《漫话十九大》Episode1: What is the Communist Party of China?

The Communist Party of China (CPC) had just 58 members when it was founded in 1921. Today, with a membership of nearly 90 million, the Party has become the core of China's leadership, committed to the task of creating a prosperous, strong and modern socialist country.

What's the story? 

The CPC was founded in 1921 by revolutionaries including Li Dazhao and Chen Duxiu. It led armed struggles against local warlords, foreign powers and, ultimately, the Kuomintang (KMT) government.

Mao Zedong took up a leadership role within the Party during the Long March (1934-1936), a strategic relocation of the CPC forces from southern China to its new headquarters in the country's northwest.

The CPC extended its base and influence during the Second World War by fighting off the Japanese invaders, and by 1949 had comprehensively defeated the KMT forces to found the People's Republic of China.

CPC leader Mao Zedong in Red Army's uniform in the 1930s. /Xinhua Photo

And what has happened since the CPC took power?

Over the following 30 years the CPC rebuilt China and its economy, laying a foundation for the country's modernization. There were serious mistakes along the way however, notably the 10-year "Cultural Revolution" that lasted until Mao's death in 1976.

By the end of 1978, under Deng Xiaoping's guidance, the reform and opening-up policy was adopted by the CPC, laying the foundations for four decades of fast economic and social development.

China has since adhered to the principle of "socialism with Chinese characteristics," while growing into the second biggest economy in the world and lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty.

Visitors in front of a picture of Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, south China. /Reuters Photo

So, is the CPC part of the government?

The CPC is not part of the government. As the ruling Party, it works with eight other political parties in China to set policy guidelines and development goals. The State Council, the country's executive body, is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the policies.

Members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee (from left) Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli arrive to meet the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing after the 18th CPC National Congress, November 15, 2012. /Xinhua Photo‍

But the CPC is a huge organization, with nearly 90 million members. Many Party members also hold positions in local and central government organizations.

The CPC aims to lead the Chinese people in turning the country into a prosperous, strong, democratic and culturally advanced modern socialist country.

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