Birthday party for world’s largest party

China is celebrating the 90th birthday of its ruling Communist Party. President Hu Jintao praised the party's achievements while in power, turning the nation it rules from a backward, mistreated regional also-ran into a powerhouse world leader.

"In some historical periods, we once made mistakes and even suffered severe setbacks, the root cause of which was that our guiding thought then was divorced from China's reality. Our party managed to correct the mistakes by the strength of itself and the people rose up amid the setbacks and continued to go forward victoriously," the party leader said in a speech.

The organization, which started with a congress held in French Shanghai and attended by 53 men, now has about 80 million members, which is about six per cent of the country’s population. Some 20 million applications for membership are sent annually, and the majority of them are turned down.

Under its rule China became the world’s fastest-growing economy, which is surpassed only by that of the US in strength. In 2011 it beat the US as the world’s biggest manufacturer.

During its turbulent history the Communist Party of China turned from allies to bitter enemies and back again with the nationalist Kuomintang, eventually ousting them from the Asian continent.

It fought a bloody guerilla war with the Japanese Empire’s invaders and an even bloodier undeclared war for power within itself during the time of the Cultural Revolution.

It went at odds with former “elder brother” the Soviet Union and managed to introduce a gradual liberalization, turning the country it rules into world’s second largest economy, while the USSR collapsed and split.

Evgeny Bazhanov, who is the director of the Diplomatic Academy of Russia's Foreign Ministry, says Mikhail Gorbachev wanted to move in the same direction as China’s Deng Xiaoping.

“Gorbachev introduced democratization because he couldn’t make reforms Chinese-style. He tried, but he was resisted by the Communist Party, he was resisted by the military-industrial complex. He couldn’t succeed and he decided to introduce democracy. As a result people began to fight against each other instead of working, like they do in China,” he told RT.

The success China enjoys now has many factors, including cheep, hard-working and intelligent labor force, good environment for foreign businesses and political stability, but policies of the Communist Party of China and the strong institutions they have at hand have played a major part in it, the Russian diplomat believes.

“When this party had wrong policies, like it had in the 1960s, China was in deep trouble. After the party changed its policies and introduced very wise reforms, China has been developing,” he said.

Nevertheless President Hu’s worries about corruption are more than well-founded. Economical development has brought growing inequity, corruption within the party itself and other social problems, and the Chinese government must work hard to address them, Bazhanov said.

“Corruption is a danger for every government in the world. Look at the Middle East, North Africa. One of the reasons they have all these trouble now is corruption. In China corruption is also quite big, so of course the government is worried. Some people are very rich, some are very poor. Some party officials have enriched themselves, and this is dangerous,” he warned.

­A professor of the University of Nottingham, Shujie Yao, agrees that corruption is one of the key internal problems in China.

“The corruption is linked with many other issues, like income equality, the life and housing prices, and pollution,” he said. “If China can control the scale of corruption and make sure that society is a little bit happier as the economy grows, and also the ordinary people can increase their incomes simultaneously and feel that they have freedom and simple liberty, then the society will be much better.”

­Andrey Karneev, a vice-director of the Institute of Asian and African studies at Moscow State University, believes that the Chinese version of communism infused with capitalism and socialism is in some ways better than the one that collapsed in the Soviet Union.

“Probably the Chinese version was one that was infused with much more deference to tradition and with some nationalistic aspirations for a strong and powerful state,” he said. “That was not precisely what we had here in Russia, where people had messianic ideas about making everybody on the globe happy.”