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|Communist Party of China
The emblem of the Communist Party of China.
|General Secretary||Xi Jinping|
|Politburo Standing Committee||Xi Jinping
|Founded||1 July 1921|
|Youth wing||Communist Youth League
|Membership (Late 2012)||85,127,000|
|Ideology||Socialism with Chinese Characteristics|
|International affiliation||Comintern (formerly)
International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties
|National People's Congress|
|Politics of the People's Republic of China
|Communist Party of China|
|Hanyu Pinyin||Zhōngguó Gòngchǎndǎng|
|Hanyu Pinyin||Zhōng Gòng|
جۇڭگو كوممۇنىستىك پارتىيە
The Communist Party of China (CPC), commonly referred to as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Although nominally it exists alongside the United Front, a coalition of governing political parties, the CPC is the only party allowed to govern the PRC. Through this position the CPC maintains a unitary government and a centralized control over the state, military, and media. The legal power of the Communist Party is guaranteed by the national constitution. The current party leader is Xi Jinping, who holds the title of General Secretary of the Central Committee.
The party was founded in July 1921 in Shanghai. After a lengthy civil war, the CPC defeated Republic of China Armed Forces and assumed full control of mainland China by 1949. The government of Republic of China retreated to the island of Taiwan, where it still holds power to this day.
Both before and after the founding of the PRC, the CPC's history is defined by various power struggles and ideological battles, including destructive socio-political movements such as the Cultural Revolution. At first a conventional member of the international Communist movement, the CPC broke with its counterpart in the Soviet Union over ideological differences in the 1960s. The Communist Party's ideology was redefined under Deng Xiaoping to incorporate principles of market economics, and the corresponding reforms enabled rapid and sustained economic growth.
The CPC is the world's largest political party, claiming over 80 million members at the end of 2010 which constitutes about 6.0% of the total population of mainland China. The vast majority of military and civil officials are members of the Party. Since 1978, the Communist Party has institutionalize transitions of power and consolidates its internal structure. The modern party stresses unity and avoids public conflict while practicing democratic centralism.
The CPC has its origins in the May Fourth Movement of 1919, where radical political systems like anarchism and communism gained traction among Chinese intellectuals. Stalin opposed the Chinese Communist Party in Xinjiang because he wanted to expand Soviet influence in the province. The CPC's ideologies have significantly evolved since its founding and establishing political power in 1949. Mao Zedong's revolution that founded the PRC was nominally based on Marxism-Leninism with a rural focus based on China's social situations at the time. During the 1960s and 1970s, the CPC experienced a significant ideological breakdown with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushchev, and later, Leonid Brezhnev. Since then Mao's peasant revolutionary vision and so-called "continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat" stipulated that class enemies continued to exist even though the socialist revolution seemed to be complete, giving way to the Cultural Revolution. This fusion of ideas became known officially as "Mao Zedong Thought", or Maoism outside of China. It represented a powerful branch of communism that existed in opposition to the Soviet Union's "Marxist revisionism".
Following the death of Mao in 1976, however, the CPC under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping moved towards Socialism with Chinese characteristics and instituted Chinese economic reform. In reversing some of Mao's "extreme-leftist" policies, Deng argued that a socialist country and the market economy model were not mutually exclusive. While asserting the political power of the Party itself, the change in policy generated significant economic growth. The ideology itself, however, came into conflict on both sides of the spectrum with Maoists as well as progressive liberals, culminating with other social factors to cause the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests. Deng's vision for economic success and a new socialist market model became entrenched in the Party constitution in 1997 as Deng Xiaoping Theory.
The "third generation" of leadership under Jiang Zemin, Zhu Rongji, and associates largely continued Deng's progressive economic vision while overseeing the re-emergence of Chinese nationalism in the 1990s. Nationalist sentiment has seemingly also evolved to become informally the part of the Party's guiding doctrine. As part of Jiang's nominal legacy, the CPC ratified the Three Represents into the 2003 revision of the Party Constitution as a "guiding ideology", encouraging the Party to represent "advanced productive forces, the progressive course of China's culture, and the fundamental interests of the people." There are various interpretations of the Three Represents. Most notably, the theory has legitimized the entry of private business owners and quasi-"bourgeois" elements into the party.
The insistent road of focusing almost exclusively on economic growth has led to a wide range of serious social problems. The CPC's "fourth generation" of leadership under Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, after taking power in 2003, attempted reversing such a trend by bringing forth an integrated ideology that tackled both social and economic concerns. This new ideology was known as the creation of a socialist harmonious society using the Scientific Development Concept.
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The National Congress is the party's supreme organ, and is held every fifth year (in the past there was deep intervals between congresses, but since the 9th National Congress congresses have been held regularly). According to the party's Constitution, a congress cannot be postponed expect "under extraordinary circumstances". A congress can be held before the given date if the Central Committee decides so, or if "one third of the party organizations at the provincial level so request". Under Mao the delegates to congresses were appointed, however, since 1982 congress delegates were elected due to the decision that there have to be more candidates than the number of seats. At the 15th National Congress, for instance, several princelings (the sons or daughters of powerful CPC officials) failed to get elected to the 15th Central Committee, among these were Chen Yuan, Wang Jun and Bo Xilai. The elections are carried through secret ballots. Despite this, certain seats don't stand for election, instead the outgoing Central Committee "recommends" to the party electorate to appoint some of their choices. These figures are mostly high-ranking members of the party leadership or special guests. For instance, at the 15th National Congress, 60 seats were given to members who joined the CPC before 1927 and some were given to the outgoing members of the 15th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and the 15th Central Committee.
The party Constitution gives the National Congress six responsibilities; (1) electing the party's executive and legislative branches, represented by the Central Committee, (2) electing the judicial branch, represented by the CCDI, (3) to hear and examine the report of the outgoing Central Committee, (4) to hear and examine the report of the outgoing CCDI, (5) discuss and enact party policies and (6) to revise the party's Constitution. However, the delegates rarely discuss in length at the National Congresses, with most of the discussions taking place before the congress, in the preparation period.
According to the CPC published book Concise History of the Communist Party of China the party's 1st Constitution was adopted at the 1st National Congress. Since then several constitutions have been written, such as the 2nd Constitution adopted at the 7th National Congress. The constitution regulates party life, and the CCDI is responsible of supervising the party to ensure that the constitution is followed. The current constitution currently in force was adopted at the 12th National Congress. It shares many affinities with the state constitution, and they are generally amended either at party congresses or shortly thereafter. The preamble of the state constitution is largely copied from the "General Program" (the preamble) of the party constitution.
The Central Committee is empowered by the party Constitution to enact policies between party congresses. A Central Committee is de jure elected by a party Congress, but is in reality its membership is chosen by the central party leadership. The authority of the Central Committee has increased in recent years, with the leaders rarely if ever going against Central Committee, which often occurred during the early years of the People's Republic. The Central Committee is required to meet at least once every year, however, in the early years of the People's Republic there are several years it did not convene at all; 1951–53, 1960, 1963–65, 1967, 1971, 1974 and 1976.
While the Central Committee is the highest organ between party congresses, few resolutions are cited in its name, instead the majority of party resolutions refer to the "Communist Party Centre", which is an indirect way to shield the powers (and resolutions produced) by the Politburo, the Politburo Standing Committee and the General Secretary. This way of doing things shields the central party leadership from the lower-level bodies, reducing accountability (since the lower-levels can never know for sure which body produced which resolution). In contrast to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) the CPC Central Committee does not have the power to remove general secretaries (or leading official for that matters), despite the party Constitution granting it those rights. When the CPV dismissed its General Secretary Do Muoi it convened a special session of its Central Committee, and when it chose its new general secretary, it convened another Central Committee plenum. In contrast, in China, when the CPC dismissed Hu Yaobang (in 1987) and Zhao Ziyang (in 1989), the Politburo (and not the Central Committee) convened a special session. Not only did the meeting itself break constitutional practices (since the CPC Constitution clearly states calling a Central Committee session), the meeting contained several party veterans who were neither formal members of the Politburo or the Central Committee. In short, the CPC Central Committee, in contrast to the VCP Central Committee, is responsible to the higher bodies of the party (the Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee), while in Vietnam the higher bodies are accountable to the Central Committee.
Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) is responsible for monitoring and punishing CPC cadres who abuse power, are corrupt or commit wrongdoing in general. CCDI organs exists at every level of the party hierarchy. It is the successor to the Control Commission which was abolished in 1968, during the heights of the Cultural Revolution. While the CCDI's was original conceived to restore party morale and discipline, it has taken over much of the functions of the former Control Commission. The CCDI is elected by the National Congress, held every fifth year.
Bodies of the Central Committee
Upon the party's founding in 1921, there was not one preeminent post within the party, but in 1925 the post of General Secretary was formed, with the first officeholder being Chen Duxiu (the informal CPC leader since 1921). The office became synonymous with leader of the CPC, but was abolished in 1937 and replaced with CPC Chairman. The office was revived in 1956 at the 8th National Congress, but it functioned as a lesser office responsible to the office of the CPC Chairman. At a party meeting in 1959, Mao explained the relationship between the CPC Chairman and the CPC General Secretary as follows; "As Chairman, I am the commander; as General Secretary, Deng Xiaoping is deputy commander." The office of CPC Chairman was abolished in 1982, and replaced with that of CPC General Secretary. According to the party Constitution, the General Secretary must be a member of the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), and is responsible for convening meetings of the PSC and the Politburo while also presiding over the work of the Secretariat.
The Politburo of the Central Committee "exercises the functions and powers of the Central Committee when a plenum is not in session". It is formally elected by the 1st plenary meeting of a newly-elected Central Committee. In reality, however, Politburo membership is decided by the central party leadership. During his rule, Mao chose the composition of the Politburo himself. The Politburo was the de facto highest organ of power until the 8th National Congress, when the PSC was established. The powers of the PSC were taken at the expense of the Politburo. The Politburo meets at least once a month. The CPC General Secretary is responsible for convening the Politburo.
From 2003 onwards, the Politburo delivers a work report to every Central Committee plenum, to further cement the Politburo's status as accountable to the Central Committee. Also, from the 16th National Congress onwards, the CPC reports on the meetings of the Politburo, the PSC and its study sessions. However, the reports to not contain all the information discussed at the meetings, with the ending of the reports usually noting that the meeting also discussed "other matters".
In the Politburo decisions are reached through consensus and not votes. In certain cases straw votes will be used only to see how many support or oppose a certain case (to be clear, these straw votes do not contribute to the ultimate decision). Every member has the right to participate in the collective discussion (even non-members). It is the CPC General Secretary who convenes the Politburo and sets the agenda for the meeting. Each Politburo member is told of the agenda beforehand, and are given materials (by the General Secretary) on the subject so as to be prepared for the discussions. The first person to speak (at the meeting) is the member who proposed the agenda. After that, those who knows about the subject beforehand or who's work is directly related to it speak. Then those who doubt or oppose the agenda speaks. At last, the General Secretary speaks, and he usually supports the agenda (since he supported discussing it in the first place). When the General Secretary is finished speaking he calls for a vote. If the vote is anonymous (or nearly so), it can be accepted, but if the vote is nearly anonymous (but members who directly work on the area the agenda discusses opposes it), the issue will be postponed. In the cases that the Politburo enacts a decision without all the members agreeing, the other members usually try to convince the opposers to their side. In many ways the way the CPC Politburo decides on policy is very similar to that of the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union after Nikita Khrushchev's removal.
Politburo Standing Committee
The Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) is the highest organ of the Communist Party when neither the Politburo, the Central Committee and the National Congress are in session. It convenes at least once a week. It was established at the 8th National Congress (held in 1958) so as to take over the policy-making role formerly assumed by the Secretariat. While the PSC is "the primary decision-making body, though there is growing evidence of its being made more responsive to the collective agreements of the entire Politburo." Despite formal rules stating that a PSC member has to serve a term in the Politburo before advancing the PSC, this rule has been breached twice, first in 1992 when Hu Jintao was appointed to PSC and then again in 2007 when Xi Jinping was appointed to it. In reality, however, PSC is not accountable to the Central Committee (and has never been).
The Secretariat of the Central Committee is headed by the General Secretary and is responsible for supervising the central party organizations; departments, commissions, newspapers etc. It is also responsible for implementing the decisions of the Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee. The Secretariat was abolished in 1966, and its formal functions were taken over by the Central Office of Management, but was reestablished in 1980. To be appointed to the Secretariat a person has to be nominated by the Politburo Standing Committee, the nominations has to be approved by the Central Committee.
Central Military Commission
The Central Military Commission (CMC) is elected by the Central Committee, and is responsible for the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the Chinese military. The position of CMC Chairman is one of the most powerful political offices in China, and the CMC Chairman has to concurrently serve as CPC General Secretary. Unlike the collective leadership idea in other party organs, the CMC Chairman acts as commander-in-chief with the right to appoint or dismiss the top brass as he pleases. The CMC Chairman can deploy troops, controls the country's nuclear weapons and allocates the budget. The promotion of officers above the divisional level, or their transfer, can only be validated with the CMC Chairman's signature.
The CMC is, in theory, responsible to the Central Committee, but in practice its only responsible to the CMC Chairman. This is in many ways Mao's fault, who did not want other Politburo members to involve themselves in military affairs. As he put it, "the Politburo's realm is state affairs, the CMC's is military". This way of doing things has continued until this day, with the CMC only reporting to the paramount leader. The CMC has controlled the PLA through three organs since 1937; the General Staff Department, the General Political Department and the General Logistics Department. A fourth organ, the General Armaments Department, was established in 1998.
There are several bodies subordinate organs under the auspices of the Central Committee, under are the most important;
- General Office — is the nerve center of the CPC, handling for instance classified documents and information from party organs nationwide.
- Central Organization Department (COD) — It was established in 1937, and functioned similar to the Organizational Bureau (Orgburo) of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). At the beginning, the COD was mainly busy with creating files on the party's members, to see if they were committed communists or not. According to analyst Richard McGregor the "The Central Organisation Department is its third and least-known pillar of power" of the CPC. The COD is responsible for personnel appointments throughout the CPC.
- Central Propaganda Department (CPD) — It controls news and information to the Chinese public. It functions to protect the interest of the CPC on the basis of the party line and the ideological concept of the Four Cardinal Principles.
- Central International Liaison Department (CILD) — Its the CPC's "foreign affairs ministry" and is responsible for external relations with foreign parties as well as gathering foreign intelligence. During the Cold War, the CILD fought for domination in the global communist movement against the CPSU's International Department, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, its responsibilities widened to include foreign relations with all types of parties; communists, socialists, liberals etc.
- Central United Front Work Department (CUFWD) — the CUDWD is responsible for increasing the party's support base outside its direct purview, in the business community and mass organizations.
- Central Policy Research Office (CPRO) — The CPRO is responsible for researching issues which are of significant interest to the central party leadership.
- Central Taiwan Work Office (CTWO) — It serves as the general office of the Central Leading Group for Taiwan Affairs (CLGTA), and is responsible for preparing the agendas of its meetings, coordinating paper flow and communicating with other organs on the CLGTA's behalf.
- Central External Propaganda Office (CEPO) — The CEPO is the party version of the State Council Information Office, and is responsible to the Central Leading Small Group for External Propaganda. This is a bureaucratic duality called in China "one organ, two signboards", literally two names for the same institution.
- Central Security Bureau (CSB) — The CSB is responsible for the security of the top leaders of the party.
- Central Party School (CPI) — The party school provides political training and ideological indoctrination in communist thought for high-ranking CPC cadres and rising CPC cadres. It publishes the theoretical magazines Seeking Truth from Facts and Study Times.
- People's Daily — The newspaper is one of the most recognized Chinese media outlets, and functions as one of the voices of the central party leadership.
- Party History Research Centre (PHSC) — The PHSC was established in 1980 to set priorities for scholarly research in universities, the Academy of Social Science and the Central Party School.
- Central Compilation and Translation Bureau (CCTB) — It was established in 1953 with the aim of studying and translating the classical works of Marxism.
The party was small at first, but grew intermittently through the 1920s. Twelve voting delegates were seated at the 1st National Congress in 1921, as well as at the 2nd (in 1922), when they represented 195 party members. By 1923, the 420 members were represented by 30 delegates. The 1925 4th Congress had 20 delegates representing 994 members; then real growth kicked in. The 5th Congress (held in April–May 1927 as the KMT was cracking down on communists) comprised 80 voting delegates representing 57,968 members.
It was on October 3, 1928 6th Congress that the now-familiar ‘full’ and ‘alternate’ structure originated, with 84 and 34 delegates, respectively. Membership was estimated at 40,000. In 1945, the 7th Congress had 547 full and 208 alternate delegates representing 1.21 million members, a ratio of one representative per 1,600 members as compared to 1:725 in 1927.
After the Party defeated the Nationalists, participation at National Party Congresses became much less representative. Each of the 1026 full and 107 alternate members represented 9,470 party members (10.73 million in total) at the 1956 8th Congress. Subsequent congresses held the number of participants down despite membership growing to more than 60 million by 2000.
It has been argued in recent years that the CPC does not have an ideology, the party organization being pragmatic and only interested in what works. This simplistic view is wrong in many ways, since official statements makes it very clear they do have a coherent worldview. For instance, there has to be an ideology in place for Hu Jintao to state (as he did in 2012), that the Western world is "threatening to divide us" and that "the international culture of the West is strong while we are weak ... Ideological and cultural fields are our main targets". Another argument, there is a reason why the CPC puts a lot of efforts in the party schools, and crafting its ideological message.
Rationale for the reforms
While it has been argued by Westerners that the reforms introduced by the CPC under Deng was a rejection of the party's Marxist heritage and ideology, the CPC does not view the reforms as a rejection of their own ideology. The rationale behind the reforms was that the productive forces of China lagged behind the advanced culture and ideology developed by the party-state, to end this deficiency, the party came to the conclusion (in 1986) that the main contradiction in Chinese society was that between the backward productive forces and the advanced culture and ideology of China. By doing this, they deemphasized class struggle, and contradicted both Mao and Karl Marx, who both considered that class struggle was the main focus of the communist movement. According to this logic, any thwarting of the CPC's goal of advancing the productive forces became synonymous with class struggle. The classical conception of class struggle was declared by Deng to be completed in 1976. While Mao had also put emphasize on the need to develop the productive forces, under Deng, it became paramount.
Some have likened the CPC's position under Deng to Joseph Stalin when he introduced the planned economy. Adrian Chan, the author of Chinese Marxism, opposes this view, stating "To Stalin, the development of the productive forces was the prerequisite for the Soviet Union to become communist." He further argues that such a view does not make sense in light of the different situation, Stalin laid paramount emphasize because of the Soviet Union's backwardness in all areas, in China, the reforms were seen as one way to further develop the productive forces. These interpretations, while not agreeing, sheds light on the fact that Chinese socialism did change during the Deng era. In 1987, in the Beijing Review, it was stated that the achievements of socialism were "evaluated according to the level of the productive forces."
Party theoretician and former Politburo member Hu Qiaomu in his thesis "Observe economic laws, speed up the Four Modernizations" (published in 1978) argued that economic laws were objective and were on par with natural laws. He insisted that economic laws were no more negotiable "than the law of gravity". His conclusion was that the Party was responsible for the socialist economy acting on these economic laws. Qiaomu believed that only an economy based on the individual would satisfy these laws, since "such an economy would be in accord with the productive forces". The CPC followed his line, and at the 12th National Congress, the party Constitution was amended, stating that the private economy was a "needed complement to the socialist economy." This sentiment was echoed by Xue Muqiao; "practice shows that socialism is not necessarily based on a unified public ownership by the whole society."
The official communique of the 3rd plenum of the 11th Central Committee said; "integrate the universal principles of Marxism–Leninism–Mao Zedong Thought with the concrete practice of socialist modernization and develop it under the new historical conditions." With the words "new historical conditions" the CPC had in fact made it possible to view the old, Maoist ideology as obsolete. To know if a policy was obsolete or not, the party had to "seek truth from facts" and follow the slogan the "practice is the sole criterion of the truth". At the 6th plenum of the 11th Central Committee the "Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People's Republic of China" was adopted. The resolution separated Mao the person from Maoism, claiming that Mao had breached Maoism during his rule. While the document criticized Mao, it clearly stated that he was a "proletarian revolutionary" (that not all of his views were wrong), and that without Mao there would have been no new China. Su Shaozi, a party theoretician and the head of the Institute of Marxism–Leninism–Mao Zedong Thought, argued that the CPC needed to reassess the New Economic Policy introduced by Vladimir Lenin (and ended by Stalin), Stalin's industrialization policies and the prominent role he gave to class struggle. Su concluded that the "exploiting classes in China had been eliminated". Dong Fureng, a Deputy Director at the Institute of Economics, agreed with the reformist discourse, first by criticizing Marx and Friedrich Engels' view that a socialist society had to abolish private property, and secondly, accusing both Marx and Engels for being vague on what kind of ownership of the means of production was necessary in socialist society. While both Su and Dong agreed that it was the collectivization of agriculture and the establishment of People's Communes which had ended rural exploitation, none of them sought a return to that era.
Socialism with Chinese characteristics
The term, socialism with Chinese characteristics, was added to the General Program of the party's Constitution at the 12th National Congress without explaining what the term actually ment. At the 13th National Congress (held in 1987) Zhao Ziyang, the CPC General Secretary, claimed that socialism with Characteristics was the "integration of the fundamental tenets of Marxism with the modernization drive in China" and was "scientific socialism rooted in the realities of present-day China." By this time the CPC believed that China was in the primary stage of socialism, and therefore needed market relations so as to develop into a socialist society. Two years earlier Su had tried to internationalize the term primary stage of socialism, by claiming that socialism contained three different production phases. China was currently in the first phase, while the Soviet Union and the remaining Eastern Bloc countries were in the second phase. Because China was in the primary stage of socialism, Zhao argued that "[China] for a long time to come, we shall develop various sectors of the economy, always ensuring the dominant position of the public sector." Further, he would allow some individual became rich "before the objective of common prosperity [pure communism] is achieved." At last, during the primary stage of socialism planning would no longer be the primary means of organization of the economy – upon hearing this Chen Yun, a conservative and the second-most powerful politician in China, walked out of the meeting.
In 2007 Hu Jintao declared that "The theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the latest success of the Sinification of Marxism, the most precious riches of the Party's politics and spirit, and the foundation of the common thought of the whole people's struggle for unity." The theory of Socialism with Chinese characteristics was conceived by Deng Xiaoping to explain the policies of the reform and opening up.
The term "civilization" became a key word during the 1990s. In short, the ideological campaigns which uses civilization tries to harmonize the relationship between the "two civilizations" in China – "material civilization and spiritual civilization". The concept first developed during the early 1980s from classical Marxist thought. It was through this concept that the CPC called for "balanced development". "Material civilization" is synonymous with economic development, "spiritual civilization" (often referred to as "socialist spiritual civilization") tries to spread good socialist morals in Chinese society. Under Deng, the CPC emphasized material civilization, but under Jiang spiritual civilization was emphasized. In contrast to material civilization, spiritual civilization was less easily definable, and moved from a concept largely defined in socialist terminology during Deng to become a vehicle for cultural nationalism under Jiang. The theory has become more complex with time, at the 16th National Congress Jiang introduced a third civilization, "political civilization", which focused solely on the CPC and political reform.
Deng first used the term in 1979, to denote the need to further develop a material civilization alongside a spiritual civilization. Analyst Nicholas Dynon believes it may have been introduced to placate the conservatives within the Party, being Deng's way to ensure them that socialism was not be left out. The term socialist civilization replaced class struggle as the main engine of progress, replacing it with a worldview which was more harmonious and cooperative. "Socialist Spiritual Civilization" was launched in the early 1980s to protect the party from foreign, corruptive influences and to protect the CPC's policy of reform and opening up. While the two terms, material and spiritual civilizations were added to the party Constitution at the 12th National Congress, the term itself and its meaning was hotly debated. For instance, Zhao Yiya, the editor-in-chief of the Liberation Army Press, criticized Hua Yaobang's speech to the 12th National Congress, noting that both material and spiritual elements contained "class character" as well as cultural elements. Material civilization was less contested, and it maintained close links to the Marxist view of economic development and the mode of productions, and the view that the material functioned as the basis of the superstructure. On this area, Deng was a classical Marxist, and believed that the material served as the basis; "when people's material wealth progresses, their cultural aspects will rise as well [and] their spiritual aspects will change considerably". Under the banner of spiritual civilization the CPC would promote patriotic spirit, collectivism and the four haves. By the mid-1980s, Deng became concerned that material civilization was getting more attention than spiritual civilization, stating "the one is though [material civilization] while the other is soft [spiritual civilization]." The 6th plenary meeting of the 12th Central Committee adopted the "Resolutions on the guiding principles for developing a Socialist Spiritual Civilization" under the slogan ""In grasping with two hands, both hands must be firm". Deng's Spiritual Civilization continued using much of the old Maoist vocabulary, and old Maoist slogans, such as ""five stresses, four goods and three loves", "study Lei Feng" and "service to the people", continued to be used. However, in a radical break from the past, Deng ended the Maoist emphasize on antagonism and contradiction in Chinese socialist thought.
Jiang introduced a third civilization, political civilization, alongside the ""the important thoughts of the Three Represents" at the 16th National Congress. According to Robert Lawrence Kuhn, a former advisor to the Chinese government, the idea was; "three interrelated objectives — material civilization, spiritual civilization, and political civilization — and one unifying mechanism, Three Represents. The three civilizations were the intended ends, and the important thought of Three Represents was the chosen means." There has been talk of introducing a fourth civilization, but nothing has come of it yet. A proposed fourth civilization, social civilization, is linked to Hu's concept of Harmonious Socialist Society. According to Lie Zhongjie, the Deputy Director of the Central Research Office, "the outcome of building 'society' in a general sense ... is 'social civilization' ... it is a social civilization in the broad sense transcending the [other] three civilizations". However, social civilization has not been relegated to the same level as the other three civilizations, and is instead treated as a minor one. There a number of proponents in China for an ecological civilization concept, "an unsurprising development given the growing awareness and official recognition of China's pressing environmental issues."
Throughout the 20th century, ideology served two functions, (1) to achieve national modernity and (2) to deliver consensus were the was fragmentation and struggle. The thought most linked to modernity in early China was Marxism, which allowed for the articulation of different social structures and social relations. Mao conceived a Chinese version of Marxism, in which the idea of a proletarian revolution was amended to conceive of a peasant dominated revolution. This view gave traction for a modernist view, which was highly utopian, which led to the Chinese Revolution in 1949. The immediate post-1949 consensus was intimately linked with the idea of an "alternative modernity that transcended capitalist modernity and its Eurocentric assumptions of historical teleology and economist determinism." The impact of this, was in two key areas, the introduction of Marxist terms such as proletariat, bourgeoisie, petit bourgeoisie, capitalist (terms to denote class and Mao's emphasize of class struggle) etc on Chinese society, and the creation of the party-state.
The Maoist vision of modernity never "enjoyed entire hegemony" within the Party, and was always contested (even at Mao's height of power). For instance, Zhou Enlai's launching of the concept, the Four Modernizations, in 1965 (and its relaunch in 1975), are proof of this. When Mao died, the Four Modernization replaced class struggle as the Party's key objective. This vision, which eventually led to the enfranchisement of the private market economy and the establishment of new institutions, became socialism with Chinese characteristics. Deng Xiaoping's socialism with Chinese characteristics led to the adoption of alternative visions of modernity popular in the Western world. This ideological change led to factional in strife, with many leading members calling for the return to a classical socialist model of development. From the outside these changes looks strange, a society which looks more capitalist by the day, is still ruled by a Party which claims "fidelity to socialism", however, there is "less understanding of how this looks from within". A break with the basic tenets Maoist thought came in the 1990s, when Jiang Zemin talked of the need to let private entrepreneurs join the Party. This decision had a stronger connection to realpolitik then ideological conviction, by the 16th National Congress the private sector was one the most dominant forces in society, and therefore a constituency the party could not ignore if it wished to hold on to power.
The Party is, in official discourse, directly linked to modernity. For instance, in Hu's speech commemorating the 85th anniversary of the CPC's founding, Hu said "Only our Party can become the nucleus of power to lead the Chinese revolution, construction, and reform, only it is able to bear the great trust of the Chinese people and the Chinese nationality ... In the last 85 years, our party has preserved and developed the progressive creative line." According to the CPC, the "people are the force for creating history", and for the CPC to accomplish its task of modernization, it cannot became alienated from the people. To secure that no alienation happens, the CPC has to creatively adapt theory and pursue strategic, sound policies. Therefore, having a correct understanding of Marxism and its development in China is crucial. Hu notes that progressiveness "is the essence of Marxist party building" and that it is "the basic service and eternal theme" of Marxism.
Hu Jintao noted in a speech, in 2007, that "People's Democracy is the lifeblood of socialism ... without democracy there can no socialism, and there can be no socialist modernization." To be clear, democracy in the CPC's understanding of the word does not mean democracy in the liberal democratic sense of the word, instead meaning creating a more balanced, equal society "with socialism bringing about social justice. The CPC still believes the Party and country is led by the unity of the peasant and working classes. However, for the further development of democracy and socialism to be possible, there needs to be stability.
Stance on religion
The CPC, as an officially atheist institution, prohibits party members from holding religious beliefs. Although religion is banned for members of the state, personal beliefs are not held accountable.
Protest advocating quitting the Communist Party of China, Hong Kong, 2005
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