Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Understanding the CPC's role

By Xiao Geng (China Daily) Updated: 2011-06-09 07:42

The Communist Party of China (CPC) does not convey the tangible spirituality that gongchandang (CPC in Chinese) does, especially because the word "communist" has very different meanings for people in the West and China.

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To learn about gongchandang, we need to understand the complexity and substance of the CPC, and focus on what it actually does to understand its nature.

Is the CPC a monopoly in Chinese politics? Western people would say "yes, of course", because they view the CPC as the ultimate decision-maker in the country. I think the CPC's answer to the question would be "no", for there are many other parties which are part of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a political body that contributes to the establishment of top national and local policies in China.

For a balanced understanding, we need to recognize that the CPC has functioned in a competitive set-up right from the day it was born in July 1921. It has faced constant competition to garner the support of the Chinese people. Kuomintang, the incumbent party in Taiwan except for a few years in the last decade, has never stopped competing with the CPC. The competition was fierce from the 1920s to 1940s, with a major civil war before 1949.

Indirectly, political, social and economic developments in some countries such as Singapore and South Korea also put competitive pressure on the CPC, because the ruling parties in those countries provided faster economic growth and better livelihoods for their people. Like any other political party in the world, the CPC also needs to win people's support by improving their livelihoods.

In the process of winning people's support, the CPC has evolved into a competent manager of China's great transformation from a semi-feudal, semi-colonial, war-torn, underdeveloped society with massive poverty into a modern society with high economic growth and greater economic, social and political freedom. This is similar to what Singapore's ruling party did under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew.

What the CPC has been doing for 90 years can be divided into two categories - working on reform or to build institutions and acting as a substitute for the people and institutions to fight crises.

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