This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). When the party was founded in 1921, the CPC had only about 50 members, and the Chinese nation, impoverished and weakened, was suffering bitterly from bullying and invasion of foreign powers.
One hundred years later in 2021, the CPC has become the world’s largest ruling party with over 90 million members and has led the Chinese people to realizing national independence, development and prosperity.
Why could all this happen? The answers would be many. Yet a most important one lies in the CPC’s unusual relationship with the Chinese people. As figuratively depicted by Chairman Mao Zedong, a key founder of the CPC, the party’s relationship with the people is akin to that of seed and soil or of fish and water. And CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping said, “Everything we do is for the people.”
The CPC represents the fundamental interests of the greatest possible majority of the Chinese people. Over the past 100 years, generations of CPC members have rooted links with the Chinese people and committed themselves to “serving the people wholeheartedly”, which is also the party’s founding mission.
This has become the party’s inexhaustible source of motivation to act and deliver, for instance to win national independence, to reform and open up, to bring COVID-19 under effective control, and to secure the final victory against poverty, to name but a few. A long-term survey by the Harvard Kennedy School last year revealed the improved satisfaction of the 1.4 billion Chinese people with the central government, an increase from 86.1 percent in 2003 to 93.1 percent in 2016. The result could well make any ruling party in the world proud.
However, the overwhelming support of the Chinese people stands, surprisingly yet frequently, in sharp contrast with the arbitrary slandering of the CPC by some Western politicians and media. Their inherent hostility toward China makes them reluctant to recognize the rapid rise of a country that is “not like us”, one that is different to the West from the political system to ideology, and perhaps more importantly, one that is well on its way to be a near-peer competitor, let alone one that is much expected to be stronger in the foreseeable future.
Yet the true CPC is in no way that ruling party as has been demonized and distorted by those few politicians. It is made of tens of millions of pragmatic party members who strive for the happiness of the Chinese people and the renewal of the Chinese nation as a “vanguard”, as defined in the CPC Charter.
To get a clearer glimpse of what a real CPC member is like, let me tell the extraordinary story of an ordinary member of the CPC.
He is 62-year-old Mao Xianglin, born in a village of mountainous Chongqing in southwestern China. Surrounded by 1000-meter-high cliffs, his village was almost isolated from the outside and the villagers lived an impoverished life for generations.
Mao joined the CPC at 33 and was appointed as the secretary of the village party branch five years later. Among the more than 500,000 administrative villages of China, each has its own party branch (grassroots party unit), which manages village affairs together with the villagers’ self-governance units.
Shortly after taking office as party chief, Mao made a proposal that surprised yet inspired all his fellow villagers, which was to carve out a road on the cliff. He got the support of the whole community. Every step they took was a life risk. They dangled on ropes from the cliff and used explosives, hammers and drills to inch forward.
To speed up construction, they usually slept in caves and didn’t go home for months. To ensure the safety of others, Mao was always the first to lower himself down to check for potential dangers. Seven years later, an 8-kilometer road snaking around the cliffs was completed. The people gave it a lovely name, “road in the sky”.
Yet for Mao, building the road was the first step, and seeking a path to prosperity was second. Development of businesses held the key. Agricultural experts were invited to the village for training, and the young people came back home to join the exploration.
The unceasing efforts of Mao and his villagers paid off. Citrus fruits, peaches and watermelons proved to be suitable and lucrative businesses, and rural tourism was expected to be a new source of wealth creation.
Mao’s village shook off poverty once and for all in 2015, and the local people’s annual per capita income on average grew to 13,000 RMB yuan (US$2,000) last year, a 40-fold increase from 20 years ago. This is how a CPC member goes all in to serve its people.
Just as the newly elected General Secretary Xi Jinping said when he met the press in his new capacity for the first time in 2012, “To meet people’s desire for a better life is our mission.” For the top leader of the CPC and the country, no one values more than the people.
As a key part of his job, poverty relief is a task to which General Secretary Xi has devoted most of his energy. Since 2012, he visited every one of the 14 contiguous poor areas across China and over 20 poor villages.
Today, faced with unprecedented uncertainties and changes worldwide, the CPC remains committed to fulfilling its mission of serving the people, leading them toward the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and working with other peoples in the rest of the world toward the greater progress of humankind.
The writer is ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to ASEAN.