The following signed article appeared on page three of the People's Daily on June 25, 2001.

For Peace, Development and Progress:
A Review of and Reflections on the 80 Years of
Foreign Contacts of the Communist Party of China (CPC)

Dai Bingguo  

 Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee  

The CPC celebrates the 80th anniversary of its founding this year. 

Over the past 80 years, the Party has led the people of all ethnic groups in unremittingly waging a heroic struggle and has won great victories in China in revolution, construction, reform and opening up, thereby writing a glorious chapter in the annals of the Chinese nation and earning the heartfelt love of all our people. Today, the air all over China reverberates with the voices of hundreds of millions of people proclaiming: Without the Communist Party, there would be no New China and no reform and opening up. As a Party official who has been involved in the country's diplomatic work and the Party's international work for years, I would like to say that without the leadership of the CPC, New China could not enjoy its present important position and good image on the international stage, nor could the Party have entered the new phase in its international work. Recently we edited and published a picture book on the history of the Party's foreign contacts. In the book, General Secretary Jiang Zemin inscribed "Peace, Development and Progress." This not only incisively summarizes the goals the CPC has pursued over the decades of its international work but also solemnly declares the mission it shoulders in the new century.

Ever since its founding in 1921, the CPC has linked China's destiny with the international community. It had different historic missions in its international work in different historical periods. During the new-democratic revolution, the Party maintained close ties with foreign progressive forces and with friendly foreigners, earned widespread sympathy and support for its efforts to establish a united front at home and abroad, and finally won victory in the revolution.

After the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, in the face of isolation and blockade imposed on the new-born people's government by Western hostile forces, the Communist Party, led by Comrade Mao Zedong, steadfastly defended our national independence and sovereignty and actively developed and improved its relations with other countries. The CPC established extensive, friendly relations with all other socialist countries and with communist parties and progressive forces in other countries and quickly made a breakthrough in foreign relations, thus playing a prominent role in the diplomatic work of New China. Delegations of communist and workers' parties from 56 countries attended the Eighth CPC National Congress in 1956. At the congress, Mao Zedong stated, "We do not feel isolated …. They came to China from afar, and their coming is a great encouragement and support for us!"

However, the Party's foreign contacts were not always smooth sailing. During the great debate on the international communist movement and in the "cultural revolution," "Left" ideology seriously affected and interfered in the Party's international work, causing it to greatly reduce its foreign contacts.

After the epochal Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee held in 1978, China entered a new historical period of carrying out reform and opening up and conducting the socialist modernization drive. On the basis of a scientific assessment of the international situation and the characteristics of the times, the second generation of the collective CPC leadership with Comrade Deng Xiaoping as its core reviewed the successes and failures of the international communist movement and put forward a proposal for establishing a new type of party-to-party 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. 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.

Deng Xiaoping's conception of party-to-party relations laid a theoretical basis for the Party's international work in the new period and provided ideological guidance for it to handle its relations with foreign parties. This ushered the Party's international work into a new stage of adjustment, restoration and expansion. In the late 1970s, the Party began gradually restoring party-to-party relations with communist parties in some countries that had been suspended for years. With the intention of uniting and cooperating with developing countries, the Party established diversified relations of exchanges and cooperation with national democratic parties in power in Africa, Latin America and Asia. In the early 1980s, in the spirit of transcending ideological differences and seeking understanding and cooperation, the Party began to establish relations with socialist, social democratic and labor parties and their international organizations in Europe. In the mid-1980s, to promote the sound and stable development of relations with developed countries, the Party began to have contacts with some traditionally centrist and right-wing political parties in Western Europe. 

In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, drastic changes took place in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; socialism suffered setbacks the world over and sank to a low point; and the multiparty system rose in Africa. Faced with these dramatic changes in the international situation, Comrade Deng Xiaoping farsightedly and thoughtfully set forth a strategy and tactics to deal with the overall situation. The third generation of the collective CPC leadership with Comrade Jiang Zemin as its core correctly sized up the situation and actively and prudently associated with both new and old foreign parties in strict accordance with the four principles for party-to-party relations. As a result, the CPC quickly got through a short period of difficulties in its external relations and got back on the track of sound development. On the basis of a review of the experience the Party gained in its international work during this new period, the Party set forth at its Fifteenth National Congress in 1997 the cross-century guiding principle for its international work that declared its willingness to develop a new type of party-to-party exchanges and cooperation with all foreign parties that are willing to have contacts with it, so as to promote the development of state-to-state relations on the basis of the four principles for party-to-party relations. This principle upheld and developed Deng Xiaoping's thinking on party-to-party relations and conformed to the tide of events and the trend of history.

Since then, the Party has deepened all aspects of its foreign contacts under the guidance of this principle. It has created a unique stage through party diplomacy where it has demonstrated to the world its devotion to peace, development, reform and opening up, shown its sincere willingness to increase friendly cooperation with various foreign governments and parties, established a good international image of reform and innovation, and worked for a peaceful international environment more favorable for the country's modernization drive. At present, the Party maintains ties of various kinds with more than 400 parties and organizations in over 140 countries and regions. A situation of party-to-party relations that are all-dimensional, multi-channeled, wide-ranging and in-depth have begun to take shape. The CPC has made more and more friends among foreign parties and its influence in the world continues to grow.

After having briefly reviewed the course of development of the Party's international work in the new period, we in my department fully understand that to do this work well, it is imperative to focus on the overall tasks of the whole Party and the whole nation, to work for the overall diplomatic efforts of the state and for the building of socialism with Chinese characteristics, to work to improve and develop China's socialist system and to consolidate and strengthen the Party's position in power. Specifically, it is necessary to play a creative role in the following five areas. First, the Party's international work should serve to lay a foundation for state-to-state relations and function well as such. In foreign contacts, we should focus on establishing, consolidating and expanding state-to-state relations and exchange ideas and cultivate friendship with statesmen in other countries. The CPC leaders attach great importance to the basic and strategic role of party diplomacy, and they expend considerable effort every year to participate in and promote party-to-party exchanges. Second, the Party's international work should play a supporting role in promoting state-to-state relations. Among the over 400 foreign parties maintaining friendly relations with the CPC, about half are parties in power or coalition parties and half are opposition parties. The vast majority of countries in the world have a multiparty system, and the rise and fall of political parties there lead to shifts of power and changes of policy. In this situation, the CPC's extensive foreign contacts and ties make a unique contribution to promoting the consolidation and development of state-to-state relations and maintaining their continuity and stability. Third, the Party's international work should supplement government diplomacy. Focusing on the long-term development of state-to-state relations, it should use Party channels to make friends widely and increase understanding and friendship, so as to promote the normalization of state relations with countries that have not yet established diplomatic relations with China. Fourth, a good job should be done to give good advice and assistance to the Party Central Committee. Investigation and study are fine traditions of the Party. The increase of domestic work and changes in the international situation urgently require that the functional department of the Party doing its international work particularly emphasize improving research work, closely observe developments and changes in the international situation, accurately understand the trends and developments of world events, intensively study policy changes made by all countries, particularly large ones, and objectively understand the international environment China is situated in, so as to offer advice and proposals for maintaining the overall security of the country. The International Department should diligently study changes in political systems in other countries and the rise and fall of political parties to furnish experience the Party can learn from to improve and strengthen its own party building. Based on what is needed in the course of China's reform and development, we should assiduously seek out and introduce foreign experience and lessons on governing countries to absorb cultural achievements that are beneficial to us. We should also study the profusion of political theories and new ideas in the world today, adapt them to Chinese conditions, and use them in service of the Party's theoretical innovation and ideological improvement. Fifth, through contacts with foreign parties, the Party's international work should introduce the CPC's major policies for governance of the country and its principled positions on international issues to the international community at the strategic level. Doing so will enable foreign political parties and statesmen to better understand the positive efforts made by the CPC to lead the Chinese people in rejuvenating the Chinese nation, making the country prosperous and strong, and contributing to world peace, stability and development, and thereby present a good image of the Party and socialist China to the world.

"Why is the canal so limpid? Because flowing water comes from its source." The magnificent achievements made by the Chinese people under the leadership of the great, glorious and correct CPC and the prosperity and strength of China constitute the foundation and guarantee for the vigorous development of the Party's international work. At a time when the Party is leading all the people of the country on the march towards fulfilling the third step of the strategic plan for socialist modernization and is presenting its blueprint for even more glorious development in the new century, more and more foreign political parties and statesmen want to understand and exchange ideas and cooperate with the CPC, which has rich experience in governing the country and is the world's largest party in power with 64.51 million members. The scope of the Party's foreign contacts is wider than ever before, and its party diplomacy will prosper. Under the leadership of the Party Central Committee, the International Department will better fulfill its functions, work hard to create a peaceful international environment favorable for China's development in the new century, and make greater contributions to world peace, development and progress. 

People's Daily (p. 3, June 25, 2001.)