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    Greater China
     Oct 17, 2012

Xi to guide CCP from revolution to rule
By Wu Zhong, China Editor

HONG KONG - The Chinese Communist Party has began idealizing plans by Vice-President Xi Jinping to transform the CCP from a "revolutionary" into a "ruling party" weeks before his expected elevation to the position of president at the party's 18th National Congress,

Xi mentioned the strategy as early as September 2008 at the opening ceremony of a new academic year for the Central Party School - the CCP's top training center of which Xi is president.

He said the CCP had matured from a party of revolution into one which "holds the power to rule the country in the long term". He called on all party members, especially officials, to adapt themselves to this fundamental change. At that time, many hailed


his remarks as a significant theoretical breakthrough for the CCP to explicitly bid farewell to "revolution" and "class struggle" - the core ideas of Marxism and Maoist thought. [1]

However, the CCP has waiting until weeks before Xi is endorsed as the No 1 party to elaborate on his ideals. The congress is scheduled to be held on November 8.

The October 11 issue of People's Tribune, a biweekly magazine published by the People's Daily - the party's flagship newspaper, carried a special package of seven articles that discussed the importance of establishing a "modern" or "new" political outlook.

People's Tribune claims to be the most influential political periodical in China, with "every issue sent to central, provincial, municipal and county leaders". Hence it can be certain that the unusual call for establishing a "new political outlook" has had a green-light from the very top.

An introduction to the special package says that upon the 63th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and right before the 18th party congress, an urgent problem facing the party is how it could escape the fate of the "historical periodicity" [of one dynasty rising, then decaying and dying] to continue to lead the Chinese nation on a course of revitalization.

The first article of the package, written by Gong Fangbin, a professor with the National Defense University of the People's Liberation Army, frankly admits that the Chinese people do not feel any happier today despite great achievements in economic development made through reform and opening up in past three decades. On the contrary, social conflicts seem to have escalated. There are many reasons. But the fundamental one is stagnation in restructuring the political system. As a result, the currently political system no longer fits to the economic system that has undertaken fundamental changes in past 30 years.

Everyone is aware of the problem. So why has political restructuring not been launched so far? Gong blames this on the CCP's failure to establish a "new political outlook" in keeping with for its transformation from a "party of revolution" into China's "ruling party".

There are great differences between leading a revolution and ruling a country. "The language of revolution is violence, while ruling a country stresses on balance and compromise. Fighting a revolution needs to highlight and even intensify class struggle, but ruling a country must eliminate [social] conflicts and narrow differences… Fighting a revolution is to safeguard the interests of one class by depriving the interests of another class, but a ruling party must satisfy the interests of all social strata and groups... etc.," Gong writes, adding that therefore it is impractical and non-operational to use theories for a revolution as the party's guidance after it comes in power.

Another writer Wang Changjiang, a professor with the Central Party School, points out that the mentality of being a party of revolution still influences the CCP's perception of today's problems. One reason for its failure to change this mentality is due to vested-interest groups' striving to safeguard their vested interests.

Xu Yaotong, a research professor with the National School of Administration, maintains that for the mentality change from a revolutionary party to a ruling one, the CCP must establish and respect the rule of law, give up ideology-led propaganda and cease to launch political movements targeting certain groups of people in society. For a ruling party must work and be responsible for all people in society, not a certain part or parts of them.

The seven writers, all known scholars in China, stress the importance for the CCP as a ruling party to establish and respect the rule of law. A revolutionary party means to destroy the existing social order and rule of law, but a ruling party must build and maintain these. They all agree that for the CCP to truly behave as a ruling party, it must put itself and all its officials under the law instead of above the law.

Their sharp remarks pinpoint the problems facing today's China. How to deal with them? They all agree that the CCP must start political reforms, and introduce and expand democracy if it wants to continue remaining the ruling party of China. But like Xi, the democratization they talk about seems to improve CCP's rule so that it could, hopefully, remain as China's sole ruling party forever. Democratization to pave the way for a multi-party politics is out of question, since multi-party politics imply that the CCP may lose its ruling status. So what such democratization will achieve is still anyone's guess.

Gong says the establishment of a "new political outlook", ie discarding a revolutionary mentality to become a ruling party, will mark the third major theoretical breakthrough in the CCP's history. Mao Zedong made the first breakthrough to win the victory of the revolution. Deng Xiaoping made the second breakthrough to pave way for reform and opening up. Now the rise of the Chinese nation in the world relies on the third breakthrough. Gong himself stops short of saying it, but his argument clearly implies that if Xi could achieve this, he would become the third monumental leader in CCP history.

Changing the CCP's revolutionary mentality is itself a revolutionary move, which will require political wisdom and courage. This is the case as the shift implies giving up the orthodox definition of a political party by Marxist, Leninist and Maoist thought - that political parties are products of class struggles with each party representing the interests of a certain social class, and the communist party is the vanguard of the working class. The CCP constitution still stipulates just that: "The CCP is the vanguard of the Chinese proletariat ... The highest ideal and ultimate goal of the party is to achieve communism."

This despite in fact the CCP has already become an "all-people" party since 1997 when it began to recruit "red-capitalists" as its members. The CCP boasts to have 80 million members today. Hence one out of 10 people aged 18 or above in China is a communist party member (about a quarter of the 1.3 billion Chinese population are below 18). Surely, they must come from various social sectors. Apparently theorization of this change in the nature of the party far lags behind practice.

The mentalit UA-3625887-1area shape= SRC=0/lileft/tdBRy shift is also meant to give up certain principles currently adopted by the CCP, for example, the "four cardinal principles" set by Deng himself. These four principles are stipulated in the party constitution: the CCP "must "uphold [the] socialist road, uphold people's democratic dictatorship, uphold the CCP's leadership, uphold Marxism, Leninism and Mao Zedong thought ... and oppose bourgeois liberalization". Giving up these principles is meant to open the door for political and ideological liberalization.

Obviously, changing the "revolutionary mentality" and replace it with a "new political outlook" is an arduous task. Will its not certain if Xi and the new CCP leadership can succeed in this challenge, the discussion of a "new political outlook" suggests Xi wants to chart a different path than his predecessor.

1. 'Red capitalists' unravel the party line, Asia Times Online, Oct 17, 2008.

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