2011/06/29

Key facts about China's Communist Party

BEIJING, June 29, 2011 (AFP) - The Communist Party of China (CCP) will celebrate its 90th anniversary on Friday. The following are key facts about the CCP:

MEMBERSHIP

More than 80 million members, making it the largest political party in the world. Growing numbers of youths and private entrepreneurs have joined the party in recent years.

FOUNDING

Formally established in 1921 in Shanghai by delegates to the 1st Party Congress, which included a 27-year-old Mao Zedong.

BASIS OF POWER

China is ruled as a one-party state, with the CCP's leadership enshrined in the Chinese constitution.

PARTY GENERAL SECRETARY

President Hu Jintao, since 2002. His second term will end in 2012, at which point he is expected to step aside for a new generation of leaders.

IDEOLOGY

The CCP has veered far from its roots in the Leninist concept of a vanguard party spearheading a proletarian revolution. Today it effectively promotes an ideology of capitalist development -- while retaining a closed political structure in which the party remains all-powerful.

KEY EVENTS IN PARTY HISTORY

1921: CCP formally established, setting out a Leninist vision of an elite  party standing at the vanguard of a proletarian revolution based on China's vast masses.
1934-35: Party relocates revolutionary base from southeastern to northern China to escape Nationalist encirclement in a gruelling trek -- the "Long March" -- that sees Mao emerge as undisputed leader.
1949: CCP triumphantly takes power in Beijing after defeating Nationalists in a bloody civil war.
1966-76: Mao launches "Cultural Revolution" in bid to return party to its roots and reinforce his flagging power. China is plunged into chaos.
1978: After Mao's death in 1976, Deng Xiaoping begins party's shift away from Marxist economic ideology and towards acceptance of "market forces". China's economy begins its spectacular rise.
1989: Deng's reforms embolden students to demonstrate for democracy at Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Communist leaders call in the army to violently suppress the demonstrations on June 3-4.
2001: Party chairman Jiang Zemin promotes the recruitment of China's new business class into the party in a further move away from the CCP's roots.
2002: Hu replaces Jiang as party chief.
2009: China marks 60 years since the CCP took power.
2010: Vice President Xi Jinping is named vice-chairman of the influential Central Military Commission, which is widely seen as a step towards succeeding Hu.