Contents & Forms
Contents and Forms of the CPC'S International Relations
2014.11.02 /

The contents and forms of CPC's international relations have varied in different periods of times. Before 1970s, the form was limited to political dialogues with foreign political parties, visits to each other, attending each other's congresses and offering congratulations through telegrams. After 1970s, with increasing objects and enlarged domain, centering around the general line of reform, opening-up and socialist modern construction, the CPC expanded the contents from political only to economic, cultural and other social fields, and the form became more flexible. 

Consolidating political dialogues 

As party-to-party contacts do not handle a specific state affair, they take political dialogues and exchanging ideas as a major part. Through visits to each other and by exchanging ideas about an international or regional issue, about their domestic situation, about the relations between the two parties and two countries, their contacts could deepen mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation.

Before 1970s, Mao Zedong and other top leaders frequently met foreign party delegations or individuals. Many delegations from the CPC visited foreign parties or attended their conferences. By political dialogues, either bilateral or multilateral, the CPC explained its ideas, also listened to theirs on important theoretical issues, significant international or regional issues, and on the development of party-to-party and state-to-state relations. Besides attending their conferences and important occasions, the CPC often sent telegrams of congratulations on important holidays or their top leaders' birthdays. Besides explaining political stands, these activities offered political and moral support to foreign parties.

The international situation had a significant change after 1970s. Multi-polarization and economic globalization pushed their way forward, while ideologies, political forces and social movements of various forms coexisted and competed with one another. The majority of political parties wished to have more communication, the CPC included. Political dialogues were still a major part of the contacts.

While taking the socialist road, said Deng Xiaoping, the CPC acknowledged the existence of social and ideological differences, even serious ones. However, the difference was to be reduced by a spirit of seeking a common ground while reserving differences, through dialogues, exchanges and negotiations, not to be intensified by ideological debates, not to say confrontations. Political parties should increase exchanges and dialogues on a mutual-respect basis, Jiang Zemin said, and should respect different forms of development in the world.

Since the beginning of the reform and opening-up, every year, CPC delegations, headed by top leaders, have visited many countries to meet their state and party counterparts. Every year, CPC top leaders receive foreign delegations and individuals. An exchange mechanism has been set up between the CPC and Japanese, Australian, Syrian political parties. Through dialogues and exchanges, the CPC has communicated with them to increase mutual understanding and trust and to seek a common ground on international or regional issues.

Exchanging ideas on party and state governance 

The human society as a whole has different civilizations and different modes of development. By learning from one another, they can progress on a more innovative way. All political parties' successful experience is part of the world political civilization, deserving an earnest study through contacts.

As a party in office, CPC's international relations have an important part: exchanging ideas and experience on party and state governance, learning one another's strong points, drawing on lessons to increase governing ability. During the early years of New China, and because of lacking experience, the CPC paid particular attention to learning through the relations with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and those in power in Eastern European socialist countries. While learning their experience, the CPC didn't mechanically copy them. The learning helped the increase of the CPC's governance ability. The objects of contacts were then limited to the Communist and workers' parties, not covering parties of other nature.

After the reform and opening-up, with the urgent need for domestic economic construction and social development, particularly after the abrupt changes of the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries where Communist parties lost their power, the CPC leading group, from a strategic level, became more emphatic on the study of others' successful and unsuccessful experience. Exchanges of the experience in party and state governance took a major part in CPC's international relations.

Along with China's fast developing economy, and its higher and higher international status, more and more foreign parties wished to know more about CPC's policies. During the exchanges with the CPC, socialist countries like DPRK, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba were very interested in CPC's efforts and practices to consolidate party building and to facilitate economic development, and in exchanging ideas about the progress of socialist theories. Not only the socialist countries, were political parties in developing countries, even some in Western developed countries, interested too in CPC's governing strategy.

By exchanges, the CPC gained a deeper understanding of the practice in party building and economic development by other ruling parties, of the cause to the loss of power of the Soviet Union and Eastern European Communist parties, of the failure in new-liberal reform practiced by some Asian, African and Latin American parties, and of the experience out of Western European parties in their party building. The CPC also learned from the parties of different nature, their experience in leadership improvement, leading mechanism, correctly handing the relations with people, adjustment made to consolidate social foundation, and theoretical innovation and actual practices. Through exchanges, foreign political parties gained a deeper knowledge about CPC's governance practice and Chinese actual situation. Some African leaders sincerely said, exchanges of experience seemed more beneficial than material ones, and African countries, by their actual situation, should learn from CPC's experience.

Facilitating economic cooperation 

Before the reform and opening-up in 1978, CPC's international relations took political dialogues as a major content, very rarely having economic topics. After the Cold War, with the intensified competition of the comprehensive state power, economic factor became increasingly important in international relations. Development of national economy and increase of competitiveness became urgent tasks for all.

The CPC has taken development as the number one task. Deng Xiaoping said very clearly, "Development goes before any thing." "To win the race with capitalism, socialism must absorb all successful experience of humankind, good business and managing fashions from all countries, advanced capitalist ones included." Party-to-party diplomacy, Jiang Zemin said, should serve economic construction. Development, he said, concerned not only people's life, stability of a country, also world peace and security; economy became the most important factor in present-day international relations; economic development was the key task of the CPC. After the reform and opening-up, Chinese economy gained a rapid progress and its market situation became very promising. Many foreign parties asked to take economic exchanges as part of the party-to-party relations.

Following the trend of economic globalization, and out of the need of socialist modernization, the CPC added economy to its foreign activities, making it an important topic. Of recent years, the CPC made intensified efforts on the research on foreign economic development road and strategy, economic construction, successful and unsuccessful experience, economic management and reform. On their foreign visits, Chinese top leaders often brought along economic and business people. The CPC helped Chinese provinces and municipalities to establish economic connections with foreign countries, to invite investment, technology and high-caliber people. These activities were new in the contents of CPC's international relations.

Study trips to other countries 

Study trips differ from visits or exchange tours. A study trip is focused on gaining knowledge, research and learning from other's experience. After the reform and opening-up, for the benefits of domestic construction, China needed to learn successful managing experience in related industries from foreign countries. Study trips became a new content and form in CPC's foreign relations.

For the last few years, many CPC delegations have had study activities in their schedule. The CPC has also sent groups specifically for study purpose with a wide range of interest: foreign economic structural adjustment and innovation, development mode, investment environment, significant construction projects, public servants system, administrative reform, judicial practice, clean government building, city administration, public transportation, news and publishing industry, broadcasting, TV and movie situations, culture, education, public health and tourism. A study trip of a specific subject brings back reports, which helps related departments in policy making. These trips have broadened the vision of CPC cadres on various levels, enabled them to learn advanced knowledge and managing approach, and naturally, benefited the governing ability of the party.

The CPC has also received many study groups from foreign parties. Since 1980s, many political parties from Asia, Africa and Latin America, also some from advanced countries, came to visit China. They were arranged to see developed areas in eastern costal parts of China, also China's less developed middle and western regions. These trips enabled them to gain knowledge about, besides CPC's party building, China's economic, social, education, cultural and public health situations, a comprehensive understanding of China and the CPC.

Seminars for theoretical discussions 

With the development of international situation, and the evolution of party politics worldwide, political parties of different countries faced new and significant theoretical issues never met before, on party building, nation's development, international and bilateral relations. It was a common wish to find new approaches, share experience, seek a theoretical common ground, and to facilitate common prosperity. Theoretical discussions became part of the international contacts between the CPC and other foreign parties.

Theoretical discussions might be bilateral or multi-lateral, either on some internal issues of a party or a state, or on some international or regional issues. Foreign parties involved were in power or not in power. Between 2003 and 2007, the CPC and the Communist Party of Vietnam held three theoretical seminars, entitled "Socialism and Market Economy: Vietnamese Experience and Chinese Experience", "Ruling Party Development: Vietnamese Experience and Chinese Experience," "Theories and Practice of Scientific and Harmonious Development in Socialist Economic Construction". In April 2004, the CPC Central Committee International Department and European Parliament Party jointly held "WTO-Forum on China-Europe Economic and Trade Relations," which gathered suggestions to the cooperation of the two sides. In May 2007, the CPC and the United Russia Party held a forum as a China Year activity in Russia. This forum, and other activities, facilitated the development of Chinese and Russian party relations.

The CPC International Department and foreign political parties jointly held multilateral forums on significant issues in the world. In September 2003, the department, together with some socialist parties and socialist democratic parties from Western Europe, and Australian Labor Party, held "Globalization and New International Order." In June 2006, with 11 parties from Africa, the department held a workshop titled "Nationality, Religion and Poverty Relief." In September 2004, the CPC sponsored the Third International Conference of Asian Political Parties, attended by 81 parties from 35 countries. This is so far the largest international party conference held by the CPC.

Through theoretical discussions and exchanging ideas about significant issues, all the participating parties gained a broader vision, consensus, new ideas and foundation for cooperation. These activities were also good to participants in theoretical innovation, party building, mutual understanding and friendship.


Source: International Relations of the Communist Party of China, edited by Zhong Lianyan, Beijing: China Intercontinental Press, 2007.10