CHINA. An ideological debate : classes, party and strategy

Patrick Theuret

On the occasion of the 80th anniversary[1] of the creation of the Communist Party of China (CPC), its General Secretary; Jiang Zemin, make a speech that has since become the most commented of texts in China, in view of the perspective of calling of the 16th Congress[2]. This speech was rapidly summarised as laying out the theory of `three represents', itself reduced to the proposal of admitting capitalists into the Communist Party of China.

Strictly speaking, the thesis put forward in this speech says that the principle of `three represents', whereby the CPC must represent at the same time the "advanced productive forces, advanced culture and the broad masses of the people" was anterior[3] to this, but this speech assumed unprecedented importance, giving it a theoretical status,[4] subsequently strengthened by the proposal to include it in the Communist Party's constitution. Similarly, the theory, as it is presented, (we have published, as an appendix, broad extracts of it) cannot just be reduced to that one proposal regarding party membership, a proposal that itself aims at a whole series of new strata, of which the capitalists are just one component. But, it is clear, this is the component that is by far the most sensitive, especially if its presence is raised, in one way or another, to the level of a statutory principle. Thus it is very logical that it has aroused a real debate in China, of which we are reporting here some key factors and a contextual background, even if all its outlines are not fully known.

Capitalists in the Communist Party?

To be exact, the question of admitting capitalists into the CPC is raised, at this time, less on the practical and quantitative level as on the theoretical and qualitative level. In fact, bearing in mind the evolution of contemporary China, and that the Chinese elite are members of the Party, some capitalists are already members, essentially because they were already members before changing their social status[5]. Finally, the Chinese definition differs from that of the capitalist world. It is a matter of contractors and owner-managers, essentially managing firms with mixed public/private capital, often public companies whose capital has been opened to private investment. Moreover, their numbers are slight, compared to the overall membership.[6]

The issue being debated is of quite a different scope. It refers to the fundamental nature of the Party. The proposal by Chairman Jiang Zemin was not limited to noting and legitimising the membership of individual capitalists to the CPC, but aimed at recognising the place of this layer of the population in the party and, consequently, at amending the Party constitution which, hitherto, stipulated that the "Communist Party of China is the vanguard of the working class".

The question which is thus raised is, indeed, to know whether this proposal alters the communist, class nature of the party or whether it is a simple adaptation to the contemporary evolution of a Chinese society in full phase of development. In other words, is China in the process of toppling over into capitalism or simply adapting itself to its present stage of `market socialism[7].

This debate has to be assessed with regard to the economic evolution of China, where the private sector has considerably grown, representing 30% of the GNP in 2001 as against 70% for the public sector (37% State, 33% cooperative). In 2001 there were 2 million private firms employing 27.13 million workers[8], that is 3.7 of the 730 million Chinese workers[9].

A break-away or continuity?

The official thesis, relayed by the Chinese media, is categorically : there is faithfulness and adaptation and not a break-away or even the beginnings of one. Such an interpretation is in keeping, at least to the letter, of the speech. Thus theoretician Li Zhongje, expressing his view on the theory as a whole calls for "firmly grasping the relationship that links the `Three Represents' thinking with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory and preventing any tendencies from separating the two or having them go against each other. In addressing Marxist scientific approach, Deng Ziaoping once used two phrases: one is `old ancestors' and the other is "saying new things" That is, we cannot abandon the old materials old Marxist ancestors, but we should come up with something new in the light of the development of the times". After several quotations showing the `continuous line' of the CPC in its approach while identifying the new elements of the context, he states: "We should oppose `left-leaning' erroneous ideas on denying the `Three Represents' important thinking, with their rigid and dogmatic approach with no regard to changes in historical and objective conditions, and we should oppose right-leaning erroneous tendencies of denying basic Marxist tenets and four cardinal principles[10] in the name of supporting the banner of the `Three Represents'."[11]

In the same spirit, on the question of admitting new members "Li Liangdong, head of the political and judicial Department of the Central Party School pointed out: A political party's being the vanguard of a class is a determined by its guiding principle, fighting goals and value. It is not simply determined by the background of its members. We have no reason to exclude advanced elements of other social strata from membership of our party, including advanced elements of private business operators. ... We mean the admission of advanced elements, not all the people ... If they are not advanced elements, they will not be admitted into the party. Therefore, we cannot simply say the CPC is developing into `a party of the entire people'[12]. A considerable number of principal leaders of our party were from families of the exploiting class. We cannot say the CPC at that time was not the vanguard of the working class. A person's background cannot be used to judge the person's total quality"[13].

Internal criticisms

This position arouses, schematically speaking, two types of criticism, one, said to be of the Right, allegedly sees, in this proposal, an open road leading, ultimately, to a real breach with socialism while another, of the Left, is hostile to taking the least risk of going in this direction.

Thus "some scholars advocate changing the party's constitution and its name to cement the new identity. Beijing University professor; Chen Yingyuar, has even recommended that Mr. Jiang's Three Represents should replace Deng Xiaoping's four Cardinal Principles in the constitution. This would formally dispense with the adherence to Marxism Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, the socialist road and the dictatorship of the proletariat"[14].

In fact, during this period it is rather the other criticism that has been talked about and which weighs more in the debate, essentially because it reflects a can partly canalise the social discontents generated by the changes (rejection of the new rich and of corruption, unemployment) also relayed in intellectual circles and amongst the youth by the rise of an anti-globalist `New Left', very `red' and imbued with experiences from the capitalist countries[15].

The prestigious US Left review, Monthly Review has, for example, devoted a special feature to their theses[16]. The review published, in particular, the letter of 14 former leaders (extracts of this in an appendix here). These leaders call to question, in harsh terms, the internal democratic legitimacy of Jiang Zemin's theory and his orientation, which they accuse of being a prelude to an abandon similar to that which took place in the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries.

This trend has been the subject of considerable international attention : "Leftists or ultra-conservatives have, since early summer; been circulating yet another "10,000 character petition", a reference to neo-Maoist tracts lambasting the leadership for going down the capitalist road. The circular said corruption was the inevitable result of Beijing abandoning orthodox socialism and allowing private and foreign capital to flourish. The leftists are calling for a political struggle to rid the party of the `tail of capitalism'[17]." Several small newspapers have echoed these positions in China.

The impact of this criticism is hard to evaluate, not only as an open opposition but, especially, in the influence it has in those sectors integrated into the official line, up to the top. It nevertheless seems sufficiently strong to affect an official international event. Thus, on the occasion of an interview of a foreign Communist leader, Guennadi Ziuganov, Chairman of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, two questions were asked inviting him to express his views on the question[18]. The two questions raised, on the one hand, the point that "within our party we have to face a difficulty resulting from the resistance of left forces. These, for example, have declared their opposition to the entry into the party of new social strata, beginning with capitalists and important «contractors» and on the other hand that "our old `left' party activists are speaking of a betrayal of the previous policy and are putting forward strong criticism". The recognition of a debate that is not totally new.

Three major trends can be observed within the CPC, all of which Al Sargis, who has drawn a detailed picture of this, places, schematically, in the continuity of the post-Mao `reformers': Left ('conservatives'), Right ('liberals') and Centre (`moderates'). They differ; primarily, over the scope, depth, pace and direction of economic and political reform. To simplify, the left wants economic reforms that stress planning over the market but rejects political reforms like `bourgeois liberalisation'; the right wants economic reforms that emphasise the market, with the state playing at best, a supplementary role and political reform in which the legislature plays the major governing role; the centre opts for economic reform that stresses both market and co-equal regulatory mechanisms but is content with the status quo political structure".[19]

A compromise?

This debate seems to have had repercussions at the top of the CPC and given rise to a compromise with a certain Left criticism. Some sources state, for example, that during the Central Committee meeting of 24/26 September 2001, the admission of capitalists was strongly opposed and even partly refused on the basis of a consensus that is said to have been established at Minzhu Shenghuohui where, at the beginning of September, most of the members of the Political Bureau met together with "three high brow senior elders, Qiao Shi, Song Ping and Lui Huaqing"[20]. And when Chairman Jiang Zemin made the traditional speech to the Cadres School[21] that precedes the holding of every congress, since the text distributed made no reference to sensitive questions observers saw in this a confirmation of this new internal equilibrium.

During the first half of 2002, which saw the election of 2,120 delegates to Congress, certain specialists also sought to follow the trends shown in the election. According to an American source, for example, "Chinese President Jiang Zemin has appealed for unity within the Communist Party by allowing several conservative officials to hang onto their positions. The reshuffle of leadership in 31 provinces and directly administered cities, which began last year; is coming to an end. The majority of party bosses of provinces have been re-appointed or offered similar positions in other regions. Several leftist or quasi-Maoist cadres who have opposed Jiang's effort to allow businessmen to join the party have been given new terms".[22]

A certain international press has preferred to see, over and above the theoretical debate and the different concrete political orientations to which they could lead, only a quarrel for succession and prestige between Jiang Zemin; the No.1 man, and Hu Jintao, the future No.1 man, already projected during the Deng Xiao Ping period as being respectively the leaders of the third and fourth generation[23] and, on the other hand, a question of prestige attached to whether or not the theoretical contribution of some leader or other had been formalised or not.[24].

The 16th Congress

All these and many others were down to be dealt with at the Congress itself (8 - 14 November 2002). On the eve of the Congress, an official theoretical article came out specifying the orientation chosen. Making the debate on the admission to party membership of `entrepreneurs' that some, at that time, considered `workers' and others `exploiters', a debate which, the article said, was around different interpretations of the `marxist theory of value'. It is the first interpretation which has been accepted.[25]

The introductory report by Jiang Zemin confirmed the place assumed of the `three represents' theory. It is widely dealt with at the beginning and the end or the report. The beginning is devoted to past experience and to the ideological orientation outlined : "the main theme of the Congress is to hold high the great banner of Deng Xiao Ping Theory comprehensively to implement the important thinking of the three represents". The thesis is presented as a faithful and creative contribution to marxism in an international context marked by the Chinese decision to continue, under specific forms, the building of socialism after its collapse in the ex-USSR and Eastern Europe.

The question of `entrepreneurs' is treated in this context as a social enrichment, without reference to Party membership[26]. The principles raised are those of respecting the diversity of forms of labour and of the guarantee of the different personal contributions as well as the strengthening of national unity.[27]

It is at the end of the speech that the link is established wit~h membership of the Party, and that in the following manner the Party must, said Jiang Zemin, ensure that it remains the "vanguard of the Chinese working class, the Chinese people and the Chinese Nation ... and that it always represents the development trend of China's advanced productive forces, the orientation of China's advanced culture and the fundamental interest of the majority of the Chinese people". Finally, after recalling the major communist principles, Jiang Zemin could conclude "We should absorb into our party advanced elements of social strata who accept the party's programme and constitution, work for the realisation of the party's line and programme conscientiously and meet the qualifications of the party membership following a long period of testing. In this way, we can improve the influence and rallying force of the party in society at large."[28]

The doors are open, but perhaps not as widely as some expected. The way it is applied will show what importance should be given to the political and ideological pre-requisites for membership and to the "long probationary period'.[29] Is that also the result of the compromise?

As always, in these congresses, there was a lot of attention paid to the choice of people as a means of anticipating tendencies and the way they would be applied. The core of the leadership (the Permanent Committee of the Political Bureau) consists of nine leaders, eight of whom are new, round the new General Secretary Hu Jintao, all of whom are graduate engineers. Jiang Zemin remains, for his part, Chairman of the Central Military Commission[30], as had Deng Xiao Ping before him.

The period prior to Congress had been the occasion of much speculation, particularly by international experts. One of them announced[31], on the eve of the election of the Central Committee, the consolidation of the `era of capitalists' with the designation of two of them onto the 350 strong Central Committee, naming them as Zhang Ruimin and Lui Chanzi, while adding that they "are not exactly private entrepreneurs as they run companies that are partly government owned (i.e. the state holds the majority of the shares)" In fact, only the first was elected, and as a deputy member.[32] Moreover others had predicted[33] the rise to the position of No.2 of Li Ruihan, considered to be the leader of the moderate wing, and hitherto in No.4 position. He was not even elected to the Central Committee. Another result of the compromise? Another sign, the day after the Congress the CNN expert announced the nomination of Zhang Deijang as Party head in Guangdong (Canton) province. A symbol of the new Chinese economy, with 30 of the foreign investments in China, this province of 70 million inhabitants (less than 5% of the total) produces 10% of China's GNP and is 1st province, economically. Zhang Deijang, a member of the Political Bureau, is described as a "relatively conservative cadre" who had particularly been noted early in 2001 by "an article in a conservative theoretical journal raising doubts about the political and moral rectitude of private businessmen"[34].

The decision to admit entrepreneurs, capitalist or not, at present taken at the highest level, is continuing to fuel debates of interpretation that it is not possible to quote exhaustively. Starting with the Chinese internal debates[35], the majority agree on a double point in common : the priority given to economic development focuses attention on the entrepreneurs with a double objective of social and national cohesion. The first is aimed at fully legitimising the contribution of these `workers/exploiters' who must accompany the building of the `first phase of socialism' over a long term. They represent both a contribution and a danger. If the contribution is dominant, the Chinese Communists have two schematically opposed responses possible : to include the entrepreneurs in order to `control' them or to exclude them to avoid their "controlling" the Party. The first is said to be the unofficial thesis (positively) "the idea is to expand the Party's support base to include private entrepreneurs, so that the party can maintain control'[36] and of certain opponents (negatively) : Bao Tong, a dissident expelled in 1989 warns the West against too easy hopes : "placed under wardship of an absolute power; the red capitalists cannot become a driving force for political reform".[37]

The second thesis would be that of the eventual control of the CPC by capitalists. Here, too, we can find two points of view, different in their objectives but close in their analysis. On the one hand is the criticism of the Left inside the CPC which (negatively) proposes to direct the capitalists towards the small parties maintained by the authorities, in harmony with the CPC[38], so as to avoid their `polluting' it. This is also that of the majority of the Western press that welcomes the Chinese change of direction as confirming and announcing the gradual and full integration of China, a message intended rather for world public opinion, to signal that, of course, there is no longer any place for socialism on earth, under whatever form, rather than to the inner circles of political and economic decision makers.

Other, less sensationalist, foreign commentators, using the same basic interpretation, place the social and political issues of the `new strata' not so much in the arrival of a few `capitalists' but in the irruption of `middle strata'[39]. Certainly this notion is disputed. Is the criteria of income enough to define them? Are they politically autonomous? According to different criteria, this group could represent either 1% of the population, 5 to 7% or even, in some views, 200 million individuals. But there is certainly here some substance to reinforce the fears, or hopes, of the holders of different theses on the socio-political evolution of China.[40]

The other dimension is national. The calls to the entrepreneurs are also directed at all Chinese, including the diaspora, at all Chinese communities, including those who have proved themselves under capitalism. This is the theory of the double vanguard: "The Communist Party is the vanguard of the Chinese nation and the working class". It reinforces abroad, especially in the United States, the spectre of the arrival on the scene of an Asiatic great power, tomorrow's competitor. And that is indeed China's objective which, after it increased its GNP eightfold since 1978, plans to increase it fourfold again between now and 2020.

The international stakes

Regarding the future of the Communist Party of China, the leading[41] force of the second world power, the most serious candidate, for the moment, for challenging US hegemony in the 21st century, whatever the choice of ideas or leaders, the issues at stake have an impact that is not merely Chinese but world-wide. Since the forms adopted by the cold war in the 20th century are considered out-dated, China is working in the perspective of a lasting peace, though with increasing caution[42]. Short and medium term competition has been replaced by a long term struggle at which everyone is working as of now. It now assumes specific forms, in particular setting aside direct confrontation, by one side or the other, in favour of some form of co-operation.[43]

What then is the long-term strategy of the United States? According to Zbignew Brzezinski, considered by some as a world authority: "for America the principle strategic stake is Eurasia". However "the rhythm of economic growth and the total of foreign investments -- both amongst the highest in the world -- will have allowed China, in the next twenty years, to become a world power of the same scope, or nearly; as the United States or Europe... We will then be seeing the emergence of a Greater China, strengthened by the return of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, if the latter submits politically; it will not only be the dominant State in the Far East but also a first rate global power"[44].

A French geopolitical specialist, responsible for the training of armed forces cadres, explains, for his part : "It is clear to see that China is the principal object of their obsession. In reassembling all the pieces of the puzzle, it is notable that the global strategy in which the United States is engaged is to block the emergence of this giant"[45].

China, he writes "is 1.4 billion people. This enormous mass is still sheltered from world capitalism. The United States want to break down China's walls, as it did in 1945 with Western Europe, by setting up all the instruments of free trade". Making the connection with recent events (Afghanistan, Iraq) he adds "what are the principle axes of this American strategy? The first is to control the supplies of fuel and power for Asiatic growth. ... For the United States, having the control of this region is owning Asia's fuel pump, and consequently China's power requirements. The second American axis is to form a tight network of alliances round China. In the same way as the United States bottled up Soviet Russia during the cold war".

From a national point of view, this China, by its very size, is perceived as a danger, because it cannot be digested by the West. From the political and ideological point of view, this party, which, despite its marked evolution, has not renounced its identity even eleven years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, is also the most flagrantly bad example of the non-disappearance of communists from the face of the earth -- and not a water-tight communism, like the one that had held out for 70 years of conflict with capitalism, but a new version that interpenetrates with the dominant world.

It is true that this inter-penetration is perceived in the light of the simultaneity, at the end of the 20th century, of the advances of a certain capitalism in China with the retreat of certain values inspired by socialism in the capitalist countries (welfare state) -- a coincidence that strengthened, throughout the world, a feeling of a process of one way homogeneity, encouraged by the theses of `globalisation'. What would be the situation in another phase, with an anti-­capitalist/anti-globalisation movement reversing, even if only partially, the balance within the capitalist world? What new synthesis might result on a world scale if the socialist dimensions present in both these worlds were to meet? Who can measure, today, the political and ideological impact that China could have, in such a context. An impact not limited to the Third World, though principally there, -- where China might well symbolise escape from under-development through `market socialism' -- with at its head a party claiming to embody a communism defeated in the 20th century, for which many ideologists had seen to have no place in the following century.

(Reprinted from International Correspondence, issue 5, 2003.

`Three represents'

Speech by Jiang Zemin on the 80th anniversary of the CPC

I. Achievements and basic experience of the Communist Party of China in the 80-year struggle

The speech begins with a historical recall. "The torrential anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggle of the people of all ethnic groups of China" in the context of "the tempestuous movement of the proletarian revolution in the world". It mentions the main stages from 1840 to the "1911 Revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, which overthrew the autocratic monarchy". After the "Odober Revolution of Russia" and the "May 4 movement of China", it is "in 1921, that the Communist Party of China emerged just as the times called in the process of applying Marxism-Leninism in the Chinese workers' movement," and that "invigorating the Chinese nation had fallen upon the shoulders". At that time, he recalls "the country became impoverished and weak and the people lived in hunger and cold" Going through the different stages of the Chinese Revolution until the building of the "socialist system" he adds that "even in a situation where world socialism experienced serious twists and turns and domestic and foreign situations changed drastically, our Party steadfastly stood its ground like a firm rock in midstream, and socialism in China has displayed its vigour and vitality." "China is an ancient country with a civilisation of more than five thousand years" and has realised" a great leap from centuries-old feudalistic autocratic politics to people's democratic politics. Its annual gross domestic product (GDP) has increased by 56 times since the founding of New China." He adds: "Upholding the guiding role of Marxism, we have educated the people in patriotism, collectivism and socialism and made vigorous efforts to promote progress in socialist culture and ideology."

He enjoys the "successful return of Hong Kong and Macao to the motherland" and affirms that "the People's Liberation Army led by our Party is the staunch pillar of the people's democratic dictatorship, a great wall of steel in defence of the motherland and an important force in socialist construction."... "We have thoroughly ended the history of humiliating diplomacy" and "resolutely opposed the hegemonies and power politics with the strong domineering over the weak".

Jiang Zemin then turns himself towards the future. To maintain "the flesh-and-blood ties with the masses of the people, ... we must always consciously strengthen and improve Party building, continuously enhance the creativity, rallying power and combat capability of the Party, and always maintain the vigour and vitality of the Party ...

II. Correctly understand and fulfil the requirements of the `three Represents' in an all-round way

In the second part of his speech President Jiang Zemin makes precise the conditions to continue the trajectory presenting his famous theory of three represents beginning by : "representative of the requirements of the development of China's advanced productive forces" means that the "Party's theory line, programme, principles, policies and all work are in line with the law governing the development of the productive forces, make them reflect what is required in promoting the release and development of social productive forces,... and the living standards of the people improve steadily."

"Productive forces are the most dynamic and the most revolutionary factor." They are "the ultimate decisive force of social development. The contradictions between productive forces and the relations of production and between economic base and superstructure constitute the basic social contradiction.

The movement of this basic contradiction determines the direction of the changes in the nature of society and the direction of social, economic, political and cultural development. The fundamental difference between socialism and capitalism lies in the difference between their relations of production and superstructures." Amongst those productive forces "man is the most decisive factor" and "the Chinese working class, including intellectuals, is the basic force that pushes the advanced productive forces forward in China. The peasant class and other labouring people, closely united with the working class". This social core stimulates the whole economic system characterised in the following way : "a basic economic system with public ownership as the main body and the common development of multiple sectors; we must persist in and improve the socialist market system; we must hold on to and improve the multiple ways of distribution with the distribution `to each according to work done' as the main distribution modality,' we must continue to improve our opening-up programme; we must hold on to and improve the people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on worker-peasant alliance; we must hold on to and improve the people's congress system and multi-party cooperation and political consultation led by the Communist Party and the system of regional autonomy of minority nationalities. ...

Jiang Zemin then tackles the second represent. "To make our Party forever represent the orientation of the development of China's advanced culture" all its work must "reflect the requirements of the national scientific and popular socialist culture that develops toward modernisation, the world and the future, enable them to upgrade the ideological and ethical qualities and scientific and cultural qualities of the whole nation and to provide the motive power and support culturally and intellectually."... "Over the past 80 years, our Party has held high the marching banner of China's advanced culture" It has "cleaned up the old decadent and dying culture which was left over from the old society and infiltrated into China from abroad." And "cadres and masses have been emancipated and encouraged ideologically and mentally, and a correct guiding ideology and a common ideal have taken shape among the whole Party and the people," while consolidating "the guiding status of Marxism."...

"We should advocate the ideology of patriotism, collectivism and socialism among all people, combat and resist money-worship, hedonism, ultra-egoism and other decadent ideas,... there still exist some backward cultures in society that have features of superstition, ignorance, decadence and vulgarity, and even some decadent cultures exist that corrode people's mental world and jeopardise the socialist cause."

Finally Jiang Zemin exposes the third represent; the one of "taking the fundamental interests of the people as the starting point and purpose." and "our party has always adhered to the principle of putting the interests of the people above everything else. Apart from the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people, the Party does not have any special interests of its own."

To sum up "representing the requirements of the development trend of China's advanced productive forces, representing the orientation of China's advanced culture and representing the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people are interrelated and interact and constitute an integral whole."...

"The requirements of the `Three Represents' are the basic requirements for our Party to maintain its advanced nature and always remain the strong leading core in building socialism with Chinese characteristics. It is in conformity with the Party's upholding of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory, adherence to its nature of being the vanguard of the working class, and its purpose of serving the people wholeheartedly."...

III. To strengthen and improve the Party building in accordance with the requirements of the `Three Represents'

Jiang Zemin stresses the point to show the consequences in the life and doctrine of the Communist Party of China of these three represents recalling that "we must always uphold the basic tenets of Marxism." But "in terms of theory, Marxism develops with the times. If we dogmatically cling to some individual theses and specific programs of action formulated for a special situation by authors of Marxist classics in the specific historical conditions in spite of the changes in historical conditions and present realities, then we will have difficulty in forging ahead smoothly and we may even make mistakes because our thinking is divorced from reality. That is one reason why we have remained opposed to dogmatism toward the theory of Marxism'. To meet the requirements of the `three Represents' "we must uphold the Party's nature of being the vanguard of the working class", because "the Chinese working class has always been the basic force for promoting the advanced productive forces in China. Our Party must remain the vanguard of the working class and unswervingly and wholeheartedly rely on the working class."

But "since China adopted the policy of reform and opening up, the composition of China's social strata has changed to some extent. There are, among others, entrepreneurs and technical personnel employed by scientific and technical enterprises of the non-public sector; managerial and technical staff employed by foreign-funded enterprises, the self-employed, private entrepreneurs employees in intermediaries and freelance professionals ... Under the guidance of the Party's line, principles and policies, most of these people in the new social strata have contributed to the development of productive forces and other undertakings in a socialist society through honest labour and work or lawful business operation....

"To build socialism with Chinese characteristics is a great and arduous cause. It calls for the worthy people from all sectors who are loyal to the motherland and socialism to take action and lead other people in pushing forward this cause. The main criteria to admit a person into the Party are whether he or she works wholeheartedly for the implementation of the Party's line and programme and meets the requirements for the Party membership. The basic components and backbone of the Party are those from workers, farmers, intellectuals, servicemen and cadres. At the same time, it is also necessary to accept those outstanding elements from other sectors of the society who have subscribed to the Party's programme and constitution, worked for the Party's line and programme wholeheartedly, and proved to meet the requirements for the Party membership through a long period of tests. (...) "The conditions we are faced with are quite different from those the founders of Marxism were faced with and studied." The present situation is characterised by economic development, our people will live a better life and their personal property will increase gradually. In view of this, it is not advisable to judge a person's political integrity simply by whether one owns property and how much property he or she owns. But rather, we should judge him or her mainly by his or her political awareness, moral integrity and performance, by how he or she has acquired the property, and how it has be disposed of and used, and by his or her actual contribution to the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.

To meet the requirements of the `Three Represents,' we must adhere to democratic centralism, establish and improve the scientific leadership system and working mechanism, give full scope to inner-Party democracy, resolutely safeguard the centralism and unity of the Party, and maintain and continue to enhance its vitality.

At the same time we must: "give full play to the initiative and creativity of the Party members and Party organisations at all levels ... Effective mechanisms should be set up to make sure that all ideas and suggestions of Party members at the grass-roots level or in Party organisations at a lower level can promptly reach those at a higher level. All the major policy decisions of a Party committee must be made through discussions by the committee and nobody should be allowed to have the final say alone."

We must "resolutely resist the impact of Western political models such as the multi-party system or separation of powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches. We should firmly avoid making arbitrary decisions and taking peremptory actions in violation of democratic centralism on the one hand, and weak and incompetent leadership on the other..". Whereas "the principle of fostering a contingent of more revolutionary, younger, better educated and professionally more competent cadres. We should have a deeper understanding of the loss of political power by some Communist parties in the world that had long been ruling parties and learn a lesson from them. The longer the Party is in power; the more necessary it is for the Party to strengthen self-improvement and the stricter it should be with its members and cadres.... At present, special attention should be paid to overcoming the state of lethargy and seeking no progress, doing away with the grave alienation from the people and standing firmly against the unhealthy tendency of formalism and bureaucracy." ... The power in our hands is given by the people. Cadres at all levels are public servants of the people and must be subjected to the supervision by the people and the law...

All Party members, the leading cadres in particular, must always be clean, honest and just. They must be able to withstand the test of reform, opening up and being in power as well as the test of power, money and badger games. The Party does not allow any hideout for corrupt elements within the Party. ... For this, it is imperative to constantly strengthen and improve the Party building and temper all Party members into firm Communists."

IV. Continue to strive for the fulfilment of the basic line and historic mission of the Party

"We firmly believe in the basic Marxist tenet that human society will inevitably move towards communism. Communism can only be realised on the basis of a fully developed and highly advanced socialist society. ..." So "All comrades in the Party should set up a lofty communist ideal. To care about immediate interests only while forgetting the lofty ideal will result in the loss of direction of progress.". Even if "the Party's basic line" is to "concentrate on economic development".

Jiang Zemin ends his speech by an analysis of the international situation. "The world needs peace. ... This is the trend of our times.". The Chinese policy is based on the "Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence... and "under the principles of independence, total equality, mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, conduct extensive exchanges and strengthen cooperation with all political parties and organisations in the world and further promote friendship between the peoples and development of relations between states." Within this framework the Chinese leader warns: "Diversity of the world is a reality that should be recognised. Different civilisations and social systems should enjoy long-term coexistence and draw upon and benefit from each other in the process of competition and comparison and achieve common development while seeking common ground and shelving differences...

Long live our great motherland!

Long live the great Chinese people!

Long live the great Communist Party of China!"

Jiang Zemin in Der Spiegel[46]

... In recent years private companies, stock exchanges and a new middle class have developed -- can China even be described as a socialist country any more?

We still have a clear solution: we are building a Chinese-style socialist land. We continue to be guided by Marxism-Leninism, but are adapting it to our concrete conditions. Marx developed his theories well over 100 years ago in Europe -- how could he have imagined the conditions in our country?...

Is it conceivable that the CP itself may change in the future and, for example, develop into a party based on the social democratic model?

Whether today or in the future: we will never change the name of China's Communist Party. In my youth I fought actively for the revolution, but at that time my idea of communism was rather superficial and simple. A great deal of time is needed in order to realise the great goal. There has been Confucianism for 78 generations. For the establishment of socialism we need at least a couple of dozen generations. We are still only at the beginning.

You have always spoken out against a multiparty system and the sharing of power. Don't people who are allowed to freely pursue business relatively need political rights and independent courts?

The world is characterised by variety. After all, it has long since been shown that it can rapidly lead to social upheavals when developing nations copy the political systems of other countries without regard for the national conditions. Please remember that social stability is in the basic interest not only of the Chinese people. Asia and the whole world profit from it. It is easy to imagine what it would mean if there was unrest in China.

Germans are, on the one hand, fascinated by the rapid development in China. At the same time, many are horrified because many opposition and religious people still are in jail or in a camp.

It is not true at all that opposition people and religious believers are thrown into jail. Although I am an atheist, I am very interested in religion; I have read the Bible, the Koran and Buddhist Sutras. The Chinese constitution guarantees all citizens freedom of religion. The number of religious people is more than 100 million. But one thing is definite: in a nation based on law such as China, everyone, no matter whether he is religious or not, must follow the law. If someone is sentenced then it is only because he has violated laws and not because he believes in a religion of some kind.

Hu Jintao:

"plain living and hard struggle"[47]

"It is of great significance to, in light of the new reality, restudy the important speech made by Comrade Mao Zedong at the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh CPC Committee" in 1949. Here, I would like to read the whole passage of the thesis. Comrade Mao Zedong pointed out penetratingly: "We shall soon score victory across the country. This victory will break through the battle line of imperialism in the east and will be of great international significance. ... The bourgeoisie doubts our ability to carry out construction. The imperialists expect that eventually we will beg them for subsistence. With victory, certain moods may grow within the party -- arrogance, the airs of a self-­styled hero, inertia and unwillingness to make progress, love of pleasure and distaste for continued hard living. With victory, the people will be grateful to us and the bourgeoisie will come forward to flatter us. It has been proved that the enemy cannot conquer us by force of arms. However, the flattery of the bourgeoisie may conquer the weak-willed in our ranks. There may be some communists, who were not conquered by enemies with guns and were worthy of the name of heroes for standing up to these enemies, but who will be unable to withstand sugar-coated bullets, and they will be defeated by sugar-coated bullets. The Chinese revolution is great, but the road after the revolution will be longer, the work greater and more arduous. This must be made clear now in the party, Comrades must be helped to remain modest, prudent and free from arrogance and rashness in their style of work. Comrades must be helped to preserve the style of plain living and hard struggle. ".... This extract from the thesis put forward by Comrade Mao Zedong is very important. In particular, two essential ideas in it have the significance of giving long-term guidance. The first is that before great achievements, some comrades within the party may become arrogant, engender the love of pleasure, and be reluctant to do any more arduous work. ... The second is that no matter what great achievements our party may attain, we must practice plain living and hard struggle over a long time to come, always uphold the true qualities and purposes of a Marxist political party, and continuously protect and realise the fundamental interests of the greatest majority of the people. Only in this way will our party be able to always maintain its flesh-and-blood relationship with the people, always win the support of the broad masses of the people, and always be in an invincible position.

[1]. The Communist Party of China was created on 1 July 1921 in Shanghai by 12 delegates (including Mao Zedong) representing 70 members.

[2]. Nine have taken place since the birth of the People's Republic. They have only been held regularly since 1977 once every five years.

[3]. An article in the Asia Times of 23 October 2001 places its origin in a speech by Jiang Zemin back in 25 February 2000. The object then, according to the author of the article, was to face up to a «chaotic» situation in which the role of the CPC was being challenged. The President, being on a visit to a difficult region, had thus explained it "Summarising the more than 70 years' history of our party an important conclusion can be reached, that is, our party won the support of the people because, throughout the historical stages of revolution, construction and reforms, our party has always represented (1) the development demands of China's advanced productivity, (2) the forward direction of China's advanced civilization (3) the fundamental interest of China's broadest populace". There was, then, no question about the criteria for membership of the party. More recently, an article in China Daily of 7 November 2000 confirms this origin but back-dates it to the first debates of 1997 or even 1987.

[4]. The principal difference between the speeches (that of 2000 and that of 2001) lies in its passing from the descriptive (a historical observation) to the prescriptive (as a guide for guaranteeing the

[5]. In Shenzhen, 25% of the owner-managers are said to be already members of the CPC ("Kicking Marx out of the party" by Jasper Becker, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong).

[6]. The figure of 112,000 businessmen members of the party has been quoted -- i.e. about 0.16% of the members of the Communist Party.

[7]. The Communist Party of China, since its 13th Congress in 1987, has characterised the present period as the "primary stage of socialism and will remain so for a long period of time .. It will last for over a hundred years" (CPC General Programme).

[8]. "Capitalist enterprises in China", Hong Kong i-mail, 19 April 2002.

[9]. Of whom 490 million are in rural areas and 240 million in urban

[10]. The Four Cardinal Principles are : adherence to the socialist road, the people's democratic dictatorship, Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, and the leading role of the Communist Party.

[11]. "Correctly grasp the relationship links" by Li Zhongje.

[12]. This allusion to the debate between the Chinese and Soviet CPs enables them to preserve the positioning of the Chinese CP to the left of the old `adversary' Khrushchev. Note here the difference in context -- the USSR at the time was a more socially homogenous society in which the possibility of a reversibility of the system was absent. On these two points, China is different.

[13]. Ta Kung Pao 6 September 2002 by Sun Zhi.

[14]. "Kicking Marx out of the party" by Jasper Becker, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong).

[15]. Libération 11 June 2000.

[16]. Monthly Review No 54, May 2002, www.monthly

[17]. Willy Wo Lap Lam 20 September 2000.

[18]. Beijing Daily, 13 September 2002.

[19]. For more details read his article "Ideological Tendencies and Reform Policy in China's Primary Stage of Socialism", Nature Society and thought, Volume 11, No. 4 (December 1999), pages 291-398.

[20]. Asia Times 23 October 2001, Xu Yufang reported in the Taiwan owned, Hong Kong based Asia Times Online: "with no fuss and without a word in public, the ruling Chinese communist party (CPC) has rejected the bold plan of its leader, General Secretary Jiang Zemin, to open the party to capitalists and entrepreneurs".

[21]. The speech raised four orientations : 1. "Perfection of Socialist Ownership ... It is basic to the socialist economic system to have of ownership. ... 2. Socialist Democracy is an Important Objective, with the Four Cardinal Principles 3. Acceleration of Socialist Modernisation. 4. Emancipation of the Mind. "This ideological guideline decides the progressive nature of the party's ruling stand, adding that the future of the country depends on whether the Party can adhere to it".

[22]. "Jiang appeals for party unity" Willy Wo-Lap Lam, CNN Senior China Analyst (CNN).

[23]. The first generation is described as that of the leaders who had surrounded Mao Zedong and the second that led by Deng Xiao Ping. Before his death, the latter had prepared his succession with Jiang Zemin as leader of the third generation and Hu Jintao of the fourth. The passing of power to the fourth generation having been programmed for the 16th Congress. Much speculation before the Congress had doubted that it would really take place.

[24]. In addition to the founders (Marx, Engels and Lenin) the constitution of the CPC refers to Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiao Ping Theory (which was introduced at the 15th Congress in 1992).

[25]. The authors argue this on the grounds of their honest contribution to socialism. Today the party's membership is 94.4% "workers, farmers and intellectuals", all the other social strata together making up the remainder; with 3.7 million members (Developing Party's solid foundation" by Xu Wenhua and Chen Dong, China Daily 7 November 2002.

[26]. With the deepening of reform and opening up and economic and cultural development our country's working class is growing stronger and its quality is being constantly enhanced. The working class, including the intellectuals, and the vast numbers of peasants, have always been the fundamental force in pushing forward the development of our country's advanced productive forces as well as society's overall progress. Emerging during social changes, the social strata such as entrepreneurs and technical personnel employed by private scientific and technological enterprises, managerial and technical personnel employed by foreign-funded enterprises, the self-employed, private entrepreneurs employed in intermediaries, and free lancers are all builders of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

[27]. "People of all social strata who contribute their efforts to building a prosperous and strong motherland should unite together; their enterprising spirit should be encouraged; their legitimate rights and interests should be protected; and the outstanding ones should be commended, so as to create a harmonious situation in which all people can do their best and be well placed. It is necessary to respect labour knowledge, talent and creation and render it an important policy of the party and the country and implement it in the entire society. It is important to respect and protect all labour that benefits the people and society, whether it is manual or mental labour, simple or complex labour; all labour that contributes to our country's modernisation of socialism is glorious and should be recognised and respected.

Enterprises in our national construction carried out by various domestic and overseas investors should be encouraged, and all legitimate income derived from labour and non-labour should be protected. It is not appropriate to judge whether people are politically or backward simply by whether they own property and how much property they own but rather we should consider their state of mind, political awareness and actual performance".

[28]. In the constitution itself, which the introductory report describes as "minor revisions, not major ones", Article 1 integrates the new social strata, but with a restriction that does not apply to the working classes, the notion of advanced elements. "Any Chinese worker, farmer; member of the armed forces, intellectual or any advanced elements of other social strata who has reached the age of eighteen and who accepts the Party's Programme and Constitution and is willing to join the CPC".

[29]. This is the way the press reported the training courses organised by the CPC's Central School and intended for `entrepreneurs' to educate them "ideological and theoretically" (Ming Pao 29 November 2002).

[30]. The international press was rich in comments on this point, stressing the strong presence of people close to Jiang Zemin on this committee (5 or 6 out of 9) and thus a continuity of policy. Some analysts have presented this new leadership as a result of a negotiation between Jiang Zemin and Li Peng at the expense of the moderate wing (Li Rihuan) (Hong Kong Economic Journal 19 December 2002).

[31]. Straits Times 14 November 2002 "Capitalist Cadre idea... by J. Leow.

[32]. The final assessment on the 158 deputy members gives 15 entrepreneurs, 13 of whom run state enterprises, a group from non-state public firms and Zhang Ruimin (Wen Wei Po 19 November 2002).

[33]. Straits Times 30 September 2002 "Jiang's rival to move up leadership ... China No.4 Li Ruihan, could become No.2 if Jiang retires completely" by Ching Cheon.

[34]. Willy Wo-Lap Lam, 19 November 2002.

[35]. We ignore here those theses that consider that China has never been or is no longer a socialist country, and who consider these debates yet another justification of their traditional theses.

[36]. An anonymous `political scientist' in 4 November 2002.

[37]. Liberation 7 September 2002.

[38]. The CPC is not, formally, the sole party in a single-party state, since eight other small parties, called democratic exist (the Revolutionary Committee of the Guomingtang of China, the Democratic League of China, the Association for the Democratic Construction of China, the Chinese Association for Progress and Democracy, the Democratic Workers and Peasants Party of Taiwan). These parties are integrated into the regime with consultative status. They have a total of about 360,000 members (1999). The interest of mentioning them here is that the left critics of the CPC's official line is to propose that the `capitalists' should join these parties rather than the Communist Party.

[39]. "The Communist Party, since 1921, officially under the control of the workers and peasants has at this Congress been turned over to the stewardship of the middle class" in "Hu Jintao made head of China's communists" Financial Times 16-17 November 2002.

[40]. "The main reason to focus on the developing middle group is social stability" says the party official. "The income gap is the core of our concern" in "China strives to win the middle classes" The Christian Science Monitor 25 November 2002.

[41]. In June 2002 it numbered 66,355 million members, that is 5,938 million more than at the previous Congress in 1997. This means that about 5% of the population are members of the CPC (as against 10% in the USSR). The greatest representation in the party is that of the "workers, farmers, shepherds and fishermen" (45.1% of the total), then the cadres of government administration, institutional and state enterprises, soldiers and police» (21.3%). Women, on the other hand, are only 17.5% and members of minority ethnic groups 6.2% (as against 8% in the population). These last two groups are slightly better represented amongst the 2,120 delegates to the 16th Congress with 18% and 10.8% respectively. 97.5% have joined since the creation of the Chinese People's Republic, 63.1% are under 55 years old, 91.7% of the delegates have had some degree of higher education. (Xinhua Agency, 10 September 2002). Furthermore 124,000 members have been expelled over the last 5 years for "having transgressed Party discipline or State law" 473,000 over the last 13 years.

[42]. "However; the old international political and economic order, which is unfair and irrational, has yet to be fundamentally changed. Uncertainties affecting peace and development are on the increase" (Jiang Zemin's report to the 16th Congress).

[43]. We use here a concept forged by economic theory to characterise a relationship involving cooperation and competition in the world of big business.

[44]. Brzezinski (Zbigniew), The Great Chessboard: America and the Rest of the World.

[45]. Aymeric Chaupade, Director of Geopolitical courses at the Collège Interarmées de Defence (Ecole de Guerre, France).

[46]. 8 April 2002 pp. 158-161 : "Harmony Is the Foremost commandment". (extracts)

[47]. Extract from the first speech of the new general secretary, published in the theoretical journal of the Communist Party of China.