The current leadership and membership composition of the Chinese Communist Party reflects the evolution of the Chinese state and society since 1949

Ever since the communist revolution of the late 1940s, and the subsequent formation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1949, many positive developments have taken place both within the party as well as for Chinese citizens. The rest of this essay will discuss how the internal party mechanism has evolved to reflect the progress made by the Chinese as a nation and as people.

Firstly, comparison between the erstwhile Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China is not relevant to our discussion, for the styles of governance adopted by these two political entities were quite different. The CCP and its cadres “are changing in ways that make creative solutions to political governance problems feasible than a repeated violent reaction to social change, as in 1989” (Smith, 2003). While progress and reform is on the party agenda, its leadership still retains useful traditions and customs. A case in point is the utilization of nomenklatura system for selecting party leaders. Its critics will point to its shortcomings, including its inability to curb corruption within the party ranks. But the nomenklatura system was not devised to deter corruption. Also, the cadre responsibility system was meant to act as an analytical tool for zeroing in on the primary goals of the party and assessing the success of various policy initiatives; and it has proved equal to this stated objective.

The history of China over the last sixty years has not been without moments of indiscretion and impasse. When in September of 1949, the communist revolution was complete and the CCP ascended to power, the people of China were relieved and also hopeful; Relieved of closing a conflict-ridden chapter of their recent history and hopeful of a brighter future. It can safely be said that their hopes were fulfilled to a large extent. The CCP has to be credited for bringing about a degree of economic and political stability in the first decade of their reign. The subsequent years will prove to be more challenging for the CCP leadership, which had to deal with famine caused by its Great Leap Forward program. From these early days, when the party and its members were still learning the ropes of governance it has now become a sophisticated and well coordinated political machine. The party building efforts in modern urban settlements (also called ‘shequ’) is an innovative move. Further,

“Such local experiments in limited political reform are creating a mixed regime based on one-party rule, Mandarin traditions, and intra-party elections, which will be democratic in its own terms even if not by Western standards…Chinese business classes are likely to play a role that their European counterparts did in the past by eventually promoting democratization”. (Smith, 2003)

These days the party endeavours to rope in members from all sections of the social strata. An institution that was restricted to an elite section of the Chinese social arrangement is now opening up to members from all sections of the socio-economic ladder. A prime example of this changing mindset is evident from the success of the Executive Leadership Academy institute run by the party. This academy was conceived to serve as a training ground for high ranking officials and its rolls represent most minority groups (ethnic or religious).

While Mao Zedong was the father of the Communist China, his successor Deng Xiaoping must be credited for the nation’s progress toward prosperity. Under his leadership, the party ratified and implemented the “Four Modernizations” program that would propel China onto the global stage, where it is fast approaching the leadership position. This ambitious program of sweeping economic reforms opened China to the outside world. Also during Xiaoping’s leadership,

“Three million intellectuals, who had been beaten and tortured during the Cultural Revolution, returned to public life. Eager for answers as to why China had fallen so far behind the capitalist world, the new leaders encouraged a debate about the nature of Chinese civilization and about its differences from the West. Between 1986 and 1989, historians wrote nearly 700 monographs about the core beliefs and values of Chinese culture and about whether these constituted a blockage to socio-economic modernization”. (Hilton, 2006)

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