News Column

China's Party Constitution: No Democracy for 100 years

Nov. 14, 2012

China's ruling Communist Party sets out its ideological principles and rules for more than 82 million members in its constitution.

Adopted in 1982 and revised several times, the document outlines the party's broad policies for China's economic, social and political development as well as conditions for party membership and electoral rules for party committees and congresses.

Outgoing party leader Hu Jintao echoed the constitution in his speech at the opening of this year's party congress, saying China was still "in the primary stage of socialism" and would remain so for a long time.

The "primary stage" of China's "socialist modernization" would "last for over 100 years," during which there would be no multiparty democracy, according to the constitution.

"In socialist construction, the party must proceed from China's specific conditions and take the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics," it says.

The constitution upholds the party's leadership of China and promotes Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and the more recent ideology of Deng Xiaoping, who launched China's economic reforms, and his successors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.

"The realization of communism is the highest ideal and ultimate goal of the party," the constitution says.

Founded in 1921, the party has enjoyed 63 years in power since Mao proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949.

After Mao's death in 1976, the party introduced gradual economic reforms and experiments with capitalism under Deng.

It enshrined the concept of a "socialist market economy" in the constitution in 1992.

It also added the Four Cardinal Principles, associated with Deng, which enshrines the inviolability of China's "leadership by the Communist Party."

Once dominated by workers and farmers, the party amended the constitution again in 2002 to allow entrepreneurs and other "new forces" to join.

In a landmark speech, former party leader Jiang said entrepreneurs, private-sector workers and self-employed individuals were all "builders of socialism with Chinese characteristics" who should be admitted to the party.

The party congress in 2002 adopted the "Three Represents" theory, largely associated with Jiang but promoted by Hu, as the party's "guiding ideology."

The "Three Represents" was used by Jiang to urge members to reclaim the moral high ground after a series of corruption scandals and to pave the way for the change in party membership rules.

Hu's "scientific outlook on development" as well as the first mention of religion and a promise to promote private industry were included in the constitution in 2007.

The 2012 party congress, after which Hu must retire and make way for Xi Jinping, agreed to promote Hu's "scientific outlook" as its latest guiding ideology and required party members to work for "ecological progress" as well as economic success.

The "scientific outlook" requires China to move towards more sustainable growth and create a "harmonious society" by reducing the economic inequalities that have resulted from 30 years of its "development first" strategy.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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