Remain True to Our Original Aspiration and Founding Mission – An Ongoing Campaign*
January 8, 2020
A party with over 90 million members and 4.6 million grassroots organizations that has long ruled a vast country boasting a population of 1.4 billion, the CPC gives staunch leadership in building Chinese socialism. The Party's own efforts to strengthen itself have always been a serious matter affecting the overall situation.
While today's world is undergoing changes of a scale unseen in a century, China is at the critical stage of national rejuvenation, and the CPC is leading the people in a great historic struggle with many new features. These changes that come at a staggering pace, the need to strike a balance between reform, development and stability, and the problems, risks and challenges we face – all present unprecedented tests to our Party's governance. To win constant support from the people and continue to achieve further success, our Party, with a history dating back almost 100 years, must bear in mind our original aspiration and founding mission, clear out whatever undermines the Party's progressive and wholesome nature, rid ourselves of any virus that erodes the Party's health, and guard against any danger that goes against our original aspiration and founding mission and has the potential to shake the foundations of the Party.
The past is a prologue. The whole Party must use this education campaign on our original aspiration and founding mission to commit ourselves to further self-reform. Here, I want to highlight a few points.
First, to remain true to our original aspiration and founding mission, we must make strengthening our Party an eternal theme for all Party members and officials. Either for a person or for a party, what must be treasured most is the adherence to one's original aspirations and good qualities in the face of any hardships encountered. For our Party, its original aspiration and founding mission epitomize its nature, purpose, ideals, convictions and goals, and motivate us to stand fast and march forward. From the Shikumen building where our Party was established, to the Tian’anmen Rostrum where the founding of our country was declared, and on to the path of the new era, all of our Party's efforts, struggles and sacrifices have been dedicated to the people's wellbeing and national rejuvenation. Our original aspiration and founding mission have enabled the Party to grow and prosper in extreme difficulties, break through tight encirclements, and rise in adversity. Without them, our Party would change its nature, lose public support, and risk its future.
A nation or a party that forgets where it comes from will not grow and prosper. It should be noted that in the course of our Party's long rule, elements undermining the Party's progressive and wholesome nature are persistent, threats to our original aspiration, our founding mission, and the Party's foundation are ubiquitous, and impurities in thinking, political commitment, organization, and conduct in the Party have not been completely eradicated.
A Marxist Party will not remain progressive and wholesome automatically over time, nor will a Party member's Party consciousness deepen merely through length of service and promotion. There is a risk that our original aspiration will fade and disappear if it is neglected. It is easy to forget why we started and where we are going; it is easy to wander off track and get lost. The fundamental reason why corrupt officials break laws and infringe discipline is that they have cast aside their original aspiration. All Party members should constantly examine and analyze themselves to eradicate any impurities, negative influence, and contamination.
I have said on many occasions that Party members and officials should regularly reread the Party Constitution, their oath of admission to the Party, and the martyrs' letters to their family during the revolution. We need to check our actions against the Party Constitution to find out whether we have complied with the requirements and maintained our original aspiration, just as we tidy our rooms and polish our mirrors regularly to keep them neat and clean. We must guide all Party organizations, members and officials to examine their political thinking against the requirements of the Central Committee, scan their behavior against the Party Constitution and regulations, scrutinize their performance against the people's expectations, and compare themselves with the revolutionaries and martyrs of the older generation and with today's role models. We should constantly remind ourselves of our original aspiration, and stay true to and shoulder our founding mission. We need to nurture the aspiration and keep to the mission through innovative thinking, allow them to further motivate us by reviewing the extraordinary history of our Party, and build a deeper understanding of them as we further regulate intra-Party political activities, so that they can be a driving force for us to forge ahead, innovate and do hard and solid work.
Second, to remain true to our original aspiration and founding mission, we must unify our thinking, will and action with the latest theoretical development of Marxism in the Chinese context. The progressive nature of a Marxist party manifests itself first and foremost in its theory. It is our Party's distinctive feature, and one of its finest traditions, to highlight its theoretical development. Mao Zedong once said, "Therefore ideological education is the key link to be grasped in uniting the whole Party for great political struggles."1 The original aspiration of Communists is based on their concern for the people, their perseverance in pursuit of truth, and more importantly, on scientific theories of Marxism. Only by improving Party members' theoretical understanding can we stay true to our original aspiration and shoulder our founding mission more conscientiously and more firmly.
The biggest enemy of theoretical study is complacency. If we want to really learn something, we must stay hungry. But we now have some Party members and officials who undervalue theoretical study and spend no time on it; some lack perseverance; some put on a show, dabbling without thorough understanding; some engage in casual and fragmented learning, choosing what interests them and ignoring what does not; many young officials are not well equipped theoretically or firm in their ideals and convictions. We need to help them adopt a serious and sound attitude, if they are to truly understand, firmly believe and actually apply the theories.
I have noted repeatedly that it is through learning that we Communists have come so far today, and it is still the weapon that we must employ as we march into the future. All Party members must keep pace with the times, casting off outdated mindsets, old routines and old practices in thought, deed and decision-making. Otherwise we will be left behind, fail to perform our duties, miss good opportunities, and ruin our work. This problem requires the highest attention from all Party members and particularly from leading officials at all levels. Advancing with the times must be more than a mere slogan; it must guide our thinking and action. We cannot blind ourselves to what is really happening out there like the people in the legendary Peach Blossom Spring2 who cut all ties with the outside world.
Every step in theoretical innovation must be followed by education and training. All the previous education campaigns of the Party began with ideological education, to address the problems of casual study, disunity in thinking, and slow response in action. With continuous follow-up and concentrated efforts, they aimed to achieve unified thinking, political solidarity, and unison in action across the Party. The top priority should be studying, understanding and applying the Party's innovative theories. It should go together with studying the basic tenets of Marxism, and the histories of the CPC, the PRC, reform and opening up, and socialist development. This in turn must happen in the context of the efforts we have invested in the great struggle for national development, the great project of strengthening our Party, the great cause of Chinese socialism, and the great dream of national rejuvenation. We must work hard to have a good grasp of what we are learning, unify our thinking through freeing our minds, and improve our understanding of the Party's theories so as to apply them in a more proactive way.
Third, to remain true to our original aspiration and founding mission, we must have the courage to face up to problems and carry out self-reform through vigorous self-examination. "When a gentleman errs, his mistake is as visible as a solar or lunar eclipse, but when he corrects it, he is worthy of respect again."3 Our Party's prominent strength is our ability to confront problems and correct mistakes. Vladimir Lenin once said, "Frankly acknowledging a mistake, ascertaining the reasons for it, analyzing the conditions that have led up to it, and thrashing out the means of its rectification – that is the hallmark of a serious party."4 A strong party is forged through self-reform. In looking back at our Party's history, while carrying forward social revolutions it has always embarked on self-reform by upholding truth, rectifying its mistakes, facing problems squarely, overcoming its weaknesses, and bracing for the pain of removing the poison to heal quickly. Precisely for this reason, our Party has been able to survive every desperate situation, bring order out of chaos, and become an invulnerable Marxist party.
At present, a minority of Party members and officials lack the drive to reform themselves. They take things as they are and make little effort. Some are losing their ability to examine problems in favor of worrying about personal gains and losses, or concealing their faults for fear of criticism; some dare not air criticism, but keep themselves discreetly out of harm's way by remaining mute; some indulge themselves in corruption and extravagance – they even violate Party regulations such as the Eight Rules despite repeated prohibitions. As an ancient Chinese scholar said, "The hardest thing to do under heaven is to keep one's heart under control, and the easiest thing is to be lured by desire."5 Once we are tempted, the will to reform ourselves will wane to the point of abandoning our original aspiration and founding mission and violating discipline, even breaking the law.
It is not hard to find the original aspiration but it is not easy to follow through. All Party members must constantly uphold revolutionary ideals, maintain high morale, and use the weapons of criticism and self-criticism to improve Party conduct, enforce Party discipline and fight corruption. We will continue to strengthen the Party's ability to cleanse, improve, reform and surpass itself. We must fight against anything that might weaken the Party's foundations and undermine the Party's undertakings, and eliminate any virus that erodes the Party's health.
Fourth, to remain true to our original aspiration and founding mission, we must maintain the resolve to fight and fulfill our duties. Our Party was born when the nation was beset by domestic crisis and foreign aggression, so it had to fight to survive, to grow and to triumph. The closer we sail towards national rejuvenation, the more we may encounter heavy seas. We must be mindful of possible dangers in time of peace and possible crisis in time of stability, remain ever-vigilant, boost morale, and be resolved to engage in the great historic struggle with many new features.
Speaking of fighting, we do not fight for the sake of it nor for personal gain; we must work hard and overcome difficulties to fulfill the people's expectation for a better life and realize the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. To judge whether a Party member or official has the spirit to fight and the will to take responsibility, we should see whether he or she has the courage to take a stand on major issues of principle, to rise to challenges, to come forward in times of crisis, to accept responsibility for mistakes, and to fight against unhealthy trends and evil practices.
At present, among our Party members and officials, there are problems such as the lack of will, courage or ability to take on responsibilities. Some prefer to be risk-averse, avoid confrontation, or sit on the fence. They worry that "the more dishes you wash, the more likely you are to break them". They embrace ideas such as "making friends rather than enemies, and turning a blind eye to indiscretions", "rather do nothing in case something goes wrong", "taking credit for successes but refusing to accept responsibility for mistakes", and "enjoying standing in the limelight rather than working behind the scenes". They panic whenever problems and difficulties arise. This is not the conduct of a Communist! They will bring nothing but trouble or even disaster.
A towering tree will not grow in a plant pot; likewise, a great cause cannot be achieved by idlers. To become mainstays of the Party our members and officials must face the world, brave the storm, hone their skills, and enhance their capabilities. They should be men and women of courage and action, knowledgeable and ready to take on responsibilities. They should lead the charge in the face of major challenges, risks, and resistance, and distinguish themselves.
Fifth, to remain true to our original aspiration and founding mission, we must develop and improve the intra-Party systems to establish a long-term mechanism. Systemic strength is the greatest advantage of a party and a nation. Deng Xiaoping once said, "If these systems are sound, they can place restraints on the actions of bad people; if they are unsound, they may hamper the efforts of good people or indeed, in certain cases, may push them in the wrong direction."6 Our Party suffered losses due to weak systems. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the Central Committee has been committed to running the Party by rigorous rules, trying to develop a set of systems and institutions that are well-conceived, procedure-based, and effective. Such efforts have strengthened Party self-governance.
The Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee proposed a system for remaining true to the original aspiration and founding mission. Establishing a new system requires systematic and dialectical thinking while upholding principles so as to make it instructive, targeted and operational. In this process, we must take pragmatic and effective measures to get to grips with problems with an easy and applicable approach; we must balance the Central Committee’s requirements against actual conditions and the expectations of the public at the grassroots level, keeping our eyes on the goal as well as realities; we must emphasize both breaking new ground and maintaining consistency, and make sure the new system accommodates existing intra-Party regulations and systems, determining what is to be retained, improved, established or implemented. When formulating our rules and regulations, we should not try to make them all-encompassing, nor should we overdo the detail.
Systems are to be observed and enforced. The whole Party must strengthen its will to abide by, implement and uphold our systems, and put in place an authoritative and efficient enforcement mechanism to step up supervision of their implementation. We must ensure the full and solid implementation of the system for remaining true to the original aspiration and founding mission and stamp out the practices of rule-bending, loose and selective enforcement, in case rigid restrictions become lax, and a long-acting mechanism becomes ineffective.
Sixth, to remain true to our original aspiration and founding mission, leadership organs and leading officials must make the running. Leadership organs are important bodies in state governance, and leading officials, small in number but holding key positions in state and Party undertakings, are like weather vanes for the whole Party and society. "The rulers'virtue is like wind, and commoners' virtue like grass, which always bends in the direction of the wind."7 This means leading by example is far more effective than simply issuing orders or prodding people into action. Leadership organs and leading officials must lead the charge in this education campaign.
"If we fail to lead by example, others will neither trust nor follow us."8 Leadership organs and leading officials have always been the first to charge forward, which is the key to our Party's success. In the years of revolutionary war, "Charge!" and "Follow me in the charge!" were two orders with a world of difference. After the founding of the PRC, thanks to a large number of exemplary officials like Jiao Yulu, Gu Wenchang, Yang Shanzhou and Zhang Fuqing, our Party is able to lead the people to make new progress in every field. Leadership organs and leading officials must fully understand the responsibilities with which they have been entrusted, keep sober-minded, and regularly examine and improve themselves.
This year will witness the end of our battle against poverty, success in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the conclusion of the 13th Five-year Plan. We are confronted with increasing external challenges, mounting downward pressure on the economy, and the formidable task of striking a balance between reform, development and stability. The more complicated the situation is, the more it needs leadership organs and leading officials to maintain their resolve and press forward; the more arduous the tasks are, the more it needs them to lead by example, do solid work and shoulder their responsibilities. All leadership organs and leading officials must enhance the Four Consciousnesses, improve the Four-sphere Confidence, and ensure the Two Upholds, leading the people to overcome difficulties on our way forward, and satisfying the Party and the people with good performance.
* Part of the speech at the conference reviewing the Aspiration and Mission education campaign.
1 Mao Zedong: "On Coalition Government", Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. III, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1991, p. 265.
2 Tao Yuanming: "Peach Blossom Spring" (Tao Hua YuanJi).
3 The Analects of Confucius (Lun Yu).
4 V. I. Lenin: "'Left-Wing' Communism – an Infantile Disorder", V. I. Lenin: Collected Works, Vol. 31, Eng. ed., Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966, p. 56.
5 Lü Xizhe: "On Nourishing Heart" (Lun Yang Xin). Lü Xizhe (1036-1114) was an educator and philosopher of the Northern Song Dynasty.
6 Deng Xiaoping: "On the Reform of the System of Party and State Leadership", Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Vol. II, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1995, pp. 331-332.
7 The Analects of Confucius (Lun Yu).
8 Tuo Tuo et al.: History of the Song Dynasty (Song Shi). Tuo Tuo (1314-1355) was an official of the Yuan Dynasty.
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)