2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, which was born in 1921 in Shanghai. The party has built its reputation on resistance, showcasing the country’s rise from civil war in the early years of Communist rule to market reforms that have created the world’s second largest economy, with a super power status rivaled only by the United States.
The University of Johannesburg Centre for Africa-China Studies (UJ CACS) in partnership with the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies hosted a webinar on the 22nd of June 2021 to reflect on the Communist Party of China (CPC)’s 100th anniversary coming up on the 23rd of July 2021.
The Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg, Prof Tshilidzi Marwala gave the welcoming remarks. The Chinese Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Mr Chen Xiaodong gave the keynote address. The First Deputy Secretary General of the South African Communist Party Comrade Solly Mapaila and the former Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda and Eritrea who is currently the Director of the African Studies Centre at the China Foundation for International Studies also headlined the event. Scholars who gave presentations include Professors Chen Dongxiao, He Wenping, Peng Yi, Vladmir Shubin, and Drs. Chuanhong Zhang, Obert Hodzi, Zhu Ming and Ibbo Mandaza. Professor Mandla Radebe gave the closing remarks while Dr David Monyae, the Co-Director of the UJ CACS chaired the event.
In his welcoming remarks, Prof Marwala congratulated the CPC on its 100th anniversary which he said was a major milestone not only for China but for the world. He said that the CPC had registered remarkable achievements including transforming China into a global force for peace and progress and eliminating extreme poverty amongst Chinese citizens. Prof Marwala said Africa has a lot to learn from the CPC which stands as a role model and a source of inspiration for Africa and the wider developing world.
In his keynote address Ambassador Xiaodong stressed that the CPC was a people-centred party that was rooted in the people and not in special interests. This has enabled it to eliminate poverty amongst its people through the universal provision of such essential services as health, education and insurance thus achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals a decade ahead of schedule. He said the CPC had contributed to world peace by its participation in the Second World War fighting against oppressive nations, its support for national independence movements in Africa and contributions to global peacekeeping operations. He also highlighted the important role that China is playing in global development through initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative which has promoted infrastructure development in developing countries.
DSG Solly Mapaila pointed out that other countries could learn from China’s revolutionary reforms which have formed the basis of China’s remarkable social and scientific development which has given credit to socialism. He said the CPC has acted as a collective embodiment of the Chinese people by helping achieve peace both at home and abroad and eradicating poverty. It therefore stands as an example from the SACP can draw lessons and also expresses the socialist ideals of the late SACP leader Chris Hani. Ambassador Shu Zhan recounted his personal contacts with the SACP cadres which helped to cement ties with the CPC.
In their presentations, they discussed the role of the CPC in China’s poverty reduction, democratic credentials of the CPC, how the CPC has promoted the rule of law and a strong legal system and the kind of culture that the CPC has cultivated in China. All these elements have contributed to making the CPC a hugely successful governing party in China.
UJ’s Prof Peng Yi emphasized on the CPC’s role in building and strengthening a socialist legal system which has enhanced law-enforcement, the safety of its citizens and protection of property rights. Other scholars like Dr Hodzi and Dr Mandaza compared the CPC to African liberation movements. They commended the CPC’s shining socio-economic achievements while lamenting the failure of African liberation movements to govern their countries effectively. They implored African governments to take a leaf from the CPC’s conduct and successes to chart their own national development paths.
Overall, there was consensus among the speakers that the CPC’s achievements are a force for good in the world. Moreover, China under the CPC has become the leader of the developing world from which other countries can learn a great deal.