fundamental purpose is to serve the people wholeheartedly, and fulfill our tasks with a strong sense of responsibility to both the Party and the people. We must continue to equip ourselves with the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, fully implement the Scientific Outlook on Development, resolutely enact the principles and policies of the Party, reinforce our ideals and our beliefs, strengthen our Party spirit, and observe Party discipline. We need to make major efforts to raise our ideological and political awareness, to deepen our sentiment toward the public, to better understand the actual situation in China, and to work in a way that is practical and pragmatic. We need to act with Party spirit, lay emphasis on integrity, set a good example, promote professional dedication, strictly observe professional ethics, establish a sound image, fulfill the tasks set by the Party, and rise to the expectations of the people.   

 In order to implement the Party’s mass line under the new circumstances we now face, it is essential that we use our actions to demonstrate who we represent, who we rely on, and who we are. Before our objectives can become clear, we must know who we represent; before we can find a source of strength, we must know who we rely on; and before we can know our place, we must first know who we are. Through constant efforts to deepen our understanding and develop our practices, we should strive to integrate the mass line of the Party into every single aspect of our initiatives in publicity, ideology and culture, and thereby make a positive contribution to the great new undertaking of Party improvement and the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. 


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.16, 2011) 

Author: Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee; Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Secretariat; Head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee 

This article is a speech made by the author at a training session for civilization office directors nationwide on July 6, 2011; it has been edited and abridged for publication.

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