Blog Entries

The Party’s Party

A Reading Roundup

From the series The Chinese Communist Party Centennial, 1921 to 2021

On July 1, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) threw itself a big birthday bash to celebrate 100 years. Birthed in Shanghai by a rag-tag group that believed that Marxism provided the best hope for China’s development, it went on to defeat the ruling Nationalist Party and establish the People’s Republic of China in October of 1949. Its 70+ year rule has been marked by periods of consolidation and relaxation, harsh political campaigns and economic growth, isolation and engagement. For the current leadership, this anniversary provided a chance for them to remind the people (and the world) that China is and can only be great 在共产党领导下 (under the leadership of the Communist Party).

In case you missed out on some of the coverage of the event, here is a roundup of some of the more interesting stories.

First off, if you are so inclined, you can watch the entire two-hour celebration held in Tiananmen Square here. Pull up a chair and grab some popcorn.

CNN’s Steven Jiang was on hand to report on the event, noting that the show was “all about reminding the people what the Chinese Communist Party has given them.”

David Rennie, a journalist for The Economist also joined the hand-picked attendees and filed this audio report, highlighting the themes taken up by Xi Jinping.

For those of you with strong linguistic fortitude, here is the full text of Xi Jinping’s speech. For those lacking such fortitude, this BBC piece provides a good overview and analysis.

NPR’s All Things Considered interviewed historian Andy Liu about the “mark the Party has made on the country.”

The BBC podcast Sounds produced an episode titled 100 Glorious Years, looking at how the Party presents its history, paying close attention to what is included and what is omitted.

Sup China posted a video by a Danish adventurer who travelled the route of the Party’s Long March on his motorcycle, visiting along the way “the monuments and museums documenting the march and the struggles the CCP forces faced.” A CCP road trip if you will.

Sixth Tone looks at how the ideology of Marxism entered China and took root.

CNN published a great collection of photos highlighting key events in the history of the Party and China.

Writing in Foreign Affairs, the great China scholar Orville Schell offered his thoughts in an essay titled “Life of the Party: How Secure is the CCP?” He reminds us that “nothing is as it seems:”

Today, China’s tight social controls, impressive infrastructure, dynamic economy, and modernizing military may lend the appearance of a well-ordered, confident, and invincible nation united around an unchallengeable leader and a unified party. Its successes should not be dismissed. But when one factors in the party’s history of fratricidal struggle, fixation on control, obsession with ceremony, and mania for propaganda, a different picture emerges: of a system so uncertain and lacking in self-confidence that its leaders need to maintain an expensive simulacrum of national greatness to believe in their true prowess. 

Finally, for a Christian perspective on the anniversary, I commend the following pieces, three published by ChinaSource, and one by The Gospel Coalition:

Happy Reading!

Image credit: China Daily, via YouTube.
Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio

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