Published: 23:16, June 14, 2021 | Updated: 22:08, June 14, 2021
Understanding true nature of the Chinese Communist Party
By Ho Lok-sang

Members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China keep saying that they love the country. Indeed, at one time they had promoted the slogan: “Love the country and its people; that is the Hong Kong spirit.” But one objective of this alliance is to “end the one-party rule” on the mainland. Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, at a forum that marked the CPC’s 100-year anniversary last Saturday, said that those who call for “ending one-party rule” are the “real enemies of the city”.

Luo is right. Those who want to end China’s CPC-led political system are not only enemies of Hong Kong people, but also enemies of the 1.4 billion Chinese people. 

It is under this political system that China has achieved a superior performance on many fronts. Without this system, many people would have lived in extreme poverty subject to threats of famine, and many probably would have died premature deaths in the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

Unfortunately, too many people do not understand the true nature of the Communist Party of China. 

In a rebuttal to an article of mine written in 2013 that argued that those who love the country need to love the Party, Ching Cheong cited Liang Qichao, a highly respected scholar of the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), who wrote that loving the country was not the same as loving the dynasty. But the CPC is not a dynasty. A dynasty is a line of hereditary rulers of a country. The leadership of the CPC is not based on bloodlines, but is chosen through a rigorous screening process based on merit, i.e., serving the people. 

The Communist Party of China is also not beholden to businesses or other vested interests. Whereas political parties in many so-called democratic countries depend on donations by wealthy people and businesses to fund their political campaigns, the CPC is independent. 

Of course, the CPC has made mistakes in the past. But the CPC is an organizational structure, whose decisions are always those of the key leaders at the time. Because leaders are human, mistakes from time to time are inevitable. But over the years, the institutions and culture of the CPC have evolved and it has become one of the world’s most effective governments. The achievements made by China under the leadership of the CPC include not only continuous vigorous economic growth over almost half a century, but also tremendous improvement in public health and medical care, social safety net, environmental management, food security, freedom from terrorist attacks, crime prevention, housing, education, worker safety, ecological conservation, cultural heritage preservation, etc. China boasts the world’s best rail and road networks and is a powerhouse for innovation and technological progress. More importantly, China is a truly independent sovereign country that is capable of defending itself against hostile forces, and has not launched a single war on any country. 

There has been some debate over the subject of loyalty to the Party. Many people are puzzled why loyalty to the Party is so important. They do not realize that loyalty in this context is not loyalty to any particular person in the Party, but loyalty to the key values that the Party represents. The “Three Represents” principle defines the role of the CPC, and stresses that the Party must always represent the development trend of China’s advanced productive forces, the orientation of China’s advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people. If loyalty to the Party is understood as loyalty to whoever is in power, China would not have gone forward. The toppling of the “Gang of Four” was a precondition to China’s opening-up policy and comprehensive economic reforms. The “Three Represents” was written into the Party’s Constitution and adopted at the 17th National Congress in 2007.

Apart from the guiding principle of the “Three Represents”, there is also the Scientific Outlook on Development, which puts people first and calls for comprehensive, balanced and sustainable development. This follows the tradition laid down by Deng Xiaoping, namely that policy making must be based on science and workability.

Many observers misunderstand China’s political system. China respects the equal political rights of all people, indeed even more so than Western democracies. China respects the rule of law, so that no officials and no CPC members are above the law. Officials are accountable and will be punished if they are found to have breached their vows to serve the people and abused their powers. China hates disinformation and champions transparency as much as the United States. From this perspective, there is not that much difference between China’s values and America’s values. The difference only lies in different beliefs over what works better to achieve the same values.

Those who want to end the CPC’s leadership in China must ask themselves: What makes you think that ending this system will be good for the Chinese people? China’s superior performance in containing COVID-19 is evidence that its current political system is serving the nation well.

The author is a senior research fellow at the Pan Sutong Shanghai-Hong Kong Economic Policy Research Institute, Lingnan University.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.