Adopted at the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on November 11, 2021
Regrettably, the correct line adopted at the Party’s Eighth National Congress was not fully upheld. Mistakes were made such as the Great Leap Forward and the people’s commune movement, and the scope of the struggle against Rightists was also made far too broad. Confronted with a grave and complex external environment at the time, the Party was extremely concerned about consolidating China’s socialist state power, and made a wide range of efforts in this regard. However, Comrade Mao Zedong’s theoretical and practical errors concerning class struggle in a socialist society became increasingly serious, and the Central Committee failed to rectify these mistakes in good time. Under a completely erroneous appraisal of the prevailing class relations and the political situation in the Party and the country, Comrade Mao Zedong launched and led the Cultural Revolution. The counter-revolutionary cliques of Lin Biao and Jiang Qing took advantage of Comrade Mao Zedong’s mistakes, and committed many crimes that brought disaster to the country and the people, resulting in ten years of domestic turmoil which caused the Party, the country, and the people to suffer the most serious losses and setbacks since the founding of the People’s Republic. This was an extremely bitter lesson. Acting on the will of the Party and the people, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee resolutely smashed the Gang of Four in October 1976, putting an end to the catastrophic Cultural Revolution.
From the founding of the People’s Republic to the eve of reform and opening up, the Party led the people in completing the socialist revolution, eliminating all systems of exploitation, and bringing about the most extensive and profound social change in the history of the Chinese nation and a great transformation from a poor and backward Eastern country with a large population to a socialist country. Despite the serious setbacks it encountered in the process of exploration, the Party made creative theoretical achievements and great progress in socialist revolution and construction, which provided valuable experience, theoretical preparation, and material foundations for launching socialism with Chinese characteristics into a new historical period.
Through tenacious struggle, the Party and the people showed the world that the Chinese people were not only capable of dismantling the old world, but also of building a new one, that only socialism could save China, and that only socialism could develop China.
III. Reform, Opening Up, and Socialist Modernization
In the new period of reform, opening up, and socialist modernization, the main tasks facing the Party were to continue exploring a right path for building socialism in China, unleash and develop the productive forces, lift the people out of poverty and help them become prosperous in the shortest time possible, and fuel the push toward national rejuvenation by providing new, dynamic institutional guarantees as well as the material conditions for rapid development.
After the end of the Cultural Revolution, the Party stood at a crucial historical juncture in which it was confronted with the question of which course the Party and the country should take. The Party came to recognize that the only way forward was to launch a program of reform and opening up; otherwise, our endeavors in pursuing modernization and building socialism would be doomed to failure. In December 1978, the 11th Central Committee held its third plenary session. At the session the Party decisively abandoned the policy of taking class struggle as the key link, and initiated a strategic shift in the focus of the Party and country’s work, thereby ushering in a new period of reform, opening up, and socialist modernization. This marked a great turning point of far-reaching significance in the Party’s history since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The Party also made the momentous decision to completely renounce the Cultural Revolution. Over the more than 40 years that have passed since then, the Party has never wavered in following the line, principles, and policies adopted at this session.
After the third plenary session of the 11th Central Committee, Chinese communists, with Comrade Deng Xiaoping as their chief representative, united and led the whole Party and the entire nation in conducting a thorough review of the experience gained and lessons learned since the founding of the People’s Republic. On this basis, and by focusing on the fundamental questions of what socialism is and how to build it and drawing lessons from the history of world socialism, they established Deng Xiaoping Theory, and devoted their efforts to freeing minds and seeking truth from facts. The historic decision was made to shift the focus of the Party and the country’s work onto economic development and to launch the reform and opening up drive. Chinese communists brought the essence of socialism to light, set the basic line for the primary stage of socialism, and made it clear that China would follow its own path and build socialism with Chinese characteristics. They provided sensible answers to a series of basic questions on building socialism with Chinese characteristics, and formulated a development strategy for basically achieving socialist modernization by the middle of the 21st century through a three-step approach. They thus succeeded in founding socialism with Chinese characteristics.
After the fourth plenary session of the 13th Central Committee, Chinese communists, with Comrade Jiang Zemin as their chief representative, united and led the whole Party and the entire nation in upholding the Party’s basic theory and line, deepening their understanding of what socialism is and how to build it, and what kind of party to build and how to build it. On this basis, they formed the Theory of Three Represents. In the face of complex domestic and international situations and serious setbacks confronting world socialism, they safeguarded socialism with Chinese characteristics, defined building a socialist market economy as an objective of reform and set a basic framework in this regard, and established a basic economic system for the primary stage of socialism under which public ownership is the mainstay and diverse forms of ownership develop together, as well as an income distribution system under which distribution according to work is the mainstay while multiple forms of distribution exist alongside it. They opened up new horizons for reform and opening up across all fronts and advanced the great new project of Party building. All these efforts helped to successfully launch socialism with Chinese characteristics into the 21st century.
After the 16th National Congress, Chinese communists, with Comrade Hu Jintao as their chief representative, united and led the whole Party and the entire nation in advancing practical, theoretical, and institutional innovation during the process of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. They gained a deep understanding of major questions such as what kind of development to pursue and how to pursue it under new circumstances, and provided clear answers to these questions, thus forming the Scientific Outlook on Development. Taking advantage of an important period of strategic opportunity, they focused their energy on development, with emphasis on pursuing comprehensive, balanced, and sustainable development that put the people first. They worked hard to ensure and improve people’s wellbeing, promote social fairness and justice, bolster the Party’s governance capacity, and maintain its advanced nature. In doing so, they succeeded in upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics under new circumstances.
In order to promote reform and opening up, the Party re-established the Marxist ideological, political, and organizational lines, thoroughly refuted the erroneous “two whatevers” policy, and correctly appraised the historical position of Comrade Mao Zedong and the value of Mao Zedong Thought as a scientific system. The Party made it clear that the principal contradiction in Chinese society was that China’s underdeveloped social production was unable to meet the ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people, and hence the central task of the Party was to resolve this contradiction. On this basis, the Party put forward the goal of building China into a moderately prosperous society.
The Party restored and formulated a series of correct policies in all fields of work, and began the process of readjusting the national economy. Under the leadership of the Party, comprehensive steps were taken to set things right ideologically, politically, and organizationally, and extensive efforts were made to redress wrongs suffered by those who were unjustly, falsely, and wrongly accused and to regulate social relations. The adoption of the Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China marked the successful conclusion of the Party’s efforts to rectify its guiding principles.
The Party came to recognize that to open up new prospects for reform, opening up, and socialist modernization, it needed to steer the advancement of its endeavors with theoretical innovation. Comrade Deng Xiaoping once said, “When everything has to be done by the book, when thinking turns rigid and blind faith is the fashion, it is impossible for a party or a nation to make progress. Its life will cease and that party or nation will perish.” With this understanding, the Party led and supported extensive discussions on the criterion for testing truth, upheld and developed Marxism in light of new practices and the features of the times, and effectively answered a series of basic questions regarding socialism with Chinese characteristics, including development path, stage of development, fundamental tasks, development drivers, development strategies, political guarantee, national reunification, diplomacy and international strategy, leadership, and forces to rely on, thereby forming the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics and achieving a new breakthrough in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context.
At its 12th through 17th national congresses, the Party made consistent overall plans for advancing reform, opening up, and socialist modernization in view of evolving circumstances at home and abroad and new requirements for the country’s development. The Central Committee convened several plenary sessions dedicated to planning major initiatives for promoting reform, development, and stability.
The introduction of the household contract responsibility system in rural areas marked the initial breakthrough in China’s reform, further steps were gradually taken to reform the economic structure in the cities, and reform initiatives were then carried out across the board. Oriented toward the development of a socialist market economy, this reform gave greater and broader play to the basic role of market in allocating resources, while upholding and improving China’s basic economic and income distribution systems. While resolutely advancing economic structural reform, the Party simultaneously carried out political, cultural, and social structural reforms as well as institutional reforms related to Party building, which led to the formation and development of vigorous institutions and mechanisms that suited the conditions of contemporary China.
The Party designated opening up as a fundamental national policy. Under this policy, China progressed from establishing special economic zones in Shenzhen and a few other areas to opening up more parts of the country-Pudong in Shanghai, key inland cities as well as areas along the coastline, borders, the Yangtze River, and major transportation routes. It also acceded to the World Trade Organization, and went from “bringing in” to “going global.” In this process, we fully utilized both domestic and international markets and resources.
With continuous progress in reform and opening up, China achieved the historic transformations from a highly centralized planned economy into a socialist market economy brimming with vitality, and from a country that was largely isolated into one that is open to the outside world across the board.
In an effort to accelerate socialist modernization, the Party led the people in promoting economic, political, cultural, and social development and made immense achievements.
The Party continued to take economic development as the central task, stood by the conviction that development is of paramount importance, and put forward the notion that science and technology constitute the primary productive force. It implemented major strategies such as invigorating China through science and education, pursuing sustainable development, and developing a quality workforce. It advanced large-scale development of the western region, revitalized old industrial bases in the northeast and other regions, promoted the rise of the central region, and supported the trailblazing development of the eastern region in an effort to promote the coordinated development of urban and rural areas and different regions. The Party promoted the reform and development of state-owned enterprises, encouraged and supported the development of the non-public sector, and accelerated the transformation of the economic growth model. It stepped up environmental protection and promoted sustained and rapid economic development. All of this enabled China’s composite national strength to increase by a large margin.
Upholding the unity between the Party’s leadership, the running of the country by the people, and law-based governance, the Party worked to develop socialist democracy and promote socialist political progress and advanced reform of the political system in a proactive and prudent manner. With a commitment to integrating the rule of law with the rule of virtue, a new Constitution of the People’s Republic of China was formulated, China built itself into a socialist country under the rule of law, and a socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics took shape. The Party made earnest efforts to respect and protect human rights and consolidated and developed the broadest possible patriotic united front.
The Party stepped up education on ideals and convictions, advanced the development of the core socialist values, promoted cultural-ethical progress, and fostered an advanced socialist culture, thus pushing socialist culture to flourish.
The Party accelerated social development with a focus on improving public wellbeing. It worked to improve people’s living standards and rescinded taxes on agriculture. It devoted constant effort to ensuring access to education, employment, medical services, elderly care, and housing and to promoting social harmony and stability.
The Party put forward the overall goal of building a strong, modern, and standardized revolutionary military, and it made winning local wars in the information age the focal point in preparation for military struggle. It advanced military transformation with Chinese characteristics by following an approach of having fewer but better troops.
Facing a rapidly changing international landscape, the Party upheld the Four Cardinal Principles, eliminated all kinds of interference, and calmly responded to a series of risks and trials related to China’s overall reform, development, and stability.
The late 1980s and early 1990s witnessed the demise of the Soviet Union and the drastic changes in Eastern European countries. In the late spring and early summer of 1989, a severe political disturbance took place in China as a result of the international and domestic climates at the time, and was egged on by hostile anti-communist and anti-socialist forces abroad. With the people’s backing, the Party and the government took a clear stand against the turmoil, defending China’s socialist state power and safeguarding the fundamental interests of the people.
The Party led the people in successfully responding to the Asian financial crisis, the global financial crisis, and other economic risks. We successfully held the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing. We overcame natural disasters, such as severe flooding on the Yangtze, Nenjiang, and Songhua rivers, the devastating earthquake in Wenchuan, and the SARS epidemic. All these victories demonstrated the Party’s ability to withstand risks and cope with complicated situations.
Defining national reunification as a major historical task, the Party worked tirelessly to complete it. Comrade Deng Xiaoping introduced the creative and well-conceived concept of One Country, Two Systems, paving a new path for achieving reunification through peaceful means.
Through arduous work and struggle, the Chinese government successively resumed its exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macao, thus ending a century-long history of humiliation. Since Hong Kong and Macao’s return to the motherland, the central government acted in strict compliance with China’s Constitution and the basic laws of the special administrative regions and maintained lasting prosperity and stability in the two regions.
Keeping in mind the big picture with regard to resolving the Taiwan question, the Party set forth the basic principles of peaceful reunification and One Country, Two Systems and facilitated agreement across the Taiwan Strait on the 1992 Consensus, which embodies the one-China principle. It advanced cross-Strait consultations and negotiations, established comprehensive and direct two-way mail, transport, and trade links across the Strait, and launched dialogues between political parties of the two sides. The Party pushed for the enactment of the Anti-Secession Law, resolutely deterred separatist forces seeking “Taiwan independence,” promoted national reunification, and thwarted attempts to create “two Chinas,” “one China, one Taiwan,” or “Taiwan independence.”
Based on a judicious assessment of global trends and the features of the era, the Party put forward the concept that peace and development are the themes of our times. In line with this concept, China upheld its fundamental foreign policy goal of preserving world peace and promoting shared development. It adjusted its relations with other major countries, developed friendly relations with neighboring countries, and deepened friendly cooperation with other developing countries. It actively participated in international and regional affairs and created a new comprehensive and multi-layered framework for foreign relations.
The Party promoted the development of a multipolar world and the democratization of international relations and pushed economic globalization in a direction toward common prosperity. China took an unequivocal stand against hegemonism and power politics, endeavored to safeguard the interests of developing countries, worked for a new international political and economic order that would be fair and equitable, and promoted lasting peace and common prosperity in the world.
The Party has always stressed that to do a good job of governing the country, we must first do a good job of governing the Party, and that means governing it strictly. With this in mind, it focused its efforts on strengthening the Party and launched the great new project of Party building.
The Party formulated the Code of Conduct for Intraparty Political Life, strengthened democratic centralism, promoted democracy within the Party, and normalized intraparty political activities. It launched a party-wide rectification campaign through a well-planned, step-by-step approach in order to address the problems of defects in terms of thinking, conduct, and organization within the Party. The Party also worked to fortify its ranks with the aim of cultivating younger, more revolutionary, better educated, and more specialized officials, and it made a strong point of promoting young and middle-aged officials and advancing the process of succession.
With a view to addressing the two historical challenges of improving the Party’s leadership and governance and bolstering its ability to resist corruption, prevent moral decline, and withstand risks, and with its focus on enhancing its governance capacity and advanced nature, the Party made a series of decisions on major issues including strengthening its ties with the people, its style of work, and its governance capacity. It also carried out education campaigns on the importance of study, political integrity, and rectitude, on the Theory of Three Represents, on preserving the advanced nature of Party members, and on studying and applying the Scientific Outlook on Development. The Party defined efforts to improve Party conduct, uphold integrity, and combat corruption as issues concerning the very survival of the Party and the country, and pushed forward the development of systems for preventing and punishing corruption.
On the 40th anniversary of the launch of reform and opening up, the Party held a grand ceremony to mark this important event. In his address at the ceremony, Comrade Xi Jinping reviewed the great achievements made and valuable experience accumulated over those four decades. He stressed that reform and opening up represented a great awakening for the Party and a great revolution in the history of the Chinese nation’s development, and he called for continued efforts to see this process through. Our country’s impressive achievements in reform, opening up, and modernization attracted the whole world’s attention. China achieved the historic transformation from a country with relatively backward productive forces to the world’s second largest economy, and made the historic strides of raising the living standards of its people from bare subsistence to moderate prosperity in general and then toward moderate prosperity in all respects. All these achievements marked the tremendous advance of the Chinese nation from standing up to growing prosperous.
Through tenacious struggle, the Party and the people showed the world that reform and opening up was a crucial move in making China what it is today, that socialism with Chinese characteristics is the correct road that has led the country toward development and prosperity, and that China has caught up with the times in great strides.
IV. A New Era of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics
Following the Party’s 18th National Congress, socialism with Chinese characteristics entered a new era. The main tasks facing the Party in this period are to fulfill the First Centenary Goal, embark on the new journey to accomplish the Second Centenary Goal, and continue striving toward the great goal of national rejuvenation.
The Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has implemented the national rejuvenation strategy within the wider context of once-in-a-century changes taking place in the world. It has stressed that the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics is an era in which we will build on past successes to further advance our cause and continue to strive for the success of socialism with Chinese characteristics under new historical conditions; an era in which we will use the momentum of our decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects to fuel all-out efforts to build a great modern socialist country; an era in which Chinese people of all ethnic groups will work together to create a better life for themselves and gradually realize the goal of common prosperity; an era in which all the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation will strive with one heart to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation; and an era in which China will make even greater contributions to humanity. This new era is a new historic juncture in China’s development.
Chinese communists, with Comrade Xi Jinping as their chief representative, have established Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era on the basis of adapting the basic tenets of Marxism to China’s specific realities and its fine traditional culture, upholding Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development, thoroughly reviewing and fully applying the historical experience gained since the founding of the Party, and proceeding from new realities.
To be Continued…