I. China’s Political Parties
Political parties are an important force in state politics. Globally, there are numerous political parties of many types, differing in background, class basis, values, and political stance. They also play different roles in state affairs.
In China, the CPC and eight other political parties were founded for national salvation. Their shared goals were the realization of national independence, the people’s liberation and wellbeing, and the prosperity of the country.
China is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Following the Opium War in 1840, China was reduced into a semi-colonial, semi-feudal state under the occupying Western capitalist powers and the failing feudal autocracy. People of insight tried tirelessly to find a way to salvage the nation – the Taiping Rebellion, the Self-Strengthening Movement, the Hundred Days’ Reform, and the Boxer Movement – but all failed in the end.
The Revolution of 1911 led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen ended the feudal autocracy that had ruled China for more than 2,000 years, bringing tremendous change to society. But it failed to do away with the backward social system and failed to lift people out of misery. The historic mission of national independence and the people’s liberation remained unfulfilled.
The CPC was founded in 1921, at a time when China was facing grave dangers at home and abroad, trapped in a morass of social crises. Always retaining in the forefront of mind its founding mission – to seek happiness for the people and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation – the CPC has succeeded in applying Marxist tenets to the Chinese context, rallying all the forces that can be combined to form an extensive united front. It has achieved many great feats that have drawn worldwide attention and ensured that the CPC and the people hold to the right path on the way forward.
Over the course of a century, the CPC has, leading the Chinese people, made unprecedented achievements. These include:
By completing the New Democratic Revolution (1919-1949) and founding the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, it put an end to the semi-colonial, semi-feudal society of old China and realized national independence and the people’s liberation.
By completing the socialist revolution and establishing socialism in China, it brought the most extensive and profound social change to the Chinese nation.
By introducing the policy of reform and opening up, it has pioneered socialism with Chinese characteristics so that the people can enjoy a better life, and the nation can become stronger and have its status notably raised in the international community.
By implementing the Five-sphere Integrated Plan[ 1]and the Four-pronged Comprehensive Strategy[ 2]，it has ushered in a new era of Chinese socialism.
With these historic achievements and transformation in the cause of the CPC and the nation, China has stood up, become better off, and grown in strength. It can now look forward to the bright prospect of national rejuvenation.
The CPC’s role in leading the country was confirmed and consolidated in the course of China’s revolution, economic development, and reform. It is the choice of history and of the people. By the end of 2019, CPC membership had reached 91.9 million.
The non-CPC political parties were created and developed in the Chinese people’s fight to destroy imperialism and autocracy and pursue democracy. Their membership came from the national bourgeoisie, urban petty bourgeoisie, and intellectuals and other associated patriots. Under CPC leadership, these parties have participated in founding the PRC, reconstructing the country, advancing reform, and realizing the Chinese Dream. Together, they have committed themselves to the great cause of seeking national independence, the people’s liberation and wellbeing, and the prosperity of the country.
The Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang was created by former members of the democratic group of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party of China, or KMT) and other patriots. Standing against the autocratic rule under Chiang Kai-shek, the patriots inside the party carried forward Sun Yat-sen’s legacy of devotion to the nation, to revolution and to progress, and together founded the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang in Hong Kong in January 1948. Dedicated to the ultimate ideal of realizing the Three Principles of the People proposed by Sun Yat-sen and building an independent and democratic new China where everyone lives a happy life, the committee defined its program of action – to end KMT autocracy and form a democratic coalition government.
Currently, the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang consists mainly of people who have links with the KMT, have historical and social connections with the committee, or have relationships with Taiwan compatriots, along with specialists in social and legal affairs, and in business relating to agriculture, rural areas, and rural people. The party has a membership of more than 151,000.
1.This refers to China’s overall plan for building socialism with Chinese characteristics, that is, to promote coordinated progress in the economic, political, cultural, social and eco-environmental fields.
2.This refers to China’s strategic plan for building socialism with Chinese characteristics, that is, to make comprehensive moves to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, to further reform, to advance the rule of law, and to strengthen CPC self-governance.
The China Democratic League was founded by a group of well-known public figures and intellectuals seeking democracy and progress. To support the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (War Against Japanese Aggression, 1931-1945), promote unity and democracy, and ensure their own rights to survive, a number of political parties and organizations joined hands to secretly establish the China Democratic Political League in Chongqing in March 1941. It adopted a platform to fight Japanese aggression, practice democracy, and promote unity across the country. Reorganized as the China Democratic League in September 1944, it opposed autocracy and the civil war, and called for democracy and peace.
Now, the China Democratic League is mainly composed of senior intellectuals specializing in culture, education, and relevant fields of science and technology. It has a membership of more than 330,000.
The China National Democratic Construction Association was initiated by an assembly of patriotic businesspeople and associated intellectuals. During the War Against Japanese Aggression, a group of patriotic businesspeople and intellectuals aspired to save the nation by developing industry, supporting movements against Japanese aggression, and advocating political and economic democracy. In December 1945, they founded the China National Democratic Construction Association in Chongqing, proposing that an ideal nation is owned by the people, governed by the people, and enjoyed by the people. They advocated democratic economic planning and corporate autonomy under the guidance of such planning.
Today, the China National Democratic Construction Association is home to businesspeople, economic specialists and academics. It has a membership of more than 210,000.
The China Association for Promoting Democracy was founded by intellectuals in the fields of culture, education, and publishing, along with patriots from industry and business. In the course of the War Against Japanese Aggression, a number of intellectuals and businesspeople stayed in Shanghai to resist Japanese occupation. After the war they exposed the KMT’s reactionary rule through the newspapers and publications they ran, and founded the China Association for Promoting Democracy in Shanghai in December 1945. With a mission to carry forward democracy and facilitate democratic politics in China, the association called for an end to KMT autocracy and the civil war, and for the return of state power to the people.
Now, the China Association for Promoting Democracy mainly recruits intellectuals in education, culture, publishing, and relevant fields of science and technology. It has a membership of more than 182,000.
The Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party was founded by left-wing KMT members supporting Sun Yat-sen’s principles of allying with the Soviet Union, allying with the CPC, and helping the peasants and workers. After the failure of the First National Revolution in 1927, left-wing KMT members formed a provisional action committee in Shanghai in August 1930, proposing to set up a government of peasants, workers and common people. The name was changed to the Chinese Action Committee for Nation Liberation in November 1935, and then into the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party in February 1947. It called on all Chinese compatriots and political parties to unite for peace and national unification, and to work for an independent and prosperous China.
Currently, the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party mainly consists of intellectuals in medicine, health care, human resources, the eco-environment, and relevant fields of education, science and technology. It has a membership of more than 184,000.
The China Zhi Gong Party was founded by overseas Chinese communities. As China fell into chaos following the Opium War in 1840, many Chinese left the country for Southeast Asia and the Americas, and formed many local communities and organizations. In October 1925 the Hung Society Zhi Gong Hall, an overseas Chinese society, founded the China Zhi Gong Party in San Francisco, taking as its mission to fight for national independence and liberation of the people, and to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of overseas Chinese. In May 1947, the party was reorganized into a new democratic party at its third congress in Hong Kong.
The China Zhi Gong Party is mainly composed of the middle and higher ranks of returned overseas Chinese and their relatives, and representatives of people with overseas connections. It has a membership of more than 63,000.
The Jiusan Society was founded by intellectuals in culture, education, science and technology. At the end of 1944, a group of academics in these fields organized a forum on democracy and science in Chongqing, with the purpose of supporting the War Against Japanese Aggression, boosting democracy, and carrying forward the spirit of the May 4th Movement, underpinned by patriotism, democracy and science. On September 3, 1945, to celebrate victory in the War Against Japanese Aggression and World War II, the organization was renamed the Jiusan Forum, which became the basis for the Jiusan Society, founded on May 4, 1946. Its platform was to carry forward the spirit of the May 4th Movement and promote democracy and science.
The Jiusan Society recruits intellectuals in science and technology, and relevant fields of higher education, medicine, and health care. It has a membership of more than 195,000.
The Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League was founded by patriotic Chinese compatriots in Taiwan Province. Taiwan returned to the motherland after the War Against Japanese Aggression, but the corrupt, autocratic rule of the KMT authorities infuriated local people, resulting in the February 28 Uprising in 1947. The uprising was brutally suppressed and its leading members withdrew to Hong Kong, where they founded the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League in November that year, calling for an independent new China characterized by peace, democracy, prosperity, and people’s wellbeing, and opposing any secessionist attempt to break Taiwan away from China.
The Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League is mainly composed of Taiwan compatriots residing in the mainland and intellectuals in Taiwan studies. It has a membership of more than 3,300.
There are also well-known, influential public figures who are not affiliated to any political party but have contributed to national independence, the people’s liberation and wellbeing, and the prosperity of the country. They are mainly non-affiliated influential intellectuals who have the desire and ability to discuss and participate in the administration of state affairs, and who have contributed to society.
In the long course of revolution, economic development and reform, and in the historic process of seeking happiness for the people and the rejuvenation of the nation, the CPC has withstood countless tests and become the vanguard of the Chinese workers, the Chinese people, and the Chinese nation. It represents the leadership of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The other political parties have evolved into a close political alliance of the socialist workers and patriots whom they represent, and become parties participating in the administration of state affairs. Non-affiliates are also an important force in Chinese politics.