On the Threshold of Achieving the First Centenary Goal
On July 1, 2020, when the Communist Party of China (CPC) celebrated its 99th anniversary, China stood on the threshold of achieving the First Centenary Goal: building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
Standing on this threshold, we should reflect on the remarkable years and the tremendous changes that have led us here. In doing so, many heroic events will come to mind.
In the aftermath of the Opium War (1840-1842), China gradually sank into the abyss of a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. The country was laid to waste, and the people were plunged into a state of suffering and deprivation. The Chinese nation was confronted with great upheaval, the likes of which had not occurred in millennia. No power that existed under heaven could steer this ancient empire out of its desperate plight. It was the CPC, founded in 1921, that eventually became the pillar of resistance against the winds of despair and the torrent of destruction. It united and led the Chinese people gradually out of hardship and toward the triumphs of standing up, becoming prosperous and growing strong.
Looking to the future, with a moderately prosperous society in our grasp and socialist modernization in sight, the prospects for national rejuvenation have never been brighter. By the middle of this century, when the People's Republic of China celebrates its centenary, we will have achieved comprehensive material, political, cultural, social, and ecological advancement, and the modernization of China's governance system and capacity will have been realized. China will be among the countries leading in composite national strength and international influence, and the common prosperity of the people will have been basically achieved. Our people will live happier and healthier lives, and the Chinese nation will stand proud and tall among the nations of the world.
Reflecting on the journey of the last century, General Secretary Xi Jinping has offered a profound explanation for the fundamental force behind the CPC's heroic efforts and spectacular success: "Looking back on our Party's history, why was the Party able to gradually develop and grow strong from such a small and weak position, to be reborn again and again in the midst of ferocious trials and hardships, and to continue from victory to victory in the course of overcoming difficulties? The fundamental reason lies in the fact that, in good times and bad, our Party has always adhered to its original aspiration and mission of seeking happiness for the Chinese people and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. By marching unrelentingly toward this goal, it has won the heartfelt support and firm backing of the people."
The 99 years of the CPC have been 99 years of adhering to this original aspiration and mission, or put another way, 99 years of seeking happiness for the people and the rejuvenation of the nation. The CPC was born out of the laws underlying modern Chinese history and was created by the Chinese people and the Chinese nation.
I. Never changing our original aspiration and never forgetting our founding mission
On October 31, 2017, right after the 19th National Congress of the CPC, General Secretary Xi Jinping led members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on a trip to Shanghai and Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, to visit the site of the First Congress of the CPC and the Red Boat on Jiaxing South Lake where the congress concluded. This is the birthplace of the CPC—hallowed ground where the CPC's aspiration and mission began. As he surveyed the cultural relics and scenes around him that conveyed this aspiration and mission, General Secretary Xi stated with emotion that "Every heritage from the Party's founding is precious, and every scene is thought-provoking. We should regularly recall and reflect deeply on them to shine a light on our Party's original aspiration." "Only by never forgetting our original aspiration, will we live up to our history and our forebears, win the hearts of the people and success in our era, and continue moving toward our goals."
When the CPC was founded during the turbulence of the 1920s, it had just over 50 members nationwide. By always upholding and working tirelessly for its grand aspiration and mission, with each generation striving toward them with unrelenting determination, what was once a small and feeble force transformed the face of China, the Chinese people, and the Chinese nation as well as the face of the Party itself.
A stone tablet kept in Baoxing County, Sichuan Province, inscribed by Red Army personnel with words including, "The Communist Party works so that poor people are liberated and have enough clothes to wear and food to eat." These simple expressions clearly reflect the original aspiration and mission of Chinese Communists.
Reflecting on the last one hundred years allows us to better appreciate just how far we've come, and to know that we've travelled the right path to come where we are. Looking into the future, we can see more clearly our position in history, and the road ahead of us.
History shows that, guided and inspired by its original aspiration and mission, the CPC united and led the people in toppling the three mountains of imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucratic capitalism, which had long held them down, in achieving national independence and their own liberation, and in establishing the People's Republic of China, a country run by the people themselves. It led the people in realizing a great leap from thousands of years of feudal autocracy to a people's democracy, and from being the "sick man of East Asia" to a people that had stood up and were striding into a new era of development and progress.
History shows that, guided and inspired by its original aspiration and mission, the CPC united and led the people in completing the socialist revolution, establishing the basic socialist system, promoting socialist development, and building an independent and relatively complete industrial system and national economy. Through these fundamental achievements in socialist development, it led the people in realizing a great leap from the relentless decline of the Chinese nation in modern times to the fundamental transformation of its destiny and to a continuous advance toward prosperity and strength.
History shows that, guided and inspired by its original aspiration and mission, the CPC united and led the people in undertaking the great new revolution of reform and opening up, which forged the path and system of socialism with Chinese characteristics. With marked improvements in people's lives, composite national strength, and the international standing of the country, China made great strides in catching up with the times, and the Chinese nation realized the great leap from standing up to becoming prosperous.
History shows that, guided and inspired by its original aspiration and mission, the CPC has led the people into a new era for socialism with Chinese characteristics. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core has led the whole Party in following through on its original aspiration and mission. It has led the Chinese people in bringing about historic changes and accomplishments in the cause of the Party and the country, which have resulted in the Chinese nation's great leap from becoming prosperous to growing strong. China's economy, science and technology, national defense and composite strength now rank among the best in the world, and the country is moving closer to the world's center stage. The Chinese people are closer to the goal of national rejuvenation than at any time in their history, and are more confident and capable than ever before of achieving this goal.
Just as history can tell us about the future, the future can affirm our past. The great course of the CPC over the last 99 years, in which it has upheld its original aspiration and mission, is the same remarkable journey that has been made by the Chinese people and the Chinese nation. The CPC and the Chinese people have realized magnificent victories and gains through their commitment and dedication, their tenacity and industry. These will go down as an unforgettable chapter in the history of the nation's development. They constitute a powerful force and a solid grounding that will enable the Chinese people and nation to build upon the past and keep forging ahead.
Party members of various ethnic groups sit together and celebrate the CPC's birthday in the Ethnic Unity Courtyard of the Fushou Alley Community in Tianshan District, Urumqi, July 1, 2018. The first of July each year is a day of great pride for every Party member, and an opportunity for them to reflect on the CPC's founding mission and prepare themselves for the next stage of their work. PEOPLE'S DAILY / PHOTO BY JIN WEI
II. The original aspiration and founding mission are the source of CPC's motivation.
The original aspiration and mission of the CPC are based on the scientific theory of Marxism. They are a reflection of the Party's nature, purpose, ideals and convictions, and objectives. They are the fundamental force driving Chinese Communists to see their revolution through to the end.
By upholding its original aspiration and mission, the CPC can stand firmly on the side of the people, achieve total selflessness, and always work tirelessly for the interests and happiness of the people.
The essence of the CPC's original aspiration and mission is that the people are supreme and everything the Party does is for the people. Since its founding, the CPC has ensured that everything it does is exactly for the people. It has stressed that it has no self-interests of its own, only the interests of the people, and it has always taken their aspiration for a better life as its goal. As the years have passed, this original aspiration has endured. Throughout the great journey of uniting and leading the people in revolution, economic development, and reform, the CPC has never wavered in its fundamental aim of serving the people wholeheartedly, no matter how significant the challenges and pressures it has faced, no matter how great the sacrifices and costs it has borne.
Party member and deputy anti-epidemic specialist group leader Ding Fei suits up in protective equipment and prepares to enter the isolation ward in the contagious diseases department at the People's Hospital in Bishan District, Chongqing, February 6, 2020. PEOPLE'S DAILY / PHOTO BY HU YUEJIAN
Only by eschewing personal gain can we pursue the more fundamental and greater good. The CPC has always won the people's approval and support precisely because it adheres firmly to its original aspiration and mission, puts the people above all else in its thinking, and treats their happiness and hardships as its own.
By upholding its original aspiration and mission, the CPC can stand firm in its ideal and convictions and always be able to tackle whatever risks and challenges it encounters with confidence.
During the almost century-long journey of the CPC, the heroic efforts and sacrifices of generations of Communists have been inspired by the original aspiration and mission of seeking happiness for the people and the rejuvenation of the nation. Although they were aware that the ideal they pursued may not be fulfilled by their efforts alone, they firmly believed that as long as each generation continued to work, struggle and sacrifice for this lofty ideal, it would most definitely be realized.
By upholding its original aspiration and mission, the CPC can firmly adhere to scientific theories without any distractions clouding its vision, and always remain clear about the right direction and objective laws to follow.
Without theoretical clarity, there will never be political resolve. The CPC's original aspiration and mission come not only from a sincere affection for the country and its people and the persistent pursuit of its ideals and convictions, but also from its rational acceptance of the scientific theory of Marxism. When the Chinese nation was poor and weak and at the mercy of others, many different doctrines and schools of thought were tried in attempts to save the nation and the people, but all of them failed to answer the question of China's future and its destiny. As an old saying puts it, "Though it's exhausting to pan the sand ten thousand times, if you sift through every grain you will uncover gold." Under the guidance of the scientific theory of Marxism, the CPC established its original aspiration and mission, and it has since then remained firmly committed to them in its thinking and its actions.
Though the world is undergoing major changes unseen in a century, from the perspective of world history, we remain in the historical era indicated by Marxism. Marxism has always been the "true scripture" of the CPC. And in contemporary China, to uphold Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is to truly uphold Marxism.
By upholding its original aspiration and mission, the CPC has the courage to undertake self-revolution and remains responsible at all times, thereby enabling it to always serve as the pillar of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation.
Mao Zedong once asked, "Can we be willing to allow political dust and germs to dirty our clean faces or eat into our healthy organism?" Today, General Secretary Xi stresses that "Just as a room needs regular cleaning, so do our minds to get rid of the dust. We must check ourselves in the mirror, tidy our attire, and take a bath and treat our ailments if necessary."
Chinese Communists are deeply aware that the advanced and wholesome nature of a Marxist party will not automatically stay this way as time passes, nor will the Party spirit of members automatically improve with their years of membership and job advancement. The Party's original aspiration will not automatically retain its quality and freshness either. If we don't pay attention, it may become sullied or tarnished; if we fail to nourish it for a prolonged period, it may become dried and wilted. As we progress, it is all too easy to forget why we set out and where we are heading. It is vital that we always remember our original aspiration and mission, and resolutely eliminate any factors that undermine the Party's advanced nature and purity, remove any malignant tumors that threaten its constitution, and firmly guard against any danger that would lead to betrayal of our original aspiration and mission or destabilization of the Party's foundations.
III. Staying true to our original aspiration and founding mission as we make greater strides into the future
As we stand on the threshold of the First Centenary Goal, considering the overarching strategic context of national rejuvenation and the current state of profound change in the world which is unprecedented over the last century, we must ask ourselves the following question: How can the CPC overcome challenges and difficulties to realize national rejuvenation while staying true to its original aspiration and mission as it has done in the past?
During his visit to Ningxia in June 2020, General Secretary Xi pointed out that for all Party members, and especially leading officials at all levels, to keep their original aspiration and mission in mind, they must always remain clear-headed and politically resolute, adhere to and strengthen Party leadership, uphold and develop Chinese socialism, and firmly pursue the larger goal of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, thereby resolutely advancing the great cause for which our revolutionary forebears fought.
Adhering to and strengthening Party leadership
The leadership of the CPC is the most essential feature and the greatest strength of the system of Chinese socialism. CPC leadership is not self-proclaimed; it is the choice of history and the people. It was determined by the nature and purpose of the Party, and it has been comprehensively tested in the long historical process of revolution, economic development, and reform. Over the past century, this leadership has always been the decisive factor in achieving success.
Marx and Engels made it clear that it was necessary for proletarian parties to coalesce all their strength. If every Party branch and member did only what they wanted, the Party would not become a strong and unified organization, but rather fall to ruin. The journey toward national rejuvenation is bound to lead to various risks and challenges, and to involve a great struggle with many new historical features. This requires that we give full play to the political advantages of the leadership of the CPC and to the stabilizing force of the unified, centralized leadership of the CPC Central Committee.
Members of a Party member-run emergency response team made up of village-stationed Party officials and grid management personnel clear fallen rocks from a stretch of road between Liangwang Village and a nearby hamlet in Rongjiang County, Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, Guizhou Province, early morning, June 13, 2020. PEOPLE'S DAILY / PHOTO BY LI CHANGHUA
Adherence to the leadership of the CPC means, first and foremost, upholding the authority and centralized, unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee. This is the highest principle underlying Party leadership. We cannot, at any time or under any circumstances, afford to be ambivalent or hesitant about this. The Party's leadership is overarching, systematic, and complete. It must be manifested in all aspects of economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological advancement, in our country's national defense and armed forces, and in reunification, diplomacy, and the strengthening of the Party itself. If the Party's leadership is lacking or weakened in any field or at any link, the strength of the Party will be undermined, and thus the cause of the Party and the country will be jeopardized.
Upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics
What banner to carry and what course to follow are major questions that determine the future and destiny of a country and nation. Speaking at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium in 2014, General Secretary Xi once again reflected on China's history: "In 1911, the revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen overthrew the autocratic monarchy that had ruled China for thousands of years. But with the old system gone, where would China go became the question. The Chinese people started exploring long and hard for a path that would suit China's national conditions. They experimented with constitutional monarchy, imperial restoration, parliamentarianism, a multi-party system, and presidential government, yet nothing really worked. Finally, China took the path of socialism."
To follow the path of socialism and, on this path, to seek happiness for the people and the rejuvenation of the nation became the CPC's declared aspiration and mission at the time of its founding. From the completion of the new democratic revolution to the socialist revolution, from the establishment of the basic socialist system to the revolutionary changes of reform and opening up and the creation of the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and from there to the dawning of a new era, socialism with Chinese characteristics has encompassed the ideals and explorations of successive generations of Chinese Communists, and embodies the greatest dream of the Chinese nation in the modern era—national rejuvenation. History and the present reality tell us that only socialism can save China, only socialism with Chinese characteristics can develop China, and only adherence to and development of socialism with Chinese characteristics can bring about the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
The direction we pursue will decide our future, and the path we follow will determine our fate. It was not easy to find the path of Chinese socialism—the right path for China. For this, we must cherish it all the more and follow it with determination and independent will. We should take the improvement and development of Chinese socialist system and the modernization of China's system and capacity for governance as the overall goal of the comprehensively continuing reform, and bravely explore new theoretical, practical, institutional, and cultural frontiers, to make our system more mature, achieve higher-quality development, improve our governance, and ensure our people have a growing sense of fulfillment.
Firmly pursuing the larger goal of national rejuvenation
The Chinese nation is a great nation with a more than 5,000-year-old civilization that has made indelible contributions to the progress of human civilization. However, in modern times, it has endured great hardships and for a time, teetered on the brink of total destruction. Since then, national rejuvenation has been the greatest dream of the Chinese people in modern times. This dream embodies the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation and people and the long-cherished aspirations of numerous generations of Chinese men and women.
During its 99 years of great struggle and progress, the CPC has never once altered its original aspiration or forgotten its mission. It has united and led the people in overcoming one seemingly impossible obstacle after another, in creating one historic miracle after another, and in transforming the poor and backward old China into a new China that has become prosperous and is growing strong.
All the efforts, struggles, and sacrifices made by the CPC over the past 99 years have been for the wellbeing of the people and the rejuvenation of the nation. Standing on the threshold of the Centenary Goal, the CPC aspires to lasting greatness for the Chinese nation. Our nation is truly thriving, now a century after the founding of the CPC.
(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 13, 2020)