Centenary Editorial - Party Membership Breakdown - Xi's Foreign Policy - 'People's' History

Here are the stories and pieces from the People’s Daily’s July 1, 2021, edition that I found noteworthy. The entire paper is essentially about the centenary. It’s like nothing else is happening in the country. But then news coverage in that sense is not the paper’s mandate.

Of course, Xi’s speech in the morning today will be covered tomorrow. I watched parts of it live - too early in the morning in India at the time - but I thought he spoke about so many of the themes that we’ve seen reflected in PD over the past 6 odd months at least. Anyway, I will do a detailed breakdown of the speech in tomorrow’s edition.

Page 1: Let’s begin with the People’s Daily’s Editorial on the centenary. 

The piece begins by talking about the past and the present; about the Party’s trials and successes and about the rise of China under the Party. Of course, this is heavy on rhetoric rather than substance. But it’s a useful read to understand the sense of self-perception that exists and/or is being shaped. So there’s references to the Party’s journey “from Shikumen to Tiananmen, from Xingye Road to Fuxing Road, from a small red boat to a giant ship…” or the Party’s aims of seeking “peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom of all mankind…” or about how the Party has “united and led the people” to create a “miracle.”

It tells us that “socialist China today stands majestically in the East, and the Chinese nation has made a great leap from standing up, getting rich to becoming strong.” 社会主义中国以更加雄伟的身姿屹立于世界东方,中华民族迎来了从站起来、富起来到强起来的伟大飞跃.

Also this bit of exceptionalism:

“No party in the world has encountered so many difficulties and obstacles, experienced so many trials of life and death, and made so many tragic sacrifices like us. Over the past hundred years, in dealing with various difficulties and challenges, our Party has defied the strongest of enemies, not been afraid of risks, dared to struggle and win, united and led the people to overcome one seemingly insurmountable hurdle after another, and seized one seemingly impossible great victory after another.” 世界上没有哪个党像我们这样,遭遇过如此多的艰难险阻,经历过如此多的生死考验,付出过如此多的惨烈牺牲. 一百年来,在应对各种困难挑战中,我们党不畏强敌、不惧风险、敢于斗争、勇于胜利,团结带领人民攻克了一个又一个看似不可攻克的难关,夺取了一个又一个看似不可能的伟大胜利. 

This is followed by a significant amount of space dedicated in the piece to pointing out how lives of ordinary Chinese have changed owing to the country’s economic development and how the Party maintains the people first in its approach--the idea of the original or founding mission. The next paragraph talks about how Marxism has changed China and how China has changed Marxism. Of course, the point here is that there is a path and system that has been created and it is important to adhere to it. 

“The history of our party is a history of continuously advancing the sinicisation of Marxism, a history of continuously advancing theoretical innovation and theoretical creation. Today, Marxism is radiating new vitality in China in the 21st century.” 我们党的历史,就是一部不断推进马克思主义中国化的历史,就是一部不断推进理论创新、进行理论创造的历史。今天,马克思主义在21世纪的中国焕发出新的生机活力,21世纪中国的马克思主义正展现出更强大、更有说服力的真理力量!

“Looking ahead, by 2035, our Party will unite and lead the people to basically realize socialist modernization, and struggle for another 15 years on this basis to fully build a modern socialist power by the middle of this century. Now, the clarion call for the goal of the second century has sounded. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, the whole party and the people of all nationalities are marching forward in the great journey of the new era, regardless of rain or shine, and striving for the historical ambition of building a socialist modernized country in an all-round way.” 展望未来,到2035年,我们党要团结带领人民基本实现社会主义现代化,并在这个基础上再奋斗15年,到本世纪中叶全面建成社会主义现代化强国. 现在,向第二个百年奋斗目标进军的号角已经吹响,全党全国各族人民正在以习近平同志为核心的党中央坚强领导下,在新时代的伟大征程上风雨无阻、坚毅前行,为全面建设社会主义现代化国家的历史宏愿而奋斗.

“The 100 years since the founding of the Chinese Communist Party are the 100 years in which the Chinese people have fundamentally changed their historical destiny, the 100 years in which the Chinese nation has moved toward great rejuvenation, and the 100 years in which China has made remarkable contributions to the development of all mankind.”中国共产党成立以来的一百年,是中国人民根本改变历史命运的一百年,是中华民族走向伟大复兴的一百年,是中国为全人类发展作出卓越贡献的一百年.

“Practice has fully proved that the Communist Party of China is the backbone of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation. Only the Communist Party of China can lead China, only socialism can save China, only reform and opening up can develop China, socialism and Marxism, and only the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics can lead China to prosperity and realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” 实践充分证明:中国共产党是中国人民和中华民族的主心骨,只有中国共产党才能领导中国,只有社会主义才能救中国,只有改革开放才能发展中国、发展社会主义、发展马克思主义,只有中国特色社会主义道路才能引领中国走向繁荣富强、实现中华民族伟大复兴.

This is followed by references to the changes taking place in the world. The piece says: “we are facing rare opportunities as well as severe challenges.” The piece ends by calling on everyone to “unite more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, strengthen the ‘four consciousnesses’, strengthen the ‘four self-confidences’, and achieve the ‘two maintenance’...” (442 as China Media Project termed this.)

Next, there’s a long piece about Xi Jinping’s diplomacy. This is not a litany of Xi’s comments or a timeline of policy measures or events. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it offers anything significantly new or insightful. Yet, it’s useful to note because of what’s being included and how things are being discussed.

So the article talks about how under Xi, China has sought to pursue a foreign policy of “peace” and tried to contribute to mankind’s development. China’s UN contributions are highlighted, as are China’s engagement in Africa and BRI. It’s also fascinating that poverty alleviation and climate change-related policies have figured in this. I guess we’re likely to see the Party more aggressively make the case that its efforts to cut carbon emissions or tackle pollution at home are part of the effort to benefit all mankind. Towards the end the piece talks about ideological contestation. 

For a long time, the field of international public opinion has been filled with murmurs of ‘civilizational superiority’ and ‘clash of civilizations’. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, some Western politicians and media have been stirring up ideological confrontation and interfering with the process of political mutual trust and international cooperation. Xi Jinping has repeatedly called for the establishment of a civilized view of equality, mutual learning, dialogue and tolerance, with the exchange of civilizations surpassing the barriers of civilizations, the mutual learning of civilizations surpassing the conflicts of civilizations, and the coexistence of civilizations surpassing the superiority of civilizations.” 长期以来,国际舆论场上一直充斥着“文明优越论”“文明冲突论”的杂音. 新冠疫情暴发以来,一些西方政客和媒体等更是肆意挑动意识形态对抗,干扰政治互信和国际合作进程. 习近平多次呼吁,要树立平等、互鉴、对话、包容的文明观,以文明交流超越文明隔阂,以文明互鉴超越文明冲突,以文明共存超越文明优越.

The Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations, BRI, and CCP’s dialogue with political parties abroad has been referenced in this context.

Next, let’s look at the latest data from the Party’s Organisation Department:

  • Total membership of the Party: 95.148 million, a 3.5% increase from 2019.

  • 23.677 million members are aged 35 and below, accounting for 24.9% of the total membership.

  • 49.513 million party members have a college degree or higher qualification, accounting for 52.0% of the total membership

  • Female members at 27.450 account for 28.8% of the Party membership

  • 7.135 million members are from ethnic minority groups, accounting for 7.5% of total membership

  • 33.9% of the total number of party members are “workers and peasants.”

  • 10.612 million of members are “managers of enterprises, institutions and social organizations”

  • 15.075 million are classified as “professional and technical personnel” 

  • Number of organizations at the grassroots level: 4.864 million

There are also details about committees at different levels; you can check them out in the piece here.

There’s additional information on Page 5. I’ll share a few of the bits from there below:

  • As of June 5, 2021, there were 20.055 million applicants and 10.057 million party activists nationwide

(Corrected this:) From January 1, 2020 to June 5, 2021, 4.739 million party members were recruited. Among them, the professional break-up is:

  • 273,000 skilled workers 

  • 685,000 professional and technical personnel in enterprises, public institutions and social organizations

  • 498,000 managers in enterprises, public institutions and social organizations,

  • 795,000 farmers, herders, and fishermen

  • 274,000 employees in party and government agencies 

  • are 1.872 million students 

  • 341,000 other professionals.

Overall age-wise break-up in membership

  • 12.553 million party members aged 30 and under

  • 11.126 million party members aged 31 to 35

  • 9.390 million party members aged 36 to 40

  • 8.76 million party members aged 41 to 45

  • 9.382 million party members aged 46 to 50

  • 8.671 million, party members aged 51 to 55 

  • 8.337 million party members between 56 and 60, 

  • 26.930 million party members aged 61 and above.

A short report telling us that the Central Military Commission has issued a circular commending a group of “outstanding Communist Party members, outstanding party workers and advanced grassroots party organizations throughout the army.” The details of individuals and groups are on Page 7. The circular reiterates the 442 formulae and then says that it is important to “implement the Chairman Responsibility System, and always be absolutely loyal, absolutely pure and absolutely reliable.” It refers to preparing for war as the “main business” and “main responsibility” for the forces. It also calls to “thoroughly implement the military strategy of the new era, deepen the promotion of political army building, reform to strengthen the army, science and technology to strengthen the army, talents to strengthen the army, and to govern the army in accordance with the law.”

Page 2: Just two pieces here to note. First, there was an event marking the launch of the first Ukrainian translation of Xi’s Governance of China. Next, a list of political parties’ leaders who have congratulated the CCP on its centenary. Putin’s at the top.

Page 3: There’s just one piece on the page. It’s an interesting piece stylistically. The idea is to blend the Party’s history, China’s political and economic history and people’s history and narrate the former through the latter’s lens. I am not sure if that made sense to anyone other than to me, but yeah that’s what it seems like. Of course, this is self-serving people’s history, but it is very evocative and bound to stir nationalistic sentiment and pride. I can see how this might be effective. I say this because I think that this sort of material will also say work in India too, if written from an Indian context, of course. The history of being subjugated and having then developed and modernised told through people’s anger, frustration, desires and hopes breathes life into abstract ideas and dumb infrastructure.

For instance, early on, we get the story of the sign outside Shanghai’s Huangpu Park.

“In 1922, when he saw a sign in Shanghai saying ‘no dogs and Chinese allowed’, Fang Zhimin was filled with pain: ‘This is a disgrace I have never suffered before!’ For national independence and people's liberation, he died together with many Communists to serve the country....During the Revolutionary War, there were more than 3.7 million famous revolutionary martyrs” 1922年,在上海看到“华人与狗不准进园”的牌子,方志敏满眼痛楚:“这是我感觉着从来没有受过的耻辱!”为民族独立、人民解放,他与许多共产党员一道捐躯报国。1922年,在上海看到“华人与狗不准进园”的牌子,方志敏满眼痛楚:“这是我感觉着从来没有受过的耻辱!”为民族独立、人民解放,他与许多共产党员一道捐躯报国.

Also see this as an example:

“More than 100 years ago, Zhan Tianyou, the designer of Beijing-Zhangjiakou Railway, felt ashamed. Although the design and construction of the railway was done by the Chinese, the main components, even the nails, were imported from abroad. Nowadays, at the foot of the Great Wall, the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway, which was designed and built independently by China and is a pioneering feat of intelligent railways, runs through the mountains.” 100多年前,京张铁路设计者詹天佑,曾有“引以为耻”的憾事:虽然铁路的设计建造由中国人完成,但主要部件甚至铁钉都是从国外进口。如今,长城脚下,中国自主设计建造、开智能铁路先河的京张高铁穿越于崇山峻岭间。具有完全自主知识产权的复兴号动车组飞驰而过,勾勒出百年中国的追梦轨迹。

Another is the tale of Zhang Guojin, the party secretary of Chengxi Village, Zhejiang. The piece tells us that at the Hangzhou International Expo Center this year in April, he addressed 430 foreign representatives about the journey of the village to prosperity. As per the article, Zhang carried 35 notebooks with historical records. He showed them the notebook entry from 1963, which showed a spike in grain output. This is important given the devastation of the GLP. Then, he showed them the 1979 entry, which talked about the risks/challenges in undertaking reform in terms of the need to change mindsets. “In 1995, Chengxi Village became ‘the richest village in the county’,” the article tells us. Here’s this entire story in video.

The piece also talks about the adoption of Xi Thought, and says “thought goes before action, just like lightning goes before thunder.” Then we have this intriguing narration, which like I’ve observed before is a lot about equating Xi with Mao and showcasing him as following in Mao’s footsteps. 

“In Changsha, Hunan Province, there is a plaque that reads ‘seeking truth from facts’ hanging inside the Yuelu Academy, a thousand-year-old institution on the banks of Xiangjiang River. More than 100 years ago, a young and spirited Mao Zedong often wandered here, thinking about the path to ‘transform China and the world.’ On the afternoon of September 17, 2020, it was drizzling, and General Secretary Xi Jinping, who was inspecting Hunan, came here. In front of the lecture hall, the general secretary walked with an umbrella and looked at the same plaque on the eaves, lost in contemplation for a long time: ‘How was it possible for the Communist Party to succeed? That year in Shikumen, on the Nanhu Lake, there was a boat, and there were just over a dozen people. The path must be clarified and the truth must be adapted to local conditions. The victory of the Chinese revolutionary struggle depended on the Chinese comrades’ ability to understand the situation in China.” 100多年前,意气风发的青年毛泽东常在此流连,思索“改造中国和世界”的方法. 2020年9月17日下午,细雨绵绵,正在湖南考察的习近平总书记来到这里. 讲堂前,总书记撑着伞,望着檐上的同一幅匾额,久久凝思:“共产党怎么能成功呢?当年在石库门,在南湖上那么一条船,那么十几个人,到今天这一步。这里面的道路一定要搞清楚,一定要把真理本土化.” “中国革命斗争的胜利要靠中国同志了解中国情况”

Anyway, it’s too long to summarise, but I guess you get the drift of the piece by now.

Page 4: There’s a long report about the July 1 medal winners, and a commentary. This can all be rather repetitive. So I am just sharing the conclusion of the commentary; it makes the broad point.

“The light of ideals illuminates the road of struggle, and the power of faith creates a better future. To advance in the new journey of building a modern socialist country, the majority of party members and cadres should constantly build the foundation of faith, replenish the spiritual calcium, steady the rudder of thought, with firm ideals and beliefs to sharpen their sincere loyalty to the Party. In the new great journey, with Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as a guide, with the ‘July 1st Medal’ winners as models, enhance the ‘four consciousness’ and ‘firm up the ‘four self-confidences.’ Unite more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, and continue the spiritual bloodline of the Communists…” 理想之光照亮奋斗之路,信仰之力开创美好未来。奋进全面建设社会主义现代化国家新征程,广大党员、干部要不断筑牢信仰之基、补足精神之钙、把稳思想之舵,以坚定的理想信念砥砺对党的赤诚忠心。在新的伟大征程上,以习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想为指导,以“七一勋章”获得者为榜样,增强“四个意识”、坚定“四个自信”、做到“两个维护”,更加紧密地团结在以习近平同志为核心的党中央周围,赓续共产党人的精神血脉,不忘初心、牢记使命,永不懈怠、一往无前,我们就一定能战胜一个又一个困难,取得一个又一个胜利,创造无愧于党、无愧于人民、无愧于时代的业绩. 

Page 5: The English version of “A Brief History of the Communist Party of China” will be published, a story tells us.