New Party resolution, by learning from the past, shines the path forward
The recently concluded Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the CPC has drawn significant attention and sparked discussion at home and abroad.
As a major achievement of the session, the adoption of the Resolution on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century is an objective assessment of the Party's achievement as well as a scientific appraisal of the invaluable historical experience gleaned in revolution and construction.
The real worth of the resolution lies in – rather than merely casting a necessary backward glance at the Party's glorious achievement – learning from the past, and leading the Chinese people on to the new, solid march into the next 100 years.
Over the CPC's century-old journey through struggles, three plenary session resolutions stand out.
The first – the Resolution on Certain Issues in the History of the CPC – was issued in April 1945, at the Seventh Plenary Session of the 6th CPC Central Committee, four years before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.
The second such pivotal document – The Resolution on Certain Issues in the History of the CPC Since the Founding of the People's Republic of China – was issued in 1981, at the Sixth Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee, about three years after the beginning of reform and opening-up and five years after the end of the "cultural revolution" in 1976.
The third is the current resolution.
Held at critical historical junctures, the first two resolutions have played pivotal roles in unifying thoughts within the Party and the timely redress of aberrations and deviations.
The adoption and promulgation of the first resolution historically coincided with the revolutionary period times of CPC-led struggles against imperialist invasion, feudalist suppression, and exploitation by the national bourgeoisie.
Although only twenty years after its birth, the Party, armed with an advanced world outlook and methodology, was able to view the resistance of foreign aggressions, the eradication of suppression and exploitation, the pursuit of equality and freedom, and the realization of the national rejuvenation and the country's prosperity as its lifelong objectives.
This enabled the Party, among the many rivaling political factions, to win one victory after another.
Of course, the Party also paid dearly in dealing with the right and left deviations that resurfaced from time to time during this period.
Therefore, that plenary session resolution in 1945, by taking stock of historical experience and lessons during the revolution, also served as ideological, organizational, and political preparation for repulsing the encircling and suppression of the KMT reactionaries, and for preparing the launch of a democratic united government.
The second resolution, adopted and published in 1981, 32 years after the founding of the People's Republic of China.
At this juncture, the CPC had already undergone the state's socialist transformation and had won the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53), and had completed the Party's transformation pro forma from a revolutionary party to a ruling party.
While the people had plunged themselves in the wave of socialist construction, given the infiltration and sabotage by the still formidable anti-Communist forces, to a large degree, the CPC still dealt with the many issues and contradictions during this period by resorting to the method of class struggle more proper to a revolutionary party, and this led to a deluge of the leftist stance and ideologies, culminating in the ravages of the "cultural revolution." Thus the plenary session in 1981, through rectification and weeding out the ultra-leftist leanings, served to clear the ideological barriers and pave the way for the reform and opening-up and modern construction already initiated in 1978.
One of the most common traits about these two previous plenary sessions was that the Party had made the fullest use of the principle of criticism and self-criticism more adopted in the Party's routine political life.
Anyone can see with clarity from the resolutions of the two plenary sessions that the Party lives up to its perception of being a party that is open, above-board, and truth-seeking.
It also suggests the Party as full of wisdom, self-reflective, with full capacity for criticism and self-criticism.
The recently adopted resolution, the third of its kind in the Party's century-old history that merits special attention, differs considerably in the zeitgeist compared with the previous ones.
First, the Party, in the 40 years since 1981, in light of the principle of ideological emancipation and "seeking truth from facts," strives to combine advanced Marxist theory with the Chinese practice of reform and opening-up, and seeks to chart its route to socialism with Chinese characteristics that is at once practical and enjoys ardent popular support.
This presupposes, while proceeding with its steadfast promotion of reform and opening-up and the modern construction, the Party's effort in the eradication of ultra-left thoughts and the timely safeguarding against ultra-right tendencies. In this process, the country succeeded in gradually becoming a powerful country from a country becoming steadily more well-off. This is nothing short of a historical leap which amounts to an innovative development of Marxist theory.
Secondly, since the reform and opening-up, the fourth generation of the collective leadership has been particularly attentive to the following aspects: Steadily raising people's living standards, raising the nation's spiritual nurturing and social moral stature, and participating in global governance by adhering to multilateralism and resisting unilateralism. As a matter of fact, the Party has been striving to achieve the organic merging of these three aspects with its practice in state governance.
Since the CPC's 18th National Congress, in dealing with unprecedented, complicated domestic and overseas contradictions, the Party has developed new wisdom in its innovative, creative Sinicization of Marxism, by proposing such concepts as the Belt and Road Initiative, a vision about a community and a shared future for mankind, ecological civilization, strategies for poverty alleviation and pandemic containment, and the principle of people first.
Unlike the previous two resolutions, the current resolution does not give prominent coverage to the aberrations and problems during the 40 years since reform and opening-up, probably for two reasons.
First, given the Party's strict self-management and its law-based governance and beefed-up campaign to weed out corruption, the regime for such redress is more and more part of the routine, systemic and sustainable mechanism, with malfeasants dealt with promptly, and due punishment meted out accordingly. Secondly, given the infiltration of the anti-Communist and anti-China forces at home and abroad and the perturbations brought about by the information cocoons and the post-truth reality in the Internet era, marking the centenary of the Party by highlighting the Party's successful historical experience and innovative wisdom in leading the people would help guide the people to forge ahead by reinforcing unity, confidence, and the fighting spirit.
Judging by how the successfully convened plenary session is perceived by people from all walks of life, the current resolution has certainly achieved the effect of learning from the past, unifying the thoughts and concentrating the strengths of the whole Party, and this is exactly what we expect from the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee.
The author is the director of the Institute of Journalism, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Wan Lixin translated the article.