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Sunday, 1 July, 2001, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Chinese leader sets course for future
A policeman stands beside a banner proclaiming 80 years of the Communist Party
Eighty years on, the party governs a changing country
By Duncan Hewitt in Shanghai

China's Communist Party has celebrated its 80th anniversary with a call from President Jiang Zemin for further modernisation and a crackdown on corruption.

In a speech shown live on nationwide television, Mr Jiang also repeated China's determination to achieve reunification with the island of Taiwan.

Without the Communist Party there would be no new China

President Jiang Zemin
The party marked its birthday in traditional fashion.

There were red banner headlines in the papers, exhibitions of achievements and a gathering of leaders in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Tackling money worship

But Party Secretary-General Jiang Zemin sought to emphasise that the organisation was still relevant to a rapidly changing nation.

He said the party had achieved a historic miracle over the past 80 years and its leadership remained necessary to keep China's 1.2bn people united.

A workman erects a huge picture of Mao Tse-tung
The party founded by Chairman Mao now presides over capitalist-style reforms
But he stressed that it must continue to evolve in line with China's practical conditions.

He received applause when he pledged to fight against money worship and corruption within the party - problems he himself has identified as potentially fatal.

The official People's Daily newspaper hailed the past two decades of economic reform and said China was on course to achieve what it called socialist modernisation by the middle of this century.

New ideology

Mr Jiang stressed that the party must

  • represent the most advanced economic forces in society
  • the most advanced elements of Chinese culture
  • the basic interests of the people

This concept, known as the 'Three Represents', is being promoted as an important ideological theory.

Some analysts believe it could be used in future to justify further moves away from the Communist Party's traditional socialist routes.

...whether or not one has wealth or how much one has cannot be crudely used as the standard for whether that person is politically progressive or backward

Jiang Zemin
And in a reminder of the party's increasing reliance on patriotism, rather than ideology as a unifying factor, Mr Jiang again pledged that it would eventually achieve the reunification of Taiwan with the Chinese mainland.

State media have emphasised that the party continues to grow.

It now has some 64m members after a major recruitment drive over the past decade.

Yet observers say many people join the party today because they think it will help them to find a good job.

Communism and sports cars

A sign of changing times could be seen close to the hallowed site of the Communist Party's first congress in Shanghai.

A luxury shopping and restaurant complex has just opened next door catering mainly to foreigners and wealthy locals.

The star attraction this weekend was a brand new Masarati sports car -- on display just metres from the Communist Party museum.

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Country profile: China
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