The following address was given by Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, to the plenary meeting of the Party’s Central Committee, held in Beijing from 8 to 11 November 2021. It provides a detailed explanation of the contents of the Resolution on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century that was adopted by the meeting as well as outlining how the document was drafted and revised. It provides an excellent introduction to and summary of the Resolution and deserves careful study.
On behalf of the Political Bureau of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), I will now brief you on the Resolution of the CPC Central Committee on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century and related issues.
I. Considerations on the Agenda of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee
Our Party has always attached great importance to reviewing its historical experience. As early as in the Yan’an period, Comrade Mao Zedong pointed out, “We will not be able to achieve greater success unless we have a clear understanding of our history and of the roads we have traveled.”
In 1945, at the critical juncture for securing final victory in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, the Sixth CPC Central Committee convened its seventh plenary session and adopted the Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party. The resolution reviewed the history of the Party and the experience it had gained and lessons it had learned since its founding in 1921, especially those in the period between the fourth plenary session of the Sixth Central Committee in January 1931 and the Zunyi Meeting in January 1935. It drew conclusions on major historical issues of the Party, leading to a broad consensus among all Party members, particularly high-ranking officials, on fundamental questions pertaining to the Chinese revolution. It served to strengthen the solidarity of the Party, paved the way for the convocation of the Seventh CPC National Congress, and helped advance the Chinese revolution significantly.
When our country entered a new period marked by the launch of reform and opening up, Comrade Deng Xiaoping noted, “The experience of successes is invaluable, and so are the lessons learned from mistakes and setbacks. Principles and policies formulated on the basis of the experience gained and lessons learned will unify all Party members in thinking. The unity so formed is most reliable.”
In 1981, at its sixth plenary session, the 11th Party Central Committee adopted the Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China. The resolution reviewed the Party’s history in the period before the founding of the People’s Republic and summarized the experience it had gained in the course of socialist revolution and construction.
The resolution gave assessments of certain major events and important figures, particularly a correct appraisal of Comrade Mao Zedong and Mao Zedong Thought. It drew a clear distinction between right and wrong and corrected the erroneous “Leftist” and Rightist viewpoints existing at the time. Through the resolution, the Party came to a clear consensus and was more united than ever in support of a forward-looking approach. All this provided a strong impetus to the Party’s endeavors in reform, opening up, and socialist modernization.
Seventy-six years have passed since the adoption of the Party’s first resolution on historical issues, and 40 years since the second. The past four decades have witnessed tremendous progress in the cause of the Party and the country and tremendous advances for the Party in theoretical and practical terms.
We have now arrived at a new historic milestone. As we look back and set our sights on the future, we have both an objective need and the subjective conditions for a full review of our Party’s major achievements and historical experience over the past century, especially those in the 40-plus years of reform and opening up.
The Central Committee considers it important in both a practical and historical sense to have a comprehensive review of the major achievements and historical experience of the Party over the past century as we celebrate its centenary and the fulfillment of the First Centenary Goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and move on toward the Second Centenary Goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects. This review will help build a broader consensus and stronger unity in will and action among all members and rally and lead Chinese people of all ethnic groups in achieving new and great success in building socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.
The Central Committee understands that the Party has gone through an extraordinary journey over the past century. The great endeavors of the Party span a long period of time, cover a wide range of fields, and involve many issues that merit our careful study. As a general requirement, we need to review our history and understand the underlying dynamics of its development so as to prepare for the future with greater confidence.
To this end, we need to relive the glories of the Party and appreciate how the Party has rallied and led the Chinese people in making magnificent achievements. We need to take stock of the invaluable experience the Party has gained in carrying out revolution, construction, and reform, and summarize the Party’s theories and practices that have proved successful in advancing the cause of the Party and the country since the 18th CPC National Congress.
To be more specific, we need to revisit the Party’s century-long history of leading the people in carrying out revolution, construction, and reform. We need to review the Party’s great historical course of achieving one victory after another and the historic accomplishments the Party has achieved in the interests of the country and the nation.
We need to revisit the Party’s century-long history in which the Party has advanced Marxism in the Chinese context by adapting the basic tenets of Marxism to China’s realities and fine traditional culture, and we need to gain a deeper understanding of the Party’s innovative theories for the new era.
We need to revisit the Party’s century-long history in which the Party has maintained unity and upheld the Central Committee’s authority and its centralized, unified leadership. We need to appreciate the significance of enhancing the Party’s political development, which is a distinctive feature and political strength of a Marxist party such as ours.
We need to revisit the Party’s century-long journey in pursuit of happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation. We must always bear in mind that the Party and the people are inextricably connected and rise and fall together. It is only with such understanding that we Party members can better devote ourselves to the benefit of the people and rely on them in our endeavor for greater accomplishments.
We need to revisit the Party’s century-long journey in which it has grown stronger through self-improvement and self-reform. We must never falter in exercising full and rigorous self-governance of the Party and must see this as a mission that is forever ongoing so as to make sure that the Party always remains a powerful leadership core in the endeavor to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.
We need to fully appreciate the laws and prevailing trends of history, seize the historical initiative in the cause of the Party and the country throughout our new journey in the new era, and galvanize even greater courage and strength for keeping to our set goals and striding ahead with pride and confidence.
The Central Committee considers it essential to follow the methodology of dialectical and historical materialism in the review of the Party’s major achievements and historical experience over the past century. We need to look at the Party’s history from a concrete, objective, and holistic perspective while recognizing that it is interconnected and evolving.
We need to maintain a rational outlook on Party history and see history from a broader perspective so as to develop an accurate understanding of the underlying trends and defining features of the CPC’s history of evolution.
We need to properly address the mistakes and setbacks that have occurred on the Party’s path forward. We should draw experience from our successes and learn lessons from our mistakes so as to score new victories.
We need to do better at setting things straight, taking a clear-cut stance against historical nihilism, strengthening ideological guidance and theoretical analysis, and clearing up confusion and misunderstandings over certain major questions in the Party’s history.
The Central Committee has made it clear that the following are the top priorities in drafting the resolution to be adopted at this session:
1. The resolution must focus on the Party’s major achievements and historical experience over the past century.
Our Party has already produced two resolutions on historical issues. These settled controversies on major issues in Party history in the period from its founding to the early stage of reform and opening up, and their basic points and conclusions remain valid.
Since reform and opening up began, the cause of the Party and the country has generally speaking made smooth progress in the right direction with achievements that have earned worldwide recognition, despite certain problems that have occurred in the Party’s work. In view of this, the resolution to be adopted at this session should focus on a review of the Party’s major achievements and historical experience over the past century. This will help pool our wisdom, strengthen our unity, and boost our confidence and morale.
2. The resolution must highlight the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
This resolution places emphasis on the new era, mainly reviewing the historic achievements and the historic shifts in the cause of the Party and the country, and the latest experience that the Party has gained during this period. This is because the previous two resolutions on historical issues were devoted to Party history during the new-democratic revolution period, the period of socialist revolution and construction, and the period between the third plenary session of the 11th Central Committee in 1978 and its sixth plenary session in 1981.
As for the achievements and experience from the period marked by reform, opening up, and socialist modernization, the Central Committee has already conducted earnest reviews on the occasions of the 20th and 30th anniversary celebrations of the third plenary session of the 11th CPC Central Committee. I also gave a systematic analysis of the achievements and experience from this period in my address at a gathering marking the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up.
Therefore, the resolution before us needs to focus on the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics along with a brief summary of Party history prior to the 18th National Congress based on existing reviews and conclusions. This will help further fortify confidence among all Party members, focus on our current endeavors, and enable us to forge ahead on the new journey with greater morale and make still greater contributions in the new era.
3. The resolution’s appraisal of major events, significant meetings, and important figures must be consistent with the Party Central Committee’s existing conclusions.
The previous two resolutions, along with the Party’s long list of important literature, document the major events, meetings, and figures in Party history prior to its 18th National Congress, and contain well-considered conclusions on historical issues. These points and conclusions are to be upheld in the new resolution.
Since the 18th National Congress, I have spoken about Party history and the Party’s conclusions on historical issues on a number of important occasions, including events marking the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Party, the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and the Party’s centenary in particular. These statements represent an updated understanding on the part of the Central Committee of the Party’s century-long history. This updated understanding needs to be reflected in the new resolution.
II．The Drafting Process
In March of this year, the Political Bureau decided that the sixth plenary session of the 19th Party Central Committee would focus on a comprehensive review of the Party’s major achievements and historical experience in its century-long history.
To this end, a working group was established to draft the document under the auspices of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau. I am chief of this group, and my colleagues Wang Huning and Zhao Leji serve as its deputy chiefs. The group’s membership is composed of other Party and state leaders, as well as heads of relevant central departments and localities.
On April 1, the Central Committee issued a Circular on Soliciting Opinions on the Agenda of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee of Focusing on a Full and Systematic Review of the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party, in order to seek comments and suggestions from Party members and non-Party figures within an appropriate scope.
From their feedback, we can see unanimous agreement among all consulted localities, departments, and sectors that the decision of the 19th CPC Central Committee to focus its sixth plenary session on a comprehensive review of the Party’s major achievements and historical experience over the past century is a well-considered decision of historic and strategic significance.
They believe the decision reflects the Party’s firm resolve to stay true to its original aspiration and founding mission and remain vibrant as ever. It demonstrates the Party’s keen understanding of the general trends of history, its strong sense of mission and responsibility, and its commitment to always taking the initiative in advancing the cause of the Party and the country. It also embodies the Party’s broad and farsighted vision, its willingness to learn from history, and its commitment to remaining firmly grounded while setting its sights on the future.
They expressed their unanimous endorsement of the Central Committee’s decision to focus the session on a review of the Party’s major achievements and historical experience over the past century. They have also come up with many constructive comments and suggestions on what issues should be covered in the resolution.
They all agree that the Party has united and led the Chinese people in a continued endeavor to carry out revolution, construction, and reform during all periods of its century-long history; that the Party and the people have created miracles which will go down in the annals of the Chinese nation, world socialism, and human society; that the Party and the people have fundamentally changed the course of the Chinese nation’s history in modern times and written a brilliant chapter in the history of world socialism, adding new dimensions to Marxism; that the Party and the people have scored indelible achievements toward national rejuvenation and made significant contributions to human progress; and that the Party and the people have gained a wealth of invaluable experience on this great journey. All of these merit a systematic review.
The localities, departments, and sectors involved in the consultation suggest that the review of the Party’s major achievements and historical experience over the past century must focus on the new era and on the historic achievements and the historic shifts in the cause of the Party and the country, and the latest experience that the Party has gained during this period.
Under the planning of the Central Committee, the drafting group first carefully studied the Party’s major historical documents. Following a thorough review of all major issues in the Party’s history and based on comments and suggestions from the localities, departments, and sectors consulted, the group then began drafting the resolution.
In accordance with a decision made at a meeting of the Political Bureau, the text of the draft resolution was issued on September 6 to select Party members, including retired senior Party officials, for consultation. We also sought the opinions from leaders of other political parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce and prominent figures without party affiliation.
The feedback we have received indicates full endorsement by the consulted localities, departments, and sectors of the text of the draft resolution and its general framework and main content. They all agree that the most salient feature of the document is its focus on facts and its respect for history.
They also agree that the document highlights the Party’s commitment to its original aspiration and founding mission in all its endeavors over the past century. It is a facts-based document and its descriptions and appraisals of major events, meetings, and figures are consistent with the descriptions and conclusions in the Party’s existing historical documents. It also demonstrates the Party Central Committee’s updated understanding of Party history in the period after the Party’s 18th National Congress.
Under the sub-heading, “Historical Significance of the Party’s Endeavors over the Past Century,” the document provides a comprehensive, in-depth, and systematic summary of the Party’s historic contributions to China and humanity.
Under the sub-heading, “Historical Experience of the Party’s Endeavors over the Past Century,” the document summarizes the Party’s historical experience and also highlights its significance for guiding ongoing and future endeavors.
All consulted localities, departments, and sectors agree that this resolution is a political declaration of the Chinese communists’ adherence to their original aspiration and founding mission and their commitment to upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. It is a guideline for the Party to create a brighter future and achieve national rejuvenation by learning from history.
They also agree that the resolution is imbued with the same spirit as the two previous resolutions on historical issues while also reflecting the spirit of the times. It will inspire the whole Party to strive for greater achievements on the journey ahead.
Over the course of soliciting opinions, we received many valuable comments and suggestions from the localities, departments, and sectors consulted. The drafting group analyzed these opinions and suggestions individually and incorporated as many of them as possible. Following multiple discussions and careful consideration, a total of 547 revisions were made to the preliminary draft. The revised draft therefore fully reflects the input of those consulted.
During the drafting process, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau met three times and the Political Bureau twice for the purpose of discussing and finalizing the draft. The current draft for your consideration is a product of these meetings.
III. The General Framework and Main Content of the Document
In addition to a preamble and a conclusion, the document has seven sections.
1. A Great Victory in the New-Democratic Revolution
This section outlines the major tasks of the Party during the new-democratic revolution period, namely opposing imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat-capitalism, and working for the nation’s independence and the people’s liberation, so as to create the fundamental social conditions necessary for realizing national rejuvenation.
This section analyzes the historical background of the founding of the Party, and highlights the revolutionary struggle waged by the people under the Party’s leadership as well as the great accomplishments they made in the early days of the Party and during the periods of the Great Revolution, the Agrarian Revolutionary War, the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, and the War of Liberation. It also highlights the Party’s major achievements, such as establishing Mao Zedong Thought, and initiating and advancing the great project of Party building.
This section emphasizes that the founding of the People’s Republic of China, national independence, and the people’s liberation represented China’s great transformation from a millennia-old feudal autocracy to a people’s democracy. With these accomplishments made through tenacious struggle, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people showed the world that the Chinese people had stood up and the time in which the Chinese nation could be bullied and abused by others was gone and would never return. This marked the beginning of a new epoch in China’s development.
2. Socialist Revolution and Construction
This section specifies the Party’s major tasks during this period, which were to realize the transformation from new democracy to socialism, carry out socialist revolution, promote socialist construction, and lay down the fundamental political conditions and the institutional foundations necessary for national rejuvenation.
It reviews the Party’s great achievements during the period following the founding of the People’s Republic of China, in which the Party led the people in surmounting many tough challenges to consolidate the newly-established state power, completing the process of socialist transformation, establishing the socialist system, launching large-scale socialist construction on all fronts, and breaking new ground in foreign affairs.
It recaps the efforts of the Party to build up its capacity as the governing party, and summarizes preliminary experience gained in this regard. It gives a rational appraisal of Mao Zedong Thought based on a summary of the creative theories put forward by the Party during this period.
The section also highlights the great achievements the Chinese people made under the Party’s leadership, which brought about a great transformation from a poor and backward Eastern country with a large population to a socialist country. With these accomplishments made through tenacious struggle, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people showed the world that the Chinese people were not only capable of dismantling the old world, but also of building a new one, that only socialism could save China, and that only socialism could develop China.
3. Reform, Opening up, and Socialist Modernization
This section recounts the major tasks of the Party during this period, which were to continue exploring the right path for building socialism in China, unleash and develop the productive forces, lift the people out of poverty and help them become prosperous in the shortest time possible, and fuel the push toward national rejuvenation by providing new, dynamic institutional guarantees as well as the material conditions for rapid development.
This section highlights the great significance of the third plenary session of the 11th CPC Central Committee, and documents the historic contributions made by the Chinese communists with Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao as their chief representatives. It reviews the spectacular progress and resounding success the Party made in this period in leading the people in setting things right in all sectors, developing the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics, advancing reform, opening up, and socialist modernization, effectively responding to the many risks and trials confronting China’s overall reform, development, and stability, promoting national reunification, safeguarding world peace and pursuing common development, and launching and advancing the great new project of Party building.
This section commends the great achievements scored by the Party and the people during this period, which made possible the Chinese nation’s tremendous advance from standing up to becoming prosperous. With these accomplishments made through tenacious struggle, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people showed the world that reform and opening up was a crucial move in making China what it is today, that socialism with Chinese characteristics is the correct road that has led the country toward development and prosperity, and that China has caught up with the times in great strides.
4. A New Era of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics
This section outlines the major tasks of the Party during this period as accomplishing the First Centenary Goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, launching a new journey to realize the Second Centenary Goal of turning China into a great modern socialist country in all respects, and continuing to advance toward the ultimate goal of national rejuvenation.
This section elaborates on the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics, which represents a new historical phase in China’s development. It reviews the achievements the Party has made in theoretical innovation since its 18th National Congress, and thoroughly analyzes the conditions, risks, and challenges faced by the Party in the new era.
With a focus on the original ideas, transformative practices, new breakthroughs, and landmark accomplishments of the past nine years, the section highlights the great achievements and historic shifts in the cause of the Party and the country in the new era in the following 13 areas:
- upholding the Party’s overall leadership;
- exercising full and rigorous self-governance;
- pursuing economic development;
- deepening reform and opening up;
- advancing political work;
- comprehensively advancing law-based governance;
- driving cultural advancement;
- promoting social advancement;
- spurring ecological advancement;
- strengthening national defense and the armed forces;
- safeguarding national security;
- upholding the One Country, Two Systems policy and promoting national reunification; and
- bolstering the diplomatic front.
This section emphasizes that the great achievements the people have made under the leadership of the Party during this period provide better institutional conditions, stronger material foundations, and a source of inspiration for realizing national rejuvenation. With these accomplishments made through tenacious struggle, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people have shown the world that the Chinese nation has achieved the tremendous transformation from standing up and becoming prosperous to growing strong.
5. The Historical Significance of the Party’s Endeavors over the Past Century
Based on a thorough review of the Party’s major achievements over the past century, this section highlights the historical significance of the Party’s endeavors from a broader perspective in the following five respects:
- fundamentally transforming the future of the Chinese people;
- opening up the right path for achieving rejuvenation of the Chinese nation;
- demonstrating the strong vitality of Marxism;
- producing a profound influence on the course of world history; and
- making the CPC a forerunner of the times.
It spells out the CPC’s historic contributions to the Chinese people, the Chinese nation, Marxism, the cause of human progress, and the development of Marxist political parties.
This five-point summary is rooted in China’s experience, but represents a vision for the future of humanity. It reflects the close bond between the CPC and the Chinese people and nation, and the connections between the CPC and Marxism, world socialism, and the development of human society. It also embodies the historical, theoretical, and practical logic of the Party’s endeavors over its century-long history.
6. The Historical Experience of the Party’s Endeavors over the Past Century
The historical experience of the Party is of fundamental and far-reaching guiding significance. This section summarizes this experience in 10 aspects:
- upholding the Party’s leadership;
- putting the people first;
- advancing theoretical innovation;
- staying independent;
- following the Chinese path;
- maintaining a global vision;
- breaking new ground;
- standing up for ourselves;
- promoting the united front; and
- remaining committed to self-reform.
These 10 points form a systemic, interconnected, and indivisible whole. They are critical to the continued success of the Party and the people. They are the source of the Party’s inviolable strength, and are the very reason why the Party has always been able to seize the historical initiative. They are essential for the Party to preserve its advanced nature and integrity and always stand at the forefront of the times.
This section reiterates that the 10 points represent valuable practical experience the Party has gained on its century-long journey and they are intellectual treasures created through the joint efforts of the Party and the people. All of us must cherish them, uphold them over the long term, and continue to enrich and develop them in practice in the new era.
7. The Communist Party of China in the New Era
This section focuses on the Second Centenary Goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects. It calls on all Party members to make unremitting efforts to advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation with the determination to never let up until we reach our ultimate goals and the attitude that the last leg of the journey marks the halfway point only.
This section stresses the importance of adhering to the basic theory, guideline, and policy of the Party, and of grounding our work in this new stage of development, applying the new development philosophy, fostering a new pattern of development, and pursuing high-quality development. It calls for coordinated nationwide efforts to make our people prosperous, our nation strong, and our country beautiful.
This section reiterates the need to forever maintain the Party’s close ties with the people and the need to better realize, safeguard, and advance the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people. It reminds us that one may thrive in adversity and perish in laxity, requires us to see things from a long-term, strategic perspective, and always remain mindful of potential dangers, and inspires us to continue advancing the great new project of Party building in the new era. It stresses that we must cultivate the people who will carry on the cause of the Party from generation to generation.
It calls on the whole Party, the military, and Chinese people of all ethnic groups to remember the glories and hardships of yesterday, rise to the mission of today, and live up to the great dream of tomorrow. It also calls on us to learn from history, work hard, forge ahead for a better future, and make tireless efforts to realize the Second Centenary Goal and the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.
The key task of the present session is to review and adopt the resolution. I hope that in doing so you will act in accordance with the requirements of the Central Committee, and adopt a holistic perspective on the past, the present, and the future of our Party.
I also hope you will carry out in-depth discussions on the draft resolution and come up with constructive ideas and suggestions based on your collective wisdom.
Let us work together to make this session a great success and produce a well-revised version of the resolution.