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Placing CPC history study in worldwide context

Author  :  Wang Feng     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2021-07-29

Throughout a century’s splendid history of development, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has altered the destiny of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation. As a major force in economic globalization, it has also profoundly changed world development trends and patterns. Placing the Party history in a worldwide context is a prerequisite for building a comprehensive understanding of it.

Drawing upon practices

Chinese academia should grasp the status quo and development trends of research conducted by foreign academia, and draw upon its practices. By collating and analyzing foreign scholars’ research on the CPC history, we can uncover the tracks of their studies and interpret their reflections on the CPC history, which is crucial for study by Chinese scholars. Foreign study places a higher premium on figures and events in the context of CPC history through interdisciplinary and cross-cultural theories and methods, which is equal to tapping the original historical materials by using novel theories and methods. This is of reference value for our domestic study.

Meanwhile, in conducting studies of the CPC’s history, foreign scholars have mostly utilized archives and historical materials preserved overseas. But due to language barriers and spatial distance, these materials have not been widely used in China’s native study. Collecting these materials, especially those rarely seen in China, supplements domestic studies of the CPC’s history. Though the perspectives from which foreign scholars examine and analyze issues and their methods and theories might not fit in China’s own studies, foreign study can be regarded as a mirror which provides new angels for our self-retrospection.

The next priority is to keep track of the latest foreign studies on CPC’s history, analyze them and give timely responses to hot issues which foreign scholars follow. Impacted by values, standpoints, research materials, and research methods, foreign scholars are inclined to have certain misunderstandings of Chinese issues, particularly of CPC studies. Regarding this issue, Chinese scholars should illustrate Chinese national conditions, expound on Chinese propositions, and introduce Chinese experiences well, which allows the international community to have a more comprehensive and objective understanding of contemporary China and view the CPC in a rational way. This is the responsibility of Chinese scholars. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting has been held, and three volumes of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China have been published overseas in different languages. Through these important channels, foreign scholars get to know a real China, and communication between China and international communities is strengthened.

Building analytical framework

To spread the history and reality of the CPC on a global scale, the premise is to build an analytical framework and explanatory paradigm that is theoretically influential and academically resilient. The splendid cause of revolution, social construction, and reform by Chinese people under the leadership of the CPC should itself be an academic issue considered worthwhile of careful study. But recordings about these facts are scattered, few and far between in historical materials, which fail to constitute systematic historical narratives in a collective sense, nor offer complete sets of historical understandings. Therefore, it is imperative that Chinese scholars participate in building a Chinese academic discourse system and interpret the CPC’s past hundred years of history in a meaningful way, making it both uniquely Chinese and open to international communication.


Wang Feng is an associate professor from the School of Marxism at Beijing Normal University.

Editor: Yu Hui

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