This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the People's Republic of China. Sixty years on since the founding of new China, the CPC, with its indomitable pioneering spirit and through spectacular explorations, blazed the trail of socialism with Chinese characteristics, bringing about historical transformation to the landscape of socialist China and the Party itself. As an important part of the cause of the Party and a major front of China's overall diplomacy, the external work of the Party has also advanced by leaps and bounds, setting the CPC in multi-channeled, wide-ranging and all-directional relations with political parties in the world.
I. The Party's external work has undergone successive leaps through adjustments and explorations.
1. In the early years of the PRC, focusing on consolidating the nascent political power of the people, which was the central task of the Party and the state at that time, and aimed, above all, at "breaking the blockade" on China, the external work of the Party registered the first leap in its development. Sixty years ago when the PRC was newly founded, the Cold War between the East and the West was on a rising tide. The Western forces headed by the US imposed economic blockade and diplomatic isolation on the nascent People's Republic. The Communist authorities in China led by Comrade Mao Zedong sized up the situation and resolutely decided to adopt the "one-sided" foreign policy, i.e. to embrace the socialist camp in all-round cooperation. Under the guidance of its central leadership, the CPC went all out in developing friendly ties with socialist countries, and communist parties and progressive forces in other countries as well, while trying to win broad sympathy and support from the rest of the world, and soon opened initial ground in international relations. When the CPC convened its eighth national congress in 1956, communist and workers' parties from 56 countries sent their representatives to China to express their congratulations and support. At the 10th anniversary of the PRC in 1959, representatives of 61 foreign political parties attended the celebration upon invitation.
In this period, the CPC's engagement with the outside world constituted the mainstay of China's foreign relations, providing significant contacts for New China to link up with the international community. It helped greatly the country's effort to break imperialists' blockade, consolidate the newly-established political power and gain the international assistance and aid needed for domestic construction. However, during the ensuing "Cultural Revolution", the Party's external work, like other aspects of development, suffered severe setbacks, and the scope of the Party's external relations was sharply contracted.
2. From the third plenary session of the 11th CPC Central Committee in 1978 to the turn of the century, focusing again on the Party's and the state's central task, which was now economic development, and with the key objective to foster a favorable international environment, the Party's external work realized a second leap forward. The third plenary session of the 11th CPC Central Committee marked the beginning of a new era in China's socialist modernization drive featuring reform and opening-up, as economic development was placed on the top of the Party's agenda. To put things straight in its external work, the Party initiated a series of major adjustments to the guidelines, strategic objectives, targets of association, rules to follow and working principles for developing party relations. The CPC also identified the fundamental mission of its external work in the new era as to cultivate a favorable international environment, particularly a stable neighborhood for the reform and opening-up and for the socialist modernization drive. A four-point principle to guide inter-party relations was established, which were namely, independence, complete equality, mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs. It became the primary purpose of the Party's external endeavor to promote healthy, steady and comprehensive development of state-to-state.
Five major steps of adjustment were taken in the CPC's external relations in the new era. First, starting from the late 1970s, the CPC gradually restored the relations with the communist parties of certain countries in the spirit of discarding previous enmities, looking to the future and pursuing cooperation. Second, in pursuit of promoting solidarity and cooperation with developing countries, the CPC successively established ties with national democratic parties in African, Latin American and Asian countries. Third, from the early 1980s, the CPC built up contacts with socialist parties, social democratic parties and labor parties in Europe, as well as their international organizations, in the spirit of transcending ideological differences and pursuing mutual understanding and cooperation. Fourth, from the mid-1980s, the CPC began to reach out to some traditionally center-right parties in Western Europe, with the view to promoting the sound and stable development of China's relations with developed countries. Fifth, in the early 1990s, against the backdrop of dramatic changes sweeping across the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and the rising trend of multi-party system, the CPC went about its relations with both old and new political parties in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and Africa in a steady and discreet manner.
Throughout this period of history, in spite of the profoundly changing international situation and capricious formation of world political parties, the external work of the CPC remained unaffected and stayed firmly committed to the central task of the Party and the State. Steady headway was made in the Party's external relations, with enrichment in both forms and contents, which produced positive effect in securing for China a favorable international environment.
3．Since the beginning of the new century, yet another big stride has been witnessed in the CPC's external work, as it has been carried out to serve the central task of breaking new grounds in building socialism with Chinese characteristics by coordinating development endeavors from both national and international perspectives. Since the beginning of the 21st century, particularly from the 16th national congress of the CPC in 2002 onwards, efforts have been made to further expand the Party's external work in the light of the profound changes occurring in the international situation and in China's interactions with the international community, with a view to preserving and extending the important period of strategic opportunity for China's development. As required by the Scientific Outlook on Development, things have been planned out with overall considerations and specific efforts made in the following aspects: 1) to give full play to the unique strength of party diplomacy in high-level exchanges, in-depth communication and proactive approaches, widely publicize the Party's domestic and foreign policies, work for enhanced mutual understanding and trust between the CPC and foreign political parties, facilitate the resolution of substantive issues in state-to-state relations and promote the sound and stable development of China's relations with other countries; 2) to instill more economic and cultural elements to inter-party relations by vigorously encouraging and facilitating various regions, NGOs, and companies of China to go for cultural and economic exchanges with their foreign counterparts, so as to consolidate the foundation of state-to-state relations and enhance the friendship and cooperation between the Chinese people and other peoples of the world; and 3) to provide greater intellectual support for the central leadership for their decision-making, by carrying out research and studies on theoretical and practical issues most concerned by the central authorities, particularly issues related to international situation and foreign strategies, socialism and capitalism, party politics and foreign lessons of governance, as well as world trend of international political and social philosophies- the four areas of studies where there lies a unique strength with the external work of the Party.
So far, an all-directional, multi-layered, wide-ranging and deep-going structure of the CPC's external relations has been set up, which involves relations with government parties and/or their coalition partners, legal opposition parties and parties in countries without diplomatic ties with China, as well as some international organizations of political parties. Today the CPC maintains friendly exchanges and contacts with some 520 political parties and organizations in more than 160 countries and regions, among whom one third are solely or jointly in government.
II. In order for the external work of the Party to fulfill its functions and to keep making more leaps forward, we must always remain closely focused on the central task of the Party and the state, and always serve their broader agenda.
The fact that the Party's external work over the past 60 years has advanced with one leap after another tells us that only by focusing tightly on the central task of the Party and the state and by finding out the right point to set about from the needs of the Party and the state, can we give proper play to the role of the Party's external work and ensure its constant development in serving the overall interest of the nation.
1. The Party's external work must comply with and serve the national strategic plan diplomacy. Experience in the past 60 years tells us that party diplomacy can serve as a useful supplement to government diplomacy, and vise versa, only when it is carried out in consistence with the nation's entire diplomatic strategy and according to its intrinsic rules and with its unique strength. Specifically, we should understand that our efforts of party diplomacy are directed to political leaders of other countries and is meant to consolidate and expand consensus and reinforce the political foundation of state-to-state relations through comprehensive, in-depth and protocol-free inter-party exchanges. Given the fact that most countries in the world are under multi-party system where rise and fall of political parties lead to frequent changes of governments, we should take a proactive approach in party diplomacy and develop all-round exchanges with not only government parties, but also participating parties and opposition parties, so that inter-party relations can help stabilize state-to-state relations. We should place premium to the clout of important political parties on bilateral relations and on regional hot-spot issues, set up certain mechanisms to bring the two-way exchanges with such parties onto regular basis and whereby to carry out in-depth dialogue with them on worthy topics, so as to boost solution of pending issues as well as pressing questions in bilateral relations. We should also give full play to the unique strength of the party diplomacy and carry out candid communication with parties in countries without diplomatic ties with China, so as to prepare ground for the normalization of state-to-state relations.
2．The CPC's external work must serve the primary interest of party building. We have learnt from the past sixty years that as long as the external work is perceived as an important part of the overall mission of the Party, and is planned and conducted accordingly, it can surly make particular contribution to the all-round advancement of the great new program of party building. In the past 60 year, the external work of the CPC has provided an important channel for the Party to learn about the world, to understand how it goes and thereby to strengthen the Party's efforts in self-improvement. Through chronicle and longitudinal comparative studies of the many and interacting political philosophies in today's world, and by tracing their veins of development, we have been able to acquire a deeper understanding of how a communist party should exercise and maintain its ruling power, how to build socialism and how to perceive the development of human society. By making systemic studies on foreign political parties in terms of their concept of administration, the system of government and their modes and regular patterns of governance, and by summing up lessons for their rise and fall, we have been able to draw on others' experience for strengthening the self-construction of the CPC's. Furthermore, by developing extensive and dynamic interaction with foreign political parties, especially by sending senior officials on foreign visits, we have been able to open more windows on the world, allowing the Party cadres to look at the world with a broader vision and to improve their ability of making sound judgment of the situation.
3. The external work of the Party should help project a positive image of the Party on the world. Our experience in the past sixty years also taught us that the external work of the Party can be of great help in a unique way in building up China's soft power as long as it is applied as a platform of international communication. We keenly understand from our practice over the past 60 years that political parties and political leaders not only play as the key actors in their own countries' party politics, but also as agitators and weather vanes of public opinion towards China in their respective countries. As the epic course of reform and opening up unfolds, the destiny of China is increasingly interlocked with the destiny of the world. To enable the international community, particularly foreign political parties and political leaders to have a better understanding and appreciation of China's path of development, system of political parties, and our visions and strategies of governance is not only what party diplomacy is meant for, but also a pressing task to be undertaken in the new era. We must make the best of the showcase role of party diplomacy, try to diffuse up-to-date information of the Party swiftly and accurately through inter-party exchanges in different forms. We should focus our attention on foreign political parties and political heavyweights, who are most influential to China-related public opinions, and share with them insights of the latest development of the CPC's domestic and foreign policies as well as our new attainments in theory and practice through personalized exchanges and dialogues. At the same time, we should try and display in our own capacities and through our own deeds, the positive image of the CPC to the world as a democratic, progressive, open-minded and innovative party that works for the interests of the people.
III. We should work hard for new momentous progress by implementing the Scientific Outlook on Development, present greater achievements as a gift for the 100th birthday of the CPC.
1. Further integrating our internal and external endeavors. We should uphold the basic principles established over the past 6 decades concerning development of the Party's external relations and be always mindful to set the external work of the Party in the context of interactions between internal and external factors. In face of the new circumstances with complex changes in world politics, economy, and trends of thought, we should always deepen our studies on the development of world socialism and China's development path, so as to make fresh contribution to the cause of socialism of Chinese characteristics. Taking note of the governance strategies adopted by other ruling parties and the new challenges they are faced with in today's world, we should carry our careful studies on their experience and lessons in running party and state affairs, in order to support the Party's efforts in self-construction. Bearing in mind the general trend of world development and the new demand set forth by China's overall foreign strategies, we should further explore and grasp the objective rules embodied in the Chinese-style party diplomacy in order for the external work of the Party to better serve the overall strategy of national diplomacy. Given the expanding influence of "China Factor" in the world, we should work more actively to strengthen external publicity of the Party and promote the knowledge and understanding of the international community about China's great endeavor led by the CPC in building socialism with Chinese characteristics, and also about the lines, principles and policies of the Party, so as to enhance the Party's image and influence internationally.
2. Building up and optimizing the strategic layout of the Party's external work. We should make good use of the emerging historic opportunities for developing the Party's external work to further build up and optimize its strategic layout. To this end, we shall continue to deepen the institutionalized exchanges with parties in neighboring countries, with the view to creating a favorable external environment around us; further strengthen our relations with parties in developing countries by tapping our traditional strength so as to consolidate the underpinning of China's diplomatic structure; expand the existing platforms of exchanges to strengthen dialogue and communication with major developed countries; and make the best of the special inter-party relations with countries that have no diplomatic ties with China, to enhance mutual understanding and reduce estrangement. All in all, we shall exert efforts to round out the strategic layout of the Party's external work, to ensure that it is adapted to the changing situation and more effectively serve the overall foreign strategy of China.
3. Promoting greater involvement of the Party into international exchanges. In order to keep pace with China's reform and opening up, we shall encourage different ranks of the Party to be involved in the external work. While maintaining priority on high-level exchanges in party-to-party diplomacy, we shall explore new channels and ways qnd offer guidance and assistance for Party committees at local levels to join in the interaction with foreign political parties and their branch organizations, so as to set up a multi-tired stereo-type structure of party external relations.
In retrospect, the leaps and bounds achieved in the Party's external work over the past 60 years are attributed to the proper leadership of the Central Committee and efforts of the whole Party. Looking ahead, we will close the rank around the Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as the General Secretary and work more proactively to implement the Scientific Outlook on Development. In the spirit of reform and innovation, and with our selfless devotion and enterprising work, we shall take the 60th anniversary of the PRC as a new starting point to work for new historic progress in the Party's external work, so as to usher in the monumental centenary of the CPC with greater merit.
(The author is minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of the CPC.)
Source: Qiu Shi