On February 6 Chinese President Xi Jinping met with leaders of China‘s non-Communist parties and of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC) and extended them Lunar New Year greetings.
According to Xinhua News Agency, Xi urged non-Communist parties and personages to “improve their ideological consensus” with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). “As socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, multi-party cooperation should take on a new look,” Xi was quoted as saying.
Xi also stressed “the significant achievements made by non-Communist parties and personages in upholding the authority of and the centralized, unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee.”
The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) states that the “system of the multi-party cooperation and political consultation” is led by the CCP. The policy of intraparty cooperation under CCP guidance is known as the “united front”.
“In the long years of revolution and construction,” the Constitution says, “there has been formed under the leadership of the Communist Party of China a broad patriotic united front which is composed of the democratic parties and people’s organizations and which embraces all socialist working people, all builders of socialism, all patriots who support socialism, and all patriots who stand for the reunification of the motherland. This united front will continue to be consolidated and developed.”
The united front policy dates back to the Chinese civil war, when the CCP allied itself with other parties against the then-ruling Guomindang (Chinese Nationalist Party). Since its founding on October 1, 1949, the PRC has in theory been a multi-party system. The government recognizes 8 non-Communist parties, but in practice their role is only consultative. De facto the PRC is a one-party state.
During the Cultural Revolution, the 8 non-Communist parties faced repression. In Deng Xiaoping’s opening up and reform era, however, they were rehabilitated. Although their political influence remained limited, they acted as interest groups for individuals outside of the Communist Party but willing to cooperate with it.
Xi Jinping’s speech to the leaders of the non-Communist parties signals his intention to curtail even the limited degree of political participation they had in the past. Since taking office in 2012, Xi has amassed more power than any leader after Mao Zedong.
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