By Sankar Ray
Speaking at the inaugural session of the centenary celebrations of the Communist Party of China at Tian’anmen Square before the giant portrait of Mao Zedong in Beijing, capital of the Peoples’ Republic of China, the President of PRC, Comrade Xi Jinping, who is also the general secretary of CPC central committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission assured, “Chinese people will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or subjugate us.” He stressed, “We have brought about a historic resolution to the problem of absolute poverty in China, and we are now marching in confident strides toward the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects.”
A fly-by of helicopters in formation spelling “100” — a giant hammer and sickle flag trailing — and a 100-gun salute followed, while young communists in unison pledged allegiance to the party. And there was no dearth of pomp and patriotism in the celebrating mood with thousands of singers alongside a marching band, belted out inspiring choruses including “We Are the Heirs of Communism” and “Without the Communist Party there would be no New China” as maskless invitees cheered and waved flags in a packed Tian’anmen Square, where Mao had declared the founding of PRC in 1949.
On 29 June, President Xi conferred the July 1 Medal, the party’s highest honour, to 29 individuals, together with veterans of the Chinese Civil War and the Korean War, as Chinese Communists recollected previous contributions and sacrifices.
Having been in power for eight years, Xi described China’s “irreversible” trajectory from humiliated colony to great power, digging deep into history to remind patriots at home and rivals abroad of his nation’s, and his own, rise. He narrated the transition from the humiliation of the Opium Wars to the struggle to establish socialist revolution in China, having brought about “national rejuvenation” lifting tens of millions from poverty and “altered the landscape of world development”. There is no denying that there is almost abolition of any stratum of people living below the poverty line, the growing anti-egalitarianism –reflected in the widening of the highest-to-lowest income gap – notwithstanding. The “era of China being bullied is gone forever”, praising the party for uplifting incomes and restoring national pride, Xi claimed. Xi’s speech braided the economic miracle of China with the longevity of the party.
Although CPC withdrew Mao Zedong Thought from its constitution, the CPC supremo showed the historical consciousness in reminding the huge assembly of party delegates and overseas observers of the summer of 1921, when Mao and a clutch of Marxist-Leninist thinkers in Shanghai founded the party, which has since morphed into one of the world’s most powerful political organizations.
The CPC with 12.55 million members has pivoted now to new challenges, applying technology to renew its appeal for younger generations, although co-existing with a consumer economy decorated by billionaire entrepreneurs among whom are CPC members as well.
Xi maintains a defiant and intrepid face to overseas rivals led by the U.S., revving up nationalist sentiment, while marketing himself as the champion of a newfound Chinese pride. That’s ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’.
On whether there is a wind of change beneath the centenary celebrations, Dr Rana Mitter, Professor of History and Politics of Modern China, University of Oxford, stated in a lengthy interview: “What I feel it’s completely different. He does, after all, draw on what his predecessors did. If you take a look at the concept from Deng Xiaoping again within the 1980s, that China ought to ‘hide its light and bide its time’, that China must be concentrating on getting wealthy, securing its financial system, partaking with the world and creating this big financial miracle, when Deng Xiaoping stated that he did not intend that must be the case without end.”What Rana, a good friend of this scribe, means to say is that China ought to use that point to construct as much as a place that it may reveal itself to the world as a serious new global energy. “I feel Xi Jinping would really feel that he’s the chief who basically has fulfilled that promise or expectation from Deng Xiaoping”, he added .
Over his eight-year rule, Xi Jinping has visibly consolidated his control over the infamously opaque party, proving himself as the most influential Chinese leader after Mao Zedong. In 2017, the CPC endorsed Xi’s dominance with elevating new officials siding with him in Xi’s setting up of the agenda for the second-largest economy in the world. Xi strategised China’s foreign policy, asserting itself as never in the past, risking increased tensions between China and the United States and US allies. But Beijing stepped forward, thanks to the countervailing financial power of PRC.
One can’t agree more with Prof Mitter that Xi has moved the dial from the place it was at about 10 years in the past, possibly even five years in the past, to a new place. At that time, it was actually possible for students specifically to learn different histories of the celebration, ones during which among the leaders who had beforehand been type of purged is perhaps considerably reconsidered.. The nightmarish consequences of the so-called ‘Great Proletarian Cultural Resolution’, scripted in the historical document, ‘Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party’ adopted at the Sixth Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of CPC, is now a thing of the past. (IPA Service)