The 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is one of great importance held at a crucial stage of China's reform and development. Under the theme of holding high the great banner of socialism with Chinese Characteristics, following the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents and thoroughly applying the Scientific Outlook on Development, the Congress pointed out the way ahead for future development of the Party and the Nation. In the regard of the CPC's international exchanges, which are an integral part of the general cause of the Party and of China's overall diplomatic programme, efforts will be made in light of the spirit of the Congress to draw useful lessons from past experience, explore new ways, forms and mechanisms for carrying out our work under new circumstances, forge ahead in a practical and truth-seeking manner, and create a new situation of party diplomacy unique to the CPC, so as to make ever more contribution to the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics and to the great new endeavour of self-improvement of the CPC.
I. The CPC's external work since the 16th National Congress: energetic contribution to advancing socialism with Chinese characteristics
Since the 16th Congress of the CPC, under the leadership and care of the Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as the General Secretary, focusing on the central task of the Party and the overall national foreign strategy, and with efforts to implement the strategic plans, policy decisions and instructions of the central leadership, the Party's external work has played an important part in facilitating the building of a well-off society in all respects, strengthening the Party's governing capability, promoting theoretical innovations, presenting a fine image of the Party to the world and in fostering a favourable international environment for China.
1. High level party-to-party exchanges of visits were arranged in line with China's overall planning of foreign affairs, which effectively promoted state-to-state relations and helped create a favourable external climate. Members of the central leading bodies regarded highly of the Party's international exchanges, and many of them were personally involved in relevant activities. In the past five years, senior leaders of the CPC paid over 50 visits to nearly 80 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and Oceana upon invitations of political parties or political leaders of those countries, and in the meantime, received 680 foreign party delegations visiting China. During their meetings with foreign party and government officials, they thoroughly expounded the CPC's ideas of governance and its strategic pursuance such as adhering to the road of peaceful development, pursuing development in a scientific way, building a harmonious society in China and promoting a harmonious world among nations, thus getting these ideas and China's foreign policies better appreciated by the international community. Meanwhile, they also conducted in-depth exchanges of views over some major global issues of common interest as well as on bilateral relations, which has helped relieve suspicions, enhance mutual trust and promote extensive exchanges and cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and other areas. Especially the close contacts between senior leaders of the CPC and those of ruling parties of socialist countries have further consolidated and expanded China's traditional friendship with these countries and have facilitated proper solutions to some issues in bilateral relations.
2. Contacts with various foreign political parties were deepened in all dimensions with more stress on priority cases in implementing the major decisions of the Central Committee on foreign affairs, laying solid political foundation for the sound development of state-to-state relations. Exchanges and dialogue were enhanced with major parties both in government and in opposition in such neighbouring countries as Japan, Russia, India and South Korea, which helped improve and consolidate inter-state relations with these countries. Relations with political parties in Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East were expanded. Inter-party exchanges with African countries were intensified, which gave impetus to the new type China-Africa strategic partnership through party channels. Exchanges and dialogue with mainstream parties in developed countries were carried out further in depth, which helped enhance mutual understanding and cooperation. Further more, efforts were made to explore and carry out multilateral inter-party exchanges with increased contacts with international or regional political party organizations such as the Socialist International, the Christian Democrats International, major party groups in the European Parliament, the Party of European Socialists, the European People's Party and the Permanent Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Political Parties, etc. In 2004, the CPC successfully hosted the Third International Conference of Asian Political Parties, during which 18 CPC leaders held bilateral meetings and official talks with party leaders from 33 countries, demonstrating a pragmatic and pioneering image of the central collective leadership of the Party that is determined to progress with the times. The event also promoted the international influence of the CPC.
3. More substance was added to party-to-party exchanges with intensified studies on the governing capacity building and statecraft of foreign ruling parties and increased efforts to facilitate economic cooperation through party associations. Joint seminars with other parties and organizations as well as investigation tours were organized with a view to carrying out in-depth researches into experience and lessons of foreign parties in terms of their efforts to improve ability of administration, consolidate grassroots structures, promote rural development and shape core social values; having a precise understanding of the new trends of developments in the situation, political thinking and party politics of the world; and providing intellectual support to China's modernization drive and the CPC's party building endeavour. The International Department of the CPC Central Committee undertook part of the Project to Study and Develop Marxist Theories and produced quite a number of papers, which provided worthy reference for the building of the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Besides, with the principle of promoting both political and economic relations with other countries of the world, special attention was paid in party channel exchanges to bridge Chinese and foreign businesses by seeking convergent points that would not only benefit the economic and social development in China but also meet foreign parties' desire to engage in economic cooperation with China.
4. Party diplomacy resources were fully deployed to provide active support to major diplomatic moves of the state, especially in addressing focal and thorny issues. Inter-party exchanges have served as a platform for the CPC to publicize China's principle positions on the Taiwan question, enabling parties and political leaders of foreign countries to have a clear understanding of this question and whereby impel their governments to stick to the one-China principle. Party diplomacy were actively involved in the country's foreign affairs programmes, playing a prominent and effective part in primary businesses such as those related to China-Japan relations, the DPRK nuclear talks and the reforms of the United Nations, etc. with timely actions taken in accordance with the general plan of the central authorities.
5. Efforts were reinforced to strengthen publicity in inter-party exchanges by enhancing openness and transparency of the Party's external activities, projecting to the world a good-will image of the CPC. As instructed by leading comrades of the Central Committee, and in the light of the existing conditions and challenges, efforts were made to improve the ways and means and enrich the contents of the publicity work in the Party's external exchanges. On the occasions when senior Party leaders visited abroad, when prominent foreign delegations came to China or on multi-lateral occasions of party gatherings, such publicity work was carried out to truthfully introduce to others the new developments in China as well as China's positions on major international and domestic issues with more attention being paid to enhance pertinence by using easily acceptable languages. Press exposure was enhanced in an all-directional and multi-layered manner to advertise the Party's external work and some of its major diplomatic activities through press conferences or interviews. On the occasion of the 17th National Congress of the CPC, nearly 600 congratulatory messages were received from political parties and organizations as well as political leaders of foreign countries, in which they hailed the achievements in China's reform and opening-up and highly commended the CPC's spirit of advancing along with the times. This is a concrete testimony that the CPC is enjoying ever more favourable view of the world and that China's influence is continuously rising.
II. The 17th Congress Report: a guide of action for the Party's external work in the new era
Based on a comprehensive understanding of the new requirements of China's development and the new demands of the Chinese people, and from both present and historical perspectives, a series of new thoughts, new concepts and new measures are introduced in the Report to the 17th CPC Congress, which embodies integration of consistency with innovation, theory with practice, present consideration with long-term plans, providing profound answers to such questions of common concern by Party member and the general public as well as the international community as what banner the Party is to hold, what road it is to take, with what spirit and towards what goals it is to advance. As a strategic document with specified instructions for all undertakings, the Report provides an important guidance for the Party's external work in the new era.
1. Charting the new course of China's socialist modernization drive by holding high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, persisting in freeing the minds and in reform and opening-up. The Report gives a thorough explanation of the ideological guarantee, the motive power, the basic requirement as well as the goal of the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, which constitutes the common ground for the Chinese people of all ethnic groups to strive ahead in concerted efforts. General Secretary Hu Jintao stressed in the Report that we must "continue to free our minds, seek truth from facts, keep up with the times, make bold changes and innovations, never be rigid in thinking and never stop advancing, fear no risks and never be confused by any interference", which expressed the resolve and determination of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people to march forward on the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics. In this regard, the external work of the CPC, as an integral part of the cause of the party, must be undertaken with stronger sense of responsibility and sense of mission, to make due contribution to developing socialism with Chinese characteristics and to enriching the system of theories thereof.
2. Giving special emphasis on the need to thoroughly apply the Scientific Outlook on Development to steer all efforts of the Party and the state onto the path of scientific development by putting the interests of the people above everything else. The Report makes a comprehensive and systematic expatiation on the essence and basic requirement of the Scientific Outlook on Development, adds a chapter of new thoughts and new assertions to the doctrines of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and therefore occupies a significant position in the history of ideological development of the Party. Based on a comprehensive analysis of the main features of China's economic and social development at the current stage, and with insight into the trend of world development, the Scientific Outlook on Development sheds light on the objective laws governing economic growth and social progress in China and points out the direction of advancement for all undertakings of the Party and the nation. It constitutes a powerful tool for tackling various international and domestic conundrums and for coping with all kinds of risks and challenges. It also provides scientific theoretical guidance for the Party's external work in the new century.
3. Making a solemn declaration that China will resolutely follow the road of peaceful development, pursue an opening-up strategy for mutual benefit and win-win results, remain committed to developing friendship and cooperation with all countries in the world on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and continue to conduct exchanges with political parties and organizations of other countries. Based on an in-depth analysis of the tremendous changes and adjustments of the world as well as the features and trends of the times, and in the context of different "China threat" statements, the Report makes a solemn pledge to the world that China will strengthen communication and cooperation with other countries in political, economic, cultural, security and environmental areas to share the developmental opportunities and to cope with various challenges together with the international community. It stresses that whatever changes may take place in the international situation, the Chinese government and the Chinese people will always hold high the banner of peace, development and cooperation, and promote the building of a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity. In this regard, it will be an important aspect of the Party's external work to advertise to the world China's independent foreign policy of peace and the road of peaceful development it follows, and to carefully study the trends of international developments and changes as well as the trend of social and political thinking in the world, so as to help shape policies for China's peaceful development.
4. Calling for a spirit of reform and innovation in pushing forward the great new project of party building, with strong emphasis on the building of the Party's governing capabilities. The 17th Congress Report provides new action plans for propelling party building in terms of the Party's ideologies, organization structures, its style of work, institutions and its endeavours to fight against corruption. In the context of profound changes taken place in the world, in the country and in the Party itself, it is imperative for the Party to reinforce its governing capability and reassure its vanguard nature, by constantly improving the institutions and enhancing the abilities for exercising leadership and governance, so as to meet the demand of the times and live up to the expectations of the people and to enable the CPC to remain a ruling Marxist party that is built for public interests and exercises governance for the people; a party that is realistic, pragmatic and committed to reform and innovation; a party that is hardworking and clean; and a party that is full of vigor and enjoys solidarity and harmony. Given that the abilities to engage in international exchanges, respond to international situations and to handle international affairs are indispensable to the CPC's overall governing capability, and the external work constitutes an integral part of the general cause of the Party, such abilities and work must be enhanced in a spirit of reform and innovation, and with higher consciousness to serve the Party's endeavour of strengthening its capability and advancing the great new project of party building.
III. Follow the guidance of the Congress and improve the Party's external work in all dimensions in the new era
To do a better job on the Party's external front in the new era, we must first of all obtain a profound understanding of the spirit of the Congress and put it into sound practice, bear in mind what the Congress calls for and take it as an overarching guidance for all our work. We should draw lessons from past experience, carry forward the fine traditions, make overall and rational planning, and whereby keenly appreciate the basic principles, fundamental purposes and specific tasks of the Party's external work, keep up with the times and forge ahead in a pioneering spirit to open up new horizons for party diplomacy unique to the CPC and to serve the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
1. To put our advantages into best use and continue to serve the overall interest of the nation, i.e., building socialism with Chinese characteristics. Inspired by the 17th Congress, we shall be resolute in blazing new trails and forge ahead with determination, fit our endeavour into the integral strategy of safeguarding overall national security, promoting overall national diplomacy and realizing complete national reunification, and play our prominent part in party building of the CPC, in the all-round efforts to build a well-off society and in propelling the socialist modernization drive. We shall bring into full play the unique strength of party diplomacy, make more friends extensively, deepen exchanges with other parties, help the world to better understand and acknowledge our cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, in a bid to provide more solid political foundation for state-to-state relations. We shall take up more economic functions in our external work, with a view to supporting more directly the economic construction of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Besides, we shall also try to gain more insight into the new developments of the world, carry out careful studies on the new measures and experience in governance of other countries and take them for reference to our own efforts in building material, cultural and ethical, political, as well as ecological development in China.
2. To keep pace with the times, make bold renovation and thoroughly apply the Scientific Outlook on Development in the external work of the Party. Along with the booming of foreign relations of the CPC, it is becoming increasing necessary to upgrade external exchanges with more emphasis on quality, efficiency and connotation rather than quantity, scale and extension. As required by the Congress, we shall precisely grasp the essence of the Scientific Outlook on Development, try to put it into practice with more resolve and consciousness, rectify our mindsets that are not in conformity with this Outlook and spare no effort to address prominent problems that lie in the way of scientific development. We shall explore new ways and mechanisms in our practice and bring up new points of growth. Under the unified direction and command of the new central leadership with Comrade Hu Jintao as the general secretary, we shall implement the party's principle policies concerning its external work, mobilized all possible resources and carry out our work with clearer understanding of the mission and improved mechanisms in a better coordinated and more effective manner.
3. To assume a broader vision, make rational plans and continue to take both domestic and international situations as the basis of our work. China now is at the threshold of a new stage of development, and, according to the Report, its relationship with the rest of the world has seen historic changes. The future and destiny of China is increasingly closely connected with that of the world. The external work of the party, which we in the International Department are entrusted with, is not only an indispensable part of the mission of the party, but also an irreplaceable front in the overall diplomacy of the nation. Such dual responsibilities of the external work of the Party and the way it is defined requires us to have a global vision and strategic way of thinking, and to carry out external exchanges by taking into full consideration both domestic and international conditions, render active support to the general foreign strategy as well as to the overall plan of work of the Party and the state. In performing our specific duties, we shall pay more attention to promoting interactions between domestic and international developments, try and put external environment and international experience to good used, do our due part in safeguarding national interests in sovereignty, security and development so that China will play its constructive role in safeguarding world peace and promoting common development, and will give impetus through its own development to the building of a harmonious world of lasting peace and shared prosperity.
4. To strengthen exchanges and deepen cooperation in a bit to demonstrate the CPC as a democratic, progressive, open-minded and innovative ruling party whose purpose is to serve the interests of the public and the people. As the international influence of the CPC continues to grow, more and more foreign political parties and organizations are willing to engage with us. It is an important agenda for us to address as for how to make the most of party diplomacy as a showcase of the CPC. We shall enhance exchanges with foreign parties and whereby open an important window for the CPC to observe and grasp trends of developments in the outside world, and a window for the international community to learn about and understand our nation and our Party. Through party diplomacy, we shall further extend a clear message to the world that China, who is committed to reform and opening-up, will unswervingly follow the road of peaceful development; that the pioneering Chinese people will firmly go down the path of socialism of their own way; and that the ever progressing Communist Party of China will persist in the glorious cause for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
(The author is minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of the CPC.)