On the 1st of July 1921, at a meeting house in Shanghai and then when police intervened on a boat in Zhejiang province, the Communist Party of China (CPC) was born.
On the 1st of July 2021, there will be celebrations throughout China at the centenary of the CPC.
From a clandestine organisation of around 50 members, a lot has changed in a hundred years, and here are your key CPC facts!
The CPC was originally led by Chen Duxiu, before stints by Xiang Zhongfa, Bo Gu and Zhang Wentian. Mao Zedong took over until his death in 1976, before Hua Guofeng.
While Deng Xiaoping consolidated national power, he was never Chairman of the CPC. During his time the leaders were Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang before Jiang Zemin and then Hu Jintao. The current leader is of course Xi Jinping.
The leader of the party was called the General Secretary up until 1943, when it was changed to Chairman, before it changed back again in 1982.
The party slogan is “Serve the People” and the party anthem is of course the Internationale, though not the Tang Dynasty version.
The flag of the CPC is a red flag with a yellow hammer and sickle in the top left corner. If that sounds familiar, here is the background on the flag of the People’s Republic.
Interspersed with civil war with the Nationalists, the CPC was often working through or within the Nationalist Party. Chiang Kai-shek killed tens of thousands of communists in the Shanghai Massacre in 1927, leading the Communists to eventually leave their base areas in the south in the Long March, probably the most famous of all military retreats.
The CPC spent 13 years based in Yan’an, northern Shaanxi province, after the Long March, where it gained experience in implementing its socialist techniques. Yan’an is known as the cradle of the revolution.
The CPC now has over 90 million members, that’s more than a large country, but it’s only about 6% of the whole of the population of the People’s Republic of China, and it’s not even the biggest party in the world, which is the BJP in India.
The party headquarters are in Zhongnanhai, next to Tian’anmen in Beijing. Zhongnanhai is also a popular brand of cigarettes and a song by Beijing band Carsick Cars.
The CPC is the biggest political party in China (you don’t say!), but there are 8 other parties represented in Chinese politics, ranging in memberships from the tens to hundreds of thousands and which have exited for 75+ years. The largest is the China Democratic League which has nearly 300,000 members.