Vol. XLI No. 49 December 03, 2017

Communist Party of China 19th Congress – Strengthening the Party

R Arun Kumar

THE report presented by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) traces the role played by the Party in the country’s transition from a feudal autocracy to people’s democracy. The Party united the people and led the struggle against feudalism, imperialism and capitalism and founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949. It established socialism as the basic system of Chinese society and is advancing on the path of socialist construction with Chinese characteristics. The report notes that the Party leadership got strengthened on ideological work and in exploring new ground in advancing party related theories. It notes that people of China are embracing socialism with Chinese characteristics, appreciating Marxism as a guiding theory and that core socialist values are alive in the hearts of people.

The report states that in the past five years (intervening period between the 18th and 19th Congress), the Party has demonstrated tremendous political courage and a powerful sense of mission as it has ‘developed new ideas, new thinking, and new strategies, adopted a raft of major principles and policies, launched a host of major initiatives, and pushed ahead with many major tasks’. Further, it credits the Party for solving ‘many tough problems that were long on the agenda but never resolved, and accomplished many things that were wanted but never got done’. These achievements of the Party resulted in historic shifts in the Party and the country with far-reaching effects.

Tracing the steps taken by the Party and the impact it had, the report states: “Over the past five years, we have acted with courage to confront major risks and tests facing the Party and to address prominent problems within the Party itself. With firm resolve, we have tightened discipline and improved Party conduct, fought corruption and punished wrongdoing, and removed serious potential dangers in the Party and the country. As a result, both the intraparty political atmosphere and the political ecosystem of the Party have improved markedly. The Party’s ability to innovate, power to unite, and energy to fight have all been significantly strengthened; Party solidarity and unity have been reinforced, and our engagement with the people has been greatly improved. Revolutionary tempering has made our Party stronger and it now radiates with great vitality. With this, efforts to develop the cause of the Party and the country have gained a strong political underpinning”.

The report also acknowledges the role played by the Party in rejuvenating the country. The Party never forgot its founding mission, nor wavered in its pursuit of leading the country out of its backwardness and into modernity. The report confidently asserts that today it is more “closer, more confident, and more capable than ever before of making the goal of national rejuvenation a reality”. Quoting a Chinese saying, ‘the last leg of a journey marks the halfway point’, the report cautions every Party member to be prepared to work even harder, as ‘achieving national rejuvenation will be no walk in the park; it will take more than drum beating and gong clanging to get there’.

The report asks every Party member to uphold Party leadership and the Chinese socialist system, and ‘resolutely oppose all statements and actions that undermine, distort, or negate them’. It calls upon all the members to oppose all the moves that damage people’s interests or put distance between the Party and the people and ensure protection of people’s interests. “Every Party member must fully appreciate the long-term, complex, and onerous nature of this great struggle; we must be ready to fight, build our ability, and keep striving to secure new victories in this great struggle”.

To realise the dream of building a modern and prosperous China, requires a ‘great new project of Party building’, as the leadership of the CPC is an essential condition for national rejuvenation. “To remain the vanguard of the times, the backbone of the nation, and a Marxist governing party, our Party must always hold itself to the highest standards. Every Party member must be more actively involved in enhancing Party consciousness, and demonstrate commitment to Party principles. We must have the courage to face problems squarely, be braced for the pain, act to remove whatever undermines the Party’s purity and advanced nature, and rid ourselves of any virus that erodes the Party’s health….Realising our great dream demands a great cause….The path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the only path to socialist modernisation and a better life for the people….Our whole Party must strengthen our confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics. We must neither retrace our steps to the rigidity and isolation of the past, nor take the wrong turn by changing our nature and abandoning our system. We must maintain our political orientation, do the good solid work that sees our country thrive, and continue to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics”.

The report directs the Party to serve people wholeheartedly and adhere to the mass line in all aspects of governance. It also professes the Party’s immense faith and commitment to the cause of socialism and states that only socialism can save China and that ‘only with reform and opening can we develop China, develop socialism, and develop Marxism’. The Congress took upon the task to “develop socialist consultative democracy, improve our democratic institutions, diversify our forms of democracy, and establish more democratic channels”, as part of its efforts to move in the path of socialist political advancement with Chinese characteristics.

The report also called upon the Party to uphold core socialist cultural values, which are identified as Marxism, the ideal of Communism and a shared ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It directs the Party to ensure that ‘revolutionary culture remains alive and strong, and develop an advanced socialist culture’. The report calls for the development of a ‘socialist culture with Chinese characteristics, following the guidance of Marxism, which means: “a culture that is sound and people-oriented, that embraces modernisation, the world, and the future, and that both promotes socialist material wellbeing and raises socialist cultural-ethical standards….We should ensure that this culture serves the people and serves socialism”.

The report directs the Party to focus on fostering a new generation capable of shouldering the mission of national rejuvenation, by providing them better guidance and exposing them to practice. It states that the Party ‘should be good at learning’ and hence it should provide for “a strong atmosphere of learning and practicing in the Party”, build the Party into a ‘Marxist learning party’. For this, it resolves to nurture ‘a love of learning’ among the people.

The Report strongly warns the Party from getting delinked from the people. “Once the Party becomes disengaged from the people, it will lose its vitality. In improving Party conduct, we must focus on maintaining the Party’s close bond with the people, keep them firmly in mind, develop a closer affinity with them, and keep working to foster stronger public support for the Party’s governance”.

The report vouches by the principle of democratic centralism and the necessity for imposing strict Party discipline. It wants the development of a healthy political culture within the Party and resolutely correct ‘misconduct in all its forms, and show zero tolerance for corruption’. It proposes to continue with the steps to strengthen the ‘Party’s ability to purify, improve, and reform itself, and forever maintain its close ties with the people’. “The primary task of Party building is to ensure that the whole Party obeys the Central Committee and upholds its authority and centralised, unified leadership. All Party members must closely follow the Party’s political line, strictly observe its political discipline and rules, and closely align themselves with the Central Committee in terms of political stance, direction, principle, and path”.

Stating that “the era is the mother of thought; practice is the fount of theory”, the report asserts that if it has “the courage to uphold truth and correct errors, the Marxism of 21st century China will, without a doubt, emanate more mighty, more compelling power of truth”.

The report specifies some of the general requirements for Party building for the new era. Building on theoretical strength, consolidation of organisations, enforcing discipline, improving its conduct are some of these aspects. “Building the Party into a vibrant Marxist governing party that is always at the forefront of the times, enjoys the wholehearted support of the people, has the courage to reform itself, and is able to withstand all tests” is another key aspect. It notes that “taking a clear political stand is the fundamental requirement our Party must meet as a Marxist party”.

The report calls upon the members to be ‘open and frank’ and take effective measures to address real issues, and seek good outcomes. It wants the Party members to act resolutely and swiftly and make sustained efforts to ‘tackle tough issues head-on’. The Party members “should have the perseverance to hammer away until a task is done, and make concrete, meticulous, and effective efforts in all our work”. It wants the Party to be ready and ‘good at managing risks’.

The report states that a ‘great cause (socialism) calls for leadership of a strong party’. It exudes confidence that as long as the Party keeps itself competent and strong, it can navigate ‘the great ship bearing the great dream of the Chinese people to conquer the waves and reach our destination’.

It concludes with a confident optimism expressed in these words: “Our world is full of both hope and challenges. We should not give up on our dreams because the reality around us is too complicated; we should not stop pursuing our ideals because they seem out of our reach. The wheels of history roll on; the tides of the times are vast and mighty. History looks kindly on those with resolve, with drive and ambition, and with plenty of guts; it won’t wait for the hesitant, the apathetic, or those shy of a challenge. All of us in the Party must work hard and live simply, guard against arrogance and impetuosity; and lose no time in progressing along the long march of the new era”.