Fifty years ago today, on January 16, 1951, Comrade Liu Shaoqi wrote to Wang Jiaxiang, an outstanding CPC diplomat, and told him of the Party Central Committee's decision to establish an international department and appoint him to be its Minister. Since then, the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, a functional department devoted to the Party's foreign work, has experienced a half century of extraordinary development in which it followed the Party's strategic plans for governing and rejuvenating the nation and joined in the resonant footsteps of New China marching toward the outside world.
The founding of the People's Republic of China was a historic victory in the democratic revolution of the people in the oppressed nations of the East and a momentous event in the course of 20th century world socialism. At that time, the cold war between the East and the West was at its height. US-led Western forces adopted a policy that imposed a brutal economic blockade and diplomatic isolation on the newly founded People's Republic in an attempt to strangle it in its cradle. In order to strengthen the People's Republic, the Chinese Communists, led by Comrade Mao Zedong, sized up the situation and adopted the strategic policy of leaning to one side, that is, of cooperating fully with the socialist camp. The rapid development of relations between New China and other socialist countries required the CPC to establish and increase contacts with their parties in power. Communists and progressive organizations in other foreign countries also wanted to understand the Chinese revolution and the CPC, and they too asked to establish and develop relations with our Party. In order to break the isolation and sanctions imposed by Western countries and to win widespread international sympathy and support, the Party Central Committee decided to establish the International Department, responsible for communications with foreign communist parties. From this beginning, the Party's international work became an important part of China's overall diplomatic work.
The International Department has undergone roughly three stages of development since it was founded 50 years ago. In the 1950s, just after being established, its first leaders such as Wang Jiaxiang worked together untiringly under the direct guidance of the Central Committee to rapidly expand our Party's foreign exchanges. When the Party held its Eighth National Congress in September 1956, delegations from 56 communist and workers' parties on the five continents, including the parties in power in socialist countries, attended the congress and extended their congratulations. After the congress, the scope of the Party's international work further expanded, and it played an increasingly important role in the state's overall diplomatic work. Due to the given historical environment at that time, our Party's international work was directed mainly toward communist and workers' parties and progressive left-wing organizations in foreign countries.
In the 1960s, there was a great debate inside the international communist movement, and the movement suffered deep divisions. The International Department played its role in our Party's struggle against great-nation and great-party chauvinism within the international communist movement. Thereafter, as divisions within the movement deepened further, relations between socialist countries became increasingly complex and our Party's relations with many foreign parties were suspended. During the "cultural revolution," the ultraleft trend of thought fomented by Kang Sheng and the Gang of Four dealt a heavy impingement to the international work of the Party, and the scope of the Party's foreign exchanges continually contracted.
At the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Party Central Committee in 1978, the focus of the work of the whole Party was shifted onto economic development, and China's socialist modernization drive entered a new period of reform and opening up. Accordingly, the Party's international work also entered a new historical period of correcting past mistakes and making energetic progress. A series of major adjustments was made to the guiding principles, strategic objectives, associates and principles of exchanges, and working principles concerning this work. It was made clear that the fundamental task for the Party's international work in the new period was to create a favorable international environment for China's reform and opening up and its socialist modernization drive, in particular a stable environment in neighboring countries. The four principles of independence, complete equality, mutual respect and noninterference in each other's internal affairs were established to govern the CPC's relations with foreign political parties. Promoting the sound, stable and all-round development of relations between China and other countries was made the starting point and objective of the Party's international work.
Following the historic adjustments to these principles and policies, five major steps were successively taken in the Party's international work. From the late 1970s, the Party gradually resumed long-suspended relations with some foreign communist parties on the basis of the principle of forgetting old scores, looking toward the future and seeking cooperation. At the same time, in order to develop solidarity and cooperation with developing countries, the Party gradually established many forms of exchanges and cooperation with the national democratic parties in power in Africa, Latin America and Asia. In the early 1980s, based on the spirit of transcending ideological differences and seeking understanding and cooperation, the Party began to establish contacts with socialist parties, social democratic parties, labor parties and their international organizations in Europe. In the mid-1980s, in order to promote the sound and stable development of relations with developed countries, the Party began to actively engage in many forms of contact and exchange with some traditionally centrist and right-wing political parties in Western Europe. In the early 1990s, faced with the dramatic changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the rise of multiparty systems in Africa, the International Department actively and systematically established contacts with all kinds of new and old political parties in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and Africa in accordance with the four principles governing the Party's relations with foreign parties. As a result of these five steps, in spite of great changes in the makeup of the world's political parties and in the fortunes of political parties in many countries after the end of the cold war, our Party achieved gratifying results in its international work and made friends all over the globe. At present, our Party maintains ties and exchanges of various forms with about 400 parties and organizations in over 140 countries and regions. The scope of our Party's foreign exchanges keeps widening, and the Party is becoming increasingly influential internationally.
This review of the history of our Party's international work over the past half century, especially since the introduction of the reform and opening up policy in the late 1970s, makes us keenly aware of the following.
1. The Party's international work must subordinate itself to and serve the overall strategy of national development, and it must serve the efforts to build socialism with Chinese characteristics, the state's overall diplomatic work, and the efforts to consolidate and develop China's socialist system and strengthen the Party's position in power.
For many years, special importance has been attached in the Party's international work to establishing a new type of relations with foreign political parties through determined development and active exploration. Our practical experience has taught us that party diplomacy is an important component of the state's overall diplomacy and that party diplomacy and government diplomacy supplement each other. Party diplomacy has the following five unique functions. First, it is an important political cornerstone of state-to-state relations. The main associates of our Party's international work are political parties and statesmen in various countries. Although this work does not deal with specific diplomatic issues between China and other countries, it takes state-to-state relations as its basic starting point and lays a firm foundation for establishing, consolidating and developing state-to-state relations through communication of ideas and exchange of friendship. In this sense, party diplomacy has great foundational and strategic significance. In countries with mature party politics, party-to-party relations often provide a political basis for state-to-state relations. Second, party diplomacy is a propellant for state-to-state relations. Many countries in the world today have multiparty systems, and the rise and fall of political parties often lead to changes in governments and policies. Party diplomacy can be done in association with parties in power and coalition parties or lawful opposition parties, which gives us considerable room to maneuver. Contacts with the former help to continually consolidate and develop state-to-state relations; and contacts with the latter help to maintain their continuity and stability. Third, party diplomacy is an important complement to government diplomacy. Party diplomacy and government diplomacy involve working with different associates and using different methods, but both are important components of the state's overall diplomacy and have the great objective of serving state interests. Over the years, we have focused on long-term development of state-to-state relations and through party channels made friends in countries without diplomatic relations with China, so as to pave the way for normalizing China's relations with these countries. Party diplomacy has unique functions and capabilities in supporting and supplementing government diplomacy. Fourth, party diplomacy is an important arena for party building and self-development of the party in power. The Party's international work is an important channel through which the Party interprets and reaches out to the world. Through party-to-party contacts, we can carry out extensive exchanges with foreign political parties and statesmen and study changes in foreign political systems and the rise and fall of foreign political parties to provide cautions for our efforts to improve Party building. In addition, contacts with foreign political parties also help us to analyze the diversity of fervent political trends of thoughts in the world today and deepen our understanding of the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and they provide a reference frame for and give an impetus to strengthening and improving our Party's ideological and theoretical development, ideological and political education, and publicity work. Fifth, party diplomacy is a unique stage for presenting a good image of our Party and nation. Through party-to-party contacts, we can introduce the CPC's major policies for governance of the country and its principled positions and viewpoints on world developments and international issues to the international community at a high level. This enables foreign political parties and statesmen to better understand our Party's positive efforts to lead the Chinese people in rejuvenating the Chinese nation, making the country prosperous and strong, and contributing to world peace, stability and development, thereby presenting to the world at large our Party's fundamental nature as embodying the Three Represents and a good image of socialist China.
2. The Party's international work must be guided by Deng Xiaoping's diplomatic thinking, especially his theory of party-to-party relations, in order to properly handle relations between party diplomacy and government diplomacy, between party contacts and ideological differences, and between extensive contacts and priorities.
After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Party Central Committee, Comrade Deng Xiaoping reviewed the positive and negative experiences and lessons concerning party-to-party relations in the history of the international communist movement and gave a new exposition of these relations. Its main points are as follows. First, a new type of relations between parties - new, sound and friendly relations - should be established. Second, every party should decide its own country's affairs independently in accordance with the actual conditions there, rather than serving the interests of other countries and the will of foreign parties. Third, no party should judge the achievements and mistakes of foreign parties on the basis of its own experience. We oppose judging right or wrong of a party on the basis of the experience or practice of any other foreign party or state. Fourth, all parties, large or small, strong or weak, in power or out, should be completely equal; they should respect each other and not interfere in each other's internal affairs. Fifth, ideological differences should not be obstacles to party-to-party relations. Parties in all countries should develop a new type of exchanges and cooperation with foreign parties based on the spirit of seeking common ground while reserving differences. Sixth, the purpose of exchanges and cooperation with foreign parties should be to promote the development of state-to-state relations. Seventh, all parties should look to the future and forget old scores concerning their relations with foreign parties.
As an important part of his diplomatic thinking, Deng Xiaoping's conception of party-to-party relations laid the theoretical basis for the Party's international work in the new period and provided effective ideological guidance for it to handle its relations with foreign parties. We made it clear that the new type of party-to-party relations should take national interests as the highest norm and be subordinate to and serve the development of state-to-state relations, thus correcting the problem of dislocation of party-to-party relations on the one hand and state-to-state relations on the other. We made it clear that the purpose of the Party's international work is to implement the independent foreign policy of peace and that party-to-party relations should not be based on ideology, thus establishing the principle of making contacts with foreign political parties with natures, values and political viewpoints different from those of the CPC. We also made it clear that in our contacts with foreign parties, we should always proceed from the needs of China's overall diplomatic work, focusing on relations with foreign parties in power and coalition parties and important opposition parties, thus putting an end to problems arising from failing to distinguish relative importance or urgency. An all-dimensional, multi-channeled, wide-ranging and deep-leveled pattern of party-to-party contacts that are suited to the conditions of the world's political parties and meet the needs of China's overall diplomatic work is gradually taking shape.
3. To do the Party's international work successfully, we must adhere to the four principles of independence, complete equality, mutual respect and noninterference in each other's internal affairs.
In the history of the international communist movement, due to different understandings of party-to-party relations, relations between communist parties were at one time seriously distorted. Since the beginning of the new period, as our Party restored and developed relations with communist parties in Western Europe, it gradually developed the four principles of independence, complete equality, mutual respect and noninterference in each other's internal affairs, and incorporated them into the Party Constitution at its Twelfth National Congress in 1982. In the course of practice, they became general principles governing the CPC's contacts with various political parties of different natures or types in the world. Practice confirms that the four principles meet the needs of China's reform and opening up and its modernization drive, conform to the changed conditions of the world's political parties and universally recognized norms governing state-to-state relations, and are widely praised and accepted by foreign political parties. At its Fifteenth National Congress in 1997, the Party brought forth a comprehensive guiding principle for its international work based on a review of party-to-party relations in the new period. According to this principle, on the basis of the four principles for party-to-party relations, the CPC will develop a new type of exchanges and cooperation with various foreign political parties that are willing to have contacts with it, so as to promote the development of state-to-state relations. This guiding principle conforms to the nature of the times, complies with the general trend of world and historical development, and creates still brighter prospects for a new phase of the Party's international work at the turn of the century.
4. The continuous development of the international work of the CPC is inseparable from correct guidance by the Central Committee and strong support from the whole Party.
Over the past half century, the three generations of the central collective leadership of the CPC, with Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin at the core, all attached great importance to, were deeply concerned about and exercised guidance over the Party's international work. They not only racked their brains and made painstaking efforts in promoting and deepening this work but also at historical junctures and on significant issues, they all personally made decisions and did the work. In the 1950s, Comrade Mao Zedong and other proletarian revolutionaries of the older generation gave a series of important directives on the Party's international work, which guided the international work to coordinate with the state's overall diplomatic work and make historic contributions to breaking the isolation and blockade imposed by the West and improving China's position in the international community. In the CPC's contacts with foreign political parties, Comrade Mao Zedong always emphasized the principle of independence and pointed out that our Party would not impose its views on them. During the "cultural revolution," Comrade Mao Zedong once wrote the following comment on a report from the CPC's International Department: "Don't ask any foreigner to accept the ideas of the Chinese; just ask them to accept that the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism is integrated with the concrete practice of a country's revolution." Comrade Zhou Enlai personally came to the International Department late one night to put a stop to ultraleft activities instigated by Lin Biao and Kang Sheng. After the country entered the new period of reform and opening up and the modernization drive, Comrade Deng Xiaoping articulated his conception of developing a new type of party-to-party relations and led us in initiating an entirely new phase of the Party's international work. The third generation of the central collective leadership with Comrade Jiang Zemin as its core is also much concerned about and supportive of the Party's international work. These leaders laid out the guidelines for its cross-century development and participated in and promoted development of party-to-party exchanges and cooperation. They led us safely through the severe trials arising from the abrupt changes in the international situation and the domestic political disturbances at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s and wrote a new chapter on cross-century international work in the Party's annals.
The Party's international work is a common task for all Party members. Over the past several decades, many central departments and local Party leaders participated in international work in various ways. They received guests from foreign political parties visiting China at our Party's invitation, headed Party delegations visiting abroad, or provided various forms of assistance and support to the International Department in doing the Party's international work. The participation of the Party as a whole in international work in various ways plays a positive and useful role in improving the global perspective, sense of openness and strategic thinking of the Party membership and in strengthening building of the Party as a party in power in every way.
In this new century we expect that in general the world situation will continue its trend toward a relaxation of tensions, although international relations will become more complex and variable. As workers of a new generation entrusted with the Party's international work, we are faced with both opportunities and challenges. We will prove worthy of the great trust reposed in us and the mission entrusted to us and strive to achieve the following objectives and tasks.
1. We will continuously raise our sense of responsibility and mission, work hard to expand the Party's international work, and perform the duties entrusted to us by the CPC Central Committee well and efficiently.
Following the activities to emphasize study, political awareness and integrity, the whole International Department participated in theoretical discussions of the Party's international work. After further studying Deng Xiaoping's conception of party-to-party relations and comprehensively reviewing the Party's international work, we have strengthened our sense of responsibility and mission for doing this work well and formulated a tentative conception of the work that can better reflect the spirit of our times.
In short, the main objective of the Party's international work in the new century is to make a new breakthrough after 50 years of development. It should better conform to and serve the overall interests of the work of the entire Party and the whole state. We should more effectively exploit the unique functions and advantages of party diplomacy. Specifically, we should develop the Party's international work into a more important component of the integrated strategy for safeguarding overall state security, promoting the state's overall diplomatic work and achieving complete national reunification. We should fully utilize the advantages of the Party's foreign exchanges to make friends as widely as possible and give these contacts a greater role in establishing and developing relations between China and other countries and elevating China's international standing. In addition, we should develop the International Department, the functional department that does the Party's international work, into a research center that provides greater intellectual support for the Party and state's handling of important international issues and interpreting foreign parties' experiences in running their parties and states, so as to make our department a more effective and important channel through which the Party can further reach out to the world and participate more in international affairs.
2. We will become more purposeful, goal-oriented and effective in the Party's contacts with foreign parties and emphasize priority, quality and efficiency in our international work.
At present, China enjoys political stability, social harmony, ethnic unity and sustained, rapid economic development, and its overall national strength is increasing. More and more foreign political parties and figures want to understand our Party and exchange ideas and cooperate with it, which has rich experience in governing the country and is the world's largest party with over 60 million members. This provides a wide stage for the Party's foreign exchanges in the new century and imposes greater demands on its international work.
In recent years, we made useful explorations on how to be more purposeful, goal-oriented and effective in the Party's contacts with foreign parties. We achieved good results in increasing high-level party contacts, promoting business cooperation through Party channels, increasing contacts with the emerging generation of foreign statesmen, and exchanging experiences in running one's country. On the basis of these successes we will identify the new characteristics of international relations arising from developments and changes therein and formulate specific policies and measures for contacts with different regions, countries, and political parties in accordance with the general guidelines of the Party Central Committee concerning the Party's international work. We will continue to deepen and develop contacts with political parties of neighboring countries to make our shared environment peaceful and stable. We will expand and improve friendly contacts with important political parties of developing countries to promote the all-round and stable development of relations between China and those countries. We will more actively develop contacts and exchanges with political parties in countries without diplomatic relations with China and work untiringly to pave the way for normalizing China's relations with these countries. We will do our work pertaining to the main political parties of developed countries and their international organizations thoroughly and meticulously and participate in multilateral party activities on appropriate occasions and to an appropriate extent in order to contribute further to enhancing the role of the Party's international work in the state's overall diplomatic efforts.
3. We will closely integrate foreign exchanges with research on international issues and further clarify the direction and tasks of our research so that it is strategic, theoretical, and policy- and future-oriented.
As the department handling the Party's international work, the International Department has always had the responsibility of providing information and policy suggestions to the Party Central Committee to help it understand the international situation and make important policy decisions. Last June, proceeding from the actual conditions in China and the world today, Comrade Jiang Zemin raised the question of how we should understand these four issues: the historical course of the development of socialism, the historical course of the development of capitalism, the influence of China's socialist reforms on people's thinking, and the impact of the current international environment and political conflicts. We will conduct multifaceted, in-depth, high-quality and expeditious research on these important theoretical and practical issues of great concern to the Party Central Committee and on important events affecting the state's overall diplomatic work and overall national security. In addition, we will raise the quality of our exchanges and our personnel by deepening research on international issues.
In retrospect, we have made outstanding achievements; looking into the future, we have arduous tasks and a long road ahead. In the 20th century, we Chinese people wiped out humiliation and progressed toward magnificence. In the 21st century, we will achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. We have full confidence in the future of socialism with Chinese characteristics and in our Party's international work. As long as we steadfastly hold high the great banner of Deng Xiaoping Theory, closely rally around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Jiang Zemin as its core, rely firmly on the support and assistance of all Party members and all our people, and work tirelessly and creatively, we will surely achieve glory in the Party's international work in this new century.