People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 5

February 08, 2009


Party Education In China

K K Theckedath

A nine-member delegation of educational activists representing the Communist Party of India (Marxist) visited Peoples Republic of China at the invitation of the Communist Party of China from July 4 to 16, 2008. Professor K K Theckedath, led the delegation and below we are publishing excerpts from his report about the visit.

THE visit to the mausoleum of chairman Mao Zedong was an eye-opener. It revealed to us the overflowing love and affection the people had for their leader. Scores of children were streaming past the glass casket, all of them carrying white lilies. The question in my mind was, why do children come to Mao in such large numbers even today? When I asked our hosts about this they smilingly said that it was linked to the educational system in the country.


Before we dwell with their education system, let us look briefly at the theory propounded by Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi in the inner party struggle in China, which finally got support in the year 1978. In that year the CPC declared that what was needed to correct the mistakes that had occurred during the cultural revolution was “for cadres and people to free themselves from the shackles of personality cult and the dogmatism of the past.” The party had finalised the findings in the slogan: “One Central Task, and Two Basic Points.”

The Central Task was to have economic development at a rapid pace. The Two Basic Points were: (i) to implement reforms and the adopt an open door policy, and (ii) to adhere to the four cardinal principles.

About the central task Deng Xiaoping had said: “…when a backward country is trying to build socialism, it is natural that during the long initial period its productive forces will not be up to the level of those in advanced capitalist countries and that it will not be able to eliminate poverty completely. Accordingly, in building socialism we must do all we can to develop the productive forces and gradually eliminate poverty, constantly raising the people’s living standards. Otherwise how will socialism be able to triumph over capitalism?”

The two basic points recognise that the idea of development was impossible without reform and opening up to the world market. However, it was also recognised that this idea of opening up and reform was fraught with the danger of capitalism being restored in China, unless attention was paid to the so called second basic point, namely adherence to the four cardinal principles.

Deng had warned, “The crux of the matter is whether the road is capitalist or socialist…..Our reform requires that we keep public ownership predominant, and guard against polarisation (meaning growing inequalities)”.

This understanding leads to the formulation of the Four cardinal principles. Instead of merely listing all four principles, it is better to give them in a logical order showing how one flows into the other. They are principles to ensure that socialism is not swept away during the process of reform and opening up. They reiterate essentially the teachings of Marx and Engels regarding the structure of the State during the long period of transition from capitalism to socialism.


The first cardinal principle is to keep to the socialist road, by ensuring that the dominant economy is the State economy.

The second cardinal principle follows as a necessary condition for keeping to the socialist road in a multi-class society and in a world where capitalism in the form of imperialism is the dominant force. It is meant to ensure that the revolution is not destroyed by capitalism, and not drowned through a counter-revolution. The second cardinal principle exhorts adhering to the people’s democratic dictatorship, the essence of which is the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The third cardinal principle asserts the need for a trained and steeled leadership to guide the conduct of this people’s democratic dictatorship, namely the vanguard of the working class. Hence this cardinal principle stresses the leadership of the Communist Party of China.

The fourth cardinal principle recognises that even a steeled leadership of the working class would be completely blind without a philosophy to guide it. That philosophy should be a scientific, materialist and dialectical and it should encompass all the teachings of the revolutionary struggle of the people all over the world. Such a philosophy cannot be anything but Marxism, as developed by Lenin and others. The CPC calls it Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong thought, to emphasise the special contribution of Comrade Mao. The fourth cardinal principle is adherence to Marxism- Leninism-Mao Zedong thought.

The central committee of the CPC at its plenary meeting in December 1978, which announced the new thinking and the thirtieth anniversary of which is celebrated in China today, gave the following pithy formulation of the four cardinal principles:

To carry out the principle of emancipating the mind properly, the party reiterated in good time the four fundamental principles of upholding the socialist road, the people’s democratic dictatorship (i.e., the dictatorship of the proletariat), the leadership of the Communist Party, and Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought.”

Thus we see that Marxism is indeed one of the cardinal principles of policy.


Among the several schools our team visited in different parts of the country one was in Ningxia in the Yinchuan Province. Yingchuan is one of the five autonomous regions towards the west with a majority Muslim population.

In China after the nine year free and compulsory primary school, there is the middle school and the high school. We were informed about the structure of the courses. Out of the nine subjects including computers and the sciences, there are three compulsory subjects. These are English, Mathematics and Philosophy. The textbook on philosophy is partly a book on historical and dialectical materialism and also a book on communist theory of ethics.

We came to know that as many as eleven teachers were CPC members. We were also informed that about 65 students had decided to joint the Party this year and were attending special classes, as auxiliaries.


The first party classes for candidates are not on Marxist economic or philosophy, because these subjects are a part of the educational structure at different stages in college and school. The first few lectures are on the predatory nature of capitalism and imperialism, and the special threat to the Chinese socialist system from the imperialist countries. Classes deal with the history of the Chinese revolution, its special features and the Russian revolution.

Special classes are arranged on economics, the advance of China under Comrade Mao and then the mistakes during the Cultural Revolution. A separate class deals with the economics of socialist building, and the course of the struggle within the party for a correct line. The four cardinal principles are explained in the course. Membership is given at a formal function.

The study material for full members also includes the resolutions and documents of the central committee.

In each of the 2500 counties of China could be found schools where short term courses are arranged. These are on the lines of the old schools of the mountainous regions of Yenan where Comrade Mao had spent 13 years from 1934 to 1947. The subjects taught at these schools include basic theory, the new theories of Deng Xiaoping, on economic development, on how to integrate theory with practice, the scientific concept of development, and the contribution of later CC resolutions like those on balanced and sustainable growth.

Ai Ping, director of the international department of the CPC, in his interaction with us remarked that during the mid-sixties and early seventies the system of party education had virtually collapsed. This was rectified at the 3rd plenary session of the 11th central committee in December 1978.

There were specialised courses at the district (province) levels, where certificate and degree courses could be taken. The degrees given by the Central Party School were recognised by the government. Ai Ping said that recently a still more advanced centre had been opened for Marxist study and research at the Pudong Area of Shanghai called the China Executive Leadership Academy (CELAP). He informed us that this centre was on our itinerary.

Pudong is the new posh city developed on the bank of the Yangtse river across the city of Shanghai. The CELAP is a huge complex of buildings built on a 41 hectare plot of land. It has a teaching staff strength of 146. It is a national institution funded by the government. It is an international, contemporary and innovative academy for training leadership with ‘cutting edge training in leadership’.

The target trainees are ministers and high level officials from central government, governors, mayors and executives from local governments. The CELAP claims that by the synergy of value education, capacity building and behaviour orientation, it strives to foster ethical and effective leadership for coordinated development of the economy and society.

Apart from professional courses in management such as those for MBA and MPA, for which training is provided, CELAP has several courses to train the leaders in the subject of Party Theory. There are 3-month modules and 5-month modules. One of the modules is the three months’ course in which are taught the theories of Marx, Engels and Lenin (for one and half months) and the theories of Mao, Deng Xiaoping as well as later developments in theory in the form of CC resolutions such as the resolution of 1989 (three represents) and of the 16th congress of 2002 (the five imbalances to be rectified). This takes another one and half months. A total of 25 books on Marxism, classics as well as modern, are prescribed for study in this module.


We learned two more things from this meeting with the CELAP leadership. The first was about the fact that every State functionary, whether officer of the government, head of large scale industry, or special cadre including those from science research or the military, were required to undergo training at least once in five years. The special emphasis is on the heads of the 149 State owned enterprises in China.

For coping with this large volume of trainees, in addition to the 146 faculty members of CELAP, there are large number of visiting faculty members, which makes a total of 400 faculty available to teach.

The second fact that came to our attention is the special emphasis that the CPC is giving to the task of rooting out corruption from the social system of governance. The method adopted for this is to concentrate on strengthening education, making the system transparent, and inner party supervision. All the three faculty members present in our discussion, who were party members and belonged to the CELAP branch, said that they themselves were required to fill up yearly self assessment forms based on 14 different points.

The Party stresses this aspect just as much as it emphasises the need for continuous party education. This is the reason why the chairman of the central disciplinary and inspection committee of the CC is also a member of the Polit Bureau.