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Focus of the Education Campaign on CPC History

Source: Xi Jinping The Governance of China IV Updated: 2023-12-06

Focus of the Education Campaign on CPC History*

February 20, 2021

The CPC Central Committee has set clear guidelines in its notice to launch this education campaign, requiring Party members to study Party history for deeper understanding, firmer commitment, greater integrity, and stronger action. The campaign seeks to help Party members, through studying Party history, to better understand the theories it espouses, work effectively, and achieve new successes.

First, the campaign will help Party members better appreciate and proactively apply the Party’s innovative theories. Theories and ideas give people power. Theoretical thinking and guidance are pivotal for a nation to be ahead of the times. At a moment of great peril for modern China, China’s Communists rescued the country with Marxism-Leninism and went on to adapt it to the Chinese context. Through the truths of Marxism, the millennia-old Chinese civilization has revived and become a great source of inspiration. Our experience has shown that Marxism offers an inexhaustible theoretical wellspring for us to seek truth, understand the world and its laws, and transform it. Therefore, Marxism must always be the guiding philosophy of the Party and the state.

The lifeline of a theory lies in innovation. Marxism has profoundly changed the course of China’s history, which has in turn developed and enriched Marxism. Over the past century, our Party has sought truth from facts while freeing the mind, and broken new ground while maintaining its orientation and consolidating its foundations. In this way, it has broadened the dimensions of Marxism with Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, the Scientific Outlook on Development, and the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, providing sound guidance for the Party and the people. The Party’s history embodies an ongoing process of adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and exploring innovative theories and ideas.

The campaign will help Party members to gain insight from the Party’s epic journey into the profound changes that Marxism has brought to China and the wider world, appreciate the philosophical and practical power of Marxism, and recognize both theoretical continuity and innovation in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context. With a focus on reviewing the historic successes and changes in the Party and the country since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the campaign aims to deliver a better understanding of the Party’s innovative theories for the new era and encourage sustained efforts to study the latest theoretical developments and apply them to our future work.

Second, the campaign will help Party members to better understand the general laws and trends of history and steer the course of the Party and the state. History indeed has its laws, but this does not mean that people are completely passive. As long as we follow the general laws and trends of history, and leverage opportunities for change accordingly, we can achieve greater success.

More than 170 years ago, Marx and Engels systematically revealed the historical law that socialism would eventually replace capitalism. This general trend of human society is irreversible, but it is a lengthy process, during which we need to be rooted firmly in reality, control the course of each stage, and make solid and steady progress.

By analyzing historical trends against the basic tenets of Marxism, the Party has properly handled the relationship between China and the world in general, and made good use of every opportunity available over the past century.

Our Party was born in response to the call of history when socialism gained global momentum following the victory of Russia’s October Revolution. Since then, the Party has been at the forefront of the times.

Acting upon the call to save the country and fight against fascism during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945) and Global War Against Fascism, the Party pushed for a national united front against Japanese aggression and led the Chinese people to total victory over the aggressors.

The founding and consolidation of the PRC was a result of conforming to the times, as socialism was gaining greater traction and national liberation movements were surging in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The new republic established a firm foothold as righteous revolutionary causes carried the day around the world.

Thanks to our thorough understanding of the prevailing trends of the times, we made the major decision to reform and open up in 1978. Then, the world was experiencing rapid economic and technological development, while the gap between China and the advanced countries was widening. Deng Xiaoping noted, “We must keep abreast of the times; that is the purpose of our reform.” Based on a sound assessment of the prevailing trends, the central authorities decided to shift the focus of the Party and the country onto economic development, and therefore proceeded with the landmark policy of reform and opening up.

“It is wiser to avail oneself of a favorable situation than to rely on one’s mere wisdom.” We cannot see far or advance further, if we do not know and understand history. This education campaign will help all Party members to be clear about China’s strategy of realizing national rejuvenation within the context of a wider world that is undergoing change on a scale unseen in a century, to establish a comprehensive and balanced view of history, to understand the dynamics of evolution and the laws of history by analyzing history, the times and the world from a broader perspective, and to devise systematic, forward-looking and innovative strategies as appropriate.

Third, the campaign will help CPC members better understand the Party’s nature and purpose, and maintain its distinctive features as a Marxist party. Our Party comes from the people, with its roots in the people and its lifeline sustained by the people. Our Party was born for the people and has prospered because of the people. It is the ultimate goal of the Party to always stand together with the people and work for their interests.

Our Party’s history records a century-long journey to fulfill its original aspiration and founding mission, and to dedicate its mind and soul to the people and share their weal and woe.

Among more than 300,000 revolutionaries who died after the failure of the Great Revolution (1924-1927), most were supporters of the CPC. During the Red Army period (1927-1937), the people built a formidable defense in support of our Party and the Red Army. During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, the Party mobilized the masses and overwhelmed the enemy with a vast people’s war. The Party won the Huai-Hai Campaign (1948-1949) with supplies transported in wheelbarrows by the people. It won the Nanjing-Shanghai-Hangzhou Campaign across the Yangtze River in 1949 with boats provided and rowed by the people.

Progress in socialist revolution and construction was realized through the people’s hard work. And it is also the people who have played the main role in the great program of reform and opening up.

History has made it clear to us that the country is the people and the people are the country. Winning public support is vital to our Party’s survival. The Party can conquer any difficulties and become invincible if it wins the people’s trust and support. Otherwise, it will achieve nothing or even be doomed to failure.

The Party Constitution states in its first line that the Communist Party of China is the vanguard of the Chinese working class, the Chinese people, and the Chinese nation. It also prescribes the principles of serving the people wholeheartedly, always putting the interests of the people above anything else, sharing weal and woe with them, and maintaining the closest possible ties with them.

To uphold these principles, we must respect the people’s principal role in making history, which represents the law of social development. We must pursue the lofty goal of communism and accomplish the Party’s work, all in the interests of the people. We must always engage with the people, sharing weal and woe, and stand together with them through thick and thin.

We must educate and guide all Party members so that they will have a better understanding of the Party’s nature and purpose. We do everything for the people and rely on them for everything we do. It is important to always put the people first and meet their expectation for a better life as our abiding goal. We should work to ensure that reform and development offer greater benefits to all the people in a fair way and that further substantial progress is achieved in the pursuit of common prosperity, so that our 1.4 billion people can come together as a mighty force for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Fourth, the campaign will help CPC members improve their capacity to address risks and challenges through studying Party history. Drawing on past experience to build a greater capacity to defuse risks and meet challenges has been a key to our Party’s success.

The Party’s experience has come neither out of thin air nor from any textbook; rather, the Party has accumulated its experience in trials and tribulations and through successes and failures over the years. It attests to the hard work, sacrifice, fortitude and wisdom of Party members.

At present, China is facing unprecedented risks and challenges – both at home and abroad, both conventional and unconventional – in politics, the economy, culture, social affairs, and the eco-environment. The situation can be exacerbated by the sudden occurrence of “black swan” and “grey rhino” events. To better deal with foreseeable and unforeseeable risks and challenges on our way forward, we need to draw inspiration from history and search the past for optimal solutions.

When reviewing the Party’s revolutionary experience, Mao Zedong listed the united front, armed struggle, and strengthening the Party as the “three principal magic weapons” of the Party. These “magic weapons” played an important role in our victory in the New Democratic Revolution (1919-1949), and they are still playing a crucial role to this day.

On several important occasions, including the 95th anniversary of the CPC, the 40th anniversary of the launch of reform and opening up, and the 70th anniversary of the PRC, I have summarized the Party’s experience from multiple perspectives.

Approaching the Party’s centenary, we should seize this critical opportunity to push forward the great historic struggle by grasping its new features and applying the full wealth of experience we have accumulated during different periods in countering risks and meeting challenges. We should be prepared, in both thought and deed, to respond to long-term changes in the external environment. We must reinforce our commitment, enrich our experience, and build up our ability to meet challenges head-on. While building up our governance capacity, we must have plans in place for the worst possible scenarios as we strive for the best results.

It is easier to breach a fortress from within. In this sense, degeneracy, corruption and betrayal from within the Party have been the gravest threat since its founding. The Party would lose the people’s support if it betrays its political character as a Marxist party and its fundamental purpose. Over its century-long journey, our Party has stayed alert to risks of corruption and disintegration, and maintained its progressive and wholesome nature.

Through education and guidance, all Party members should learn from history how to address problems in relation to strengthening the Party, improve the Party’s leadership and governance, and reinforce its ability to resist corruption and withstand threats. This will ensure that the Party always remains ahead of the times as the world progresses and profound changes occur. This will also ensure that the Party always remains the spine of the nation as China responds to risks and challenges at home and abroad, and a strong leader as the country continues to uphold and advance socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Fifth, the campaign will inspire Party members to carry forward the revolutionary spirit. It will give them motivation and the will to always work hard with great enthusiasm. “As you move on, the road ahead is bound to be strewn with difficulties and obstacles.”The Party has experienced countless trials and hardships, and made sacrifices on a scale that few other political parties in the world could endure.

On its arduous 100-year journey, our Party has tempered its character with the courage to vanquish formidable enemies, counter serious threats, and fight and win victories. This has become the Party’s defining quality and character.

The past hundred years have witnessed the extraordinary, tenacious and unwavering efforts of generations of China’s Communists, spearheaded by dauntless revolutionary martyrs, hardworking heroes, and devoted role models. These efforts have given rise to the revolutionary spirit of the Jinggangshan, the Long March, and the Zunyi Meeting; to the revolutionary spirit of Yan’an, Xibaipo, and Hongyan; to the spirit demonstrated in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea, in the development of China’s first atomic and hydrogen bombs, missile, and man-made satellite and in the experimentation with special economic zones; to the spirit forged in battles against floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters and in the fight against Covid-19. Together, these constitute a long line of principles inspiring China’s Communists. In short, it is this revolutionary spirit and selfless dedication that hold the key to the Party’s lasting vigor and vitality through all the trials and tribulations of the past hundred years.

These invaluable principles endure and transcend time and space. They manifest the Party’s firm convictions, defining purpose, and finest traditions, and epitomize the hardworking, selfless and pioneering character of Party members. They have been instilled into the lifeblood of the Party and the Chinese nation, and have provided a powerful driving force for the Party to survive, prosper and grow in strength.

We should be conscious of the risk that the Party’s extensive term in governance and the enduring peace in our country might dilute the drive of some Party members and officials. Some rest on the status quo, thinking the time is right to slow down and take things easy, and lacking the drive to make progress or take on responsibilities. Some rest on their laurels or make a token effort in their work, assuming that they have reached the finish line of their career. Some concern themselves too much with personal gains and losses, and pursue pleasure, fame and fortune instead of taking on their due responsibilities. Some lack the will and courage to meet challenges head-on, and tend to evade problems and pass the buck to higher-ups, accustomed as they are to playing the role of a conduit.

I have emphasized on many occasions that Communists should instill in themselves the spirit of carrying the revolution through to the end, and emulate the resolve and determination of the older generation of revolutionaries, who chased down the last remnant of the enemy till the whole land was liberated, rather than giving up halfway. We Communists should carry forward the dauntless spirit in our efforts to create a new China. I have underlined this for a reason. Just imagine how difficult it is for a country with 1.4 billion people to realize socialist modernization, and the significance of that achievement. All Party members should be required to pass down the revolutionary faith and tradition, maintain the source of their strength and the dauntless spirit to prevail, and embark with drive and enthusiasm on a new journey to achieve our goals for the new era.

Sixth, the campaign will bolster the unity and solidarity of the Party and ensure concerted action. Taking a clear political stance and ensuring the Party’s unity and solidarity are its lifeblood and the key to its historic successes over the past century. History has demonstrated that the whole Party acting with one mind can rally all the Chinese people and build them into an invincible force that will defeat the most powerful enemy and overcome the most daunting obstacle.

The top and long-term priority in reinforcing the Party’s political foundations is to ensure that the whole Party defers to the Central Committee and upholds its authority and centralized, unified leadership.

The Zunyi Meeting in 1935 marked a turning point in the Party’s history. It was convened at a critical moment when the Long March had just begun, after the Red Army had failed to break the Kuomintang’s fifth campaign of encirclement and suppression and had suffered great losses. At the meeting, Mao Zedong was affirmed as the leader of the Central Committee and the Red Army. The meeting also laid the groundwork for establishing the leading position within the Central Committee of the correct Marxist line chiefly represented by Mao Zedong, as well as for the formation of the first generation of the central collective leadership with Mao Zedong at its core. The meeting opened a new chapter in which the Party would set its own course to address practical problems concerning the Chinese revolution. At a moment of great peril, the meeting saved the Party, the Red Army, and the Chinese revolution.

After the Zunyi Meeting, however, it took a long time for the whole Party to fully realize the importance of upholding the authority of the Central Committee and its centralized, unified leadership and to turn this realization into conscious action. During the Long March, when solidarity was most called for, Zhang Guotao set up a second central committee, relying on the strength of his troops, and attempted to split the Party and the Red Army. Again, in the early days of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, Wang Ming formed self-serving factions, ignored Party discipline, and disobeyed the Central Committee. This once again taught us a bitter lesson. During its Yan’an period (1935-1948), the Party launched a large-scale rectification movement to address divisions and factionalism within the Party. The movement was exceptionally effective in strengthening solidarity and unity throughout the Party, and laid solid ideological and political foundations for winning the war against Japanese aggression and realizing national liberation.

“As long as the fundamental principles are upheld, all work will fall in place.” Since the 18th CPC National Congress, we have made an all-out effort to reinforce the Party’s political foundations, improve the systems for upholding the authority of the Central Committee and its centralized, unified leadership, and consolidate the unity of the Party.

Nevertheless, we should take note that some Party members and officials still lack political awareness and acuity, and fail to observe and solve problems from a political perspective. They do not care about matters of fundamental national interest and pay little attention to the Party’s political requirements, rules and discipline. Nor do they concern themselves with the adverse political implications of various problems. They only make a perfunctory effort to implement the policies and guidelines of the Central Committee. They have yet to translate the Party’s political requirements into their own initiative.

Upholding the authority of the Central Committee and its centralized, unified leadership requires action rather than empty talk. The whole Party should learn from both the successful experience and bitter lessons of the past, act consistently with the Central Committee, and strengthen their political acumen, understanding and capacity to deliver. They should strengthen their commitment to the Four Consciousnesses, the Four-sphere Confidence, and the Two Upholds. All Party members should keep in line with the Central Committee in thinking, action and political orientation, to ensure that the whole Party pulls together towards the same goal with one mind.

* Part of the speech at the preparatory meeting for the education campaign on CPC history.

(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)