China Focus: Self-reform: CPC's vigorous journey to centenary
BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhua) -- As the Communist Party of China (CPC) embraces its 97th anniversary Sunday, many of its achievements are worth looking at: founding a new China, developing the country to the world's second largest economy, lifting 700 million people out of poverty in 40 years, and nearing the first centenary goal of completing building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
"The Chinese nation ... has stood up, grown rich, and is becoming strong," said Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee in his report to the 19th National Congress of the CPC in 2017.
The CPC has shown not a single sign of stopping. Xi has repeatedly urged the 89 million-member Party to "carry out self-reform."
"To have the courage to carry out self-reform and conduct strict self-governance: this is the most distinctive part of our Party's character," Xi has said.
The CPC has laid out a two-step approach for the development of the country: from 2020 to 2035, working to basically realize socialist modernization; from 2035 to the middle of the 21st century, developing China into a great modern socialist country.
"The way to the goals can never be smooth," said Li Junru, former vice president of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. "Faced with challenges and tests, the CPC must continue its tradition of reforming itself to spearhead social revolutions and achieve the goals."
Before Xi took the helm as Party leader in 2012, there was doubt whether the CPC was able to create a healthy political environment and generate positive energy throughout the Party.
Accordingly, it was made a priority to crack down on malpractice by Party officials, particularly those losing faith in the Party, taking bribes, leading extravagant lives, and being autocratic.
Xi believed that if corruption got any worse, it could cause the collapse of the Party and even the fall of the state.
The CPC's anti-corruption campaign swept across the country and brought down senior officials, including Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai, Guo Boxiong, Xu Caihou, Sun Zhengcai and Ling Jihua.
The number of officials disciplined each year increased from 160,000 in 2012 to more than 500,000 in 2017.
Thousands of officials confessed crimes and misdemeanors to disciplinary authorities. Last year, about 1,300 fugitives who had fled overseas, including 347 who had been Party members or state functionaries, were captured or returned to China.
However, corruption is down but not out. The leadership is clear that any laxness could lead to failure.
After the 19th National Congress of the CPC, the campaign accelerated, focusing on a "sweeping victory" over corruption.
China has recently set up supervisory commissions at all levels across the country, to ensure "all public servants exercising public power" are subject to supervision.
Xi does not only rely on taking out "tigers" and "flies" -- senior and low-level corrupt officials -- to govern the Party.
The CPC's campaign against extravagance and undesirable work style -- including formalities for formalities' sake, bureaucratism, hedonism, and extravagance -- has seen about 262,600 officials punished from 2012 to 2017.
He Yiting, executive vice president of the Party School, said CPC reform was a political advantage of the country's much-heralded "socialism with Chinese characteristics."
"We have seen lots of political parties with glorious pasts that have failed to break the historical cycle of gaining political power only to lose it. The reason lies in the ignorance of their own faults," He said. "It is easier to launch revolution against others than against oneself."
Xi launched a mass-line campaign to bring Party officials closer to the people. He urged officials to meet "strict" and "earnest" requirements. Party members must have a solid understanding of the Party Constitution, Party regulations, and major policy addresses, and meet Party standards of behavior.
The CPC will also run a campaign on "staying true to our founding mission." Xi has led leading officials to the Party's birthplaces in Shanghai and Zhejiang, a "roots-tracing" reminder of the Party's original ideals: to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenate the nation.
Song Luzheng, researcher at the China Institute of Fudan University in Shanghai, said: "After reshaping itself, the CPC has gained the capability and confidence to break new ground in development."
Starting this year, China has launched a massive institutional reform touching upon a wide range of entities of the Party and state.
New offices have opened, staff have been reshuffled and better public services have been launched. The number of ministerial-level entities of the State Council is reduced by eight and vice-ministerial-level entities by seven.
Such changes at central and provincial levels must be completed by the end of 2018, and for local level by March 2019.
Observers believe the reform is "revolutionary" in breaking vested interests and in ensuring development.
The reform is part of the CPC drive to enhance its leadership and long-term governance.
The CPC is continuing to lead the reform and opening up, often called "China's second revolution," which has lasted for 40 years. To continue this revolution, the Party decided to remove the obstinate barriers, such as outdated mentalities, deep institutional flaws and strong vested interests.
"I am confident that the reform will succeed," said the Shanghai-based researcher Song Luzheng. "Chinese communists do not have any interests different from those of the overwhelming majority of the people. That is why the CPC can deal with obstacles and reshape the structure to make it suitable for the long-term development."
A string of reform projects have been undertaken in recent years, touching on the most difficult areas, from state-owned enterprises and household registration to rural land and public hospitals. A new modern economic system is taking shape. Air quality in many Chinese cities has improved significantly. The Belt and Road Initiative is winning more support around the globe. The Chinese economy continues to expand, and in 2017 China's GDP grew by 6.9 percent.
Xi has stressed that the more achievements China makes, the more judicious officials should become, avoiding strategic and subversive mistakes.
"Self-reform has become a gene of the CPC so that it will never be satisfactory with its current success," Song said.
The CPC requires its members always "have a youthful spirit, and are forever the servants of the people, the vanguard of the times and the backbone of the nation."
For the Party, the people not only create history but are the source of its strength.
"It is to them [the people] that we owe all our achievements," Xi said. "As long as we firmly align ourselves with the people and rely on them, we can and will have boundless energy to forge ahead, come rain or shine."
The leadership has maintained that whatever issues the people are dissatisfied with, the CPC must solve. Xi has sent a clear message: "On the nation's way to building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, not a single family or individual should be left behind."
China needs to bring more than 10 million people out of poverty every year, meaning 20 people per minute, to reach its goal. The CPC has dispatched nearly 800,000 people to poor regions to help. More than 120 CPC members sacrificed their lives in this fight between 2013 and 2016.
The Party also pledges to meet the people's growing demands on education, employment, income, social security, healthcare, old-age security, housing and the environment, to give people, as Xi put it, "a strong sense of fulfillment."
The Party's policies and achievements have led to strong public support for the CPC Central Committee with Xi at the core.
Xi was re-elected general secretary of the CPC Central Committee in October last year and re-elected Chinese president and chairman of Central Military Commission in March this year.
Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era has been written into the CPC Constitution and the country's Constitution.
"Xi's thought is an important guarantee of the CPC's vitality. It will ensure the CPC advances with the times to become the strongest political party in the world," said Professor Chen Shuguang with the Party School.
While addressing the conference held in May to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx's birth to "pay tribute to the greatest thinker in human history," Xi called for the creation of a vibrant Marxist governing party that was "at the forefront of the times, enjoys the wholehearted support of the people, has the courage to reform itself and is able to withstand all tests."