Manish Tewari | Break the Chinese puzzle by studying the game of CPC
In July, I am ending a four-decade association with the Indian National Congress (INC) founded in 1885. An involvement that began when I joined the National Students Union of India (NSUI) in 1981.
As a grassroots political activist, the philosophy, structure and organization of other political parties have always been an area of academic interest to me. A curiosity which was further reinforced when I was elected president of the International Union of Students (IUS) in the early 1990s. The IUS was then a Prague-based trade union organization of 155 student organizations in 112 countries and territories. One political party that I have continuously studied and observed is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The current commentary focuses on this distinctive organization that lies at the heart of an emerging system of world domination. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) celebrated its 100th anniversary on July 1. Ironically, all empirical evidence points to its founding date as July 23, 1921. July 1 was arbitrarily chosen by party apparatchiks as they crouched in the Yan’an Caves in 1941.
The CCP was born during what the Chinese call the Century of Humiliation 1839-1949. China was at the time an impoverished and pastoral society dominated by the imperialist powers through ignominious treaties.
A clandestine gathering of a handful of people took place in the French Shanghai concession at 106 Wantz Street. One of the participants was Mao Zedong, who remained a leader of this nascent party for more than 54 years. In addition to him, two foreign commissioners from the Communist International, a Soviet-sponsored structure created for the worldwide spread of communism, were also present.
These stealthy conversations were the precursor to the official launch of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). A century later, not only did he control China with an iron fist, considered ungovernable until then for centuries, but in addition, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991, it was the only political system that presents a successful alternative. political-economic model to the Western neoliberal democratic order.
In the early 1920s, all kinds of congregations and individuals called themselves Communists in China. It was a fashionable war name. This new outfit was dilapidated and lacking in resources. They did not have an arsenal worthy of the name.
Even in their wildest imaginations, no savvy observer of China at the time could have predicted that this motley collection of virtual strangers would spark a successful Communist insurgency that then spread across the countryside like wildfire. devouring everything in its path.
In a short span of 28 years, this human dynamo not only defeated a Nationalist army of over four million soldiers armed by Allied forces to fight the Japanese in WWII, but also established and consolidated a Communist state in 1949 that no one believed would survive more than a few years.
For a very long time, the CCP and the Red Army were led by Mao Zedong who, ironically, had never intellectually devoured Marxism. He was steeped in the fury of the struggle of May 4, 1919. A movement sparked by the declaration of the Western powers to transfer the Chinese colonial territory in possession of Germany to Japan after the First World War. This effort spurred both anti-Western nationalism as well as a Chinese desire to reclaim the glory of its old days – a Middle Empire Syndrome. He also established a distinctive ideological basis that merged Chinese nationalism with Marxism.
The CCP’s competence and the reason for its longevity has been its ability to navigate the winds of change with agility, without giving up its core ideological values. Over the course of a century it has grown from a revolutionary army to a governing party surviving the vicissitudes not only of internal turmoil, but also of international intrigue coupled with the idiosyncratic impulses of its own leadership.
Two of these quirks were the Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1962 and the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976. The former resulted in the deaths of over 20 million people mainly from starvation. The latter was a vicious socio-political cleansing based on purging the remnants of capitalist and traditional elements from the mainstream of Chinese opinion leadership. Crowds of schoolchildren and Red Guards assaulted people wearing “bourgeois clothes” in the streets, “imperialist” signs were desecrated, and intellectuals and party officials were either murdered or driven to suicide. Over two million people have lost their lives as a result of these depredations.
Mao Zedong’s ruinous tenure ended with his demise in 1976, leaving China in a state of economic slump and social stratification. However, despite the misery and pain that Mao inflicted on the Chinese people, the CCP’s grip on the country remained intact. He was not shaken even after the massacre of student protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989 that turned Chinese society upside down. The point is, it is not only fear, terror, and intimidation that bind Chinese society to the CCP. The impulses run much deeper and include rigorous ideological indoctrination coupled with a nationally owned village structure that functions like a well-oiled machine.
The CCP smoothly transitioned from the tyranny of Mao to the model of totalitarian capitalism institutionalized by Deng Xiaoping and his successors who occupied the field for nearly three and a half decades from 1979 to 2012. One of the key attributes of those years was the cultivated reluctance of the Chinese state and the CCP as it put its shoulder to the wheel of internal consolidation. He morphed into an aggressive wolf warrior mode again as Xi Jinping took center stage in 2012.
The beauty of these transitions is not in the sharp U-turns the CCP took, but in the fact that they were able to drag the Chinese nation with them during all of these transfigurations.
Herein lies the challenge for Indian policymakers as they seek to understand Chinese motivations and behavior in the 21st century. Until they understand how the CCP works, they will never be able to discern the minds and methods of the Chinese leadership. For unlike India and other democracies around the world, where political parties and systems of governance are distinct, in the case of China it is a merged mass of cover-up narratives.
The author is a lawyer, Member of Parliament and former Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting. The opinions expressed are personal. Twitter manage @manishtewari.