The International work of the Communist Party of China (CPC):
New Tasks in the New Situation

Gong Xiuchuan
Study Times Reporter

Since the introduction of the reform and opening up policy over 20 years ago, especially since the beginning of the new century, the Party's international work has focused on the overall interests of the work of the whole Party and the entire country and made fresh achievements through determined development and innovation, attracting widespread attention. A Study Times reporter interviewed Wang Jiarui, Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, concerning this work.

Reporter: At present, the whole Party is intensively studying the important thought of "Three Represents", and all the Party's undertakings are undergoing vigorous growth. As an important component of the Party's undertakings, how is the Party's international work putting the important thought of "Three Represents" into practice and promoting these undertakings?

Wang: It was pointed out at the Sixteenth CPC National Congress in 2002 that to strengthen the Party's governing ability and improve its level of leadership and governance, first and foremost, "we must view the world with broad vision, correctly understand the requirements of the times, be good at theoretical and strategic thinking and continually improve our ability to judge situations scientifically." This is a new historical task set forth by the CPC for completing its new mission in these new historical circumstances. At present, the international situation is undergoing changes of unprecedented depth. As the tendencies toward world multipolarization, economic globalization and diversity in development models continually deepen despite complications, the competition in overall national strength between countries, especially big powers, becomes increasingly intense. In such a critical international situation, whether we can successfully handle the historical task assigned at the Sixteenth Congress is of crucial importance for the ability of the CPC to make domestic and foreign policies scientifically, cope with risks and ordeals properly, further the reform and opening up, and promote the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics in an all-round way.

International work is an important component of the Party's undertakings, and it is the main channel by which the CPC establishes contacts and develops exchanges and cooperation with the outside world. As the functional department responsible for the CPC Central Committee's foreign affairs, the International Department of the CPC Central Committee has been thoroughly studying and understanding the spirit of the Sixteenth Congress and implementing the important thought of Three Represents since that congress. Focusing on the strategic tasks of strengthening the Party's governing ability and building a well-off society in an all-round way, we have pondered the current world situation and the new characteristics of developments and changes in foreign party politics, further defined the position of international work in the Party's undertakings and its role in our country's overall diplomatic work, and clarified the relationship between international work and other undertakings of the Party. In brief, the historical task set forth at the Sixteenth Congress has given direction to the Party's international work in the new period, provided a good opportunity for the International Department to develop, and given us, workers of the Party's foreign affairs, a wide world in which we can put our talents to best use. One fundamental undertaking for the Party's international work during the new stage in the new century is, while staying focused on this historical task, to explore new ideas and ways for making fresh achievements.

Reporter: You just mentioned that the Party's international work must focus on the strategic tasks of strengthening the Party's governing ability and building a well-off society in an all-round way. Could you elaborate on the ideas for the International Department's work in this area?

Wang: The CPC has a glorious history of over 80 years and has governed a large country with a population of more than one billion for over half a century. It is now leading the Chinese nation to all-round rejuvenation by upholding the reform and opening up policy and following the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics. In the current complicated and ever-changing international environment and in the face of countless new developments and issues, the CPC must thoroughly understand the world in which we live and accurately judge the nature of the times and where the world is headed. This is the only way the CPC can scientifically judge its historical orientation, work out strategies for our country's development, security and foreign affairs from a farsighted perspective, and formulate and effectively implement feasible domestic and foreign policies. I believe this is the starting point for us, the Party's functional department responsible for its foreign affairs, to deliberate about our work and a new point from which the Party's international work in the new stage in the new century can develop to the fullest.

Based on this understanding, we have strengthened our research on international issues in recent years, especially since the Sixteenth Congress. We have kept a close eye on the erratic progress of the trends of world multipolarization and economic globalization, studied intensively the basic factors affecting world peace and development, sorted out and analyzed the challenges to and opportunities for human development, especially unexpected events affecting China's sovereignty and security, so as to provide the CPC with references to accurately size up the nature of the times and the basic orientation of the international situation and provide relevant departments with countermeasure suggestions concerning safeguarding of national security and sovereignty, defense of the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation, and formulation of foreign policies or taking of diplomatic measures. In addition, we have extensively followed the major trends of scientific and technological revolution and industrial revolution in other countries and studied the excellent cultural achievements created by various sectors of human society during different historical stages, including both positive and negative experiences concerning the development of material, spiritual, and political civilizations accumulated in some countries, in order to provide all-round intellectual support for the CPC's efforts to promote reform and opening up, speed up the modernization drive and build a well-off society in an all-round way.

Reporter: Could you elaborate on how the International Department carries out its research so as to meet the needs of building the CPC and help improve the Party's governing ability and consolidate its position as the party in power?

Wang: I just mentioned that human society has been undergoing broad and deep changes since the end of the cold war. This presents new issues and challenges to all political parties of all types throughout the world. For the CPC, which has a membership of over 66 million and leads the world's largest developing country with a population of nearly 1.3 billion, it is necessary to accurately understand the development trend of world party politics, absorb the successful experience of foreign political parties, especially those that have done well in their modernization, and constantly promote the CPC's innovation in both theory and practice. These are objective requirements for consolidating the CPC's position as the party in power, strengthening its governing ability and forever maintaining its progressive nature, as well as the fundamental demands the times set on the CPC. During the past several years, we have made use of our close contacts with foreign political parties of all types and our long-term research on party politics to provide the Central Committee with a large number of research reports having detailed material and clear-cut views. From the perspective of secure control of political power, we have intensively studied the profound lessons in the sudden collapse of the 70-year rule of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the loss of power of the ruling parties of some socialist countries in Eastern Europe, and analyzed the deep-seated reasons why some large, old parties with a history of 100 years or so failed to adapt to changing circumstances, became totally unable to meet the requirements and challenges of the times, and consequently were successively removed from office. From the perspective of reforming and improving the Party's institutions, we have studied in detail important experiences of foreign political parties of all types concerning how they improve their leadership and working systems and methods of leadership and governance, handle relations between the party and the government, and adjust and expand their social and class bases. In addition, based on practical needs for promoting innovation in both theory and practice, we have made a point of commenting and introducing the latest developments of foreign political and ideological theories and the theoretical meaning of the modernization of political parties and political civilization, thoroughly studied world socialism, contemporary capitalism and other related issues, and constantly deepened our understanding of the changes and developments of social systems and structures in other countries and the general laws governing the development of human society.

Reporter: The Party's friendly international contacts have been particularly lively in recent years. Could you tell us about this?

Wang: Compared with our research work, our contacts with foreign political parties and organizations, which comprise one of our main tasks, are also very important. The CPC now maintains many forms of contacts, ties, exchanges and cooperation with more than 400 political parties and organizations of different types in over 140 countries and regions. Since the beginning of the new century, party-to-party contacts have become livelier than ever before, and through the channel of party-to-party relations, more than 300 party delegations go abroad or visit China each year. Such extensive and diversified foreign contacts are a valuable resource of the CPC, and they are an important channel through which the Party understands and reaches out to the world and participates in international affairs.

Through the channel of party-to-party relations, Party leaders at various levels visit countries that have different development models and are in different stages of development, where they come into contact with statesmen who have different ideological backgrounds, political ideas and party affiliations. So, on the one hand, they can acquire firsthand knowledge of the diversity of human civilization through graphic examples of different countries learning from each other despite differences in social systems and roads of development, drawing on each other's strengths to make up their deficiencies through competition, and working for common development by seeking common ground while reserving differences; and on the other hand, they can personally experience the development and evolution of the contradictions of the world today, such as the increasing differences between developed and developing countries and the severe situation brought about by the old, irrational international political and economic order. Furthermore, party-to-party contacts are carried out in flexible forms in many areas, which enable Party officials at various levels to engage in in-depth dialogues with political figures at different levels and experts from various professions on the basis of their own fields of work and research, conduct economic, cultural, scientific and technological, trade and education research, and participate in cooperation and exchanges, so as to accumulate experience and enhance their abilities.

Here, I must stress the unique role and great significance of high-level party-to-party contacts. At present, the overwhelming majority of countries practice party politics, in which political parties, especially their collective leadership, play a vital role in their country's political life. Direct dialogues between the CPC's leaders and the top leaders of political parties in other countries, in which they discuss major issues and exchange opinions from the viewpoint of the overall interests of state-to-state relations, the world situation, and human peace and development, play an irreplaceable role in promoting mutual understanding and friendship between our country and theirs and fostering dialogue and cooperation in all areas. For instance, in the contacts of the CPC's top leaders with those of the ruling parties of socialist countries, they discuss the theory and practice of socialist construction and exchange their experience in running parties and states; in their meetings with leaders of political parties of developing countries, they intensively discuss such important issues as establishing a fair and rational international political and economic order, promoting world multipolarization and democracy in international relations, increasing South-South cooperation, and expanding mutually beneficial cooperation; in their contacts with political figures of Western countries, they exchange views on the common opportunities and challenges confronting the human race in the new century and discuss the possibility and means of expanding common interests and mutually beneficial cooperation while transcending differences in ideology and social systems. Henceforth, we will increase our efforts to arrange every high-level contact well.

Reporter: Obviously, the historical task set forth at the Sixteenth Congress and the ideas you just talked about for the International Department's work also impose new requirements for the development of the department. As the Minister of the department, what is your thinking about this?

Wang: To fulfill the important tasks assigned to my department by the Party Central Committee and continue to expand the new phase of the Party's international work, I think we should first work hard to improve our ideological and theoretical level by further studying the important thought of Three Represents and the spirit of the Sixteenth Congress, so as to thoroughly understand the world outlook and methodology of dialectical materialism and historical materialism they contain and grasp their scientific meaning and intellectual nature. As for our practical work, we should improve our ability to analyze and solve problems in the Party's international work on the basis of the stand, viewpoint and methodology of Marxism, and our ability to plan, improve, expand and make innovations in the Party's international work in light of objective laws and the requirements of the times.

Second, we should further cultivate an awareness of the overall situation. Reviewing the experience in the Party's international work, what's most important is taking the overall situation as the starting point, serving the principal tasks of the Party and the country, and serving the overall diplomatic work of the country. Therefore, we should proceed from our primary functions of "four serves" and "one fulfill," that is, we should serve the building of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the overall diplomatic work of the country, the consolidation and development of China's socialist system, and the strengthening of the Party's position in power, and we should fulfill our duty of giving good advice and assistance to the Party Central Committee. We should do our utmost to provide high-quality, comprehensive support and service to the Party Central Committee and relevant departments and increase our coordination with other departments doing other work of the Party, so as to make the Party's international work not only the job of my department alone, but also a common task for the whole Party.