Communist Party of China flag
The Communist Party of China (Simplified Chinese: 中国共产党; Traditional Chinese: 中國共産黨; pinyin: Zhōngguó Gòngchǎndǎng) is the ruling party of the People's Republic of China. The party was founded in 1921, and fought the Kuomintang during the Chinese Civil War.
With more than 63 million members, the Communist Party of China (CPC; CCP for the unofficial name Chinese Communist Party; or the somewhat derogatory Chicom) is the largest political party in the world. Authoritarian in structure and ideology, it continues to dominate the government. In periods of relative liberalization, the influence of people and organizations outside the formal party structure has tended to increase, particularly in the economic realm. Nevertheless, in all-important governmental institutions in the PRC, party committees work to see that party and state policy guidance is followed and that non-party members do not create autonomous organizations that could challenge party rule. Party control is tightest in government offices and in urban economic, industrial, and cultural settings; it is considerably looser in the rural areas, where the majority of the people live.
The party's organizational structure was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and rebuilt afterwards by Deng Xiaoping.
Theoretically, the party's highest body is the National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which meets at least once every 5 years. The primary organs of power in the Communist Party which are listed in the party constitution include:
Other central organizations include
- The International Liaison Department
- The United Front Work Department
- The Organization Department
- The Propaganda Department
Also important are "leading small groups," which are committees of high ranking party members within state agencies. These can be extremely powerful, particularly in the area of foreign policy.
Every five years, the Chinese Communist Party holds a National Congress. Formally, the Congress serves two functions: to approve changes to the Party constitution and to elect a Central Committee, about 300 strong. The Central Committee in turn elects the Politburo. In practice, positions within the Central Committee and Politburo are determined before a Party Congress, and the main purpose of the Congress is to announce the party policies and vision for the direction of China in the following few years.
The party's central locus of power is the Politburo Standing Committee. The process for selecting Standing Committee members, as well as Politburo members, occurs behind the scenes in a process parallel to the National Congress. The new power structure is announced obliquely through the positioning of portraits in the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Party. The number of Standing Committee members varies and has tended to increase over time. The Committee was expanded to nine at the 16th Party National Congress in 2002.
There are two other key organs of political power in the People's Republic of China: the formal government and the People's Liberation Army.
There are, in addition to decision-making roles, advisory committees, including the People's Political Consultative Conference. During the 1980s and 1990s there was a Central Advisory Commission established by Deng Xiaoping which consisted of senior retired leaders, but with their passing this has been abolished.
In the 16th National Congress in November, 2002, President of the People's Republic of China and General Secretary Jiang Zemin announced several important policy changes as part of the his theory of the Three represents. China would remain "a people's democratic dictatorship" under the control of the Communist Party; however, entrepreneurs and people in unconventional occupations would have a voice in making Party decisions.
Members of the Central Committee
The Members of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China are (as of 2003):
Members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central committee:
Wang Lequan, Wang Zhaoguo, Hui Liangyu, Liu Qi, Liu Yunshan, Li Changchun, Wu Yi, Wu Bangguo, Wu Guanzheng, Zhang Lichang, Zhang Dejiang, Chen Liangyu, Luo Gan, Zhou Yongkang, Hu Jintao, Yu Zhengsheng, He Guoqiang, Jia Qinglin, Guo Boxiong, Huang Ju, Cao Gangchuan, Zeng Qinghong, Zeng Peiyan, Wen Jiabao.
Alternate member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee: Wang Gang
Members of Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee: Zeng Qinghong, Liu Yunshan, Zhou Yongkang, He Guoqiang, Wang Gang, Xu Caihou, He Yong.
Leaders of the Communist Party of China
The post of Chairman was abolished in 1982. Previously, the General Secretary served more of a bureaucratic role subordinate to the chairman. With the abolition of the post of Chairman, the General Secretary has become the most powerful position within the party.
Criticism and support
There is a variety of opinions about the Communist Party of China, and opinions about the CPC often create unexpected political alliances and divisions. For example, many chief executive officers of Western companies tend to have favorable impressions of the CPC, while many revolutionary Maoists have strongly negative opinions. Opinions about the CPC also create very strong divisions among groups normally ideologically united such as United States.
Many of the unexpected opinions about the CPC result from its rare combination of attributes as a party formally based on Marxism which has overseen a dynamic market economy, yet maintains an authoritarian political system.
Western human rights activists tend to see Chinese events as examples of state oppression, whereas most Chinese (including many of those who are anti-government or anti-CPC) tend to see China's troubles as stemming from anarchy and the lack of social institutions that would defend China from outsiders or prevent one person from forming a cult of personality.
Supporters of Tibetan nationalism, the Republic of China on Taiwan, and Taiwan independence, neoconservatives in the United States and Japan, along with most left-wing forces in those same countries, are among the groups which have perceived the CPC government as a totalitarian regime. They refer to the events of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese famine of 1958-1961, and Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 as examples. They note that millions of people died in the Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward under Communist rule and see the current Chinese government as a continuation of the Chinese governments of the 1950s and 1960s. This issue is dealt with in more detail in the article History of the People's Republic of China. In addition, some within this group, especially American neoconservatives, argue that the Chinese Communist Party is a grave threat to peace because what they see as its totalitarian nature.
Among Chinese, opponents of the Party within the Chinese democracy movement have tended not to argue that a strong Chinese state is inherently bad, but rather that the Communist leadership is corrupt.
Another school of thought argues that the worst of the abuses took place decades ago, and that the current leadership is not only unconnected with them, but were actually victims of that era. They have also argued that while the Communist Party may be flawed, it is comparatively better, with respect to improving the general standard of living, than any other government that has governed China in the past century and can be put in more favorable light against most governments of the developing nations. Finally, it has been argued that despite its flaws, the Communist Party is better than its alternatives, and that a sudden forced transition to South Korea and Taiwan during the 1970s.
As with the first group, this school of thought brings together some unlikely political allies. Not only are most members of the Chinese government members of this school of thinking, but it also include business conservatives in the United States and pro-free trade liberals. Ironically some of the ideological justifications for this school of thought comes from the Kirkpatrick doctrine which makes a strong distinction between authoritarian regimes and totalitarian ones.
- Official newspaper (http://english.peopledaily.com.cn)
- Official website (http://www.ccponline.net)
- Mao-era Communist Party of China books and articles in English (http://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/classics/mao/index.html#CPC)