The Communist Party of China (CPC) rules the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and holds the title as the second largest political party in existence. As the sole governing organization within the Middle Kingdom, it retains an immense amount of power and exercises a great amount of control over state agencies.
General Secretary: Xi Jinping
Established: July 21, 1921
The Communist Party of China was established by socialist revolutionaries amidst the turmoil that gripped China in the early 1920s. From its inception, party leaders sought to encourage the spread Marxism-Leninism with Chinese characteristics across the Middle Kingdom. Despite its claims of unity, ideological differences, family rivalries, and a thirst for power soon forced the CPC into a bloody conflict with Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang, a nationalist organization in the highlands of China. Both sides bribed local officials, threatened one another, and engaged in merciless combat, all to the detriment of the civilian populous.
When the Japanese Empire initiated a devastating invasion of China in 1936, CPC and Kuomintang ground troops were forced to band together under a temporary alliance known as the United Front. Despite their differences, the nationalists and communists successfully halted, and in some cases reversed gains made by the Japanese by the end of the war in 1945. Nearly fourteen to twenty million people perished as a result of the war, causing irreparable harm to Chinese families and communities. With the cessation of hostilities, one would expect the Kuomintang and CPC to at least attempt to establish a permanent peace. This, however, would not be the case. Both sides had secretly begun to plan for action against one another before the Japanese surrender, and used dormant assets to the detriment of the other days after the global conflict had formally ended.
Prior to the conclusion of the Second World War, the CPC had successfully developed a stronger political alliance, better military, and more dynamic industrial base than its brethren in the Kuomintang. By 1949, it was clear to western observers that the nationalists had lost mainland China. Although the Kuomintang would continue to remain a thorn in the side of the CPC, it was obvious that the communists were now the masters of mainland China.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the CPC took its place as the world’s most powerful communist party. According to the PRC's constitution, the party must adhere to Marxist-Zedong ideologies, along with several more modern concepts that have been integrated into the nation’s binding document since Chairman Mao’s death. Despite approving a normalization of relations with the United States in the 1970s and market reforms, the CPC still utilizes strongman tactics to bully the citizens of its country, neighbors, and distant powers.
This was made manifest in the late 1980s when the People’s Liberation Army, with the backing of the Communist Party, sought to squash pro-democracy protests across the country. The Tiananmen Square massacre, the most popular of the uprisings, resulted in roughly 3,000 casualties. In 2008, several hundred protestors and rioters were executed without trial in the Tibet Autonomous Region. More recently, China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region suffered under the wrath of the CPC, with muslims being singled out for harsh treatment. The number of victims in this region remains unknown, although some counts place the execution toll north of 7,000 annually.