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Why is the 100th Anniversary of the Communist Party of China so Important?

A large temporary monument in Tiananmen Square marking the 90th anniversary of the CPC © Haha169 / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Every year, on the 1st of July, the date marking the anniversary of the CPC, national media inform Chinese people about the statistics of the Party, such as the number of new members. But in 2021, the mentioned date is even more important: it marks the centenary of the Communist Party.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) was founded on the 1st of July 1921, in Shanghai. At the end of July, 12 representatives participated in the First National Congress, held in the French Concession of Shanghai. Encouraged by the increasing scale of popular protests in China and by the Russian Revolution of 1917, the political objective of the CPC since its foundation has been the dictatorship of the proletariat (Samarani, 2017). That being said, the Chinese Communist Party has always had the ability of adapting its ideology to an ever-changing social context. For example, under the administration of Deng Xiaoping (1978-1997) and the Reform and Opening, a long list of changes was introduced to facilitate foreign investment. Nevertheless, through the Four Basic Principles (socialism; dictatorship of the proletariat; leadership of the Communist Party; Marxism-Leninism-Maoist thought) the roots of the ideology were reaffirmed (Lavagnino & Mottura, 2019).

It was in this period, during the XIII National Congress in 1987, that Deng Xiaoping first envisaged the Three-step development strategy. The first step would see the doubling of China’s GDP between 1981 and 1990, and the second step envisaged another doubling between 1991 and 2000, thus creating a “moderately prosperous” way of life. The third step, to be completed by 2021, expected per capita GDP to reach the level of a moderately developed country (Onnis, 2020). After his election in 2012, Xi Jinping, the current President of the PRC, introduced another goal to be achieved by the new government: pursuing the “Chinese dream”. The aim is to build a moderately prosperous society in every field by 2021, thus getting rid of poverty, and then working towards a modern socialist country that’s culturally advanced, democratic, and in harmony (Samarani, 2017).

To the Chinese government, deadlines are of crucial importance: the objectives envisaged by Deng Xiaoping and Xi Jinping, to be completed by the 1st July 2021, are among the main reasons why this is such an important date. It is indeed essential to make Chinese people aware of all the achievements that were made thanks to the governmental actions. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (RPC), the State Council released a paper titled “China and the world in the New Era”, describing the unprecedented development and achievements of China during the recent years, such as poverty elimination, global importance, and economic growth. In fact, despite the challenges recently posed by the pandemic, China’s GDP has grown by 175% since 1978, with the GDP per capita currently amounting to USD $10,216 (The World Bank Group, 2021). Moreover, in November 2020, Guizhou was officially declared the last Chinese province to overcome absolute poverty, thereby allowing China to fulfill its promises and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (Onnis, 2020).

During the Conference on education held in Beijing in February, Xi Jinping emphasized the crucial role of education for the new phase of Chinese development. He also noted that all Party members should study the CPC’s history and theories, engage in an honest behavior, and do a lot of work to welcome the Centenary with outstanding achievements (Xinhua, 2021b). It is to be noted that education in China has always been a fundamental tool for economic development, social stability, and the fulfillment of political goals: since the times of Confucius, human resources have been valued not only for their skills, but also for their moral integrity and, today, innovation. Becoming a member of the Party is a particularly long and difficult process, g