The bloody decimation of the “Shanghai massacre of 1927” by Kuomintang reactionaries nearly strangled it in the cradle;
The ensuing “white terror” and smothering enemy sieges brewed suspicion in its own ranks over how long it would be able to “keep the red flag flying”;
No sooner had it secured State power in 1949 than isolation and blockades by ideological foes on the other side of the “iron curtain” raised doubt about it sustaining the newborn People’s Republic;
The collapse of communist parties in the former Soviet block prompted prophecies about its demise – 20 years ago;
Yet the Communist Party of China (CPC) is still securely, assuredly and adroitly behind the helm of the country with the trust of 1.3 billion people, still brimming with youthful vigor.
The color red may offend some eyes. The adjective “communist” may invoke fear and hysteria in some minds. The “red songs” expressing appreciation of and gratitude to the Party may grate on some ears.
But there is one simple truth about the present-day Chinese political landscape that cannot be denied – the CPC’s leadership remains firmly at the heart of the nation’s achievements.
For the average Chinese, what matters now is not whether the CPC should continue to command the center stage. It is how it can deliver better governance, and provide more sophisticated and enlightened leadership in the nation’s pursuit of harmony and further prosperity.
There have been less than “great, glorious, and correct” episodes in the CPC’s 90-year history, the most recent being the chaos and devastation of the “cultural revolution” (1966-1976), at the end of which the State apparatus was dysfunctional and the economy was in extreme difficulties.
But the CPC is what and where it is because of its ability to learn the lessons of the past and to advance with the times. And the Chinese people treasure that. They are grateful to the CPC for what it has delivered, and full of optimism about what it will bring in the future.
From the socialist market economy to socialism with Chinese characteristics, the people-first governance philosophy, scientific outlook on development, as well as the ideal of a harmonious society, the CPC has been continually learning and growing, improving the lives of the people and winning the hearts of new generations.
Never before have the Chinese people experienced such rapid improvements in their standard of living and in the nation’s comprehensive strength and international prestige. Never before have the Chinese people been so free to decide where and how to work and live. Never before have they been so proud of China on the world stage. And they know all the good tidings are in one way or another attributable to the CPC’s fine helmsmanship.
Ask anyone on the street why he or she is by and large comfortable with the country’s political status quo, and one will hear words of praise for the disaster relief during the 1998 floods and the earthquakes in Wenchuan and Yushu, or for the country’s remarkable performance in weathering the last two international financial meltdowns. This is how ordinary Chinese people gauge the competence of their leadership.
That was why in a recent Ministry of Education poll almost 90 percent of college students were optimistic the CPC would become an even better leader, and why nearly 80 percent wanted to join it.
But the Party is not taking that for granted or resting on its laurels. Early in 2004 the Fourth Plenary Session of the 16th CPC National Congress stated: “The Party’s governing status is not inherent, nor does it hold good for all time.” The Party’s keen awareness of the imperative to continually improve is obvious in its definition of the present as a “stage when contradictions present themselves” and its latest call to enhance “social administration”.
Over its 90 years the CPC has grown from an underground organization with only a few dozen under its banner into a 80-million strong party thanks in part to its ability to adapt and respond to the changing needs of the time. The Party’s current efforts to create a fairer society are inspiring a more responsive interface with the public and improving the self-discipline of officials. Narrowing wealth gaps and curtailing corruption will entail a strong will and perseverance. The “inclusive growth” the CPC is striving for will be an achievement worth celebrating.
No matter how unwilling some might be to see it, people in China are confident that the CPC will lead them to an even brighter future.