China held its 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress on Oct. 18. Xi Jinping, China’s current president and general secretary of the Communist Party of China, will serve a second five-year term. The week-long Congress is China’s major political event and takes place every five years in order to create the party’s political agenda.
“The party from day one had military intentions,” said Guo Wu, associate professor of history and international studies, in his lecture “What did the Shijiu Da Tell Us” on Wednesday, Nov. 8 in Arter Hall.
Trevor Mahan, ’21, attended Wu’s presentation and expressed his concerns about the congress.
“The other day I was reading the news, it was a couple weeks ago when the 19th Congress Party of China announced their new platform and their new standing committee members and some of their issues were concerning to me and intriguing, particularly things like the New Order, which is its real name,” Mahan said.
The Chinese Communist Party was founded in July 1921. The inaugural congress’s platform was structured around the desire to overthrow the bourgeoisie with a proletarian army in order to eliminate class distinctions.
The inaugural congress was attended by 13 delegates in 1921, including Junior Delegate Mao Zedong, representing his home province of Hunan.
The CCP is composed of the Central Committee, which is comprised of 209 members who discuss and determine the general directions of policy. The Party is also formed by the 25 members of the Politburo, and most importantly, the Standing Committee of the Politburo.
It is important to know that the Chinese Communist Party is not the government. However, the appointments in the party and in congress are often concurrent.
During the Seventh Party Congress in 1945, “Mao Zedong Thought” was adopted as the dominant ideology of the party.
Mao Zedong Thought is widely known as an anti-revolutionist form of Marxism-Leninism, and was created in order to demonstrate the CCP’s autonomy from the Soviet Union and to promote Mao’s status to counterbalance the Chinese Nationalist Party.
More than 10 years later, the 9th Party Congress was held. The conference took place during the peak of the cultural revolution when Mao was busy purging the leaders and finding “yes” men who would support his vision. Mao used the congress as a way to affirm his theory of perpetual revolution.
After Mao’s death in 1976, “Deng Xiaoping Theory” was adopted during the 15th Party Congress as a guiding principle following “Marxism-Leninism” and “Mao Zedong Thought.”
This new theory focused on opening the Chinese economy to the rest of the world.
“Mao had himself written into the constitution. Deng Xiaoping, after his death, was written into the constitution, and the fact that Xi Jinping was written in while he is alive is pretty indicative of how much power he wants and how much power he currently has,” said Thomas Cassidy, ’21, at Wu’s lecture.
In November 2002, the Chinese Communist Party adopted the party general secretary Jiang Zemin’s “Three Represents” Theory. This new theory represented advanced social productive forces, the progressive course of China’s advanced culture and the fundamental interests of the majority.
Five years later, at the 17th Party Congress, Party General Secretary Hu Jintao’s theory of “Scientific Development” was adopted as the Party’s new guiding principle.
Scientific Development emphasized the importance of rationality and resolving environmental issues. This new theory stressed the importance of not sacrificing the environment for immediate advance along with bridging the gap between the rich and the poor.
Xi Jinping used the 19th Party Congress to stress his theory of the Chinese Dream.
Xi’s new theory focuses on the revival of the Chinese nation. Jinping also introduced “Four Self-Confidences.” These four confidences are Path, Theory, Institutions and Culture. Xi is focused on China assuming a more vigorous role in global affairs.
“Mao had this personality cult behind him. His face was everywhere, his name was on everything and Xi Jinping is starting to do the same thing again,” Mahan said.
Xi is known as the most powerful leader China has seen since Deng Xiaoping. The power of the Chinese Communist Party, along with the power of the People’s Republic, is centralized in the hands of Xi.
Wu explained that China has regressed back towards centralized power in order to be more efficient.
“In my personal opinion, since this also happened in the past, I personally doubt there was a party consensus,” Wu said. “‘Is [Xi Jinping] another Mao Zedong?’ is the big question. I am not trying to provide answers. I am just providing history and some predictions.”