Editorial: Without the CPC, the Chinese People Would Not Have Such Happy Lives
The Communist Party of China (CPC) has just celebrated its 100th birthday. This marks a major milestone in its history, the history of the Chinese nation, and even that of the world.
On July 1, 2021, General Secretary Xi Jinping stood atop the gate tower of Tiananmen and declared to the world the following on behalf of the CPC and the Chinese people: Through the continued efforts of the whole Party and the entire nation, we have realized the First Centenary Goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. This means we have brought about a historic resolution to the problem of absolute poverty in China, and we are now marching in confident strides toward the Second Centenary Goal of building China into a great modern socialist country. This is a great and glorious accomplishment for China, the Chinese people, and the Communist Party of China!
At such a moving moment, the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation could not help but be filled with deep emotion, best expressed in songs about their gratefulness and reverence for the CPC, and showing their pride in the Party, in the new China that it has led, and in the lives they are leading that are now happier than ever before. Now after a century of history, the CPC is steering the great ship of the Chinese nation toward national rejuvenation, and a China that is continuing to strive to make the country strong and the people happy. Our forebears can finally rest easy, because the wellbeing we enjoy today proves that at this moment, their wishes have finally been fulfilled.
Over thousands of years of history, the Chinese people constantly put in hard work and sought self-improvement in the pursuit of moderately prosperous lives. Under the yoke of feudalism, this was nothing but a fantasy. Then after the Opium War in the mid-19th century, China was plunged even deeper into domestic turmoil and foreign aggression due to the encroachment of Western powers, and the Chinese nation faced the threat of demise. The country was poor and weak, and the people lived in hunger and cold. As Mao Zedong wrote, "The poverty and lack of freedom among the Chinese people [were] on a scale seldom found elsewhere." In an effort to rescue the people from misery and save them from their plight, countless lofty-minded people fought with valiant and unyielding determination, but remained unable to change China's tragic fate as a crumbling nation where people lived in dire poverty. The country had already slipped into the torrent of destruction; who could reach in to pull it out?
Amid the crashing waves of history, the Chinese people chose as their savior a party equipped with the scientific truth of Marxism —the Communist Party of China.
In 1921, the meeting that began at an old house in Shanghai and then continued in a boat on the South Lake in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, bore witness to the birth of the CPC, which bravely took on the historic mission of realizing national rejuvenation and would lead the people in bringing about miraculous achievements. From then on, the decisions made in this little red boat carried the dream of millions upon millions of Chinese people to build a strong and prospering nation. Steering through perilous trials and terrifying difficulties, the CPC led the Chinese nation to achieve the tremendous leap from standing up and growing prosperous to becoming strong in its unstoppable course toward rejuvenation.
The CPC has no special interests of its own apart from the interests of the working class and the broadest majority of the Chinese people. Seeking happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation has been the mission that the Party has pursued with unswerving commitment since the day of its founding. All the struggle, sacrifice, and creation that the Party has been through over the past hundred years have been to ensure that the people are able to live good lives. The CPC's century-long history has, on the fundamental level, been a history of seeking happiness for the people.
Our revolutionary heroes expressed their zeal in their writings, like Mao Zedong, who wrote the verse, "Our minds grow stronger for the martyrs' sacrifice, daring to make the sun and the moon shine in the new sky"; Xia Minghan, who wrote in a farewell letter to his mother, "Though we will not be around to see our parents grow old, I have faith that you will see the red flag we raise flying in our nation's blue skies"; and Peng Pai, who wrote, "Even if securing a better life for our progeny meant giving up our lives, we would not hesitate." By shedding their blood and laying down their lives, the martyrs of the revolution demonstrated what it meant to be a Chinese Communist and their determination to see the Party's founding mission through.
After its founding, the CPC united and led the people through a bloody 28-year-long struggle in which they toppled the "three mountains" of imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat-capitalism, secured victory in the new democratic revolution, realized the independence and liberation that Chinese people had dreamed of for generations, and laid the groundwork and carved out a path for making the country strong and the people prosperous.
At the First Plenary Session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in 1949, Mao Zedong declared, "Ours will no longer be a nation subject to insult and humiliation. We have stood up!" Attending representatives responded with thunderous applause as hot tears streamed down their faces. That deep sense of liberation, the feeling of dignity that came from taking control of the country, and the burning excitement about making a fresh start are things that only people who experienced what it was like the old society could perceive and comprehend. Only they could truly understand how the flying of the red flag marked the arrival of a better life.
In the newly founded People's Republic of China, the people became the masters of the country, of society, and of their own destiny for the first time. At the time, a shepherd girl named Tseten Dolma from Xizang, whose ancestors had all lived in slavery, bravely took the stage and performed the song "Sing a Folk Song for the Party," conveying the immeasurable emotion felt by people of all ethnic groups toward the CPC: "I see the Party as my mother; my mother gave birth to my body, but the Party's glory lights my heart." With the CPC backing them up, Tseten Dolma and people like her could now stand tall as the masters of a new society.
To develop the new country, the people worked with unprecedented creativity and drive in an effort to build a new society. In those passionate times, the CPC united and led the Chinese people in carrying out socialist revolution, establishing socialism as the country's basic system, and advancing economic development under utterly destitute conditions. Chinese society went through tremendous changes, and an independent and relatively complete industrial system and national economic system were established. As it sought wellbeing for the people, the Party consistently brought about miraculous achievements and illustrated new and brilliant possibilities.
There was triumphant progress, but there were also vexing obstacles. To build a new socialist China in the devastated mess of the country left over from the old China, it was necessary to put in arduous and pioneering effort, push through difficulty, and cleave new paths in every endeavor.
One winter's night in 1978, 18 farming families in Xiaogang Village, Anhui Province, pressed their fingerprints in bright red ink onto a contract devoid of any punctuation. With that, the push for rural reform took off across the country.
The Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee held in 1978 brought about a major turn with far-reaching significance in the history of the Party since the founding of the PRC in 1949. The CPC united and led the people in following their own path, and in founding, upholding, safeguarding, and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. This enabled China to liberate and develop productive forces on a constant basis, and to make the historic transformation of raising the living standards of its people from bare subsistence to a basic level of moderate prosperity, and then ultimately to moderate prosperity in all respects.
The further one progresses, the more precipitous the road ahead becomes. Fast forward to 2012, and the CPC had entered the crucial and most strenuous stage of its first century of endeavors to seek happiness for the people and rejuvenation for the nation. The baton of history now passed into the hands of a new generation of Chinese Communists with Xi Jinping as their chief representative.
At a press conference with Chinese and foreign journalists at the Great Hall of the People on November 15, 2012, General Secretary Xi Jinping, China's leader for the new era, said, "The people yearn for a better life, and our goal is to help them achieve it," and "We must always be of the same mind with the people and share the same destiny with them, and we must work together with them and diligently for the public good so as to live up to the expectations of both history and the people."
Facing a grave and complex international situation as well as formidable tasks in domestic reform, development, and stability, especially under the serious impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, Xi Jinping has stayed focused on the overall strategic landscape for achieving national rejuvenation within the wider context of the once-in-a-century changes taking place in the world. Upholding a people-centered philosophy of development and working with selfless commitment to the people, he has taken charge in the pursuit of a great struggle, a great project, a great cause, and a great dream. These efforts have guided the Party, the military, and the people throughout the country in bravely forging ahead, steered the cause of the Party and the country toward historic achievements and changes, secured victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and launched a new journey to build a modern socialist country, delivering results that have made the people satisfied, garnered worldwide attention, and earned a place in history.
In the old China, productivity was at a very low level, and both industrial and agricultural production was extremely backward. In 1949, China accounted for less than 5% of global economic output. Mao Zedong summed up the situation when he said, "We cannot manufacture even a motor vehicle, an aircraft, a tank, or a tractor." Now, in the China of the current era, GDP has leapt up to the 100 trillion yuan mark, and per capita GDP has reached the major milestone of US$10,000. Meanwhile, China has maintained its position as the world's second largest economy for many years, and has long been the largest contributor to world economic growth.
In the old China, the people struggled bitterly on the thin line between life and death. It is estimated that 80% of the people lived in a state of long-term hunger, with tens or even hundreds of thousands of people dying from starvation almost every year. Now, in the China of the current era, a complete victory has been won in the fight against poverty, and living standards have risen substantially. Per capita disposable income has increased by a factor of more than 600 in nominal terms, while the Engel's coefficient has dropped to roughly 30%.
In the old China, the people suffered from the torment of disease as well as a dearth of intellectual fulfillment, with an average life expectancy of just 35 years and an illiteracy rate of up to 80% in 1949. Now, in the China of the current era, average life expectancy has reached 77.3 years, and the average length of schooling for those aged 15 or older has reached 9.9 years. People now enjoy rich intellectual and cultural lives.
In the old China, the Chinese people were oppressed under the heavy yoke of the aggression and colonial depredations of Western powers, who trampled on their dignity and their right to exist. Now, in the China of the current era, the people have witnessed their country draw ever closer to the center of the world stage and become the world leader in industry and trade. The Chinese people now have a much stronger sense of national self-respect, and they are more proud, confident, and assured in their identity.
A century ago, China was in decline and withering away in the eyes of the world. Today, it stands in the world as a thriving nation that is advancing with unstoppable momentum toward rejuvenation.
Over the past hundred years, countless Communists have shed blood and given up their lives for the just cause of seeking happy lives for the people. Despite terrible hardship, they have always stayed true to the founding mission. In human history, there has never been a political party like the CPC that has been faced with so much difficulty, been through so many trials where its survival was at stake, delivered such great service, and created such a glorious legacy in the pursuit of wellbeing for the people.
History has proven that without the CPC, there would be no new China and no Chinese socialism, and the people would not have such happy lives. Thanks to the leadership of the CPC, the people's desire for a better life and the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation can be fulfilled.
Meanwhile, our practical experience has shown us that this country is its people and the people are the country, and that as we have fought to establish and consolidate our leadership over the country, we have in fact been fighting to earn and keep the people's support and to ensure a good standard of living for them. The wellbeing of the people is the country's most fundamental interests. Reaching moderate prosperity in all respects is only the first step; the Chinese people's best days are yet to come.
The road is long, but all we can do is keep pushing forward. Today, the CPC is rallying and leading the Chinese people on a new journey toward realizing the Second Centenary Goal. Under the firm leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core, the Chinese people are united in thought and purpose, and will undoubtedly be able to write a brilliant new chapter in building a modern socialist country, to realize the grand objective of national rejuvenation, and to create even better lives.
We will never stop advancing on this journey.
In June 2021, Xi Jinping visited a magnificent exhibition on the CPC's century-long history in Beijing. Facing the scarlet flag of the Party and raising his right hand in a fist, he led his comrades in renewing their oath: "It is my will to join the Communist Party of China, uphold the Party's program, observe the provisions of the Party Constitution, fulfill the obligations of a Party member, carry out the Party's decisions, observe its discipline, protect its secrets, be loyal to the Party, work hard, fight for communism for the rest of my life, always be prepared to sacrifice my all for the Party and the people, and never betray the Party." These sacred words transcend an incredible hundred-year journey, reflect our eternal commitment to stay true to the CPC's founding mission, and inspire us to keep fighting and forging ahead.
(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 13, 2021)