All Shorenstein APARC News News March 11, 2021

What’s ‘Communist’ about the Communist Party of China?

Is the Chinese Communist Party really communist at all? Expert Jude Blanchette, Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, weighs in.
National Emblem of the People's Republic of China on the Great Hall of the People

The China Program at Shorenstein APARC had the privillege of hosting Jude Blanchette, the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The program, entitled "What’s ‘Communist’ about the Communist Party of China?," explored the goals and ideology of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as well as what they might mean for the future of China in the global community. Professor Jean Oi, William Haas Professor of Chinese Politics and director of the APARC China Program, moderated the event.

After the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, the goals of the CCP became less clear. As the country began to adopt market reforms in the 1980s and 1990s, CCP theorists were forced into contortions providing ideological justifications for policies that appeared overtly capitalist. Deng Xiaoping’s concept of “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” came to be seen as a theoretical fig leaf rather than a description of an egalitarian economic system, and by the 2000s, a consensus emerged that the CCP had completely abandoned any pretense of pursuing the Marxist vision it purported to hold. With the rise of Xi Jinping, however, the Party talks with renewed vigor about Marxism-Leninism and the goal of achieving actual, existing socialism. Has the CCP re-discovered communism?  In his talk, Blanchette discussed the abandoned and existing legacies of Mao Zedong, Marxism-Leninism, and the CCP’s vision of socialism. Watch now: