Pan Wei（Prof. Beijin University）.
Why is the Chinese Communist Party not a
"political party" in the Western sense of the word?
Source: China News Network Participate
in Interactive Participate in Interactive 30 August 2021
独家 | 潘维：为什么说中国共产党不是西方意义上的“政党”？
Chinese→English Translation：Teiichi Aoyama
Independent Media E-wave Tokyo 30 August 2021
Profile of Professor Pan Wei, Peking University
Pan Wei is a Professor at the School of International Relations, Peking University and Director of the Center for China and World Studies at Peking University. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in International Politics from Peking University and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. His main areas of research are Chinese politics and world politics. An introduction, including his publications, can be found at the end of the book.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) has a century-long history and has led China to remarkable development. The question is: how should we view the CPC as a global political party in terms of a comparison between China and the West?
Why is the CPC not a "political party" in the Western sense of the word? Historically, what has been the impact of the Chinese civilisation's idea of "great unity" on the CPC? What are the keys to determining the quality and future of political parties, and what are the keys to letting history tell the story of the future?
Pan Wei, professor at Peking University's School of International Relations and director of Peking University's Centre for China and World Studies, recently gave an authoritative interpretation of the relevant questions in an interview with the Chinese newspaper East-West Question.
Extracts from the interview are as follows
CNA Reporter: To see the success of the Chinese Communist Party, we need a comparative perspective among the world's political parties. How do you think about political parties and the relationship between parties and the people?
Pang Wei: Political parties are a Western concept that has only recently emerged. The word "party" comes from the word "part", which means a part of society, and "party" means an organisation (political or social) that represents a part of society.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the power of the European kings was lost and 'parliamentary sovereignty' was established. The so-called 'parliamentary sovereignty' was the joint rule of the different 'parties' in the parliament, which divided the 'sovereignty' according to the number of votes they received. Parliamentary sovereignty" means that the various "parties" in the parliament share the "sovereignty" among themselves according to the number of votes they receive and are given a short term government. In order to rally and organise the population to take power, the parties became increasingly efficient and a system of party membership, party platforms, party discipline and party sections emerged.
In contrast to the multi-party system of Europe, the United States inherited the parliamentary and voting system that had existed in the Middle Ages, with a "president" with powers comparable to those of a European king, but checked by a bicameral parliament and independent courts. In the United States, the hurdle for political parties has been set high to ensure that Congress can function as a check on the President, and until now there has been no opportunity for a third pole.
Today, the world is permeated with a sense of civic rights and the "one, two or many party" system appears to be the norm, but the performance of countries around the world varies widely. Some countries have succeeded and others have failed in the same system, and different systems can have the same successes and the same failures.
The American and European experience shows that political parties represent the "interests of a section of society" and not the "sovereignty of the people" When society is divided, the sovereignty of the people is also divided, and when the sovereignty of the people is divided, the well-being of the people is impaired. And the power of the people is not the same as the rights, interests and well-being of the people.
The original intention of the two-party and multi-party systems in the West was to avoid the abuse of power and to achieve party oversight. In practice, however, electoral politics has strengthened the divide between different interest groups and, as a result, has reduced the capacity for political integration.
Long-term planning is even more difficult, as there is often no consensus between political parties on key national strategic issues. Elections polarise, populism divides, and party wars ignore the interests of the majority, constantly tearing society apart.
In contrast, China's new party system combines electoral politics with wise politics, balances political stability with government authority, and unifies consensus politics with centralised leadership.
People's democracy is the most prominent feature of the Chinese system. People's democracy differs from all kinds of modern "democracies", such as the "liberal democracy" of the United States and Britain based on the grouping of interests, the "social democracy" of northwestern Europe based on labour-management compromise, and the Soviet Union based on industrial workers. The Soviet "proletarian democracy" was based on industrial workers.
China News Agency: How do you see the difference between the path the Chinese Communist Party has taken and the path the West has taken? What are the characteristics of the Chinese Communist Party compared to the ruling parties in Western countries?
Pang Wei: The Chinese way is not a copy of the Western way, and China's reform and opening up is not a copy of the Western way. The essence of the Chinese road lies in the fact that it is a socialist road that can constantly evolve with the times and solve problems, i.e. socialism with Chinese characteristics.
How can this path be maintained? It is because of the leadership of the CPC and its adherence to the ideological line of seeking truth from facts that the CPC has been able to advance with determination towards the goal of strengthening the country and enriching the people, and to run towards the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
The Chinese Communist Party refuses to be a "party" in the Western sense of the word and to conduct "party politics" in the Western sense, and the Chinese system is not a Western system.
The Chinese Communist Party is a politically unified ruling group representing the interests of the entire Chinese nation. Based on the people-centred ideology of traditional Chinese politics, the CPC considers the people to be the subject of the state, the creator of history and the fundamental force determining the destiny of the Party and the state. Therefore, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has its own historical heritage and its own advanced features.
From the historical aspect, the CPC is deeply rooted in the historical tradition of three thousand years in China, and the CPC's governing ideology has transformed the concentric circles of traditional Chinese society into modern concentric circles, and the homogeneity and unity of traditional family and nation into the homogeneity and unity of modern family and nation.
Modern Chinese society under the leadership of the Communist Party of China is concentric and has a homogeneous family-state structure which has adapted to modern society and kept up with the times.
In terms of international comparison, the Chinese Communist Party is fundamentally different from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Communist Party pursued the elimination of private property and class domestically and the organisation of an independent socialist camp in the world to oppose the capitalist world system and its eventual elimination.
In other words, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union made the Marxist-Leninist world outlook a realistic strategy for governing the country, replacing national goals with party goals and national interests with party interests.
On the other hand, the Communist Party of China (CPC) is the vanguard of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation, and its original mission is to work for the happiness of the Chinese people and the revival of the Chinese nation, and on the basis of China's reality, it puts into practice the people-centered development idea, fully develops people's democracy, adheres to social justice, strives to solve the problems of unbalanced and inadequate development and the urgent problems of the people, and makes more obvious and substantial progress in promoting the overall development of the people and the common prosperity of all the people.
Chinese Newspapers Reporter: You said earlier that the CPC is rooted in China's historical traditions. From the perspective of party development, how should we understand the influence of the core tenets of Chinese civilization on modern China and the CPC?
Pang Wei: China has a historical tradition of 3,000 years, compared to which the CPC is just over a century old and the historical origins of Marxist ideology are much shorter than ours. Our roots lie not in modern theory, but in something much deeper. In China, the Confucian idea of "human-centredness" was born 500 years before the Western Zhou dynasty.
At the heart of Chinese civilisation is the idea of 'Daidong unity', which is central to understanding the 'Chinese Way'. The idea of "Daidong unity" has three major lessons for modern Chinese politics.
First, by maintaining "impartiality", that is, by being fair to both left and right, by rejecting "party strife", out of the "public" will to maintain Daidong unity, the government is able to maintain social unity. To this day, "interest groups" are an "evil" concept in China. This is very different from Western 'democratic' cultures which recognise the 'legitimacy' of interest groups.
Secondly, multiple interests in a society can be compromised or eliminated through negotiation, and 'power politics' of decapitation and counting is not believed in. In order to maintain "great unity" for a long time, it is not about "unity" but about "greatness".
How do we become 'big'? The answer is: there is room for all of us. In traditional China, the system for governing the north-east, north-west and south-west was different from the system for governing the interior, and the way the north and south of the provinces were governed was also different.
If there is something to be discussed, it will be discussed and everyone will participate in the discussion. The reason why China is so tolerant and tolerant today is that we are used to the idea of seeking truth from facts. Seeking truth from facts promotes "Daidong unity", and "Daidong unity" makes seeking truth from facts a habit of thought. Where there is tolerance, there is Greater China.
The third is the two-tiered regime where the smallest is the largest and the lowest is the highest. In traditional China, Confucian disciples were divided into two main groups: a very small number became members of the government hierarchy, while the majority became examiners at the bottom and leaders of the commoner government at the grassroots.
Whereas the hierarchical system was responsible for the 'big things' of the state, the grassroots authorities were responsible for the 'small things' of the community. By making the small into the big and the small into the big, the country would be at peace. When the two layers of power are divided, the hierarchy can quickly become corrupt. If the small things don't work and the people don't support them, the big things won't work either.
Looking back at Chinese history, the concept of "great unity" transcends dynastic changes and the rise and fall of governments. Compared with all kinds of "political parties" in the world, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), with its history of more than 100 years and 70 years in power, is in fact rooted in a deep historical and cultural heritage, which makes this "long and short" dialectic very clear.
For example, the traditional Chinese principle of "small is big, lower is higher" has now been condensed and sublimated into the "mass line of the Party", and the CPC is in close contact with millions of grassroots Party organisations, playing a role in continuously improving the people's lives along the mass line.
The Chugoku Shimbun: Based on the lessons learned from the development of political parties around the world, what do you think are the keys to determining the quality and future of political parties? What inspiration can the Chinese Communist Party draw from this?
Pang Wei: In terms of the historical experience of political parties in the West, in the case of the United States, the fate of the country is not determined by the "ruling party" or the change of two parties, but by the policies adopted by the ruling group in a context of divergent social interests. The American system has spread to a number of less developed countries, none of which have been as successful as the US, and some of which are world-famous 'failed states'.
In Western Europe there has been a proliferation of "parliamentary sovereignty" parties. After the Second World War the world became a world of great powers and the middle powers withdrew from the struggle for world supremacy. With the exception of Russia, no European country had a population of more than 100 million and had to be unified. But the various "parties" in the "European Parliament" were disunited. The last two decades have also seen a variety of "social movements" in Europe, including some radical forces.
The evolution of European-style parties towards a 'party for all' in the context of new modes of production and social conditions is as noteworthy as the blurring and convergence of the different political programmes of the parties. The advantage of a "party for all" is that it concentrates on the "big things", but its disadvantage is that it tends to overlook or neglect the "small things". The social basis of the "Party of All" is ambiguous and it may collapse if it loses the trust of the masses.
The analysis of political parties in the West has taught the CCP a lesson. The leadership of the CPC is in a form corresponding to the historical trend, and many political leaders in the less developed countries understand that the core of the so-called "Chinese model" or "Chinese miracle" lies in the leadership of the CPC.
Moreover, the advanced nature of the CPC, the vanguard of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation, depends on its sensitivity to the ups and downs of the people's confidence. As long as the Communist Party is deeply rooted among the people, it is an evergreen tree with deep roots.
That is why the CPC must continue to stand in front of the people, tackle major problems and lead the whole society towards a bright future; stand by the people, tackle minor problems and solve the problems of each family in each region; stand behind the people and review the balance between minor and major problems. and serious problems, and we must review the balance between the two, and continually improve our governance. (End).