Taking credit for delivering the modernity and prosperity which Chinese people have dreamed of for over a century, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is pulling out all the stops to celebrate 100th anniversary of the party.
From elementary school essay competitions to patriotic films to an unending parade of speeches, banners and news headlines, China is in the midst of celebrating the CCP’s 100-year anniversary.
The journey started from 1921 when CCP was formed. China at that time was driven by feuding warlords, deeply mired in poverty, and powerless on the international stage. The Republic of China was established in 1912, but its government was weak and largely unable to solve China’s problems.
By contrast, the China of 2021 is an emerging superpower. Beijing has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, a nuclear arsenal and the world’s second-largest economy. China’s geopolitical prominence is cemented abroad while authoritarian pressures grow at home.
The CCP continues to claim full credit for these accomplishments. In February, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared the end of extreme poverty in China.
But China’s GDP per capita remains far below that of developed countries and hovers just under the global average of around USD 11,000. Access to high-quality health care and education is still out of reach for many.
For many Chinese people, especially ethnic and religious minorities, a succession of ideological crackdowns carried out by Xi and his hardline supporters has also cast a shadow over their futures.
The CCP has made it through a century of turbulence, and it’s come out on the other side more powerful than ever.
The centennial celebrations are “an opportunity to draw continuity across the party and across Chinese civilisation,” said Peter Mattis, a senior fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
“Especially since the 19th party congress in 2017, Xi Jinping has been talking about Chinese solutions and providing Chinese contributions to humanity. This is an opportunity to speak of a Chinese project, not just a party project — but they can say the party is the one who achieved this.”
Top party leaders, including Xi, are trying to further associate China’s achievements over the past 40 years with the party, especially through emphasizing the realisation of several specific goals laid out years ago.
In 2012, the same year Xi was selected as party secretary, the party began heavily promoting the “centenary goal” of achieving a “moderately well-off society” by 2021.
Xi has often connected this centenary goal to the “Chinese dream,” his signature slogan referring to achieving a modern, powerful and prosperous nation. “Linking the two concepts means that there is effectively a deadline for achieving the Chinese dream. By 2021, the ‘dream’ must be at least partially complete,” Diplomat editor Shannon Tiezzi wrote in 2015.
That explains, in part, the big push over the past few years to alleviate poverty — including initiatives for funding local infrastructure and incentives for businesses to invest in China’s inland region as well as relocating some populations and forcibly putting others, including Uyghurs, to work.