Thirty years ago, with a pioneering yet realistic spirit, the Communist Party of China embarked on the great course of reform and opening-up. In the three decades thereafter, under the direct charge of the central leadership of the Party and with the involvement of their personal efforts, the Party's external work has progressed with the times. Thus far, a new vista of Chinese-style party diplomacy has been created, that not only is firmly committed to the reform and opening-up but also is in keeping with China's overall diplomatic programs.
Minister Wang Jiarui of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee told this correspondent that up to date, the number of political parties and organizations who are associated with the CPC in different forms has reached over 520 and they cover more than 160 countries and regions in the world. A new scheme of all-dimensional, multi-channeled, wide-ranging and deep-going foreign relations of the CPC has taken shape. The external work of the Party has served as a unique stage to showcase the CPC to the world and as a window through which those on the outside could learn more about China and the Party itself.
A new image of the CPC in the world
In the past 30 years, the CPC has made relentless efforts in party building while pursuing reform and opening-up. In this process, it has become all the more creative, cohesive and competent. Better adapted to the changes of the times, the Party is now more open-minded and more advanced in nature. The reform and opening-up has brought about sweeping changes to the look of China and to the international image of the Party.
The CPC is now viewed on the international stage as a governing party that is dedicated to economic development, a modern political party ready to renew its theories to keep abreast with the times, a people-friendly party that always puts people's interest in the first place, and as a new-type Marxist party, an enlightened and open party pursuing peace and democracy.
Since the beginning of reform when the focal point of the Party was shifted to economic development, readjustments have been made in the external work of the Party in terms of the guiding spirit, basic principles and forms of exchanges. With a view to facilitating reform and opening-up, the socialist modernization drive, and the development of the Party itself, the CPC has step by step established a new type of inter-party relations with all categories of political parties across the world. Its engagement with foreign political parties has become more and more substantive.
In the new century, competition among nations is mostly a contest of comprehensive national power especially of economic weight. As a party running the largest developing country in the world, the CPC has never surrendered the development of China's economy as the primary task of its leadership. As a result, the country has leapt to be the fourth largest economy in the world.
A socialist China is now standing proudly in the orient of the world, ready to embrace modernization, embrace the whole world and embrace the future. In the mean time, the world is finding in the CPC a ruling party that's firmly committed to development.
In terms of theoretical establishment, the CPC has never hesitated to break shackles of the mind to churn out new theories as required by practices at different stages of the reform. The outcomes of these innovations, including Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of "Three Represents" and the Scientific Outlook on Development, have transfused lasting dynamics into the reform and opening-up.
Facing the challenges posed by the yawning gap between urban and rural areas, inadequate social security net, resource crunch and environmental degradation--all problems having cropped up in the process of reform and opening-up, the Party Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as the General Secretary set forth the objective of building a harmonious socialist society which added new flesh to the idea of putting people first. This is a further advancement of the Party's purpose of serving the people and marks a leap in the Party's governing philosophy.
New philosophy shapes a new image. These new mottos announce that the CPC is a Party completely devoted to the wellbeing of the people, which is highly commended by the international community.
As it goes further in depth with the reform and opening-up, the CPC is showing greater maturity and confidence and is embracing the world as an enlightened and open rather than secluded and diffident political party. The dedication of the CPC to peace and development and its advocacy of a harmonious world have been appreciated and echoed by the international community.
Chinese-Style party diplomacy
The external work is part and parcel of the cause of the Party, an important chapter of the national diplomatic programme and a prominent field for soft power building of the nation. The overriding purpose of the external work of the Party is to safeguard national interests and facilitate the development of China's international relations.
Guided by the Scientific Outlook on Development and the overall strategic thinking on diplomatic work, party diplomacy has been employed with salient display of its strengths and its distinctive qualities. More heed has been given to the clearly defined priority areas and more stress laid on real effects. The Party's external work has shown evident edge in organizing high-level exchanges, taking proactive steps against contingencies, conducting foresighted research and studies as well as collecting primary information.
With unique links with socialist countries, countries without diplomatic ties with China and prominent political figures through party channels, the CPC has furthered friendly exchanges and cooperation with various types of political parties in different countries and has made acquaintances with quite a number of "China-friendly" or "China-understanding" parties and government heavy-weights. Furthermore, communication with major parties in some major countries like Japan, Russia, India and Australia has embarked on a regular course. Connections with international political party organizations have also expanded.
According to Wang Jiarui, there are three principal attributes of the Chinese-style party diplomacy: 1. The ideas embodied in the Chinese-style party diplomacy is in keeping with Marxist principles on inter-party relations, and is solidly based on the Chinese and CPC conditions. 2. The Chinese-style party diplomacy has come into shape as a result of the Party's pioneering efforts to follow the trend of events and to keep pace with the times. 3. The Chinese-style party diplomacy is the product of the relentless exploration and long-term solid work of generations of Party leaderships.
Having drawn on both positive and negative lessons of the international communist movement and on the past experience of the CPC in external exchanges, the thought of Chinese-style party diplomacy is a practical and renewed form of Marxist theory on inter-party relations in the context of contemporary world and contemporary China. It conforms to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and other universally recognized norms governing international relations and is therefore internationally acceptable while bearing distinctive Chinese features. The thought reflects the CPC's openness as for whom to deal with as well as its stress on equality, its down-to-earth approaches and the flexibility in forms for carrying out party-to-party exchanges. It provides theoretical ground for the practice of party diplomacy in the new era, and is widely acclaimed and supported by parties overseas.
In the past three decades, the external work of the CPC has been performed in close keeping with the central tasks of the Party and the nation and in step with the ups and downs of the era. Efforts in party diplomacy are not merely confined to safeguarding national interests and promoting state relations, but rather are exerted more in sharing experience with other parties in running party and state affairs, and in building a sound reputation of the Party in the world. As part of the Party's external work, serious studies have been conducted on prominent issues such as foreign and security strategies, to provide references to the central leadership for their decision-making. Apart from that, systematic research programs are also carried out on the concepts, institutions, modes and laws of governance of foreign ruling parties, as well as their successes and failures, in a bid to provide intellectual support to the CPC for enhancing its ruling capacity and consolidating its ruling status.
As key actors on the Party's external stage, top leaders of the CPC like Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao have taken direct oversight of and been personally engaged in the handling of major issues concerning foreign relations of the Party. Comrade Deng Xiaoping proffered the idea of building a new type of inter-party relations after reflecting past experience. It was due to his masterminding that the CPC resumed relations with some foreign communist parties. Comrade Jiang Zemin timely spelt out the principles to guide the external work of the Party into the new century, charting out the course for further development. Comrade Hu Jintao, for his part, clearly affirmed the external work of the Party as "an important and indispensable aspect of the cause of the Party", as well as "an integral part of China's overall diplomatic program". He described the role of party diplomacy as "irreplaceably important in the establishment, consolidation and development of state-to-state relations, and in facilitating the reform and opening-up and the socialist modernization drive." He has paid many foreign visits as head of CPC delegations and has received many visiting party delegations from other countries, which is an example of the down-to-earth and enterprising style of work of the new line-up of Party leadership, as well as their dedication to peace, development, and regional interaction and cooperation.
To attain a new plane of party diplomacy
Our world today is undergoing extensive and profound changes. That poses new circumstances and challenges to the external work of the Party in the new stage of the new century. Wang said that the Party must stick to the principle of putting people first and handle foreign affairs to serve the interests of the people; it must pursue development as the paramount obligation for itself to rejuvenate the nation and provide intellectual support to the socialist modernization drive and to the building of the Party itself; and it will try and find out inherent regularities regarding party diplomacy and strengthen capacity building and image building of the Party in external exchanges so that China's foreign relations on the state-to-state level will continue to develop in an all-round, steady and healthy manner.
"According to the critical strategic deployment of the 17th National Congress of the CPC, we must ensure that both domestic and international developments are taken into consideration when deliberating the external work of the Party and that party diplomacy is employed in better coordination with other branches of the overall diplomatic scheme. We should strengthen incisive and systematic studies on strategic and portentous issues so as to grasp the move of things. We must focus our attention on the general situation of the whole Party and the whole country and make new contribution to the all-round, steady and healthy development of state-to-state relations by making the best of the period of strategic opportunities," said Wang.
Presently, the entire membership of the Party and people throughout the country are devoted in concerted efforts to building a well-off society in an all-round way and to accelerating the socialist modernization drive. Wang said we must pursue development as the paramount obligation for the CPC to rejuvenate the nation. More economic and cultural factors should be added to party diplomacy and be combined with political factors in the bid to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. We should play our due part as adviser to the Party and render our intellectual support to the economic, political, cultural and social building of socialism with Chinese characteristics and to the building of the Party itself.
In order for the Party's external work to move further ahead from a new start, we must draw on our past experience, obtain an incisive knowledge of the laws embodied therein, distill our practical perceptions into theoretical cognitions and keep exploring new mechanisms, new approaches and new measures for carrying out party diplomacy in the new era.
Wang said that his department will embrace the Scientific Outlook on Development to guide its way forward, work together with one heart and in a down-to-earth manner to blaze new trails and press ahead with the external work of the Party and strive to create a new prospect for party diplomacy with Chinese features.