Today We Must Succeed in a New "Long March"

Xi Jinping: The Governance of China II Updated: 2021-12-24

Today We Must Succeed in a New "Long March"*


October 21, 2016


As a great feat in human history, the Long March (1934-1936) has left us with a rich heritage. However, its most precious element was the spirit of the Long March, which was forged with the lives and blood of Chinese Communists and Red Army soldiers.

The spirit of the Long March meant putting the fundamental interests of the Chinese people and nation above all else, meant upholding firm revolutionary ideals and beliefs, and meant the belief that a just cause would surely succeed. It represented a willingness to sacrifice everything to save the country and the people, no matter what difficulties and obstacles lay ahead. It meant remaining committed to independence and autonomy, to seeking truth from facts, and to proceeding from reality in all endeavors. It meant taking a broad view, maintaining strict discipline, and seeking unity. And it meant relying closely on the people, sharing weal and woe with the people, and fighting bitterly alongside the people.

The spirit of the Long March was a vivid reflection of the demeanor of Chinese Communists and the people's army under their leadership; it was a demonstration of the Chinese people's spirit of constant self-improvement; and it was the highest embodiment of a national spirit based on patriotism.

A person without spirit cannot stand tall; a country without spirit cannot be strong. The spirit of a people is the essence upon which they depend for their long-term survival. Only with such a spirit can a people stand firm and move boldly forward through the turbulence of history. The spirit of the Long March, as an important constituent of the heritage of the Chinese Communists, has been infused deep into the veins and soul of the Chinese nation. It has become a rich source of nutrition supporting our core socialist values, and a powerful inner drive spurring the Chinese people to constantly surmount difficulties and advance from victory to victory.

History is made by the people, and heroic people make heroic history. The progress and development we see in China today is the result of an ongoing "long march".

On the eve of the founding of the PRC in 1949, Mao Zedong reminded us: "To win countrywide victory is only the first step in a long march of ten thousand li."1 Following the founding of the PRC, after an arduous period of experimentation that saw many setbacks, we launched a new era of reform and opening up, embarking on a new long march to develop Chinese socialism.

During more than 30 years of reform and opening up, under the leadership of the CPC, the Chinese people have united as one and engaged in a painstaking struggle to develop the country. China's reform, opening up, and socialist modernization have progressed rapidly, and Chinese people's standard of living has been fundamentally improved. China's socialist system has been significantly bolstered and developed. As a result, we can now see bright prospects for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics is an arduous, long-term task of great historical significance. Deng Xiaoping once said, "We have been building socialism for only a few decades and are still in the primary stage. It will take a very long historical period to consolidate and develop the socialist system, and it will require persistent struggle by many generations, a dozen or even several dozen. We can never rest on our oars."2

History only moves forward. To realize our ideals, we must continue on the path we have set for ourselves. Every generation has its own long march, and every generation must see that march through. Today, the goal of our generation's long march is to attain the Two Centenary Goals and realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.

Though there are differences – some considerable – between today's long march and the Red Army's Long March, particularly with regard to the conditions, tasks and powers involved, the fact remains that each of these long marches can be described as a pioneering, arduous, and highly-complex undertaking.

There is no easy path to realizing a great ideal. To secure new progress in our efforts to uphold and develop Chinese socialism, yield new results in developing the Party, and claim new victories in a struggle with many new historic features, there are still many snow-capped peaks that we must scale, many grasslands that we must cross, and also many Loushan Passes and Lazikou Passes that we must conquer. There can be no room for any desire for ease and comfort, any desire to avoid the fight, any arrogance and complacency, or any lack of drive to carry on forging ahead.

The long march goes on. There can be no future for a people who do not remember the road that brought them to where they are today. No matter how far our causes take us, and how great our achievements may be, we must always carry forward the spirit of the Long March and continue to forge ahead with courage.

– To carry forward the spirit of the Long March and succeed in our present long march, we must remain committed to the great ideal of communism and the common ideal of Chinese socialism, and engage in a tireless struggle to realize our ideals and beliefs.

The victory of the Long March proved that belief in our hearts gives strength to our legs. Without their indomitable ideals and beliefs to sustain them, the Red Army's victory in the Long March would simply have been inconceivable. Deng Xiaoping once said, "In the past, no matter how small and weak our Party was, and no matter what difficulties it faced, we always maintained great combat effectiveness thanks to our faith in Marxism and communism. Because we shared common ideals, we had strict discipline. That is our real strength today as it has been in the past and will be in the future."3

On our new long march, we need to ensure that our ideals and beliefs remain firm. No matter how times change or how conditions alter, we must never be deflected by the trials that await us. We must consciously strive to be firm believers in, and loyal practitioners of, the great ideal of communism and the common ideal of Chinese socialism, and engage in an eternal fight for truth and for our ideals.

"A rock can be smashed, but its pieces will still be hard; cinnabar can be ground, but its powder will still be red."4 Firm ideals and beliefs come from solid ideas and theories. To have firm ideals and beliefs, one must first understand, grasp, believe in, and defend truth. The ideals and beliefs of a Chinese Communist are founded on the scientific truths of Marxism, on the laws of social development revealed by Marxism, and on the grand aspiration to serve the interests of the broadest majority of the people. We are strong because what we pursue is truth. We are strong because we respect the laws that govern development. And we are strong because we represent the fundamental interests of the great majority of the people.

To solidify our ideals and beliefs, we must thoroughly study Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development. We must also study in depth the new concepts, ideas and strategies for the governance of China introduced by the CPC Central Committee since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. We must use truth to empower ourselves, to guide our ideals, and to solidify our beliefs. With a commitment to believing in, reflecting on and acting on what we have learned, we must transform the outcomes of our learning into unyielding ideals and beliefs, and into a sound understanding of the world, life and values. We can then use our ideals to light up the path ahead, and our beliefs to forge a better future.

– To carry forward the spirit of the Long March and succeed in our present long march, we must remain confident in the path, theories, system and culture of Chinese socialism, and engage in a tireless struggle to win new victories for this great cause.

The victory of the Long March proved that we can move in the right direction only if we possess a sound theory, and that we can advance to victory only if we have forged our own path on the basis of our own reality. The Long March not only crossed countless mountains and rivers; it also surmounted the erroneous idea that Marxism was a fixed dogma that could not change. Its most fundamental lesson was that China had to remain committed to combining the basic principles of Marxism with China's realities, and remain committed to a path of revolution, socialist construction, and reform that conformed to China's prevailing conditions.

On our new long march, we must firmly believe that the path of Chinese socialism is the only path that can lead us to socialist modernization, and the only path that can create better lives for the people. The theories of Chinese socialism constitute a sound theoretical framework that will guide the CPC and the Chinese people down the path of China's socialism towards the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. These theories stand at the forefront of our times, and they evolve as times change. The system of Chinese socialism represents a fundamental institutional guarantee for progress and development in China today. It is an advanced system with distinct Chinese features, notable institutional strengths, and a strong capacity for self-improvement. The culture of Chinese socialism embodies the deepest aspirations of the Chinese people. Representing a unique symbol of our nation, it is a powerful inner strength that drives the Chinese people to victory. The truth of these statements has been proven not only in theory, but also by practice.

Chinese socialism, as the only choice for the development of modern China, embodies the ideals and explorations of several generations of Chinese Communists, the wishes and hopes of countless progressives, and also the struggles and sacrifices of millions upon millions of Chinese people. In emphasizing the need for confidence in our path, theories, system and culture, our intention is by no means to rest on our laurels and stop seeking progress. On the contrary, it is imperative that we continue to discover, invent, create and advance, so as to preserve the strong vitality of Chinese socialism. However, what we must always remember is that the purpose of any and all improvements we make is to advance on the path we have set for ourselves, and not to change course, or discard the very foundation that supports the CPC, the country and the people.

– To carry forward the spirit of the Long March and succeed in our present long march, we must put the people at the very center of our hearts, remain committed to serving the people and relying on them in all endeavors, and engage in a tireless effort to make life better for them.

The victory of the Long March proved that the people possess boundless wisdom and strength. Only by believing in the people, relying closely on them, and giving full play to their enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity can we channel their strength into an impenetrable great wall. In essence, the Long March told the story of a deep emotional bond between the Red Army and the people. When passing through Shazhou Village in Rucheng County, Hunan Province, three female Red Army soldiers sought shelter in the home of an elderly villager named Xu Jiexiu. Upon their departure, they cut their only quilt in two, leaving half with Xu Jiexiu. The elderly Xu said, "Who are the Communist Party members? The people who have only one quilt, but give half to the people. They are the Communist Party members." Ultimately, the Long March succeeded because the CPC and the Red Army stood together with the people, maintained a close bond with the people, and shared weal and woe with the people. This is also a fundamental guarantee that enables us to overcome all difficulties and dangers. Reliance on the people is precisely what allowed the CPC to grow stronger, and precisely what has allowed Chinese socialism to constantly advance. The reason why the CPC has won the support of the people, and why Chinese socialism has won the same support, is that they have made life better for the people.

On our new long march, the whole Party must remember that the nature of a political party and government is determined by whom they serve and whom they rely on for their support. We must uphold our fundamental political stance of standing on the people's side, put the interests of the people above all else, and constantly advance our endeavors to make life better for them. Rallying and leading all Chinese people, we must be tireless in our efforts to constantly secure and improve standards of living of the people, allow all people to benefit more fairly and thoroughly from the fruits of reform and development, and move steadily towards our goal of common prosperity for all.

There is an old saying: "The same water that keeps a ship afloat can also sink it."5 This is something we must never ever forget. The people are the skies above us and the earth below us. If we forget the people and become distanced from them, we will lose their support, like a river with no headwater or a tree with no roots, and achieve nothing. Therefore, we must uphold the CPC's principle of relying on and serving the people, preserve our close ties with the people, readily subject ourselves to the criticism and oversight of the public, remain mindful of the difficulties ordinary people face, and search constantly for means of bringing prosperity to the people, so as to ensure that the CPC always has the trust and support of the people, and ensure that our cause has an inexhaustible source of strength to carry it forward.

Solidarity is a powerful force. Not only does it enable us to overcome all difficulties, but it is also an important guarantee for gathering support and achieving goals. In our campaign to rejuvenate the Chinese nation, we must consolidate solidarity between China's various ethnic groups; enhance solidarity among various political parties, organizations, ethnicities, social groups and other actors; remain committed to preserving China's national unity, social harmony, and stability; and resolutely oppose all separatist activities that aim to sabotage our unity and solidarity. We need to pool the wisdom and strength of all Chinese people, and tap the creative and developmental potential of our entire society, turning the monumental force unleashed when all Chinese people unite and work together into a powerful driving force for the rejuvenation of our nation.

– To carry forward the spirit of the Long March and succeed in our present long march we must stay on the right course, keep sight of the bigger picture, and make sound overall arrangements, engaging in a tireless effort to accomplish our overall tasks, fulfill our plans, and achieve our goals.

The victory of the Long March proved that to remain invincible a political party must stand at the forefront of the times, keep in step with the flow of history, lay out sound overall plans, seize the strategic initiative, and stay committed to achieving its goals. The Long March took the CPC and the Red Army over towering peaks, across treacherous rivers, and through bleak grasslands, but every leg of the journey, every charge through enemy lines, and every battle formed part of a bigger strategic picture. Not only did the CPC and Red Army win the fight, they also seized the strategic initiative. This was an embodiment not only of spirit, but also of wisdom.

On our new long march, we need to balance domestic conditions with global ones, coordinate the cause of the CPC with that of the country, and advance various initiatives in a coordinated fashion, remaining mindful of conditions globally, nationally, and within the Party. We must identify strategic priorities, make key breakthroughs, seize the strategic initiative, prevent systemic risks, and avoid being swept away by crisis, so as to ensure the sound progression of our great cause.

The overall task of Chinese socialism is to achieve modernization and national rejuvenation. In a constant effort to move closer to the completion of this overall task, we must coordinate our Five-point Strategy of economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress; advance the Four-pronged Strategy in a coordinated fashion; and work wholeheartedly to achieve our Two Centenary Goals. Development is critical to the success of Chinese socialism. We must continue to make economic development our central task, and guide the new normal of economic growth with our Five-point Strategy, so as to resolve difficulties in development, cultivate new strengths, and lay down more solid material foundations to underpin Chinese socialism. Reform is the key move that will decide China's future. With an unequivocal commitment to reform, we must break free from the shackles of outdated thinking, dismantle the barriers erected by vested interests, and clear away institutional obstacles impeding the development of productive forces and social progress, in order to further modernize China's national governance system and capacity. Innovation is the primary driving force behind development. It is imperative that we free our minds, seek truth from facts, and move forward with the times. We must advance innovation in theory, practice and systems, and in many other areas, so that the causes of the CPC and the country retain their strong creative vitality and constantly advance into new territory.

– To carry forward the spirit of the Long March and succeed in our present long march, we must build a solid national defense capacity and strong military that is commensurate with China's international standing and that can meet the country's security and development needs, and engage in a tireless effort to preserve national security and world peace.

The victory of the Long March proved that the people's army was the foundation of the revolution and the hope of the nation, and that absolute CPC leadership over the army guaranteed victory on the battlefield. The Long March tested, tempered, and strengthened the people's army, initiating a new phase in its growth. The Long March was the glory of the people's army. A glorious people's army must therefore carry forward the spirit and fine tradition that the Red Army demonstrated during the Long March.

On our new long march, under the guidance of the CPC's goal of building a strong military, we must continue to implement our military strategies in view of new conditions and strive to build a world-class army.

A country needs a strong army before it can truly be strong and secure. With a firm commitment to strengthening the military through political means, we must uphold absolute CPC leadership over the armed forces, preserve the nature, mission, and character of the people's army, and ensure that the spirit of the Red Army goes on. We must cultivate a new generation of revolutionary soldiers who have belief, competence, mettle, and character; and forge a highly competent military with iron-clad beliefs, convictions, and discipline as well as an unbreakable sense of duty.

With a firm commitment to strengthening the military through reform, we must be resolute in driving deeper reform in national defense and the armed forces, address institutional, structural, and policy issues that are hindering the development of national defense and the armed forces, further modernize the way in which the military is organized, and accelerate the establishment of a distinctly Chinese system of modern military strength.

With a firm commitment to governing the military in accordance with the law, we must build a distinct Chinese system of rule of law in the military, promote a fundamental transformation in the way that the military is governed, and raise the standard of law-based governance in national defense and the armed forces.

With a firm commitment to war-readiness, we must continue to regard combat effectiveness as the standard that matters most, broaden and deepen our preparations for military conflict, enhance simulation-based training, and rapidly raise our capacity to prevail in information warfare.

At the same time, we should move forward with an integrated military-civilian development strategy, better integrate the development of national defense and the military into the framework of China's economic and social development, and create an effective configuration for the full integration of the military and civilian sectors that covers all elements and all fields. We should strengthen our national defense mobilization capacity and reserve strength, and consolidate unity between the government and the armed forces and between the people and the armed forces. And we should enhance international military security cooperation, assume responsibilities and obligations commensurate with China's international standing, work with other countries to meet global security challenges, and make a greater contribution to maintaining world peace. The entire military must be more mindful of potential dangers and crises, and enhance its sense of mission. Making sure that every minute counts, they must continue to modernize China's national defense and military capabilities, and ensure that they shoulder the crucial responsibility of protecting the country's sovereignty, security and development interests.

– To carry forward the spirit of the Long March and succeed in our present long march, we must strengthen CPC leadership, remain committed to strict self-governance, and work hard to advance the further development of the Party.

The victory of the Long March proved that Party leadership is a fundamental guarantee ensuring that the causes of the Party and the people will succeed. Mao Zedong once said, "Who brought the Long March to victory? The Communist Party. Without the Communist Party, a long march of this kind would have been inconceivable. The Communist Party of China, its leadership, its cadres and its members fear no difficulties or hardships."6 Party leadership has guaranteed the success of China's revolution, socialist construction and reform. As the essential attribute of Chinese socialism, and the greatest strength of this system, this leadership must be resolutely upheld and improved.

On our new long march, all Party members must conscientiously uphold and maintain Party leadership; stand on the side of the Party and the people; and remain loyal to, share the concerns of, and assume their responsibilities and obligations to the Party, doing their utmost to fulfill the duties and tasks entrusted to them. With the combined efforts of all Party members, the Party will always stand with the people and always stand at the forefront of the times. 

"Heroes are those who know themselves and can surpass themselves."7 The closer we come to our dream of national rejuvenation, the more arduous the task of reform and opening up becomes, the more we must emphasize the development of the Party. Being prepared for danger in times of peace is the key to survival and development. The "four tests" and "four risks" that our Party faces are long-term, complex and grave. Upholding the centralized leadership of the CPC Central Committee, we must ensure that all Party organizations, members, and officials enhance their political integrity, follow the core leadership of the CPC Central Committee, develop a better understanding of the general picture, and act consistently with CPC Central Committee policy, maintaining a high degree of unity with the CPC Central Committee in the way of thinking, in political principles, and in their actions. We must continue to promote comprehensive governance of the CPC under the strictest discipline; focus on strengthening the governing capacity and pioneering nature of the CPC; improve and regulate political activities within the Party in the new era; make persistent and determined efforts to improve Party conduct and combat corruption; raise the capacity of the CPC to remain wholesome and to improve, renew and surpass itself; improve CPC leadership and governance whilst enhancing its ability to resist corruption and withstand risks; and ensure that the CPC remains the firm leading core of the cause of Chinese socialism.

The question of how to carry forward the spirit of the Long March and how to succeed in our present long march is among the most important issues we currently face. The spirit of the Long March is a precious asset, one which the Party and Chinese people won at great cost through great struggle. We must always remember, learn from, and carry forward the spirit of the Long March, turning it into a powerful source of inner strength driving our Party, our country, our people, our military, and our nation towards a better future.

During the 80 years that have passed since the victory of the Long March in 1936, the CPC has led the Chinese people through revolution, socialist construction, and reform. Embarking on one long march after another, we have held fast the attention of the world with a series of monumental achievements.

Today, we are closer than ever to the goal of national rejuvenation, and more confident than ever in our ability to realize this goal. Our generation, having inherited this cause from our predecessors, must not only fight for today, but also carve out a better path for tomorrow.

The blueprint has been drawn, and now we must forge ahead. As we advance on this path, we must vigorously promote the spirit of the Long March, and draw on this spirit to inspire and encourage the whole of the Party, all our military, and every Chinese person, especially the young, to devote themselves to making the country strong; to continue the great cause our predecessors started; and to write a new, glorious chapter in our new long march to attain the Two Centenary Goals and realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.


* Part of the speech at the ceremony commemorating the 80th anniversary of the victory of the Long March.


1  Mao Zedong: "Report to the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China", Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. IV, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1961, p. 374. 

2  Deng Xiaoping: "Excerpts from Talks Given in Wuchang, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Shanghai", Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Vol. III, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1994, p. 367. 

3 Ibid., "Speech at the National Conference of the Communist Party of China", p. 147. 

4 Lü's Spring and Autumn Annals (Lü Shi Chun Qiu)

5  Wu Jing: Governance of the Zhenguan Period (Zhen Guan Zheng Yao). Wu Jing (670-749) was a historian and official of the Tang Dynasty. 

6  Mao Zedong: "On Tactics Against Japanese Imperialism", Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. I, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1975, p. 160. 

7  Wang Tong: The Orthodox Theories (Zhong Shuo). Wang Tong (584-617) was a renowned educator and thinker of the Sui Dynasty.

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