Party continues to shoulder responsibility to realize a modern socialist country
How big a task can a team of over 50 people accomplish? One hundred years ago, 13 delegates representing over 50 members, declared the founding of the Communist Party of China onboard a boat in Nanhu Lake in Zhejiang province. The task the Party members set themselves was "eliminating the gaps among different classes". This was later defined as the specific tasks of "defeating the warlords, restoring peace in the country, overthrowing the rule of international imperialism in China and achieving national independence".
This means the 50 took it as their mission to emancipate 400 million people in the vast country of China, about one-fourth of the world's total at that time. For that purpose, the 50 would face over 2 million troops of domestic warlords, supported by the primary imperialistic powers at that time.
For Lyu Jia, an associate professor at Tsinghua University's School of Marxism, that highlights a precious virtue cherished by the Communist Party of China since the very beginning: Bravery to shoulder responsibility.
"Traditional Chinese culture stresses a person working for the public, while Marxism stresses human emancipation," he said. "The CPC combines the two and requires its members, especially those in leading positions, to dedicate themselves to great missions."
Lyu's remarks are echoed by Han Poyao, a lecturer on Marxism studies at the University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who quoted Fan Zhongyan, a famous chancellor of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), as saying: "My happiness comes after that of the nation, while my concerns are that of the nation. Those in leading positions must care for all, instead of themselves."
During its 100-year-long history, the mission of the CPC has never changed: to seek happiness for the Chinese people and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Yet in the different steps taken to fulfill that mission, different aspects have been highlighted.
When the CPC was born in 1921, China was ravaged by war and split apart by different warlords. The People's Republic of China would not be founded until 28 years later. During the almost three decades of war and revolution, the CPC's primary mission was to fight a series of enemies that ranged from Kuomintang forces to Japanese aggressors and the imperialist forces of the United States and the United Kingdom.
War is a life-or-death struggle, and only those with a high sense of mission are willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of all. According to official data compiled in 1951 by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, over 21 million people died for the founding of the PRC, of which, the names of only 3.7 million are known.
In December 2014, during an inspection tour to Jiangsu province, President Xi Jinping spoke highly of the martyrs who died in Yuhuatai, Nanjing, a former place of execution during the Kuomintang's rule.
He specially pointed out that although 1,519 martyrs left their names there, there were many more who remained anonymous.
Wang Yanwen, former head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Jiangsu Provincial Committee, later wrote that these martyrs showed a sense of mission because they knew their sacrifices would boost social progress.
Another detail during this period is best evidence that the Party members were willing to sacrifice themselves to achieve the Party's mission rather than the pursuit of power.
Anybody with the basic knowledge about the CPC will know that the title for its various levels of leadership is "secretary" with the highest title "general secretary", but few know these titles were decided in the Party's founding session in 1921.
"Secretary" was the lowest official position in all government agencies of the Republic of China (1912-49). The CPC chose this title for its leaders to show its determination to pursue happiness for the people, instead of building a bureaucratic system to rule over them.
The CPC became the ruling party after the founding of the People's Republic of China on Oct 1, 1949, and large numbers of its members assumed official positions. That was a fruit of the victory of the revolution, but Mao Zedong, the founding chairman of the PRC, sensed the danger of corruption.
"Some of our comrades have never been conquered by enemies armed with guns. They are heroes against armed enemies. Yet they easily get defeated by sugar-coated bullets," Mao famously said in March 1949.
A major responsibility of Party members during this period was to stay clean and resist corruption. For that purpose, the Party launched an anti-graft campaign from late 1951 to October 1952. According to an official report of the CPC Central Committee about its conclusion, over 196,000 Party members received legal penalties for corruption.
The two most well-known are Liu Qingshan and Zhang Zishan, two senior leaders of the CPC Tianjin Municipal Committee, who received capital punishment for serious corruption. Both were full of credit for what they did during wartime, but that credit was no defense against their fall to corruption.
Lyu, the associate professor at Tsinghua University, spoke highly of the case, believing that it was a major educational move that highlights "the Party has never forgotten its mission of pursuing happiness for all, instead of only itself".
On Jan 29, 2015, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the CPC's top disciplinary watchdog, published an article on its official website that analyzed the case again and called on all Party members to shoulder their responsibilities.
China's economic development accelerated with the launch of the reform and opening-up policy in 1978, and interactions between China and the developed world became more frequent.
Naturally, how to boost development and encourage cultural exchanges became a responsibility for the new generation of Party members to shoulder.
Sporting events played a prominent role in this regard. In 1979, the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, reinstated the country's rightful status, and China sent a delegation of over 200 athletes to participate in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, at which shooter Xu Haifeng won China's first Olympic gold medal.
The responsibility took on even greater significance when China announced in 1991, one year after the conclusion of 1990 Asian Games, that Beijing would apply to host the 2000 Olympics. Probably no one expected that it would take another 10 years before it finally won the bid to host the Olympics.
He Zhenliang, then vice-president of the IOC and a major contributor to Beijing's winning bid to host the Games, later said in his speech that "I felt on my shoulder the trust of the people, and knew that I must do my best to finish the mission".
Lyu said that both the athletes and those who have worked diligently to ensure that China has successfully hosted international sporting events have honored their mission, because they have shattered China's past image of being the "sick man of Asia". The prosperous sports industry and China's status on the world's sports stage are best evidence that those who contributed to these achievements have completed their missions.
Further, many athletes continue their contributions after retirement, which is another way of shouldering their responsibilities. Cong Bing, deputy director of the Education, Science, Literature and Health Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, spoke highly of the CPPCC members in the sports industry, saying that they have honored their mission.
On Oct 18, 2017, President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, delivered a keynote speech at the 19th CPC National Congress, during which he said that the socialism with Chinese characteristics had entered a new era.
In the new era, the sense of mission is especially important because the tasks facing the Party are unprecedented, the fight against COVID-19 being a typical one.
In January 2020, medical personnel from around the nation rushed to Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, to curb the novel coronavirus epidemic.
By March 8, 2020, official data show that a total of 42,600 medical staff, in 346 teams, had gone to Hubei to help there. Tens of thousands of other Party members also volunteered to construct new emergency hospitals there or help in other ways.
Thanks to their efforts and dedication, the novel coronavirus was quickly brought under control in Hubei, enabling China to be the first country to restore social activities and restart the economy.
And more importantly, in doing so, China has been able to help the rest of the world. In his speech on the meeting to commend role models in China's fight against the novel coronavirus, Xi said that "China has offered assistance to the international community in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic to the best of its ability", and stressed it had fully shown the Chinese spirit, Chinese power and Chinese sense of responsibility.
More tasks await even as the CPC celebrates its 100th birthday. The country is yet to be reunified, the people's sense of gain, happiness and security needs to be enhanced, and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is still to be achieved.
The 50-people team has grown to be a political party with more than 90 million members, who are shouldering their responsibilities to accomplish the original mission of the CPC.