A Hundred Glorious Years? June 28, 2021

from Analysis· ·

The first, modest Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took place in late July 1921. Of the twelve original members, only Mao Zedong and one of his closest aides survived to take part in the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. The others were killed by political opponents, lost factional struggles or took up other creeds. And the CCP's history has been punctuated by in-fighting, purges, jailings, defections and sudden deaths. The Party itself sees things differently. Only it was able to push China into the future, the CCP claims, after earlier abortive attempts to modernise the country …



The first, modest Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took place in late July 1921. Of the twelve original members, only Mao Zedong and one of his closest aides survived to take part in the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. The others were killed by political opponents, lost factional struggles or took up other creeds. And the CCP's history has been punctuated by in-fighting, purges, jailings, defections and sudden deaths. The Party itself sees things differently. Only it was able to push China into the future, the CCP claims, after earlier abortive attempts to modernise the country - and to secure the global eminence that it now enjoys. Its narrative also insists on the CCP's seamless triumph over obstacles placed in its path by malevolent foreign powers and reactionary domestic forces. A hundred years on from the CCP's foundation, the eminent China-watcher Isabel Hilton assesses the importance of the Party's centenary and asks why control of its view of its history is so important. She shows which events and ideological shifts the CCP prefers not to highlight or to ignore altogether. She considers why so much of the Party's history swings between periods of repression and liberalisation. And she explores how Xi Jinping, its current leader, is using the centenary. What will preoccupy the CCP in the years ahead? Producer Simon Coates Editor Jasper Corbett