CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY
The party constitution adopted in September 1982 at the Twelfth
National Party Congress clearly defines the powers and functions of
the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and it assigns the party a
pivotal role in guiding national efforts toward a communist social
system. Although the party constitution sets legal limits on CCP
activities, the party's role in areas of political, ideological,
and organizational leadership is authoritative and unquestioned.
The organizational principle that drives the Chinese political
system is democratic centralism. Within the system, the democratic
feature demands participation and expression of opinion on key
policy issues from members at all levels of party organization. It
depends on a constant process of consultation and investigation. At
the same time, the centralist feature requires that subordinate
organizational levels follow the dictates of superior levels. Once
the debate has reached the highest level and decisions concerning
policy have been made, all party members are obliged to support the
In the party constitution, and in other major policy
statements, the CCP diminished the role of centralism by abolishing
the post of party chairman, by prohibiting any future cult of
personality, and by emphasizing the importance of collective
leadership. Most of the aged revolutionary veterans who had worked
for years under the highly centralized party organization dominated
by Mao Zedong were made honorary advisers, elected to the Central
Advisory Commission initiated at the Twelfth Congress. Although
their prestige remained intact, these leaders were effectively
removed from direct participation in the policy-making process.
This development permitted their replacement by younger leaders
more supportive of the
Four Modernizations (see Glossary).
addition, the new party constitution emphasized the party's role in
promoting socialist democracy, in developing and strengthening a
socialist legal system, and in consolidating public resolve to
carry out the modernization program.
The priorities expounded at the Twelfth National Party Congress
were designed not only to improve the organizational cohesion and
morale of the party and government but also to hasten prosperity
and foster national power. The congress endorsed programs from the
Eleventh National Party Congress that stressed stability and unity,
balance between ideology and technical skill, collective rather
than individual leadership, party discipline, training of
successors at all levels of party organization, and a more relaxed
climate for intraparty debate on major national and local issues.
The economic policies of the Twelfth National Party Congress
continued to be oriented toward growth, but the party's subsequent
direction emphasized a more controlled growth program.
Data as of July 1987