100 years of the CP in China: an eternal saga?

China is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party this week. The party's sole rule is enshrined in the constitution. Since 2012, it has been led by Xi Jinping, who has also been the head of state since 2013 and has had presidential term limits abolished. To the outside world the party appears invincible.

Open/close all quotes
Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Devoid of historical memory

Any mention of bloodshed on Tiananmen Square should evoke terrible memories of 1989 among the public, says Corriere della Sera:

“Xi Jinping, however, used this very image to reiterate that foreign countries would not be able to stop the rise of his China. Those who dared to do so would see 'bloodshed on a Great Wall of steel built from the flesh and blood of more than 1.4 billion Chinese', he said. In the translation for foreign consumption, the reference to blood was omitted. But the ocean of people who had been called on to flood Tiananmen Square and celebrate the Communist Party's centenary heard these confrontational words very clearly. And the crowd responded with convinced, moved applause - and not a single speck of historical memory.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

China still needs partners

The West also played a key role in China's rise, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reminds readers:

“China's communists were courted by business and politics in Western countries for many years, for political (as a counterweight to the Soviet Union) and economic (huge market) reasons. So it's not least thanks to Western entrepreneurship that the Chinese entrepreneurial spirit has been reawakened. Much of what has been achieved is being undone again by Xi Jinping with his go-it-alone mentality. He is right that China is strong. But even a strong China cannot succeed in the long run without partners.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Ruthless and versatile

De Volkskrant's China correspondent Leen Vervaeke explains why the party is so successful:

“First and foremost because of its ruthless character. The party uses a broad arsenal of coercion and control measures. ... The CCP has zero tolerance for anything that might threaten its power. ... But repression alone isn't sufficient as an explanation for all the CCP has achieved. ... What is clear is that it is very versatile and capable of major about-turns: from communism to state capitalism, from international isolation to participant and challenger of the existing world order, from total denial of the virus to total lockdown. Whether such a turnaround will be necessary again in the future remains to be seen, but for the moment the CCP seems unimpeachable. ”

Le Temps (CH) /

Authoritarian counter-model

Le Temps views the party's success with concern:

“The heirs of [the CCP co-founders] Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao have invented a model of national-Confucian, authoritarian capitalism (Chinese intellectuals speak of fascism). They have an ambition, a project, a vision, a proposition. This proposition is today the most important alternative to the Western model of liberal democracy. It would be a mistake to think that this does not concern us. In a Europe where fatigue with democracy is rampant, it is even a major challenge.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Powerful yet fragile

China's communists are weaker than they seem, The Guardian believes:

“Many people have bet on the party's demise and lost. Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists, the free market and the internet have all failed to see it off. But the real lesson of its success is that no one can predict what lies ahead - and the CCP knows it. A hundred years after it set out to remake the minds and transform the fortunes of the Chinese people, it still cannot trust them with the truth, the chance to speak freely, or the right to choose their own leaders.”

El País (ES) /

Dictatorship on the path to hegemonial power

The Communist Party is as healthy as ever, El País stresses:

“With 92 million members, it is the largest party in the world - and in history. And the most powerful in every respect: from the population under its leadership - one fifth of humanity - to the institutions, the companies and its armed forces - also the largest in the world. No present-day party has been in power so long. ... Disproving the gloomy predictions of the West, Covid did not become China's Chernobyl but, on the contrary, an opportunity to prove the party dictatorship's efficiency in health, economic and technological policy, as well as its readiness to vie for hegemony as a world power.”