The Principles of the Party-to-party Relations of the CPC
2014.11.02 /

It must have a correct principle for political parties of different countries to go by before they establish and develop party-to-party relations, and the principle is able to guarantee a healthy direction and realization of the objective of the relations. During decades of party-to-party contacts, by the need of the party's work, adjustment of the state foreign diplomatic tasks and the changes of international situation, the CPC has kept adjusting and enriching its principle for party-to-party relations. The definition of the relations has become clearer and clearer, and the contents richer and richer. 

Exploration for the principle during the revolution and war years 

1. Safeguarding the unity with the Communist International. The Communist International, founded in 1919, was initiated by Lenin as an international organization for Communist parties and organizations of different countries. After the founding of the CPC in 1921, the Communist International and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union were the first the CPC began to have relations with. This was because of the need of the CPC in its growth in a very difficult situation, in leading Chinese revolution, and in shouldering the tasks of opposing imperialism, feudalism and bureau-capitalism, lacking experience in ideological, organizational and personnel constructions and of very limited budget for activities. Apart from its own efforts, the CPC had to gain sympathy and support from advanced forces and friendly people in the world. The Second National Congress of the CPC in 1922 made a decision to join the Communist International, to be a branch of it. For a fairly long time that followed, the CPC received leadership from it and managed to maintain unity with it. The international relation activities of the CPC were conducted under the leadership of the Communist International and within the world Communist structure.

2. Exploring for the principle of independence and self-determination

However, due to the distance between the Communist International and China's actual revolutionary situation, the difficulty for the former to get a thorough understanding of the latter, while assisting and guiding Chinese revolution, the Communist International made many mistakes, some very serious, bringing a great loss to Chinese revolution. With the maturity in thinking and theory, the CPC, with Mao Zedong as its representative, combined Marxist universal truth with Chinese revolutionary situation. When dealing with the relations with the Communist International, the CPC, on one hand, gave it a due respect to the organization and ideological leadership, and on the other hand, by independent efforts, solved many issues Chinese revolution faced and finally led Chinese nation winning the victory of new democratic revolution. In May 1943, the CPC said the following in a document about the dissolution of the Communist International, "The CPC received much support from the Communist International. However, for a long time, the CPC has independently made its own political principles, policies and guidelines for actions according to the need of Chinese nation and China's actual situation." Through the relations with the Communist International, the CPC accumulated elementary experience for dealing with party-to-party relations in an independent and self-determined way in international Communist movements.

3. Adherence to the proletarian internationalism. During the revolution and war years, while conducting international relation activities, the CPC was very attentive to the principle of proletarian internationalism and the obligations to it. The CPC gave maximum support within its ability to the struggles led by the Communist Party of Vietnam against French colonialism. During German and Italian invasion against Spain in 1937, Xie Weijin and over 100 of his fellow workers belonging to CPC German branch joined the anti-Fascist war waged by Spanish people. Immediately after Nazi German's invasion against the Soviet Union in June 1941, the CPC declared its support for the Communist Party of the Soviet Union by a public announcement titled "The Decision of the CPC Central Committee about the International Anti-Fascist United Front," in which the CPC called for "an international united front by peoples of all countries to be engaged in world-wide anti-Fascist struggles, and struggles to protect the Soviet Union, China and all nations pursuing freedom and independence." Also, by public telegrams and declarations, the CPC aired its support for the Communist parties of other countries and the just struggles by other nations.

Enriched contents of CPC's principle for party-to-party relations during the socialist construction 

1. Adhering to the principle of independence and self-determination. After the PRC was founded in October 1949, the main task for CPC international relations was to create a favorable international environment for the consolidation of the new government and for the country's construction. Due to the US's hostile attitude against and a policy meant to overthrow China's new government, and Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang bloc's attempts to counterattack the mainland with the help of the US forces, China adopted a policy of "siding firmly with the Soviet Union." This policy was meant to gain a closer relationship with the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, and cooperation with Communist and workers' parties of other countries.

While implementing the policy, the CPC never deviated from its principle of independence and self-determination. "Siding firmly with the Soviet Union," Mao Zedong emphasized repeatedly, "didn't mean to copy blindly their experience; the policy had to be conducted on the basis of equality, independence and self-determination, both in our foreign diplomacy and construction." When attending the conference of Communist and workers' parties held in Moscow in 1957, Mao Zedong exchanged his ideas with top leaders of other parties and countries about the independent status and the right of self-determination each party was entitled to. Every party should be entirely independent and no party should interfere with another party's internal affairs. With the efforts of Mao Zedong and others, this principle was written into the "Moscow Declaration." During his meeting with Ho Chi Minh, Chairman of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Mao Zedong said, "No state or party, big or small, should force its idea on others without discussion. Forcing one's idea on others is an unpleasant practice."

2. All parties are equal. During the early years of New China, the CPC and the Soviet Union Communist Party maintained very good relations. However, due to the latter's dominant attitude, and its interference with other country's or party's internal affairs, beginning from mid 1950s, the CPC acted firmly against its practices. After the Poland Incident that happened in 1956, Mao Zedong pointed out, "The Soviet-Poland Union relationship is not a father-son kind but the relations between two countries and two Communist parties. Therefore, they should be equal." In December 1956, in an article titled "More on the Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat," Mao Zedong reiterated the equal basis of all Communist parties should enjoy. With equality, he said, unity would be consolidated; without it, forcing one's idea upon others, the unity would suffer seriously. The CPC's unremitting efforts against the dominant practices by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1960s were ascribable, besides to significant theoretical disputes, also to an equal basis all political parties were entitled to.

In party-to-party relations, not only against the practice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union placing itself above other parties, the CPC didn't agree with the acts by some parties to take the CPC as their "leader." The CPC never imposed its experience or the way of doing things upon others. During a meeting in 1956 with a delegation from a Latin American political party, Mao Zedong applauded the efforts of combining Marxism with local situation. "Part of China's experience is good," he said, "part of it is not. Even the good part may not meet the need of the actual situation of another country. Mechanical copying is a dangerous practice." In 1970s, the Communist parties in some countries took the CPC as a "leading party," holding the CPC in a "special position" in international Communist movements. To this, CPC leaders did much persuasion work, saying that all parties, big or small, were equal and no party in international Communist movements was to lead or to be led by others.

3. Disregarding ideological differences in party-to-party contacts. In early years of New China, the CPC developed international relations mainly with the Communist and workers' parties in other countries, meanwhile, with some political parties of different ideology. In early 1950s, such contacts were seen in the relations with political parties of nationalism in Indonesia, India, Burma, Guatemala, the United Arab Republic and Guinea. On the basis not to change each other's ideology, the CPC was for the party-to-party relations with the Socialist Party in Western Europe. In August 1954, while meeting a delegation from British Labor Party, Mao Zedong said, "We believe that different social systems can coexist peacefully," and "We won't fight the Labor Party or the Conservative Party." Zhou Enlai made it even clearer by saying, "No party or an individual is to force his idea upon another party or another person. Ideological differences should never be a barrier for state-to-state or party-to-party political cooperation." On another meeting with Indian Prime Minister Nehru in October 1954, Mao Zedong said, "Two countries, or two parties, can cooperate in spite of different ideology and social systems. We will enter cooperation with Churchill's party if it has similar willingness."

Beginning from late 1950s, the CPC began contacts with other political parties in Western Europe. During their meetings with delegations from British Labor Party, Italian Socialist Party, the United Socialist Party of Iceland, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai discussed and exchanged ideas with them about the coexistence of socialist and capitalist systems, war, peace and other international issues. These meetings reached consensus on some issues. The CPC gave much importance to the contacts with Japanese political forces. Beginning from 1950s, Japanese Liberal Democratic Party and the Socialist Party successively sent delegations to China. In 1960s, with normalizing diplomatic relations with Japan on agenda, the CPC intensified its work on Japanese political parties. As a result, an increasing number of delegations from Japanese parties were seen in China. These party-to-party relations advanced the normalization of Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations.

4. Party-to-party relations should not affect state-to-state relations. The CPC, after becoming a party in power, realized similarity and difference between the party-to-party and state-to-state relations. It tried to differentiate the two in practice. While meeting Burmese Prime Minister Ne Win in December 1954, Mao Zedong said, "We won't spread Communism in your country. We will talk only about peaceful coexistence. You have a Communist party in your country, and we won't urge them to act against your government." After the relations with the Communist Party of Yugoslavia began to deteriorate in 1956, Mao Zedong gave an instruction, saying, "The state-to-state relations with Yugoslavia should continue forever." In early 1960s, the party-to-party relations between the CPC and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union worsened. The latter expanded the dispute to the state-to-state relations by withdrawing experts from China and scrapping all contracts signed with Chinese government. The CPC Central Committee and Mao Zedong seriously criticized these acts. While meeting Kosygin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Mao Zedong said that, in spite of the arguments that would continue about principles between the CPC and the Soviet Union Communist Party, the state-to-state relations between two countries should be improved. Liu Shaoqi also said, "Ideological differences between fraternal parties should be solved through discussions. If a solution is unavailable now, we may discuss later or shelf it for future to make a conclusion. Anyway, ideological differences should not affect state-to-state relations."

The first generation of CPC leading group, with Mao Zedong as the core, by continuously enriching contents and principles, built a framework for the CPC, a party in power, to do party-to-party contacts. Due to the limits from the then international situation and domestic tasks, the CPC was unable to disregard completely the difference in ideology and social systems when doing party-to-party contacts. The parties it associated with then were limited to Communist or workers parties and this situation affected state-to-state relations. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), due to the disturbance and impact from Ultra-left thinking, the CPC international relations were reduced tremendously.

The four principles of the CPC for party-to-party relations, advanced in the period of reform and opening-up 

The Third Plenary Session of the 11th Party Central Committee marked China's entry into a period of reform, opening-up and socialist modern construction. CPC's second-generation leading group, with Deng Xiaoping as the core, summarized the positive and negative experience out of the international Communist movements, and based on a scientific analysis of international and contemporary features, and the experience from the first-generation leading group, advanced the principles for new party-to-party relations.

Deng Xiaoping's thinking about the relations has the following parts: one, party-to-party relations should be "new, healthy and friendly"; two, each party should handle its internal affairs in an independent and self-determined way, not subject to the decision, interests or wishes of others; three, no party should judge, by its own experience, the right or wrong of others' practices, no party should give orders to others; four, all parties, big or small, strong or weak, in power or not, should be equal and to exercise mutual respect, not to interfere with other's internal affairs; five, ideological difference should never be obstacles to the party-to-party relations, and every one should keep a "seeking common ground while reserving differences" attitude in party-to-party relations and cooperation; six, party-to-party relations and cooperation should take improving state-to-state relations as an objective, facilitating friendship and better understanding of each other; seven, keep a looking-forward attitude, not to be bogged down in disputes that happened in the past party-to-party relations.

Deng Xiaoping's thinking laid a solid theoretical foundation for the CPC international relations during a new era and provided guidance for handling the relations with political parties of other countries. In September 1982, the 12th CPC National Congress advanced the four principles for the CPC to develop relations with Communist parties in other countries, "independence, equality, mutual respect and non-interference in other parties' internal affairs." These principles were written into the new CPC Constitution. In October 1987, the 13th CPC National Congress extended the principles to cover the relations with all kinds of foreign parties.

The four principles, each being independent and connected, make an organic whole with a wide range of contents.

"Independence" makes the foundation for new party-to-party relations. The CPC fully respects other parties' independent status, honors their right in choosing their own social system and a development road out of their own situations; the CPC acknowledges their right in handling their own affairs on an independent and self-determined manner, and their right in making their lines, principles and policies by their independent observation and study of the international situation.

"Equality" makes the key to establishing a new-type party-to-party relations. The CPC believes that all parties, big or small, strong or weak, in power or not, are equal, and should be treated on an equal basis, not to be put on a leading or being led position. No party is to give orders to others, not to force its ideas upon others; complete equality guarantees their independent status.

"Mutual respect" is the precondition for new party-to-party relations. To the CPC, due to different experiences and situations, different parties may have different ideology and act in different ways and this is natural and normal. Different ideas are inevitable, not to be unified by commands. Cooperation should transcend ideological differences; each party has its strong and weak points, successful experience and lessons, achievements and mistakes; no party is superior or inferior to others and all parties should respect one another; party-to-party cooperation is only possible with mutual respect, mutual learning, seeking common ground while reserving differences, the right to handle independently internal affairs either of the party or of the state, and the choice they have made for social system and development road by their national situation should be honored.

"Non-interference in others' internal affairs" guarantees the new party-to-party relations to develop. The CPC believes the internal affairs of a party should be decided by no one but that party itself, not to be meddled with by any party in any country; no party is to force its ideas on another one; no party should, by party-to-party relations, interfere with the internal affairs of another country, and the party-to-party relations should help the establishment and progress of state-to-state relations; no party is to, by bilateral party relations, act against the third party or jeopardize the third party's interests; no party is to, by its relations with others, export its ideology, values, social system and development mode. The principles and policies of a party are entirely up to its own choice.  

The four principles represent the long-standing wish of the political parties worldwide, a wish to seek an independent and equal position. These principles follow the trend of development, featuring the nature of new party-to-party relations. The four principles also agree with the changes on international situation and on political parties of different countries, going along with the Five Principles for Peaceful Coexistence and other commonly acknowledged international principles. For these reasons, the four principles have won extensive acknowledgement worldwide, and accepted by more and more parties.

The development of CPC's four principles at the turn of centuries 

After advancing the four principles in 1982, by a spirit of advancing with the times, also following the changes on international situation and on political party politics, the CPC has continued to add more contents to the principles.

In late 1980s and beginning of 1990s, abrupt changes happened in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The Communist and workers' parties in the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries lost power. Socialism suffered a heavy loss worldwide and was reduced to its nadir. At these abrupt changes, the far-sighted Deng Xiaoping advanced the following: No matter how the Soviet Union would change, China should continue to develop relations with it following the Five Principles for Peaceful Coexistence including political relations, not to enter ideological debates with them. Guided by these words, the CPC has correctly handled the relation and difference between the party-to-party and state-to-state relations, and never let the change of political structure affect state-to-state relations. On the other hand, following the four principles, the CPC has been active in developing relations with old and new parties in these countries, and through which advanced the progress of state-to-state relations.

The third generation of CPC leading group with Jiang Zemin as the core, and then the Party Central Committee with Hu Jintao as the General Secretary, has inherited Mao Zedong thought and Deng Xiaoping theory about the party-to-party relations, continued to follow the four principles and broadened their range of application. In the political reports of the 14th CPC National Congress held in 1992, the 15th CPC National Congress in 1997 and the 16th CPC National Congress in 2002, Jiang Zeming reiterated continuity of party-to-party exchanges and cooperation by the principles of independence, complete equality, mutual respect and non-interference in others' internal affairs.

In September 2004, on The Third International Conference of Asian Political Parties, Hu Jintao said that the CPC would continue to follow the four principles, and with sincerity to develop all-round cooperation with other parties and the party-to-party relations that benefited state-to-state relations and peoples' friendship. The four principles have become the foundation of CPC's international relations in the new era.

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