China's Communists gear up to avert Soviet-style collapse

Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) is going through the phase of "nervous sixties" as it completed 62 years in power, according to some of the party officials.

"The Soviet Communist Party collapsed in 1991, after 74 years in power. It is a wake-up call for the CPC and a very good lesson to be learnt," Zhou Jintang, Vice President of the China Executive Leadership Academy, told a group of visiting foreign journalists here.

The Academy, one of the six established by the CPC, trains around 5,000 middle rung party leaders and officials from the military, government, business in various aspects of ideological education.

One key factor for CPC in the years ahead was how quickly the growing disparities between rich and poor were bridged and how the party would remain in touch with people at the grass roots with steps to firmly put down corruption, Zhou said.

Also the CPC is gearing up for a major leadership changes next year, when President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and a host of leaders at different levels are scheduled to quit after two terms to pave the way for new leadership.

Vice President Xi Jinping, who has been made the Vice Chairman of the powerful military commission, is widely expected to succeed Hu after the Party Congress to be held in December, next year. Xi heads the main CPC School in Beijing.

Though CPC was expected to continue economic reforms advocated by Mao's successor Deng Xiaoping, party is divided over opening up on political reform fearing it would open floodgates for dissent and unrest.

While CPC ideologically equipped cadre, the government geared up to meet any internal trouble by allocating USD 95 billion budget this year to beef up police, state security, armed civil militia, courts and jails.

Incidentally, this year’s internal security budget for China was higher than the USD 91 billion defence budget.

The Soviet collapse besides the major changes introduced by CPC, shedding its founder Mao's hardline policies after his death, were part of the curriculum for the short term courses and the lessons were dinned into every CPC official so that the mistakes can be avoided.

Senior officials of the CPC say moving away from Mao’s era were timely decision aimed at moving ahead with changing times.

"No one has contributed to the Chinese history than Mao. But he was not a God and made some mistakes. The CPC corrected them. But at the same time the party acknowledges that he has made greatest contribution to China," said Zhou Guan, Vice Mayor and senior party official of Nanchang, the third most developed city in China.
But at the same time the party also regarded Deng, whose economic reforms made China, the second largest economy of the world as greatest figure in country's history, he said.

Zhou said despite 62 years as a ruling party, CPC remained popular among Chinese as it attracted two to three million members every year and the number last year touched 80 million, making it the largest political party in the world.

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