New Characteristics of the Communist Party of China's
International Work Since Its Fifteenth National Congress

Dai Bingguo
Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee  

At the Fifteenth National Congress of the CPC in September 1997, General Secretary Jiang Zemin elaborated on China's independent foreign policy of peace. He declared that the CPC "is willing to develop a new type of party-to-party exchanges and cooperation with all foreign political parties that are willing to have contacts with it on the basis of the principles of independence, complete equality, mutual respect and noninterference in each other's internal affairs, so as to promote the development of state-to-state relations." Over the past five years, supported by the warm solicitude of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Jiang Zemin as its core and guided by these fundamental principles, the Party's international work, by adapting to the new developments and changes in the current world situation and party politics, focusing on the overall interests of the work of the Party and the state, vigorously forged ahead in a pioneering spirit and constantly made innovations and has made fresh achievements and accumulated new experience in serving the state's overall diplomatic work, in reform and opening up and the socialist modernization drive, in consolidating and strengthening the Party's position as the party in power, and in consolidating and developing the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. 

1. We exploited the unique role and advantages of party diplomacy to promote the sound and stable development of relations between China and other countries. 

Party-to-party contacts, especially high-level contacts, play an irreplaceable role in promoting the development of state-to-state relations. In recent years, the CPC's high-level contacts with foreign parties have been quite lively. General Secretary Jiang Zemin visited the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Vietnam. Hu Jintao, Wei Jianxing and other leading comrades from the Political Bureau and the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee led more than 40 delegations on visits to dozens of countries on the five continents. Every year, many foreign parties' delegations, many headed by their chief leaders, visited China and were received by General Secretary Jiang Zemin and other leaders of the Central Committee. When visiting other countries, our Party and state leaders such as Jiang Zemin, Li Peng and Zhu Rongji often met with leaders of political parties there. During these high-level contacts, the leaders of the two sides had frank, sincere and in-depth exchanges of views on issues of mutual concern, and they dealt with state-to-state relations in accordance with political considerations and overall strategic interests with good results. 

Party diplomacy encompasses contacts with both parties in power and opposition parties. Contacts with parties in power help consolidate the foundation of state-to-state relations and facilitate their development. Contacts with opposition parties help maintain the continuity and stability of state-to-state relations when the political situation changes. Contacts with young statesmen lay a firm foundation for cooperative relations in the future. Foreign contacts and exchanges based on the present and focused on the future play a unique role in deepening mutual understanding and friendship between the people of China and foreign countries and help consolidate and develop state-to-state relations. 

One of the advantages of party diplomacy is that it facilitates contacts with countries without diplomatic relations with China through the channel of party-to-party relations. Over the past five years, the CPC has invited to China nearly 50 delegations composed of members of political parties and people from all walks of life from countries without diplomatic relations with China. At the same time, the CPC has sent many delegations to visit these countries. As an important supplement to government diplomacy, these friendly contacts are flexible and pragmatic. They enhance the mutual understanding between China and those countries and strengthen the forces there friendly to China. As a result, some of these countries changed their attitude somewhat on major issues pertaining to China. This down-to-earth preparatory, cumulative work is forming a bridge of friendship and cooperation for gradually normalizing China's relations with those countries. 

2. We promoted economic exchanges and cooperation through party-to-party contacts to energetically serve reform, opening up and the socialist modernization drive.

As our Party's foreign contacts developed, more and more foreign political parties were no longer content with general exchanges with us; they paid more attention to the substantive content of our contacts. In-depth discussion of experiences in running one's party and state has become a particularly important aspect of the CPC's foreign contacts. The parties in power in Vietnam, Laos, Cuba and other socialist countries emphasized discussing party building and issues concerning socialism during their contacts with our Party. Some political parties in developing countries were eager to learn from the CPC's experience in running the Party and state and sent many delegations to visit China. Some parties in developed Western countries also increasingly paid attention to understanding and studying our program for the running of the Party and the country. Similarly, the CPC also stressed drawing upon the experience accumulated by foreign parties that is of particular value to us. In addition to introducing the achievements of our reform and opening up, our blueprint for future development and China's domestic and foreign policies, CPC leaders also made a point of understanding the new developments and changes presently occurring in other countries and drawing upon their successes and practices beneficial to the CPC with a view to enriching and developing our working ideas. These exchanges and discussions gave substance to the meaning of party-to-party relations and injected new vitality into party diplomacy. 

By adding economic components to party-to-party contacts, our Party gradually created some new avenues and forms whereby party diplomacy sets the stage for business activities. For example, in our contacts with foreign parties, we purposely included inspection tours of economic development projects, during which we thoroughly studied such issues as the development strategies of different countries and the challenges confronting us after our accession to the World Trade Organization. In heading CPC delegations on foreign visits, the leaders of Party committees of some provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government included business groups in their tours with a view to introducing a group of strong enterprises and projects to other parts of the world in accordance with the going out principle of the Party Central Committee. In addition, through Party channels, we also recommended partners to economic departments, supplied information and helped launch a number of business projects. In order to support the development of the western region, we not only helped the region attract investment and projects from foreign sources such as international organizations but also organized hundreds of delegations of foreign party members, organizations and friendly individuals to visit the western region on investigation tours in recent years. In addition, the leaders of Party committees of a dozen western provinces and autonomous regions were asked to head nearly 30 CPC delegations to go abroad on visitation and inspection tours, which yielded good results.

3. Party diplomacy has become an important means for us to draw upon the lessons of the successes and failures of foreign political parties and study the laws of governance by the party and the theory of party building.

Since its Fifteenth National Congress, the CPC has made full use of its foreign contacts, a channel or window through which it acquaints itself with and reaches out to the world, to constantly deepen its understanding of the laws concerning the development of human society, building of socialism, and governance by the Communist Party. By actively participating in the Party's international work, Party leaders and the leaders of relevant central and local departments not only directly learn the ideas and methods of foreign parties in running their parties and countries and lessons from their successes and failures; they can also acquire an intimate feeling for the profound changes occurring in the world today in political, economic, cultural, and scientific and technological fields. In addition, comparison with foreign countries should give them a deeper understanding of socialism with Chinese characteristics. All this is of great importance for the CPC to correctly understand the pulse of the world's development, accurately judge the international situation and the nature of the times, keep abreast of the advanced trends in the world, absorb all kinds of excellent cultural achievements created by human society, promote innovation in both theory and practice, follow our own road unswervingly, and forever maintain the Party's advanced nature. 

After General Secretary Jiang Zemin propounded the important thought of Three Represents, the CPC, through the important arena of international work, carried out further, deeper research on a series of important issues it faced in building itself as the party in power. In particular, through our contacts with foreign parties, we acquired a thorough understanding of the deep-seated reasons why the communist parties in the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries lost their political power after several decades of governance and why some large, old parties long in power in other countries were successively forced out of office, and of the lessons to be drawn from their experiences. This deepened our understanding of the laws governing how the political systems of other countries change and how foreign political parties rise and fall. We achieved a number of research results in this regard, which provide a valuable reference for our Party's efforts to strengthen its Party building and improve its methods of leadership and governance and its systems of leadership and work. 

Over the past five years, the CPC sent nearly 400 delegations to visit other countries around the world and received more than 800 delegations from foreign political parties. By the end of 2001, 418 parties and organizations in 147 countries and regions had established contacts and exchanges with the CPC. The Party has continued to deepen its foreign contacts and has established friendly relations of exchanges and cooperation with all the major political parties in neighboring countries and contacts with left-wing, centrist and right-wing political parties of the developed countries in an all-round way. Our contacts with developing countries have become more goal-oriented and effective. In addition, we gradually expanded our contacts with international and regional organizations of political parties. Through the unique arena of party diplomacy, the international community has come to understand rather well the CPC's history, current state, and major principles and policies as well as its important thought of Three Represents. Through this arena, the CPC also presents to the world a good image of being liberal- and open-minded, progressive, peace-loving and being committed to cooperation and development. 

As we enter this new century, all Party members are conscientiously studying and implementing the important thought of Three Represents put forward by General Secretary Jiang Zemin. Theoretical and practical innovation has already become a strong motive force pushing forward the Party's cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. Not long ago, on May 31, 2002, General Secretary Jiang Zemin delivered an important speech further enriching and deepening the important thought of Three Represents. In keeping with the requirements of the Party Central Committee, we definitely will conscientiously study and thoroughly understand the spirit of this speech and greet the convocation of the Sixteenth National Congress of the CPC with fresh achievements in our Party's international work. 

People's Daily ( p. 7. October 11, 2002)