The Chinese Communist Party (CCP): How to explain its longevity?

Briefing 29-06-2015

With a membership of 86.7 million in 2013 the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the largest political party worldwide, representing only slightly more than six per cent of the Chinese population. The CCP is the second-longest lone-ruling communist party, in one of the world's five remaining party-states. It heads assertively towards its 100th anniversary in 2021, since contrary to numerous past forecasts of the CCP's demise, no signs of regime change in China loom on the horizon. The CCP's strong resilience against internal and external threats to its survival appears to result from a combination of its excellent capability to adapt flexibly to changing realities, and its iron grip on power which relies on a systematic heavy-handed approach to political opposition and peaceful dissent that could challenge its monopolistic one-party rule. Since its inception, the CCP has witnessed transformations of varying degrees of its ideology, organisational structure, governance methods, leadership style and leadership succession practice, as well as membership size and composition, which have allowed it to safeguard its legitimacy and thus its longevity. Prospects are extremely bleak for the democratisation of the party-state triggered from outside the CCP by an opposition party able to threaten the CCP's control as the sole political party with 'genuine influence' in Chinese politics. Based on the CCP's self-established status as a 'vanguard party', i.e. a group of communist leaders determining what is in the best interest of the Chinese people, the CCP leadership adheres strictly to the conviction that the party monitors itself, and therefore staunchly dismisses the idea of outside scrutiny. Gradual democratisation inside the party is more likely in a long-term perspective.