Chinese history twists its way for over 5000 years, and as the world’s oldest surviving civilization it has shown the world many wonderful things over the years. The First Opium War of 1840 marked a watershed in the nation’s development path. China gradually descended into a semi-colonised state, under the crushing weight of invading Western powers. The Chinese people suffered unprecedented tragedy under the colonial yoke and the corrupt Qing court.
In response to the mounting national crisis and their own worsening plight, Chinese intellectuals took matters into their own hands by starting one movement after another. To enlighten the Chinese people of modern science and democracy, they launched the New Culture Movement in 1915 which culminated in the May Fourth Movement of 1919.
On May 4,1919, Chinese youth took to the streets of Beijing to protest against Allied Powers granting the former German concessions in Shandong province to Japan through the Treaty of Versailles. The deepening national crisis propelled Chinese intellectuals to search for an international alternative and more effective solution – Marxism-Leninism. By integrating this new doctrine with workers’ movements, they facilitated the establishment of early communist groups across the country.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) was officially established in July 1921, when the first congress of the CPC was convened in Shanghai. The founding of the CPC marked the important milestone in modern Chinese history, and represented the highlight of the numerous movements for an independent, prosperous, modern China.
As history later revealed, it would not only lead to dramatic changes in the nation and the destiny of its people, but would also profoundly shape the geopolitical landscape of the world. The CPC rallied the people of China, leading them through two bitter civil wars launched by the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) and a 14-year-long war against imperialist Japanese aggression before gaining full national independence and restoring China to its rightful position on the world stage. Over the decades, the CPC guided the nation towards prosperity, helping the country rise up from the ashes of war and devastation, and building China into the second largest economy in the world.
From the mid-19th century, China was reduced to a semi-colony under the Western powers. The Chinese people, oppressed by their corrupt feudal overlords and invading Western imperialists, rose up to demand satisfaction through a series of uprisings and movements. Though socially helpful, these struggles failed to change the fate of the nation. The quest for an end to the suffering continued.
New Democratic Revolutions
With reform-minded intellectuals propagating democracy and modern sciences, the New Culture Movement contributed to unprecedented enlightenment of the Chinese public. The May Fourth Movement saw the official debut of the working class as an independent social force onto the political stage. It mobilized all sections of society in the fight against Western imperialism and the feudal establishment at home, and awakened the public to the urgency of pursuing truth, progress, and national revival. Socialist ideas started to circulate, setting the stage for New Democratic revolutions, in which the working class played a leading role.
Spread of Marxism
Amid the intellectual stirrings of the May Fourth Movement, China’s educated young men and women began in earnest to study new ideas, in particular, socialist thought. The success of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia enhanced the appeal of Marxism. Young scholars began to systematically disseminate the Marxist ideology in China.
Through the study of Marxist theories and engagement with laborers and workers, Marxists in China gradually realized the dire necessity and urgency of establishing a party. With the support of the organization controlled by Communist Party of Soviet Union, Communist International (Comintern), the first communist party group was set up in Shanghai in 1920, which actively guided and motivated the forming of more such groups across the country. All local party groups systematically organized activities of studying and spreading Marxism, educating and organizing working class, while also criticizing various anti-Marxist thoughts. They also set up Socialist Youth Leagues to further promote the integration of Marxism and workers’ movements, paving the way for the official founding of the Communist Party of China.
Birth of CPC Founding Group in Shanghai
During the sweeping awareness campaigns, Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao prepared for the establishment of communist party organizations. In 1920, based on the Shanghai Marxism Research Society, China’s first communist party group was established in Shanghai, a city with the highest working-class in China. It actively promoted the formation of local party organizations, serving as the focal point for party building activities across the country, thus playing the role of the founding organization of the CPC.
Party Building Ideas and Debates
Early Chinese Marxists made in-depth explorations of key issues such as what kind of party should be built and how to build the party, thus clarifying the party’s essential nature, missions, organizational principles and methods of revolution. Debates against counter-Marxist forces such as reformism and anarchism catapulted a group of progressive young people onto the road of Marxism by drawing a line between scientific socialism and the conservative socialism.
Preparation for the First CPC National Congress
In June 1921, representatives of the Comintern arrived in Shanghai to connect with members of the early Shanghai communist party group. After discussions, it was agreed that a national congress should be convened in Shanghai, and that the Shanghai party group would take charge of the preparations for the congress. The conference was attended by thirteen delegates from the early communist party groups in seven regions and two Comintern representatives.
On July 23, 1921, the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China opened in Shanghai. The event marked the official establishment of the Communist Party of China – a completely new party which regards Marxism-Leninism as its guidance, realization of socialism and communism as its goal, and the great rejuvenation of China as its ultimate mission. It was ground-breaking event in the history of China, bringing light and hope to the disaster-ridden people in an old and backward country. Since the establishment of the Communist Party of China, Chinese revolution took a new turn to embrace a bright future.
Convening of the First CPC National Congress
On July 23, 1921, the 1st CPC National Congress opened in Shanghai. The meeting was raided suspended by the French Concession police on the night of July 30 while going on. Members postponed the meeting and it was then moved to a tourist boat on South Lake in Jiaxing.
With the first program and resolution adopted, the Congress elected members of the CPC Central Bureau. The CPC officially came into being. Revolution was in the air. The first National Congress of the Communist Party of China marked the official establishment of the Party, which was a natural consequence to the evolutionary history of modern China and the lengthy struggle and practice of the Chinese people in pursuing national liberation and rejuvenation.
The CPC as the new movement of the Chinese working class represented the interests of not only the working class but also the Chinese people. Since its founding, the CPC has taken Marxism as its guide to action and remained true to its original aspiration and mission to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation.
Achieving National Independence and People’s Liberation
After its establishment, the CPC not only proposed a program for democratic revolution in line with China’s realities and the interests of Chinese people, but also always stood bravely at the forefront of the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolutionary struggle to unite and lead the people of all ethnic groups in China to fight fierce battles against their enemies.
Guided by Marxism adapted to the Chinese context, i.e., Mao Zedong Thought, which integrates basic gospel of Marxism-Leninism with concrete practices of the Chinese revolution, the CPC overthrew the rule of the feudal establishment by defeating the reactionary KMT in a decade-long maneuver warfare. On October 1, 1949, the CPC-led New Democratic revolutions ended the 100 years of semi-colonial and semi-feudal rule in China, and ushered in a new era of the People’s Republic of China.
Striving to Develop Socialism
After the People’s Republic of China was founded, Chinese communists, with Mao Zedong as their chief representative, united the people of all ethnic groups to accomplish the extensive and profound social changes in Chinese history and transforming the system of private ownership into a socialist system of public ownership. By doing so, the CPC created a fundamental political and institutional framework for today’s China. The CPC explored precise paths to socialism suited to China’s conditions and executed a massive industrialization program laying a solid foundation for China’s development and prosperity.
Reforms and Opening up to Create New Prospects for Modernization
After the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee held in 1978, Chinese communists led by Deng Xiaoping introduced all-round reform and opening up, setting the stage for a sustained economic boom never seen before in human history. After the 4th Plenary Session of the 13th CPC Central Committee convened in 1989, Chinese communists led by Jiang Zemin steered the nation through a turbulent period in the international politics, pressing ahead with reforms. After the 16th CPC National Congress in 2002, Chinese communists led by Hu Jintao navigated a range of major challenges, including the 2008 international financial crisis, catapulting the nation to its current position as the world’s second largest economy in 2010.
Socialism With Chinese Characters in the New Era
Since the 18th CPC National Congress held in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core has united people in the country under the banner of promoting socialism with Chinese characteristics. A series of new ideas and plans were put forward, including Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, the Overall Plan for Development in Five Areas, and the Four-Pronged Strategy. During this period, many long-festering problems were solved and numerous long-awaited achievements were accomplished. The CPC and the Chinese nation as a whole entered a new era, heralding a promising future of prosperity.
As the old Chinese saying goes, “never forget why you started, and your mission can be accomplished.” Since its inception, the Communist Party of China has determined to work for Chinese people’s happiness and well-being and pursue rejuvenation of the nation. This vision is a major driving force for all CPC members. Over the past century, all the tremendous endeavour, sacrifice and achievements made in solidarity by the Chinese people under the CPC’s leadership were geared to the same objective to rejuvenate the Chinese nation. The past 100 years was a glorious beginning for the CPC’s long march.
Together we will work hard to realize the Chinese Dream of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and bring a still better life to the Chinese people , Comrade President Xi Jinping – Secretary General of Communist Party of China and also Chairman of Central Military Commission.