100 years of Communist Party of China (CPC) China’s CPC is all set for its centenary celebrations on July 1. CPC has played a big role in the country’s transformation. China that we see today was very different almost 4 decades back.
The economic, military and technological prowess, of which it boasts today, was not developed overnight. CPC, its ideology and leaders played a key role. Thus, we revisit some of the major highlights of CPC’s journey so far and what is next for China and the world.
After winning the Chinese civil war and establishing the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Mao (the Military leader, who also served as Chairman of CPC till 1976) was all set for rapid economic expansion to beat US and UK.
In his hurried experiments, he launched 2 disastrous reform programmes – The Great Leap Forward (1958) and Cultural Revolution (1965). Millions of people starved to death under these programmes and the nation was pushed to poverty. It was one of the toughest phases for China.
Till date, CPC avoids talking about these two major mistakes and has altered history from time to time to dilute the account on these experiments by Chairman Mao. However, the story of China’s recovery from a famine hit country to a global economic and tech leader is riveting.
Global commentators see this turnaround as the biggest achievement of China. After the death of Mao in 1976, Deng Xiaoping took this task for reforming the Chinese economy. And it was the reforms since 1978 that made China what it is today – the global economic power.
The volume of exports rose by 15% a year from 1978-2006 and China’s share of world exports rose from 0.8 to 8%, as per OECD. Post-1978 reforms, China’s economy grew by almost 10% a year and more than 800 million people were lifted out of poverty, as per World Bank. THAT’S HUGE!
This was not just an economic reform. CPC also pursued an ideological transformation. Despite being committed to communism, Deng opened China’s economy to pvt players. CPC termed this as “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”. It turned out to be a huge success for the country.
Lee Kuan Yew, Former PM of Singapore and outstanding leader, once said, “Communism has failed in China, but the Chinese Communist Party has succeded”. The story of China’s post-1978 economic refroms is worth reading. But, let’s save it for some other day.
Xi Jinping took forward the CPC’s legacy. Not only did he re-positioned the economic policy but came up with a very strict anti-corruption campaign, which is still a topic of research and discussion. It re-defined CPC and Xi Jinping for China and its people.
Launched in 2012, Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign ended up finding more than 1 lakh govt and party members, private businesses etc. guilty. It remains the largest (and official) anti-corruption drive in the history of China.
Then came the Xi Jinping Thought – most recent and prevailing economic thought, enshrined under the CPC’s constitution. Apart from telling the world about his impregnable power, it talked about “adapting Marxism to the Chinese context”. It also marked a new economic era.
With Made in China 2025 and China Standards 2035, two key economic campaigns by Xi Jinping, China now looks at ending the US dominance on the economic, technology and military front. It is being speculated that by the end of 2028, China will replace US.
It sounds interesting but the truth is that this growth has come at a huge social cost for China. Rampant human right violations, rising environmental crisis, demographic challenges and several other issues are a byproduct of China’s aggressive economy-building measures.
Moreover, today China is witnessing the most strict sort of crackdown on individual liberties of its own citizens. Increased surveillance and autocracy is fuelling discontent amongst his own party members and the Chinese society at large.
Lastly, bullying and muscle-flexing tactics by China in international politics might be hard for Jinping to defend, especially in the light of Biden’s recent Europe tour. It might give rise to an “aggressive and isolated China” as put by Chinese affairs expert Jude Blanchette.