CPC Anniversary Press reports

The upcoming 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, both as a celebratory and a quasi-political milestone in the People’s Republic is a huge event on the mainland. In the lead up to July 1st anniversary the state has marked the occasion politically by reframing the party’s past and by refocusing their objectives for the future. To this end, a slew of recent Xinhua and People’s Daily articles have delved into the political ideology of the party on issues as diverse as minority rights, international relations and China’s ‘Peaceful Rise’, the ‘right to rule’, personal freedoms and even Chinese democracy. As an opportunity to take back the initiative from critical Western opinion leaders and change the direction of political discourse, this year’s anniversary looks tailor-made for the CCP propaganda machine. To this end the CCP’s media has stressed the excitement in China amid the celebrations and the positives of the Party’s past and present. For example, significant amounts of ink has been spent in recent weeks highlighting the huge CPC flower arrangements and other decorations at Tiananmen square, the preparations for celebratory opera and dance performances and the premier of a megabudget revolution- era propaganda film. July 1st is an opportunity to paint China in bright and positive colours.

On a more serious note the celebration and pomp of the anniversary in China is mentioned only under the backdrop of the continual mention of the legitimacy and power of the Party, as such the real objective of the mass media coverage seems to be more calculated. The People’s Daily publication, on the June 17th, titled: “Communist Party committed to protecting the people’s interests” leads its coverage of the anniversary with a simple albeit blunt, argument; ‘the CCP is the only political option for the Chinese people’ and throughout its history, has always been so. The piece begins by explaining the core of the CPC’s ideology as distinct and unique; Maoism and hybridised Chinese Socialism, and that this “core” created the Chinese victories against “Feudalism, Imperialism and Bureaucratic Capitalism”. The piece goes onto argue that the Party’s achievements in realising its goals of “national independence”, strength, wholesale prosperity and the “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” give it an unequivocal ‘right’ to lead.

A second article by People’s Daily June 23rd, titled: “Three ‘nots’ characterize China’s peaceful rise” looks at the CCP’s history and its relations with the outside world, citing “China’s peaceful rise”, the article attempts to solidify the Party’s power by expanding on the nation’s place as a positive actor under Maoist government. An old creed; “Peaceful Rise”, refers to the way that China overtook more developed nations to become the second largest economy in the world, without directing challenging those nations. This article goes much further than this definition however. It claims that the “Peaceful rise” encapsulated a time in history devoid of aggressive Chinese behaviour; “no civil wars, aggression against other countries, refugee waves and occupation of overseas colonies”. This claim is of course blatantly false, large-scale conflicts with Vietnam, India, the USSR and more famously Korea as well as examples of violent internal conflict in various border regions of China all argue for the aggressiveness of the CCP. Yet the article fairly concludes that unlike the former USSR, China “does not attempt to build its own military bloc and expand its influence. In People’s Daily’s words; “China takes part, helps build and contributes to the system and meanwhile benefits from it”, it is “not in conflict with the existing international system”. The article conclude by citing Chinese membership of a range of international institutions and the signing of a large number of international treaties as further evidence and demands for more understanding and patience from Western critics.

A People’s Daily editorial piece written by Wu Jianming on June 17th went further in arguing for the validity and benevolence of the Party’s international presence in supporting the oppressed by quoting Mao Zedong; “China has friends all over the world”. In this case, the article cites Chinese resistance against the old (patently Western) evils of imperialism and colonialism; that “The Chinese revolution was part of the great resistance wave”. Jianming elaborates that “China supported revolutions in other countries, and other countries in turn supported China’s revolution”: the reason why “China has friends all over the world”. Taking a look at modern examples of CPC foreign relations makes these comments about “justice” and “liberation” hard to reconcile with reality though. In modern times, strong Chinese support of repressive regimes in Asia, Africa and the Middle East (North Korea, Iran, Burma, Libya and Sudan to name five) does not speak of a benevolent foreign policy. In the diminishing light of the old evils of the world the CPC seems unwilling to recognise the newer evils of dictatorship and totalitarianism, something made even more insulting to justice and liberty by China’s blunt distortions.

It is poignant that a period which should be about celebration for the CCP is instead more about attempting, 90 years later, to prove the Party’s legitimacy, fudge its history and to shirk its responsibilities. On June 23rd People’s Daily took the time to attack the West by complaining that demands for balanced trade, fair economic access, currency re-evaluations, environmental protection and human rights progress would be hard for even developed countries to meet. Currently however, China looks unlikely to take action on any of these requirements let alone all of them, the implication seems to be that Beijing thinks it can gain Western praise and acceptance through its economic prowess alone.

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