On a normal day, Zeng Weishen, a doctoral student in international relations, gets up early. Still in bed, he consults social networks and the main news of the day in applications and portals in China.
When not rushing to meet college deadlines, he also reads the latest updates from his neighborhood committee – usually a bulletin on the state of construction and maintenance of utilities, as well. as news about taxes or new city regulations in Beijing. Then he goes to the gym and goes to a small store, where he pays his breakfast bill with a digital wallet.
This common routine in the life of a Chinese citizen concentrates a central characteristic of the Asian country: all the activities described pass, directly or indirectly, through the Communist Party. In this week which celebrates its centenary, the organization can claim the feat of having become so present in the life of the population to the point that its functions are often confused with the state apparatus itself.
At present, the speech is filtered by the ideological orientations of the party. In purchases, the basics of using digital currency are defined by legend, and one of the main digital wallets, the Zhīfùbǎo (or AliPay in the westernized version), is owned by billionaire Jack Ma, who has been affiliated with the Chinese PC since the 1980s. relations between citizens and public authorities, the neighborhood municipalities provide guidance on health measures, construction work, counts and, more recently, the queue of vaccines against Covid.
The party is also present in the compulsory teaching of Marxism to the majority of Chinese university students, in the definition of school curricula, in the supervision of the great firewall responsible for blocking Western websites in China and in the design of policies. which govern the lives of minorities.
For Zeng, the presence of the Communist Party also translates into family relations and political activism, since his father, a senior officer for years, worked in the public machine. The uncles and the grandfather are also members of the organization. “My father started his career as an employee of the local poverty reduction program. It was hard work and I was very proud of his effort to understand reality, help disadvantaged people and help them in a way that they can understand and accept, ”says the doctoral student, adding that affiliation to the his father’s party and his work in the local government were essential to his moral education and, later, to his decision to join the Communist Party.
Understanding the tentacles of legend within the Chinese government is essential for maintaining good relations with the country. The authority of the Chinese Communist Party is often more important than the government authority. The first secretary of a province, for example, is more important than a governor.
With around 92 million members – making it the second largest political organization in the world, behind just the Indian People’s Party, or BJP, which has at least 180 million members – the Communist Party. big than its superlative figures, even in a universe of 1.4 billion inhabitants, explains the sinologist and professor of international relations at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) Mauricio Santoro.
“Proportionately, [o número de membros] It may seem small, but it is a central organization in China, mainly for recruiting prominent figures from society. It is, in fact, in addition to a robust political structure, a large network of contacts, ”Santoro analyzes.
For the professor, this link between people, state and party is today so intertwined that the trajectory of the Chinese Communist Party “merges with national history itself, a story amplified by the Propaganda Department by delegating the credit of successful development in subtitles. , for the restoration of national unity and for the return of China to the status of a great power, respected by the world. “
Evandro Menezes de Carvalho, coordinator of the Brazil-China Study Center of FGV Direito Rio, supports this point of view. For him, the Chinese Communist Party is more present than the State itself, and an example is the United Front, which brings together unions, feminist federations and social activists. The agency’s performance reveals the differences in political model that make the line between state and party so thin.
“The Communist Party gives the ideological line and the direction to the state, which has to carry out tasks. At the same time, when it is present in the unions, in the media and in social groups, it is also present in grassroots organizations, putting pressure on this same State to transform guidelines into laws and public policies ”, Menezes says. “It is an interesting logic, because the party alone does not legislate, but guides to the top of the pyramid and brings cohesion to the demands of the base.”
Thus, this very particular structure breaks with the logic of separation of the three Powers (Legislative, Executive and Judicial) for the benefit not of individual or organizational loyalty, but to the Republic.
Responsible for the analysis of China in the Eurasia Group and expert on the bureaucratic structure of the Chinese party, researcher Neil Thomas says that, especially during Xi Jinping’s administration, the Chinese CP has taken on more functions that it does not were previously delegated only to government. In 2018, a major administrative reorganization further blurred the line between party and state apparatus.
“The Council of State, for example, was primarily responsible for formulating economic policy. Along with Xi, the party took on this task through the Reform Commission, a sort of body dedicated to defining, implementing and coordinating economic policy. Xi he also accumulated the presidency. of the Central Economic and Financial Commission, which previously reported to the Prime Minister, ”explains Thomas.
In addition to the symbiosis with the state, the party is increasing its presence in the private sector. A survey conducted by the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce in partnership with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences showed that the number of people’s party organizations – a kind of branch of the Communist Party in business – has increased from 4% in 1993 to 48.3% in 2018. In the list of the 500 largest companies, this figure is significantly higher: according to a survey by the Macro Polo think tank, it reached 92.4%.
UERJ doctoral student Melissa Cambuhy, who conducts research on productive restructuring processes in Chinese companies, asserts that socialism with Chinese characteristics, with the party’s strong presence in private organizations, “uses the market as a Resource Distributor in the Service of Planning “.” This model orients production towards national interests and, ultimately, leads to investments in technological innovation. “
Melissa says the legend’s capillarity in various spheres of Chinese life has offered good results recently, such as the Covid-19 crisis. The teacher recalls that the party’s neighborhood committees were responsible for breaking the chain of transmission of the virus, as they delivered food to the elderly, took temperature measurements and provided medical supplies, not to mention the ability to mobilize volunteers, even if they were not affiliated with the party. “To the average Chinese, proximity in times of crisis was very clear.”
Zeng Weishen, whose routine is governed, directly or indirectly, by the Chinese Communist Party, rejects the perception of a controlling and omnipresent party. He mentions the technological channels available today to forward requests to committees that help mediate contacts with the government. For Menezes de Carvalho, the student’s opinion indicates how central technology will be in the ramification of the Communist Party in the social fabric and in the very survival of the organization in the decades to come.
“With massive data collection, they are now able to track online and in real time what people want, a critical condition for staying in power. This is, of course, enormous power, but what in the West it’s in the hands of companies like Facebook, ”he says.
For him, technological advances may create a scenario in which the Chinese Communist Party is able to predict “not only what society wants today, but what it will still want, creating a lag with democracies in which the will popular translates every four years. on a political platform that tries, and does not always succeed, to respond to social demands ”.
Santoro, from the UERJ, defends another way of thinking about the relationship between the people and the party for the future. The Sinologist says that he considers it necessary to “relativize the myth of omniscience” of the Chinese Communist Party and cites the cases of European communist acronyms which succumbed in the late 1980s and early 1990s thanks to popular unrest. “There is a very sophisticated control apparatus, but also a society capable of mobilizing in large numbers. No party is omniscient and omnipresent, socio-political structures are always more complex than that.”