Translation: The Communist Party of China is Completely Different from Western Political Parties

In light of current events in both the US and China, it was natural I’d choose a political post to translate this week.  I’ve always had a strange affinity towards very wooden and archaic political Chinese.  Living in China, you are constantly surrounded by red propaganda banners espousing party rhetoric, and I remember the feeling of being supremely frustrated not understanding what they said (and the budding addiction of deciphering them).  Dammit, I demand to know that “The Great Chinese Nation is in the Process of a Historical Revival, and it Requires Contributions from All Citizens!”  I rarely talked politics with Chinese friends and colleagues, and never needed much in daily life or business, so learning these words and phrases was solely for personal fulfillment.  As a recovering political science major, seeing the phrase “有中国特色社会主义“ (“Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”) will always warm my heart.

This is not a particularly interesting or unique take on the CPC, but offers some pretty fun translation challenges.

The Communist Party of China is Completely Different from Western Political Parties

With the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress underway, the world is intently focused on the world’s largest political party.  With very different sets of values and historical experiences, a rich and interesting set of perspectives are being offered around the world.  Yet in light of this commentary, the Chinese Communist Party’s historical experiences and special relationship with the fate of Chinese society is still relatively unfamiliar to political scientists.

It is obvious that the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) is not a standard political party in traditional western terms, perhaps even incomparable.  The CPC currently has 82.6 million members, bigger than populations of large European countries.   It is not a party which mobilizes once every few years for an election, but penetrates through to the most basic levels of Chinese society, a force highly integrated into national and societal management systems.

The current situation has slowly taken shape over the course of almost a century.  In the long, painful Chinese revolution, the CPC led in mobilizing citizens to overthrow the old system, and has continuously strengthened links with the great Chinese population. Since the establishment of “New China”, every step in the Chinese national mission has been difficult, requiring high levels of unity and hard work to accomplish.  The CPC’s large and efficient social mobilization efforts are in order to realize the goal of “National Revival”.

China fundamentally cannot have “rotating political parties”.  In Western democracies, rotation of political parties is merely rotating power.  Yet if China “rotated parties”, it effects more than just who is in power, it would cause earthshaking turmoil and unrest across all society.

The CPC attaches great importance on party building, a necessity for long term governance.  In its early days, the CPC learnt from the experience of the Soviet Union, but soon paved its own path uniquely suited for China.  The CPC emphasizes unity, strict organizational discipline, and close ties with the masses, thus creating a party with strong internal cohesiveness, uniting a large and complex country.

What China fears most is chaos.  When the party was formed, China was not a democracy, was not an independent sovereign state, and was in a state of national disunity.  The process of building a modern China has been difficult and painful, and the CPC’s experience and practice of uniting China has been far from perfect.  However, China has made it to today, becoming the world’s second largest economic power, a road which should make the Chinese people feel fortunate and proud.

The party has undergone many transformations in 90 years, incessantly adopting and meeting the challenges of a variety of problems and crises.  The extreme tests it has experienced are more than any other political party in the world, shaping its special tenacity and fighting will.   By learning from historical experiences and close contact with society’s grass roots, the CPC can fulfill the ambitious national development mission.

The objective of Western political parties is governance, with their governing prospects simply depending on not disappointing the electorate’s expectations.  The CPC is a “long term political party”.  Besides satisfying the population’s expectations, it is also closely linked with the destiny of the state and nation, realizing the great national resurgence the Chinese people are eagerly awaiting.  This requires struggle and real competence.

Yet the long term nature of the party also brings many problems.  For instance, unchecked power and corruption of officials are obvious problems, and they are undoubtedly bringing increasingly harmful effects to the country.  There has yet to be a systematic solution to resolve these issues.

The CPC does not represent any interest groups, and its members come from all societal classes and ethnicities.  In this diversified era, balancing the interests of all levels of society and creatively constructing a way for grassroots society to participate in politics is a worldwide problem, and Socialist China is no different.  Especially, as Chinese society is becoming more empowered, seeming to overwhelm the traditional realm of Chinese government, the CPC must stay on top of these changes.

The opening of Chinese society includes a complex web of activity, influencing the honesty of a party 80 million large, adding to its complexity(?).  In the internet era, the CPC’s credibility will always face an uncountable number of pressures and traps.  The problems and challenges are great, but the foundation of the party is strong and firm.  Facing the future, a united party is very important.  On this basis, as long as the party continues in the direction laid out in the Congress Report, embedding itself in China and its people, the CPC will naturally create a steady stream of power, the party and its leaders will be invincible.

Original Text:
Source

中共十八大将全球目光聚焦到这个人类历史上最大的政党身上。这些目光里包含了各自不同的价值观和历史经验,形成相当丰富、有趣的视角。但中共的经历、它与中国社会的特殊紧密关系以及它的使命,都是人类政治学相当陌生的。

很显然,中共不是西方政治学意义上的普通政党,与它们几乎没有可比性。中共现有8260万党员,比欧洲主要大国的全国人口还要多。它不是几年才活跃一次的选举动员力量,而是渗透到中国社会最基层,与国家和社会管理体系形成高度融合的领导力量。

这一局面是中国近一个世纪的历史反复锻造而成的。一是中国革命的过程漫长而残酷,中共在动员并领导人民推翻旧制度的过程中,不断强化了它与中国最广大民众的紧密联系。二是从新中国成立直到今天,中国的国家使命每一项都很艰难,需要全社会的高度团结和艰苦奋斗才能实现,这使得中共的庞大和高效的社会动员能力一直是这个国家实现复兴的现实需求。

政党轮替在中国之所以根本不可能,是因为西方的政党轮替只是权力轮替,而中国一旦发生“轮替”,触动的绝不仅仅是权力,而是整个社会翻天覆地的重新洗牌和大动荡

中共高度重视党建,这是它作为长期执政党必须做的。中共早期借鉴了苏共经验,但后来很快形成只适用于中国的党建方向。中共强调团结、严谨的组织纪律和密切联系群众等,从而形成党内总体看来很强的凝聚力,党也因此成为凝聚庞大而复杂中国的内核。

中国最怕散和乱,中共刚成立时,中国内无民主,外无独立,国家一盘散沙。中国建立现代秩序的过程十分痛苦、曲折,中共把国家团结起来的探索实践远不是完美的,但中国得以走到今天,成为世界第二大经济体,这一路的历程值得中国人庆幸和骄傲。

中共这90多年几经转型,不停应对各种问题和危机的挑战。它经历的极端考验比世界上任何政党都多,这塑造了它特殊的韧性和斗志。中共同时从历史经验和与基层社会的紧密联系中汲取力量,履行随着中国发展而层层加码的使命。

西方政党的目标就是执政,它们的执政前途通常取决于不踩破社会期待的下限。中共作为长期的执政党,除了要满足民众的当下要求,还必须与国家和民族共命运,实现中国人近代以来一直期盼的伟大复兴。这需要真奋斗,真本事。

长期执政同时给中共带来党建的诸多问题。比如权力缺少制约以及官员腐败等,眼看着它们存在,但如何解决这些问题迄今没有体制性答案,而它们对党和国家的伤害力无疑越来越重。

中共不代表任何利益集团,它的成员来自社会所有阶层和民族。但如何在多元化时代平衡社会各阶层的利益,创造性地构建基层群众的日常参政途径,这是世界性难题,社会主义的中国也不例外。尤其是,“社会”正在中国凸起,并似要溢出中国的传统政治形式,中共对领导国家方式的改革必须跟上这个变化。

中国社会的开放包括内部错综交叉的活跃,这会影响8000多万人大党的纯洁,增加它的复杂性。在互联网时代,党的形象和公信力永远面临数不清的压力和陷阱。问题和挑战很多,但党的根基却强大和牢固。面向未来,党的团结头等重要。在这个基础上,只要党按照党代会报告的大方向去做,它对中国人民和中国国家命运的嵌入就会自然生成源源不断的力量,它和它领导的事业就一定是不可战胜的。

Words/phrases of Note:

聚焦到 (jùjiāo dào)- Focused on
视角 (shìjiǎo)- Viewpoint, perspective (literally “sight corner”)
紧密关系 (jǐnmì guānxì)- A strong relationship
可比性 (kěbǐ xìng)- Comparability
渗透到 (shèntòu dào)- Penetrate to, to reach…
高度融合 (gāodù rónghé)- Highly integrated
国家使命 (guójiā shǐmìng)- National mission
政党轮替 (zhèngdǎng lúntì)- Changing/rotating political parties in power
翻天覆地 (fāntiānfùdì)- Earth-shattering, tremendous
动荡 (dòngdàng)- Unrest, upheaval
纪律 (jìlǜ)- Discpiline
凝聚力 (níngjùlì)- Cohesion
韧性 (rènxìng)- Toughness, tenacity
历史经验 (lìshǐ jīngyàn)- Historical experience
基层社会 (jīcéng shèhuì)- Grassroots society
伟大复兴 (wěidà fùxīng)- Great revival
权力缺少制约 (quánlì quēshǎo zhìyuē)- Political power lacking constraints, no checks/balances
利益集团 (lìyì jítuán)- Interest groups
社会所有阶层 (shèhuì suǒyǒu jiēcéng)- All levels of society
参政 (cānzhèng)- Political participation
世界性难题 (shìjiè xìng nántí)- Worldwide problem
互联网时代 (hùliánwǎng shídài)- The internet era
公信力 (gōngxìnlì)- Public credibility
不可战胜 (bùkě zhànshèng)- Invincible, cannot be defeated

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2 thoughts on “Translation: The Communist Party of China is Completely Different from Western Political Parties”

  1. Everything about this post is wonderful. Thanks for providing the brilliant material – picked up some useful words and phrases. Will be keeping an eye on this and want to do something similar when I’m ready. 非常感谢你,真对我突如其来的灵感。你是气壮山河的人啊~(^_^)

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