I would like to acknowledge the presence of
Ms. Val Boje, Chairperson of National Press Club;
H. E. Chen Xiaodong, Chinese Ambassador to South Africa;
Comrade Paul Mashatile, Treasurer General of the African National Congress;
Comrade Solly Mapaila, First Deputy General Secretary of the South African Communist Party;
Comrade David Masondo, Deputy Minister of Finance, Principal of OR Tambo School of Leadership;
Ambassador Anil Sooklal, Deputy Director-General of DIRCO;
Dr Iqbal Survé, Chairman of Independent Media Group;
Dr David Monyae, Director of the Centre for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg;
Esteemed ladies and gentlemen;
Comrades and friends.
Programme Director / Chairperson,
We gather here today to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China and salute the Great Chinese people as we draw lessons and inspiration from their achievements.
After 1840, the Chinese people suffered under the two-pronged repression of imperialist invasion as well as feudalism. The first baby step in the revolution took place in 1911 when Dr Sun Yat-sen overthrew the autocratic monarchy that ruled China for several thousand years.
We learn from the Communist Manifesto, that is, the German edition of 1848, which reads in part as follows:
“The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.”
It is this historical context which led to the establishment of the International Socialist League in 1915 here in South Africa, the occurrence of the Great October revolution in 1917 in Russia and the emergence of the May 4th Movement of China in 1919. The spread of the theory of Marxism-Leninism followed in the wake of these developments and the founding of the Communist International (Third International) in 1919 under the leadership of Lenin.
It is common knowledge that the first generation of Communist Parties were all established in 1921, they included the Communist Party of China; the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; the Communist Party if Great Britain; the Communist Party of South Africa, to name but a few.
Once again the Communist Manifesto instructs us to be cognizant that:
“though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle. The proletariat of each country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its own bourgeoisie.”
China was occupied and colonised by foreign powers from about late 1830s almost to the end of the Second World War. Years of civil war, imperialism and fragmentation due to the colonisation policy of divide and rule, had ravaged China and left the Chinese nation in a poor state.
However, by 1949 the Communist Party of China defeated the Kuomintang reactionary rule and founded the People’s Republic of China. The Communist Party of China proved to be the most consistent in the struggle to attain national independence and to pursue profound changes in social and economic life.
It is often easy for an organisation to proclaim itself the vanguard. But much effort and selflessness is required from a party to make the working class itself to recognise it as their own true vanguard and leader.
The mastering of scientific theory provides a party with the knowledge of the laws of social development and the ability at each given moment, to correctly assess the concrete situation, and the alignment of class forces inside its own country and on the international scene. Scientific theory makes it possible not only to foresee in general the most important events, but to develop a correct policy, no matter how those events turn out.
The Chinese Communist Party, has over the years, been able to chart a correct policy which accounted in precise terms for the situation in China and abroad. In general, a correct policy implies a realistic approach both in assessing achievements and in charting measures for the future.
One hundred years ago the Chinese Communist Party started off with 50 members only. Today its membership is more than 90 million in strength. Its success is attributed in large measure to its ideological and organisational unity.
In this era of transition from capitalism to socialism, the People’s Republic of China stands as a beacon of hope and a shining example of what is the alternative path towards the creation of a classless society without exploitation of man by man.
Its example is a compelling argument against all the variants of choiceless democracies in which progressive social policies are punished by investors and ratings agencies.
China has also ensured that it plays its rightful place in the affairs of the world. China offers and has played a major role in providing developing nations alternative strategies to the punitive and colonial economic policies.
African nations with their mineral wealth have been subjected to poverty, under development and economic dependency on former colonial powers since they gained independence.
Today, China is the most industrialised nation in the world. It is one of the largest economies in the world, if not the largest. It has lifted more than 800 million of its people out of abject poverty since 1978, according to the World Bank – and China is on a mission to eliminate poverty completely.
It is no ordinary achievement and one has to ask what lessons we as South Africa can learn from China’s achievements.
China’s greatest strength has been its singular vision and ability to unite and organise a directed and focused effort towards a common goal of rejuvenating and building a prosperous nation and economy for all its people. This common vision could only be achieved under a succession of iconic CPC leaders: from Chairman Mao Zeidong; Deng Xiaoping; Zian Zemin; Hu Jintao to H.E. President Xi Jinping. China had the vision and common purpose dictum because of the unity and structure of the CPC. The CPC has evolved a system that is conducive to the development of the country through its various political, government, and economic programmes.
The CPC has been able to develop a system that allows it to select the most competent, experienced and educated officials for leadership positions where it matters most. Leaders in various positions are held accountable by the CPC and people’s structures to achieve its objectives and goals.
The leadership of the CPC has also ensured continuity of purpose through its structures and organisation. This is evident as China had to adapt and transform its economic policies to open up its economy whilst maintaining its socialist principles. Many other communist parties had failed due to a relentless onslaught of capitalists and hostile nations, yet the CPC has been steadfast and persistent in its quest even when leadership positions changed. This transformation and rejuvenation of the Chinese economy also was a demonstration of the willingness of the CPC to change and adapt to global conditions. This was and is a demonstration of the true strength of the CPC!
The continuity of purpose of the CPC is also underpinned by an institutionalised system of political education through party schools. Leader of the CPC, His Excellency President Xi Jinping once commented on the importance of political education by stating:
“Learning is the path to the inheritance of civilization, the ladder of life growth, the foundation for the consolidation of the CPC, and the key to the country’s prosperity.”
The achievements of the CPC are too numerous to list in a 10 minute address, However, allow me to conclude by citing His Excellency President Xi Jinping when he said:
“To carry out a great undertaking with many new historic features, and to accomplish the goals and tasks set forth at the 18th CPC National Congress, the emphasis should be laid on our Party and our officials. This means we must ensure that the Party is always the core of leadership during the historic process of developing socialism with Chinese characteristics, and we must build a large contingent of high calibre officials.”
And His Excellency continues to state, as our ancestors said “Exaltation of the virtuous is fundamental to governance”.
Long live the Great Chinese people!
Long live the great Communist Party of China.
I thank you.