The following article appeared in the July Issue of Ziguangge, a journal of the departments directly under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on July 17, 2001.

The Communist Party of China's Contacts with Foreign Political Parties:
An Interview with Dai Bingguo, Minister of the International Department of
the CPC Central Committee, by a Ziguangge Reporter

The CPC has had a glorious history of 80 years. Its international relations have also advanced through constant reform and development. In particular, under the guidance of the four principles of independence, complete equality, mutual respect and noninterference in each other's internal affairs articulated after the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee in 1978 to govern party-to-party relations and also under the guidance of the cross-century guiding principle the CPC set forth for its international work at its Fifteenth National Congress in 1997, the CPC has established and maintains exchanges and contacts of various kinds with more than 400 political parties and organizations in over 140 countries and regions, and its international influence is greater than ever before. Dai Bingguo gave an interview to a Ziguangge reporter on the eve of the 80th anniversary of the CPC (July 1, 2001) in which he reviewed the CPC's international work and anticipated its future.

Q: Many historic events before the founding of the People's Republic showed indirect manifestations of the CPC's international work. For example, the representative of the Communist International attended the CPC's First National Congress in 1921; its Sixth National Congress was held in Moscow in 1928; and the Canadian Communist Party and the Communist Party of the United States of America sent Dr. Henry Norman Bethune to China to support the Chinese people in their War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945). Could you please introduce briefly the CPC's international work before the founding of the People's Republic?

A: The CPC began having international exchanges and contacts right after it was founded. The CPC is a product of the integration of Marxism-Leninism with the Chinese workers' movement, and it came into being under the influence of the October Revolution and with the help of the Communist International led by V. I. Lenin. At that time, it was a member of the Communist International. The Communist International successively assigned more than ten representatives to the CPC, and the Party also posted a delegation to this organization. In addition, it also established contacts with progressive organizations and individuals in numerous countries. They gave many kinds of support to the just cause of the Chinese people in various ways. Among our foreign friends were Dr. Henry Norman Bethune, Dwarkanath S. Kotnis, Edgar Snow, Anna Louise Strong and many other people whose names are very familiar. Of course, such support was mutual; we also did all we could to support the progressive cause of the people of the world. I believe that the CPC's contacts with foreign political parties before the founding of the People's Republic contributed to developing the CPC and ensuring the success of the Chinese revolution.

Q: In its early period, the People's Republic adopted the foreign policy of leaning to one side, that is, of cooperating fully with the socialist camp. What significant role did the CPC's international work play in this period?

A: 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 the brutal economic blockade and diplomatic isolation on the newly founded People's Republic in an attempt to strangle it in its cradle. However, countries in the socialist camp hailed the birth of New China. Communists as well as progressive organizations in other foreign countries also wanted to understand the Chinese revolution and the CPC, and they asked to establish and develop relations with the CPC. In order to break the blockade, strengthen the People's Republic and win widespread international sympathy and support, the Chinese Communists, led by Mao Zedong, decided that New China would adopt the foreign policy of leaning to one side and cooperate fully with the socialist camp. In January 1951, the CPC Central Committee decided to establish the International Department responsible for contacts and exchanges with foreign communist parties.

Under the direct leadership of the Central Committee, the CPC established extensive friendly relations with communist parties and progressive forces in all socialist countries and other foreign countries, and quickly entered a new phase of its international relations. When it held its Eighth National Congress in 1956, delegations from communist and workers' parties in 56 countries attended the congress and extended their congratulations. At the congress, Comrade 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!" Due to the special historical environment at that time, the CPC's international work occupied a prominent position in the state's overall diplomatic work. It constituted an important means for breaking the blockade and isolation imposed on us by imperialists and making a breakthrough in New China's diplomatic work, and it made a monumental historical contribution to ameliorating our country's international difficulties.

Q: After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee held at the end of 1978, the CPC made historic adjustments to its international work and expanded it greatly. Please introduce the work during this period.

A: The Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee was a great turning point in the CPC's history. It is well known that at the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, there was a great debate among communist parties on the general line the international communist movement should take. In the 1960s and the 1970s, China endured the ten-year-long "cultural revolution," during which "Left" ideology seriously interfered with and disrupted the CPC's international work, causing a great reduction in its foreign contacts.

After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee, on the basis of a scientific assessment of the international situation and the characteristics of the times, the second generation of the central collective leadership of the CPC with Comrade Deng Xiaoping as its core reviewed both the successes and failures of the international communist movement, articulated the conception of a new type of party-to-party relations and made it clear that the fundamental task for the CPC '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, particularly 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 contacts with foreign political parties. Since then, promoting the sound, stable and all-round development of relations between China and other countries has been the starting point and objective of the CPC's international work .

Under the guidance of Deng Xiaoping's conception of a new type of party-to-party relations, the CPC's international work entered a new historical period in which it corrected past mistakes and made energetic progress. In the late 1970s, the CPC began gradually restoring long-suspended relations with communist parties in some countries 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 CPC gradually established diversified exchanges and cooperation with 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 CPC began to establish contacts with socialist, social democratic and labor parties in Europe and their international organizations. In the mid-1980s, in order to promote the sound and stable development of relations with developed countries, the CPC began to have contacts and exchanges with some traditionally centrist and right-wing political parties in Western Europe. The CPC's international work began to thrive, and its principles governing foreign contacts and exchanges came to be understood, respected and admired by more and more foreign political parties.

Q: In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, drastic changes occurred in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the world socialist movement suffered setbacks and sank to a low point. Rather than shrinking in this grim situation, the CPC's international work achieved further progress. Why was that?

A: Faced with this volatile international situation, Comrade Deng Xiaoping farsightedly and thoughtfully articulated a strategy and tactics to deal with the overall situation. The third generation of the central collective leadership of the CPC with Comrade Jiang Zemin as its core correctly sized up the situation and actively yet prudently associated with both new and old foreign parties in accordance with the four principles for party-to-party contacts. As a result, the CPC quickly got through a short period of difficulties in its external relations, held its position and got back on the track of sound development.

I believe that aside from the CPC's adopting the correct policy, the most important reason for the progress of its international work in this period was that China did its own work well. People throughout the world have seen that behind China, a rising power, is the CPC, a party that is persistent, pragmatic and powerful and is leading the Chinese people in steadfastly taking the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics. They have seen that rapid changes are occurring every day in China under the CPC's leadership. They have seen that China enjoys political and social stability and sustained economic development and is continually improving the people's living standards and raising the country's international standing. More and more foreign political parties have come to realize that to understand China, they must understand the CPC; to know China's experience and the secret of its rapid development and success, they must know the current state of the CPC and anticipate its future. They believe that it is unimaginable to cultivate friendly contacts with China without establishing and developing relations with the CPC; otherwise, their state-to-state relations with China would be incomplete.

Q: Could you talk about how the cross-century guiding principle for the CPC's international work, set forth at the CPC's Fifteenth National Congress in 1997, has propelled this work?

A: On the basis of a review of its experience in international work, the CPC set forth at its Fifteenth National Congress a cross-century guiding principle for this 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 declaration 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 CPC has created a new chapter in its foreign contacts in which all aspects of its foreign contacts have been deepened under the guidance of this principle. It has created a unique stage through party diplomacy where it has expressed its view on the issues of peace and development, demonstrated to the world its determination to carry out reform and opening up, shown its sincere willingness to increase friendly cooperation with all foreign countries and different types of parties, established a good image of reform, opening up and innovation, and made greater contributions to promoting China's relations with other countries and to working for a peaceful international environment more favorable for the country's modernization drive. The CPC's foreign contacts have developed in depth and breath and in form and content. At present, the CPC maintains ties of various kinds with about 400 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 friends with more and more foreign parties; the people of other countries are formulating an increasingly well-rounded image of the CPC in their hearts; and the CPC has more international influence than ever before. All this is attributable to the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory, to the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Jiang Zemin as its core, and to the hard work of all Party members.

Q: Just now you mentioned several times the great importance the CPC Central Committee attaches to the CPC's international work and the guidance it has given to it as well as the great support all Party members have given to this work. Could you elaborate on this?

A: Over the past half century, the three generations of the central collective leadership of the CPC with Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin as the core all attached great importance to, were deeply concerned about and exercised guidance over the CPC'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 CPC's international work, which guided the international work to coordinate with the state's overall diplomatic work and made a historical contribution to breaking the isolation and blockade imposed by the West and improving China's international position. In the CPC's contacts with foreign political parties, Comrade Mao Zedong always emphasized the principle of independence and pointed out that the CPC would not impose its views on them. During the "cultural revolution," Comrade Zhou Enlai once 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 CPC's international work. The third generation of the central collective leadership with Comrade Jiang Zemin as its core is also very much concerned for and supportive of the CPC'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 CPC's annals.

The CPC's international work is a common task for all Party members. Over the past several decades, many central department and local Party leaders participated in the international work in various ways. They received guests from foreign political parties visiting China at the CPC's invitation, headed Party delegations visiting abroad, or provided various forms of assistance and support to the International Department in doing the CPC's international work. The participation of all Party members in international work in various ways plays a positive role in improving the global perspective, sense of openness and strategic thinking of the CPC membership and in strengthening our building of the CPC as a party in power in every way.

Q: Party diplomacy is an important component of the state's overall diplomacy. Party diplomacy and government diplomacy supplement each other. What are the unique functions of party diplomacy?

A: I believe that party diplomacy has the following unique functions. First, it is an important political cornerstone of state-to-state relations. The main associates of the CPC's international contacts and exchanges 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 to 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 made friends through Party channels 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 for supporting and supplementing government diplomacy. Fourth, party diplomacy is an important arena for party building and self-development of the party in power. The CPC's international work is an important channel through which the CPC interprets and reaches out to the world. Through 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 the CPC's ideological and theoretical development, ideological and political education, and publicity work. Fifth, party diplomacy is a unique stage for presenting the good image of the CPC and the nation. Through 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 the CPC's positive efforts to lead the Chinese people in rejuvenating the Chinese nation and making the country prosperous and strong, and to contribute to world peace, stability and development, thereby displaying to the world at large the CPC's fundamental nature as embodying the Three Represents and presenting the good image of socialist China.

Q: The CPC has successfully led the people into the new century and has drawn up a wonderful blueprint for development in the first part of this century. What do you anticipate for the CPC's international work ?

A: Last January was the 50th anniversary of the International Department. Around this occasion, we have further studied Deng Xiaoping's conception of party-to-party relations and comprehensively reviewed the CPC's international work. On this basis, we have further strengthened our sense of responsibility and mission for doing this work well and tentatively formulated a conception of it that can better reflect the spirit of our times. 

In short, the main objective of the CPC'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 CPC's international work into an important component of the great cause of safeguarding overall state security, promoting the state's overall diplomatic work and achieving complete national reunification. We should fully utilize the advantages of the CPC's foreign contacts 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 CPC's international work, into a research center that provides greater intellectual support for the CPC 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 CPC can further reach out to the world and participate more in international affairs.

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 the CPC's international work . We will continue to steadfastly hold high the great banner of Deng Xiaoping Theory, closely rally around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Jiang Zemin as its core, rely firmly on the support and assistance of all Party members and all the people, work tirelessly and creatively, and achieve glory in the CPC's international work in this new century.