People's Democracy

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


No. 36

September 08, 2013




CPI(M) Delegation’s Visit To China

Spectacular Progress, Formidable Challenges  


Ashok Dhawale


For 10 days from August 25 to September 3, 2013, a 10-member cadre delegation of the CPI(M) visited China at the invitation of the Communist Party of China (CPC). It visited the Chinese capital Beijing, its industrial and financial capital Shanghai and the city of Lanzhou, the capital of the relatively backward and rural province of Gansu in North West China.


The CPI(M) delegation was led by Central Committee member and Maharashtra state secretary Dr Ashok Dhawale and it comprised Central Committee member Rekha Goswami (West Bengal), Central Committee member K K Shailaja Kumari (Kerala), Member of the Editorial Board of People’s Democracy Naresh Nadeem, State Secretariat member and General Manager of Prajashakti daily V Krishnaiah (Andhra), State Secretariat member and Deputy Mayor of Shimla Tikender Singh Panwar (Himachal Pradesh), State Secretariat member M S Venkataraman (Tamilnadu), State Secretariat member Suprakash Talukdar (Assam), State Secretary Thalmann Pereira (Goa) and District Secretariat member Dipankar Sen (Tripura).


This is the first in a series of reports about China written by some members of the delegation that will appear in these columns in coming weeks.


For all of us, our recent visit to China will always remain a visit to remember and cherish. We were struck by the truly spectacular progress made by this socialist country in all fields of human endeavour under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. We were inspired by the revolutionary historical places that we got the chance to visit. We also got an idea of the formidable challenges faced by the Chinese nation and its people.


And, last but not the least, seeing the stupendous, rapid and many-sided development that has made socialist China the second largest economy in the world today, we determined to work even harder for the day when India would finally break the shackles of its bourgeois-landlord rule and advance on its own road to socialism and progress.



We had a packed programme in Beijing from August 25 to 27. The two highlights of it were the two political meetings we had with Comrade Ai Ping, Vice Minister, and Comrade Shen Beili, Director General of the Asian Bureau, of the International Department of the Communist Party of China. These meetings gave us a good idea of the current line of the CPC on national and international issues, set by its 18th Party Congress in November 2012. The gist of the political discussion at these meetings was as follows.


There has been a major but smooth leadership transition in China, at both the Party and the State level, in 2012-13. This has now been institutionalized for every ten years. The fifth generation of leadership, headed by the new CPC General Secretary and China’s President Comrade Xi Jinping (the first four generations were headed by Comrades Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao respectively), has taken over in China.


After over two decades of rapid economic development of China since 1978, with an unprecedented and constant rate of economic growth of nearly 10 per cent, during the last one decade the CPC has consciously sought to combine economic development with political, social, cultural and ecological development as well. This is due to a more comprehensive understanding of the concrete situation in China.


The report of the 18th CPC Congress placed by Comrade Hu Jintao lays this down as follows: “Taking the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics means we must, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and basing ourselves on China’s realities, take economic development as the central task and adhere to the Four Cardinal Principles (these were enunciated by Deng Xiaoping in 1979 as the socialist road, the people’s democratic dictatorship, the leadership of the Communist Party and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought) and the policy of reform and opening up. It means we must release and develop the productive forces, develop the socialist market economy, socialist democracy, an advanced socialist culture and a harmonious socialist society, and promote socialist ecological progress. It also means we must promote well-rounded development of the person, achieve prosperity for all over time, and make China a modern socialist country.”


But while carrying out these tasks, the Chinese comrades said that the CPC is also facing a number of serious challenges. These are due to the fact that the Party has been constantly in state power for nearly 65 years, with the related danger of its getting divorced from the masses. The Party’s new central leadership has pinpointed four evils that must be rooted out. These are formalism, bureaucratism, extravagance and corruption.


For this, the Party has launched a serious rectification campaign and a mass line campaign of consciously reaching out to the people. This has been initiated from the level of the CPC Polit Bureau and will be taken right down, on the basis of the principle of criticism and self-criticism. The PB is having regular monthly meetings especially for this rectification campaign.


The vital importance attached by the CPC to the battle against corruption can be seen in this extract from the report to the 18th Congress: “Combating corruption and promoting political integrity, which is a major political issue of great concern to the people, is a clear-cut and long-term political commitment of the Party. If we fail to handle this issue well, it could prove fatal to the Party, and even cause the collapse of the Party and the fall of the state...We should persist in combating corruption in an integrated way, addressing both its symptoms and root causes, and combining punishment and prevention, with emphasis on the latter.” (Emphasis added).


However, the Chinese comrades seemed confident that the Party and the country would overcome all the formidable political-organizational challenges. The new leader Comrade Xi Jinping has set out a new phrase called the Chinese dream. After assuming the Presidency, he pledged to “make persistent efforts, press ahead with indomitable will, continue to push forward the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and strive to achieve the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”


The Chinese comrades told us that the 18th CPC Congress has clearly set two goals before the country. “As long as we remain true to our ideal, are firm in our conviction, never vacillate in or relax our efforts or act recklessly, and forge ahead with tenacity and resolve, we will surely complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects when the Communist Party of China celebrates its centenary in 2021, and turn China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious when the People’s Republic of China marks its centennial in 2049.”



So far as international issues and foreign policy were concerned, the Chinese comrades said that the country was following an independent foreign policy of peace, with the objective being to promote the common development of all. They said that China judged the world situation according to its merits, adhered to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (Panchsheel), upheld justice in the international arena and opposed hegemonism. China, they stressed, will never surrender its sovereignty and its core national interests.


Briefly tracing the changes in Chinese foreign policy over the decades, they divided it into six different stages. In the 1950s, the paramount need was to safeguard the independence of New China and to consolidate its power, hence China allied with the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc. With new complications emerging, the main feature of the 1960s was the fight against both US imperialism and Soviet revisionism. In the 1970s, during the Cultural Revolution, China took up cudgels against ‘Soviet hegemonism’.


In the 1980s, with the policy of reform and opening up, there was a change and a general expansion in foreign relations. In the 1990s, with the collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe, China tried to avoid confrontation. In the 21st century, with an increase in its economic strength, China took several initiatives to actively participate in international affairs.


To realize the Chinese dream, they need a stable and peaceful international environment. For this, new explorations and innovations are being made by China in the background of a very complicated world situation.


The first point is to build better relations with developing countries and neighbouring countries for mutual benefit and common prosperity. For this, China is concentrating on economic and trade co-operation in three broad geographical areas, namely South Asia, South East Asia and Africa.


China, India and the other seven countries in South Asia have a total population of over three billion, which is half the world’s population. Although China’s trade with South Asia has enhanced to 93 billion dollars last year, it is still much less than the 400 billion dollars trade with the ten much smaller countries of South East Asia. So far as people-to-people visits are concerned, the figure of visits between China and ASEAN countries last year was 15 million, while with South Asia it was only 3 million.


The Chinese comrades felt that there was great scope for improvement in relations between China and India – two countries with an ancient history and culture and with a long record of friendly relations. This scope was clearly reflected in the significant fact that the new Chinese Premier Comrade Li Keqiang chose India as the destination for his first foreign visit.


They said they were aware that the border issue between China and India still remains unresolved and that it created problems from time to time. This can only be settled through mutual dialogue. While this dialogue goes on, unnecessary conflict and false propaganda should be avoided by both sides.       


The second point is that China is also building special relations with the other socialist countries like Vietnam, Cuba and North Korea, whom the comrades termed as “valuable seeds for future socialist expansion.” With the Communist Party of Vietnam, the CPC holds top-level theoretical seminars every year on how to mutually develop and apply Marxism to both the countries. With the Communist Party of Cuba, the CPC has very good relations and China and Cuba have a lot of ongoing joint projects for economic co-operation. Comrade Fidel Castro was given a warm welcome in China a decade ago. China has given the DPR Korea a lot of material aid.


China welcomes the Leftist upsurge in Latin America, which has become “a headache for most Western countries.” China has already become the largest trading partner of Latin American countries like Venezuela and Brazil.


On the other hand, the Chinese comrades said that “the Arab spring is turning into an Arab winter. The West is trying to sell its model to the world. But blind adoption of Western democracy will not help to solve problems, as is being seen in Egypt and elsewhere. China is watching the situation in Syria carefully and will respond in an appropriate manner.”


Thirdly, as regards the developed countries, the Chinese comrades said that they were trying to build good relations with the USA, as well as the European Union and also with Russia and the other former Soviet republics, for mutual benefit. The three principles for these relations were Non-Confrontation, Mutual Respect and Co-operation for a Win-Win Situation.


However, they said that they were fully aware that there would be a lot of contradictions and conflicts with the USA, and the relations would not be smooth. They were well aware that efforts were on to ‘contain’ China by using various methods, including the new militarization drive by Japan, and that there have always been diabolical designs to peacefully or militarily destroy China. While China would try to maintain relations with the West on an even keel, it was also prepared for the worst scenario.


“We will never sacrifice the sovereignty or the core national interests of China. We will never accept anything that will impair our national interests. We have studied the collapse of the Soviet Union in depth. Some of the major reasons for its collapse were that it neglected economic development; it ignored the building of the Communist Party; it engaged in a huge arms race that drained its national resources and left its economy in ruins. We have tried to draw the appropriate lessons from this collapse. The conclusion that we have drawn is that the stronger and more developed China is, the more effectively can we defend our socialism against all adversaries.”


There was a lively interaction between our delegation and the leaders of the CPC, with question-answer sessions on both sides. We asked them some of our queries about the developmental process in China and they asked us questions about the Indian economy, India’s foreign policy and generally about the political scenario in India. It was a free and enlightening exchange.



The most inspiring visit of our delegation in Beijing was, of course, to the historic Tienanmen Square and the Mao Zedong Mausoleum that is situated on it. It was from the Tienanmen Gate at one end of the square that Comrade Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949. At the other end of the square is the impressive structure of the Mao Mausoleum. We were told that over 250 million people (7 million per year) had filed past and paid respects to the body of Mao Zedong ever since the Mausoleum was opened in 1977. There was a huge line of people – young and old, women and men – when we visited it.


The historic Tienanmen square is the largest in the world and historically can be equated only with the equally famous Red Square in Moscow which still houses the Lenin Mausoleum. On one side of the square is the Great Hall of the People where Congresses of the CPC and sessions of the National People’s Congress are held, and on the other side is the Museum of the Chinese Revolution – both of them huge and impressive buildings.     


Our other visit near Beijing was to the legendary Great Wall of China, which is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable wonders of the world. Yet another visit was to the artistic main stadium of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, called the Bird’s Nest, and to the nearby Blue Cube, which was the Olympic stadium for swimming and diving events. China had indeed made a huge world splash with the holding of the Olympic Games for the first time, and had also won the largest number of Gold Medals in the Beijing Olympics.  


The other two very instructive visits in or near Beijing were to the Nangong village in Fengtai district and to the China International Garden Expo Exhibition. The first visit gave us an idea of the rapid urbanization process near Beijing and the Party-building at the community level there. The second visit gave us an idea of the efforts for healthy ecological and environmental development that are being conducted all over China today.


The highlights of the CPI(M) delegation’s visits to Shanghai from August 28 to 31, and to Lanzhou from September 1 to 3, and some general observations about the China visit, will be covered in these columns next week.