25 October 2021

ThinkChina Policy Brief: 100 years with China’s Communist Party

In this ThinkChina Policy Brief, professor emeritus Jørgen Delman looks at the  Communist Party of China (CPC) that celebrated its 100th anniversary on July 1st, 2021, and has been ruling the People’s Republic of Chinas for more than 70 years. The CPC has has modernized China and brought economic and social progress at a speed hardly ever seen in the world before. Under CPC rule China has become a major power and now speaks up against and demands respect from the US.

The policy brief seeks to explain the kind of political system that the CPC has built in China.  What is the meaning of the Chinese Constitution’s definition of the Chinese  political order as a “people’s democratic dictatorship? How does the Party secure its legitimacy to survive as the keeper of the world’s best functioning one-party rule?

Key takeaways:

  • The Chinese Constitution defines the Chinese political order as a ”people’s democratic dictatorship”. The Constitution defines China as a unitary and not a federalist state. All provinces are under the authority of the ‘Center’ (中央), i.e. the combined authority of Party and state and organized in the same way as the central par-ty-state bureaucracy
  • The CPC does not have an electoral constituency to relate and be responsible to. Being the undisputed party in power, the CPC recruits members, political employees, and public leaders itself. Therefore, historically, policy processes have been driven by bureaucratic politics, primarily by individual bureaucracies that have pursued their own interests, often in competition with each other. However, the legitimacy of the CPC rests on its ability to formulate and abide by a social contract with the Chinese people, the third dimension in the “people’s democratic dictator-ship”.
  • Xi’s focus is on maintaining the power of the Communist Party. He evidently believes that power centralization is essential to maintain the CPC’s hegemonic power, and he has gathered more formal power in his own hands than any of his predecessors

Download and read here.