Last Thursday, on July 21, the Communist Party of China celebrated the 100th anniversary since its founding. With only some fifty members on that day in 1921, the CPC has since grown in leaps and bounds. Today, it boasts more than 950 million members. Thirty percent of the total party membership is made up of young people under the age of 40.
The occasion caused Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also the head of the ruling CPC, to reveal very telling foreign policy standpoints. First, he said, China will never be bullied by foreign forces again. However, China seeks no confrontation with anyone and promotes global peace and cooperation. Said President Xi: “We are eager to learn what lessons we can from the achievements of other cultures. We welcome helpful suggestions and constructive criticism. However, we will never accept lecturing from those self-appointed preachers.”
President Xi continued: “The Party and the Chinese people will keep moving confidently forward along the path that we have chosen for ourselves. We will make sure that the future of China’s development and progress remains firmly in our own hands.”
This is a fertile formula for certain “uniquely Chinese” future party growth – when young people are active in party activities and junior and middle leadership. It bodes well for the future, for the development of China, by Chinese people, for the Chinese people.
China’s success has been based on “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”. And the country’s future will continue to develop in the same trajectory, according to President Xi, who said: “On the journey ahead, we must continue to adapt the basic tenets of Marxism to China’s specific realities and its fine traditional culture.”
At the reception held by the China embassy in SA last week, several SA political bigwigs were in attendance and spoke highly and enviously about China’s ferocious development from a one-time occupied territory to the world’s second largest economy after only the USA. Projections by scholars point to a China’s destined emergence as the world’s biggest economy within the next decade.
Among those who spoke were former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, SA Communist Party leader Blade Nzimande, Bathabile Dlamini of the ANC Women’s League, Cosatu’s president Zingiswa Losi, Water and Sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Social Development minister Lindiwe Zulu, who is also Chair of the ANC’s National Executive Committee’s Sub-committee on International Relations, Nathi Mthethwa spoke in his capacity as the country’s Arts, Sport and Culture minister and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) was represented by its deputy minister Candith Mashego-Dlamini. All spoke in glowing terms about the global envy that China has become.
The New China, as some protagonists in Beijing call it, has rescued more than 700 million peasants out of their socio-economic misery into a booming middle class.
As Cosatu’s Losi put it: “Under the visionary guidance of the CPC, China, whose philosophy is people-centred, has achieved unprecedented success in poverty alleviation in human history. The CPC’s people-centred philosophy has led to the upliftment of over 700 million people out of poverty since its inception, and economic reforms put the people of China at the forefront of its quest for economic development.”
Now the war on poverty is one the UN’s ten millennium goals. As Losi noted with great interest, “the accomplishment put China on achieving the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Goals 10 years ahead of time.” This is no mean feat.
China’s ambassador to SA, Chen Xiaodong, speaking at the CPC@100 celebrations, revealed non-negotiable “musts” on which China’s development in the second centenary will be based. “First,” he said, “we must uphold the firm leadership of the party.” This is because, as President Xi said during his address to the nation on July 21, “China’s success hinges on the CPC. Without the CPC, there will be no New China and no national rejuvenation. The CPC was chosen by history and the Chinese people.” That is the depth of pride that the people of China place on the work, the historical mission and accomplishments of the CPC. All these achievements have been based on “Socialism with Chinese characteristics,” Xiaodong said.
“Second,” he continued, we must work to deliver a better life for the people. A country is its people, and the people are the country. The CPC has been fighting to earn and keep the people’ support.”
He quoted President Xi, who is also the CPC’s general-secretary, saying “any attempt to divide the party from the Chinese people or to set the people against the party is bound to fail. The more than 95 million party members and the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people will never allow this to happen.”
The third “must”, according to Xiaodong, was that “we must firmly uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics. It is the right way to go for rejuvenating the Chinese nation.”
This, according to the CPC, “is a uniquely Chinese path to modernisation, and created a new model for human advancement”.
Xiaodong added: “Fourth, we must continue working to promote the building of a human community with a shared future. Peace, concord, and harmony are ideas the Chinese nation has pursued for more than 5 000 years.”
And finally the fifth “must” was identified as “a need to continue to advance the great new project of party building”.
Former President Motlanthe said: “As witnesses to China’s advances into the future, we take our cue from virtuous leaders of the past who were armed with the correct tools of analysis to envision a future free of homelessness, disease, ignorance, poverty, and hunger.”
There are many lessons that the developing world can copy out of China’s book. Among them is the recognition that every nation has its own unique characteristics, traditions, culture and language.
Philosophies of life also differ from one country to the other. China’s resounding economic boom and towering political global stature are premised on its early acknowledgement that it is better to develop one’s self and one’s domestic understanding rather than to copy foreign traits because carbon copy offers no guarantee for success.