Hundred years of the Communist Party of China
THE first communist country to appear on the map of the world was Russia after the successful communist revolution in1917 and it was greeted by fear and great hostility by the western world, Winston Churchill greeted this historical event with a speech in Parliament and remarked “An iron curtain has descended across the Continent of Europe.”
The USSR collapsed and ended up on the dust heap of history by 1989 and the western powers waited with abated breath for the same fate for Communist China.
The People’s Republic of China emerged on the map of the world on 1st January 1949 and 72 years later it is going full steam ahead on the path to progress and prosperity.
1st of July 2021 marks the completion of hundred years of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and it has a long history of trials and tribulations.
The Party may have committed some major missteps throughout its rule but today it is a formidable political, economic and military force and will continue to be a major political and economic threat to the USA and the western allies for many years to come.
Immediately after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in January 1949 the USA and western allies tried their best to strangle the new-born country at birth.
China was denied entry to the UN and Taiwan was given membership and a seat on the Security Council in place of mainland China and was denied any form of assistance from the UN member countries and the World Bank or IMF.
The CPC has done exceptionally well economically and politically. It has surpassed in performance when compared with any political party especially in totalitarian parties and the states they founded.
China under the CPC has been recognized only recently by the West as its most formidable adversary not just militarily and ideologically, but also technologically and economically.
This party has deep roots in Chinese soil and has its fingers on the pulse of the Chinese nation. The CPC is colossal in size and highly regimented.
It started in 1921 with only 12 members and today the membership is about 90 million and it has averaged about 20 percent growth per year for a hundred years.
To control and rule over 1.4 billion population, the party still uses centuries old tactics but has refined them with modern and high tech techniques.
It all began in the meeting hall in Shanghai in the first conclave of the Communist Party of China on 1st July 1921 under the leadership of Mao Zedong and only 12 members of the party.
In addition to the party members there was one representative from the Comintern or the Communist International and all this happened during the fierce and deadly civil war with the forces of the Kuomintang and the Japanese occupation forces.
The CPC rallied the people of China and under the leadership of Mao continued their historical struggle against the forces of oppression and tyranny.
One major milestone achieved was the long march of 1934 covering over 6000 miles, crossing many rivers and mountains and retreating into the Chinese hinterland while constantly fighting the enemy forces and this epic march was described by a famous historian as “ An astonishing saga of danger and survival against terrible odds”
After the defeat of Japan in August 1945 in the Second World War the leadership of the CPC under the command of great stalwarts like Chou en Lai, liu Saho Chi, Marshal Chu The and many others the soldiers of the Communist Party continued their struggle with renewed vigour and waged guerrilla campaigns and all-out war against the retreating forces of Chiang Kai Shek.
The Nationalist forces had better equipment supplied by the USA and the Western powers but the Communists had better leaders and Peking as it was known then fell into the Communist hands on 1st Jan 1949 and the People’s Republic of China was born.
The history of the CPC is not without mistakes and disasters. The Great Leap forward and the Cultural Revolution unleashed by Mao were two humanitarian disasters.
The first man made famine triggered by Mao resulted in the death of 35 to 40 million people.
1976 was the year when the CPC lost two of its founding members that is Chairman Mao and Zhou Enlai resulting in a violent power struggle and the arrest of the gang of four including Jian Jing Mao’s wife.
The third plenum of the 11th Central Committee was held in December 1978 in Beijing and this meeting kick started the process of reform and change that has turned China into the economic and political power it is today. Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping can be given full credit for these revolutionary reforms.
Jiang Zemin the party chief from 1989 to 2002 recognized the value of entrepreneurs and pushed through a policy change to welcome them into the CPC.
Premier Zhu Rongji negotiated China’s entry into the World Trade Organization to transform the global economy.
Since the victory of the revolution, the Communist Party has been the guiding force in the development of the People’s Republic.
—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.