Remember China in the ’60s, the great “Cultural Revolution”? The Communist Party turned the country on its head. Party members were sent to labour the countryside to learn humility and renew their revolutionary fervour.
What was that about China moving away from communism again?
From the Communist Party of China website.
Wearing bamboo hats and drab grey uniforms with rice bags slung across their shoulders, a group of men and women trudge along a narrow mountain path under the scorching sun, their clothes soaked in sweat.
It looks like a scene from China’s wartime past in the first half of last century or a re-enactment for a film.
But it is in fact the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) latest team-building and motivational course for senior government officials. It also has the wider purpose of discouraging corruption and arrogance before they start.
The course is run by the China Executive Leadership Academy at Jinggangshan (CELAJ), one of the three high-profile CPC cadre training institutes. The other two are based in Pudong, in Shanghai, and Yan’an, in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.
Carrying grain along the 4.8-km path where Mao Zedong and Zhu De, founders of Chinese military, once passed from the foot of Mount Jinggang to the top is one of the many missions newcomers are required to fulfil, says Li Xiaosan, CELAJ deputy president.
“It is no easy task to climb the mountain,” says trainee Xie Jun, deputy director of the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China.
“I used a tree branch as a walking stick. When I eventually made it to the top, my clothes were soaked with sweat.
“The exercise has expelled our excitement as newcomers, and we now feel a bit more reverence for our revolutionary forerunners,” says Xie.
In accordance with guidelines for training cadres, who are also members of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the government will be organizing about 110,000 CPC officials, including 500 ministerial cadres, for study camps each year until 2010.
CELAJ deputy president Li Xiaoshan says, “CPC cadres are getting younger and younger, and they mainly comprise people born in 1950s or 1960s and were hired as government employees in 1970s and 1980s.
“These people are intelligent and well-educated, but some lack systematic study of CPC history and fail to fully understand the strong bond between the Party and the broad masses,” says Li. “We must organize their study of revolutionary traditions and theories.”
The three cadre training institutes were established after the Party’s 16th National Congress to improve the standards and skills of leading CPC cadres and conduct international training exchanges.
Officially their aims to educate CPC officials through experience-based courses and motivate them by learning more about the history of China, especially that of the Communist Party of China; to teach them to perform their duties as civil servants and help prevent corruption; to restore humility in the CPC cadres.
Pudong is regarded as a vanguard of China’s economic development, while Jinggangshan and Yan’an were both important revolutionary strongholds.
The Pudong-based institute runs courses on international affairs, and helps trainees keep pace with developments and become more open. The other two institutes give officials the opportunity to learn more about revolutionary traditions and about conditions in the country. Training is carried out in the forms of lectures, discussions, and field study.
Since their establishment, the institutes have trained more than 20,000 CPC leading cadres; the CELAJ has trained 9,225 top and middle level CPC cadres.
“Apart from building more than 100 centers for investigative studies on the basis of revered revolutionary sites, swathes of farmland, exemplary households of ordinary citizens, industrial parks and financial organizations, China is planning to base some of its training grounds overseas through improved international cooperation,” says Li.
One of the most important fields of study are various theories regarding the construction of socialism with Chinese characteristics, alongside knowledge of modern economics and management expertise.
Other organizations or sectors have set up centers of their own, or entrusted universities to help train CPC leading cadres at lower levels or even ordinary CPC members.
In the run-up to the Party’s 17th National Congress in Beijing in the second half this year, the Party schools and cadre training institutes are preparing new training targets.
Zeng Qinghong, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, visited the institutes in May.
Zeng said new programs to train leading CPC cadres would be launched after the Party’s 17th National Congress.
Zhao Changmao, deputy head of the organization section at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, insisted innovative achievements in CPC theory would be the core of the new training program.