The following is a recorded interview with Cai Wu, Vice Minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, from "Interviews with Public Figures" on China Radio International.

A Review of and Reflections on the 80 Years of Foreign Contacts
of the Communist Party of China (CPC)

On July 1, the CPC celebrates its 80th anniversary. Over the past 80 years, it has developed into the largest party in power in the world from a small unknown party having only 53 members at its founding. At present, the CPC maintains ties with over 400 foreign political parties and organizations. Its international work has undergone an extraordinary course of development. A few days ago, Quan Yuhong, a reporter of China Radio International, interviewed Cai Wu, Vice Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, a senior official responsible for the Party's international work, about the history of the CPC's international contacts and exchanges. The full text of the interview is as follows:

Quan Yuhong: Hello, Mr. Cai. Thank you for fitting this interview into your busy schedule.

Cai Wu: Hello. Hello, everybody. It's my pleasure to have this opportunity to review the history of the CPC's international contacts with all of you on the eve of its 80th anniversary. Ever since its founding in 1921, the CPC has had a global perspective and close ties with the outside world and has maintained foreign contacts and cooperation. Over the past 80 years, the CPC has always linked the future and the destiny of China with the development and progress of human society.

Quan: Two representatives of the Communist International attended the First National Congress of the CPC held in Shanghai in 1921. Does this mean the Party has had foreign contacts since its founding?

Cai: Yes. Actually, close contacts with the international community began during preparations for the founding of the CPC. We have always said that the CPC is the product of the integration of Marxism-Leninism with China's workers' movement and that it was founded under the influence of the Russian October Revolution and assisted by the Communist International led by V. I. Lenin. Two foreigners attended the First National Congress, G. Maring from the Netherlands and V. V. Nicolsky from Russia, and they provided assistance for the founding of the CPC on behalf of the Communist International. The CPC became a member of the Communist International around 1922. More than ten representatives of the Communist International were sent to the CPC successively, and CPC delegations were sent to the Communist International as well. Many of our Party's early leaders were members of these delegations. The CPC maintained close ties with the Communist International from the 1920s until 1943. During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945) and the War of Liberation (1946-1949), the CPC maintained contacts with its foreign friends who were sympathetic to and supportive of the revolution of the Chinese people and the liberation of the Chinese nation. The most well-known among them were Edgar Snow and Dr. Henry Norman Bethune. Snow was an American journalist, who wrote Red Star over China based on his interviews with the Red Army. This book had significant influence in the world. Dr. Bethune was a Canadian surgeon who was sent to China by the Communist Party of the United States of America and the Canadian Communist Party. He devoted his life to China's struggle against Japanese aggression. This extensive international support played a very important role in the eventual victory of the Chinese revolution.

Quan: After this victory, the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949. At that time, as the party in power, the CPC decided that New China would diplomatically lean to one side, that is, cooperate fully with the socialist camp. Why did it adopt this policy then?

Cai: New China was founded at a time when the cold war between the East and the West was at its height. Western countries adopted a policy of hostility and blockade toward the new-born people's government. In order to defend our national independence and sovereignty, the CPC made full use of longstanding friendly relations with the communist parties in power in the Soviet Union and the socialist countries in Eastern Europe and with the communist parties and other progressive forces in other countries, which played an important role in the smooth development of New China's diplomatic work. The diplomatic policy of leaning to one side was due to the international situation at that time and the nature of the Chinese people's revolutionary cause. The CPC's international influence expanded quickly, and the number of countries recognizing New China continually increased. It can be said that the Party's international work played a decisive role in this breakthrough in New China's diplomacy.

Quan: The Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee was held in 1978; it led China into a new historical period of carrying out reform and opening up and conducting the socialist modernization drive. The CPC's policy governing its international contacts was transformed into a theoretical concept for establishing a new type of party-to-party relations. Could you introduce this concept to us?

Cai: The Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee was a great turning point in the Party's history. After the session, Deng Xiaoping, the leader of the CPC at the time, deliberated deeply on the international situation, China's diplomatic policy and party-to-party relations on the basis of changes in the domestic and international situation and a review of the successes and failures of the international communist movement and in view of the needs of China's socialist modernization drive in the new period. For instance, Deng Xiaoping said that the situation we faced had changed in two very important ways. First, we had changed our old perspective on the world in terms of war and peace to one that takes peace and development to be the outstanding issues in the present-day world. Second, our internal work had shifted from its long-term focus on class struggle as the key link to focusing on economic development. 

To integrate the CPC's international relations into the overall picture of China's comprehensive new foreign relations, we needed to formulate new principles governing the CPC's relations with foreign parties. These are the principles of independence, complete equality, mutual respect and noninterference in each other's internal affairs. These four principles are entirely consistent with the spirit of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence governing China's state relations with other countries. On this basis, we put forward a complete concept 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. The last point is most important. It has two meanings: not interfering in foreign parties' internal affairs and not interfering in foreign countries' internal affairs through party-to-party relations. Fifth, ideological differences should not be obstacles to establishing a new type of party-to-party relations. When developing exchanges and cooperation with foreign parties, parties in the various countries should proceed from the spirit of seeking common ground while reserving differences. This is of great importance. Sixth, the purpose of exchanges and cooperation with foreign parties should be to promote the development of state-to-state relations. Seventh, in their relations with foreign parties, all parties should look to the future and forget old scores.

Quan: Mr. Cai, what are the practical results of implementing this concept of a new type of party-to-party relations?

Cai: After this concept and its guiding principles were put forward, the CPC's international work entered a new period of adjustment, restoration and expansion. From the late 1970s, the CPC gradually resumed long-suspended relations with some foreign communist parties and established many kinds of exchanges and cooperation with the national democratic parties in power in developing countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. In the early 1980s, in the spirit of transcending ideological differences and seeking understanding and cooperation, the CPC began to establish relations with socialist parties, social democratic parties, and labor parties and their international organizations in Europe. In the mid-1980s, to promote sound and stable development of relations with developed countries, the Party began to have contacts and exchanges with some traditionally centrist and right-wing political parties in Western Europe. The CPC's principles governing foreign contacts came to be understood, respected and admired by more and more foreign political parties of different types.

Quan: In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, drastic changes occurred in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; socialism suffered setbacks the world over and sank to a low point. In this grave circumstance, the CPC's foreign contacts gradually developed further instead of suffering decline. Could you please talk about the reasons for this?

Cai: At the end of 1980s and the beginning of 1990s, abrupt changes occurred in the international situation. Deng Xiaoping, the CPC's leader at that time, showed great foresight and formulated the strategy and tactics in response to this challenge. What impressed me most is that Comrade Deng Xiaoping said that although many changes have taken place in the world situation, that doesn't mean the whole picture is pitch-dark. The world is very large, and it has numerous contradictions, so we have a great role to play therein. Guided by his strategy and tactics, the third generation of the central collective leadership of the CPC with Jiang Zemin as its core upheld the banner of Deng Xiaoping Theory and adhered to Deng Xiaoping's diplomatic thinking and the foreign policy of peace of the Party and the state. It continued to actively yet prudently develop contacts with various types of new and old parties on the basis of the four principles of party-to-party relations: independence, complete equality, mutual respect and noninterference in each other's internal affairs. The CPC quickly got through a short period of difficulties in its international relations, and its foreign contacts developed even more vigorously than before. Of course, the fundamental reason for this was that we continued to adhere to the Party's basic line and to the policy of reform and opening up set out at the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee. As China took on a new look with each passing day, more and more foreign friends and parties came to realize that in order to develop their relations with China and understand it, they needed to understand the CPC, the party in power in China; in order to understand China's development experience, they needed to understand the experience accumulated by the CPC in leading China's modernization drive; and in order to understand the future of China's development, they needed to know the CPC's strategy and policies. Therefore, many foreign friends have said that it's inconceivable to establish friendly relations and develop friendly cooperation with China without establishing and developing relations with the CPC; without these relations, state-to-state relations with China would be incomplete.

Quan: At its Fifteenth National Congress in 1997, the CPC set forth a cross-century guiding principle for its international work that declares 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 on the basis of the four principles of party-to-party relations, so as to promote the development of state-to-state relations. What influence do you think this guiding principle has on the CPC's international work?

Cai: We all know that in accordance with the CPC's theory, we have come to the realization that in order to better adhere to a correct theory or thinking, we need to test it and develop it in practice. The cross-century guiding principle set at the Party's Fifteenth National Congress was the result of upholding Deng Xiaoping's diplomatic thinking and his concept of party-to-party relations and further enriching and developing them in practice. It conforms to the tide of the times and the general trend of historical development. After the congress, the CPC's foreign contacts entered a new historical period of comprehensive development and continuous deepening. It can be said that party diplomacy provides a unique stage on which the CPC presents to the world its strategic views on the issues of peace and development, exhibits its determination to adhere to the policy of reform and opening up, and expresses its good faith in developing friendly cooperation with all foreign countries and different types of parties there. China's development is an important component of world development. Through the important window to the outside world opened by party-to-party relations, the CPC interprets and understands today's world better and more deeply. This is a two-way process: the world interprets China and vice versa.

At present, the CPC maintains ties of various kinds with more than 400 political parties and organizations in over 140 countries and regions, and an all-dimensional, multi-channeled, wide-ranging and deep-leveled preliminary pattern of contacts with foreign parties has come into being. The CPC is making more and more friends in foreign parties and among foreign people. Naturally, China's influence in the world is growing, and that includes the growing influence of the CPC, too.

Quan: Mr. Cai, from what you said, I have come to realize that the magnificent achievements made by the Chinese people in the past 80 years under the leadership of the CPC constitute a guarantee for the vigorous development of the Party's international work.

Cai: That's true. Over the 50 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China, especially over the 20 years since the introduction of the reform and opening up policy, China has enjoyed economic development, social stability and ethnic unity, and the people's living standards have continuously improved and our comprehensive national strength increased. As a result, more and more foreign parties, statesmen and people want to learn the secret of China's development and understand how the CPC has led our cause, and they are willing to interact and cooperate with the CPC, which is the world's largest party in power with over 64 million members and has accumulated rich experience in governing the country. Without China's development, the Party's international work would lack a solid backing and a firm foundation. We are confident that in the new century, as China implements the great cross-century strategy, the CPC will expand the scope of its foreign contacts, and party diplomacy will create a more favorable international environment for China's reform, development and construction. There is much that can be done through the Party's foreign contacts and exchanges. We will make energetic efforts to establish, consolidate and develop China's friendly relations with other countries, create more peaceful and stable neighboring and international environments, and make a greater contribution to world peace, development and progress.

Quan: I understand that you have been a Party member for more than 20 years and have been engaged in the Party's international work for much of that time. Do you have any personal reflections you could share with us?

Cai: Since its founding, the CPC has always striven heart and soul for the liberation of the Chinese nation and the well being of the Chinese people. In my opinion, if any dutiful political party in any country bears in mind such a responsible purpose and lofty ideal, it must be inseparably linked with the people. Many foreign friends who have come to China told me that all Party members they came in contact with, from leaders in the highest position to Party officials at all levels, are no different from ordinary people, perhaps with the sole difference that they work with all their hearts and devote all their wisdom and energy to national development and the people's well being. We will build the Party well so that in accordance with General Secretary Jiang Zemin's requirements, it always represents the development trend of China's advanced productive forces, the orientation of China's advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people.