Communist Party of China
Zhōngguó Gòngchǎndǎng
Secretary GeneralHu Jintao
Standing CommitteeWu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao
Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun
Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang
He Guoqiang, Zhou Yongkang
FoundedJuly 1, 1921 (1st Party Congress)
August, 1920 (de facto)
HeadquartersZhongnanhai, Beijing
Membership  (2007)73,360,000
Deng Xiaoping Theory with Chinese Socialism,
Scientific Development Concept
News on CPC
Politics of the People's Republic of China
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Communist Party of China
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The Communist Party of China (CPC), also known as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is the founding and the ruling political party of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the world's largest political party. While not a governing body recognized by the PRC's constitution,[1] the Party's position as the supreme political authority and power in the PRC is realized through its control of all state apparatuses and of the legislative process.[2] The Communist Party of China was founded in May 1920 in Shanghai, and came to rule all of mainland China after defeating its rival the Kuomintang (KMT) in the Chinese Civil War. The party's 70 million members[3] constitute 5.5% of the total population of mainland China.


The party's organizational structure was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and rebuilt afterwards by Deng Xiaoping, who subsequently initiated "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" and brought all state apparatuses back under the control of the CPC.

Theoretically, the party's highest body is the National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which meets at least once every five years. The primary organization of power in the Communist Party which is detailed in the party constitution include:

Other central organizations include:

In addition, there are numerous commissions and leading groups, the most important of which are:

  • Central Political and Legislative Affairs Committee
  • Work Committee for Organs under the Central Committee
  • Work Committee for Central Government Organs
  • Central Financial and Economic Leading Group
  • Central Leading Group for Rural Work
  • Central Leading Group for Party Building
  • Central Foreign Affairs Leading Group
  • Central Taiwan Affairs Leading Group
  • Commission for Protection of Party Secrets
  • Leading Group for State Security
  • Party History Research Centre
  • Party Research Center
  • Central Party School

Every five years, the Communist Party of China holds a National Congress. The latest happened on October 15, 2007. Formally, the Congress serves two functions: to approve changes to the Party constitution regarding policy and to elect a Central Committee, about 300 strong. The Central Committee in turn elects the Politburo. In practice, positions within the Central Committee and Politburo are determined before a Party Congress, and the main purpose of the Congress is to announce the party policies and vision for the direction of China in the following few years.

The party's central focus of power is the Politburo Standing Committee. The process for selecting Standing Committee members, as well as Politburo members, occurs behind the scenes in a process parallel to the National Congress. The new power structure is announced obliquely through the positioning of portraits in the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Party. The number of Standing Committee members varies and has tended to increase over time. The Committee was expanded to nine at the 16th Party National Congress in 2002.

There are two other key organs of political power in the People's Republic of China: the formal government and the People's Liberation Army.

There are, in addition to decision-making roles, advisory committees, including the People's Political Consultative Conference. During the 1980s and 1990s there was a Central Advisory Commission established by Deng Xiaoping which consisted of senior retired leaders, but with their passing this has been abolished since 1990.

Internal or external groupingsEdit

Flag of the Chinese Communist Party

The flag of the Communist Party of China

Political scientists have identified two groupings within the Communist Party[5] leading to a structure which has been called "one party, two factions".[6] The first is the "elitist coalition" or Shanghai clique which contains mainly officials who have risen from the more prosperous provinces. The second is the "populist coalition" or "Youth League faction" which consists mainly of officials who have risen from the rural interior, through the Communist Youth League. The interaction between these two factions is largely complementary with each faction possessing a particular expertise and both committed to the continued rule of the Communist Party and not allowing intra-party factional politics threaten party unity. It has been noted that party and government positions have been assigned to create a very careful balance between these two groupings.

Within his "one party, two factions" model, Li Chen has noted that one should avoid labeling these two groupings with simplistic ideological labels, and that these two groupings do not act in a zero-sum, winner take all fashion. Neither group has the ability or will to dominate the other completely.[7]


The party was small at first, but grew intermittently through the 1920s. Twelve voting delegates were seated at the 1st National Party Congress in 1921, as well as at the 2nd (in 1922), when they represented 195 party members. By 1923, the 420 members were represented by 30 delegates. The 1925 4th Congress had 20 delegates representing 994 members; then real growth kicked in. The 5th Congress (held in April-May 1927 as the KMT was slaughtering communists) comprised 80 voting delegates representing 57,968 members.

It was at October 3rd, 1928 6th Congress that the now-familiar ‘full’ and ‘alternate’ structure originated, with 84 and 34 delegates, respectively. Membership was estimated at 40,000. In 1945, the 7th Congress had 547 full and 208 alternate delegates representing 1.21 million members, a ratio of one representative per 1,600 members as compared to 1:725 in 1927.

After the Party defeated the Nationalists, participation at National Party Congresses became much less representative. Each of the 1026 full and 107 alternate members represented 9,470 party members (10.73 million in total) at the 1956 8th Congress. Subsequent congresses held the number of participants down despite membership growing to more than 60 million by 2000.[8]


Main article: History of the Communist Party of China

Criticism and supportEdit

Opinions about the Communist Party of China often create unexpected political alliances and divisions, e.g: divisions among conservatives in the United States. Many of the unexpected opinions about the CPC result from its rare combination of attributes as a party formally based on Marxism which has eventually overseen a market economy, yet maintains an authoritarian political system.

Critics Edit

  • Trotskyists argue that the party was doomed to its present character, that of petty-bourgeois nationalism in the 1920s, because of the near-annihilation of the workers' movement in the KMT betrayal of 1927, which was made possible by Stalin's order that the Communists join with the KMT in a centrist coalition, effectively disarming it, which opportunity the KMT swiftly exploited to defeat the communist revolution.[9] This slaughter forced the tiny surviving Party to switch from a workers' union- to a peasant, guerrilla-based organization, and to seek the aid of the most heterodox sources: from "patriotic capitalists" to the dreaded KMT itself, with which it openly sought to participate in a coalition government, even after the Japanese general surrender in 1945.[10] Chinese Trotskyists from Chen Duxiu onward have called for a political revolution against what they see as an opportunist, capitalist leadership of the CPC.
  • Some of the opponents of the Party within the Chinese democracy movement have tended not to argue that a strong Chinese state is inherently bad, but rather that the Communist leadership is corrupt. The Chinese New Left, meanwhile, is a current within China that seeks to "revert China to the socialist road" – i.e., to return China to the socialist system that existed before Deng Xiaoping's reforms.


Leaders of the Communist Party of China are aware that there are serious problems with corruption and with maintaining the trust of the Chinese people. However, attempts made in closed-door sessions at Fourth Plenary Session of the 17th Communist Party of China Central Committee in September 2009 to grapple with these problems produced inconclusive results although a directive which requires disclosure of investments and property holdings by party and governmental officials was passed.[11]

Supporters Edit

  • Another school of thought argues that the worst of the abuses took place decades ago, and that the current leaders were not only unconnected with them, but were actually victims of that era. They have also argued that, while the modern Communist Party may be flawed, it is comparatively better than previous regimes, with respect to improving the general standard of living, than any other government that has governed China in the past century and can be seen in a more favorable light compared with most governments of the developing nations. As a result, the CPC has recently taken sweeping measures to regain support from the countryside, with limited success.
  • In addition, some scholars contend that China has never operated under a decentralized democratic regime in its several thousand years of history, and therefore it can be argued that the present structure, albeit not up to western moral standards, is the best possible option when compared to its alternatives. A sudden transition to democracy, they contend, would result in the economic and political upheaval that occurred in the Soviet Union in the 1990s, and that by focusing on economic growth, China is setting the stage for a more gradual but sustainable transition to a more liberal system. This group sees Mainland China as being similar to Spain in the 1960s, and South Korea and Taiwan during the 1970s. This school of thought also brings together some unlikely political allies. Not only do most intellectuals within the Chinese government follow this school of thinking, but it is also the common belief held amongst pro-free trade liberals in the West.
  • Many observers from both within and outside of China have argued that the CCP has taken gradual steps towards democracy and transparency, hence arguing that it is best to give it time and room to evolve into a better government rather than forcing an abrupt change.[12] However, other observers (like Minxin Pei) question whether these steps are genuine efforts towards democratic reform or disingenuous measures by the CCP to retain power.[13]

Current leadershipEdit

The Members of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China are:

  1. Hu Jintao: President of the People's Republic of China, General Secretary of the CPC, Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
  2. Wu Bangguo: Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
  3. Wen Jiabao: Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
  4. Jia Qinglin: Chairman of the People's Political Consultative Conference
  5. Xi Jinping: Vice Chairman of the People's Republic of China, top-ranked member of CPC Secretariat
  6. Li Keqiang: Executive Vice Premier
  7. Li Changchun: "Propaganda Chief"
  8. He Guoqiang: Head of Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
  9. Zhou Yongkang: Head of Political and Legislative Affairs Committee

Members of the Politburo of the CPC Central committee:

Wang Lequan, Wang Zhaoguo, Hui Liangyu, Liu Qi, Liu Yunshan, Li Changchun, Wu Yi, Wu Bangguo, Wu Guanzheng, Zhang Lichang, Zhang Dejiang, Luo Gan, Zhou Yongkang, Hu Jintao, Yu Zhengsheng, He Guoqiang, Jia Qinglin, Guo Boxiong, Cao Gangchuan, Zeng Qinghong, Zeng Peiyan, Wen Jiabao.

Alternate member of the Politburo of the CPC Central Committee: Wang Gang

Members of Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee: Zeng Qinghong, Liu Yunshan, Zhou Yongkang, He Guoqiang, Wang Gang, Xu Caihou, He Yong.


Main article: List of leaders of the Communist Party of China

Between 1921 and 1943 the Communist Party of China was headed by the General Secretary:

  • Chen Duxiu, General Secretary 1921–1922 and 1925–1927
  • Qu Qiubai, General Secretary 1927–1928
  • Xiang Zhongfa, General Secretary 1928–1931
  • Li Lisan, acting General Secretary 1929–1930
  • Wang Ming, acting General Secretary 1931
  • Bo Gu, a.k.a. Qin Bangxian, acting General Secretary 1932–1935
  • Zhang Wentian a.k.a. Luo Fu, acting General Secretary 1935–1943

In 1943 the position of Chairman of the Communist Party of China was created.

In 1982, the post of Chairman was abolished, and the General Secretary, at this time held by the same man as the post of Chairman, once again became the supreme office of the Party.

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

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