17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
Scientific Development Inscribed in CPC Constitution

The 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on October 21, 2007 adopted a resolution on the amendment to the CPC Constitution to enshrine the "scientific outlook on development" and other strategic thoughts advanced since 2002.

The amendment takes effect as of the same date.

The scientific outlook on development is described as a continuation and development of the important thoughts on development advanced by the three generations of the Party's central collective leadership and a concentrated expression of the Marxist world outlook and methodology with regard to development.

"It is a scientific theory that is in the same line as Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents and keeps up with the times," reads the resolution, passed unanimously by more than 2,200 delegates at the closing session of the Party congress Sunday morning.

The scientific outlook on development was proposed by the 16th CPC Central Committee in 2003, against the backdrop of rapid economic growth and a series of problems including excessive consumption of resources, damages to the environment and a widening gap between the rich and poor.

"It's the leading theoretical development since the 16th Party congress was held in 2002, and constitutes an important part of the theoretical system on building socialism with Chinese characteristics," says Yan Shuhan, a researcher with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.

The scientific outlook on development takes development as its essence, putting people first as its core, comprehensive, balanced and sustainable development as its basic requirement, and overall consideration as its fundamental approach.

Its insertion in the Party Constitution is a clear sign that the Party has blueprinted a road of development for China in a pretty long time to come, says Prof. Lin Shangli with Fudan University in China's largest city Shanghai, where the CPC was founded in 1921.

"In light of the basic reality that China is in the primary stage of socialism, the scientific outlook on development has been formulated to meet new requirements of development by analyzing China's own practice and drawing on the experience of other countries in development," reads a report delivered by Hu Jintao on behalf of the 16th CPC Central Committee and passed at the closing session of Party congress on Sunday.

"It will improve the vanguard nature and governance capability of the Party," says delegate Wang Yongchang from Shaoxing, a city in the rich eastern province of Zhejiang.

To insert scientific development in its Constitution indicates the Party has maintained a clearer understanding of its mission and objectives, says Prof. Lin, a leading political scientist who was invited to give a lecture to the Political Bureau of the 16th CPC Central Committee.

In this context, the amended Constitution has underscored harmony as one of the Party's goals, alongside prosperity, democracy and cultural advancement.

It now defines the objective in the Party's basic line in the Constitution as turning China into a "prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious" modern socialist country.

"The new elaboration on harmony is aimed at addressing some deep-seated issues on China's reform and opening up," says Liu Yunxian, a researcher with the Executive Leadership Academy in Shanghai's Pudong New District.

The newly amended Constitution has stated, for the first time, that the Party "unswervingly encourage, support and guide the development of the non-public sector".

It has also incorporated the principles and policies the Party has formulated for guiding efforts to strengthen the work related to ethnic and religious affairs. This is the first time for "religion" to appear in the Constitution of the atheistic Chinese Communist Party.

Since its founding in 1921, the Party has amended its charter for 15 times.

"Despite the changes in content, the Party's nature, tenet and goals have remained the same—and this is where the CPC differs from all other parties," says Ni Xingxiang, curator of the Shanghai memorial house of the CPC's birth site.

Ted Baartmans, vice president of International Leadership Association, says he sees a "source of energy" in the CPC's constitutional amendments.




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