Zhong guo gong chan dang, or the CCP. The Chinese Communisty Party was formed in the anti-Japanese ferment during the May Fourth Movement by figures such as Zhou Enlai, Li Dazhao, Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi and Chen Duxiu after the Bolshevik victory in 1917. They organized labor unions in the cities and the countryside. Originally allied with the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang), in 1927 Chiang Kai-shek betrayed the treaty and slaughtered thousands of workers in Shanghai, then proceeded to drive the young party underground with violent military campaigns.

The leadership turned away from the urban proletariat and instead went to the Chinese peasantry, and in 1931 they set up the Chinese Soviet Republic in Southern China. The Nationalists drove them out again, forcing them to flee in what is now known as the Long March, to Yanan in Northern China. Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai consolidated their positions of power during this period.

The CCP actively fought against the Japanese during 1933-1945, unlike the Kuomintang, and this won them massive support from the peasants. By 1946, they had an huge and experienced guerilla army operating in several provinces. This enabled them to drive Chiang Kai-shek to Taiwan by 1949. The People's Republic of China was established on October 1, 1949.

After initial successes in rebuilding China's shattered economy, Chinese-Soviet relationships soured in the 1950's, causing the CCP to head toward the Maoist path instead of the traditional Soviet model. The Great Leap Forward was the abortive attempt to rapidly industrialize China. Mao, despite this massive failure, retained almost God-like status in China, and continued to purge the CCP, even removing some of the party's original founders. This led to the 1966 Cultural Revolution, Mao's final attempt to "purify" socialism. With Mao's death and the arrest of his infamous Gang of Four, the CCP rapidly changed direction.

After decades of hard-line socialism, the CCP changed policy in the 1980's under Deng Xiaoping, engaging in economic reform and structural reform of the CCP. The CCP is often maligned by the Western media for "causing" Tiananmen Square, which it didn't. With the death of Deng, he was replaced by Jiang Zemin, the current leader of the CCP.

There are currently around 50,000,000 members in the CCP, making it the largest political party in the world. It is almost interchangable with the Chinese government, as it is the sole policy-making entity in China. Recent moves to democratize the CCP at the lower levels, by allowing independent candidates to run for office in the lower echelons of government, signal the beginning of a new era of politics in China.

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