The CPC has convened 15 national congresses since its inception in 1921.
The First National Congress
Date: July 23-31, 1921
Place: first in Shanghai and later moved on board a boat on Lake Nanhu in Jiaxing County, Zhejiang Province
Number of delegates: 12
Party membership: over 50
Major contents: The central task of the congress was to discuss the question of officially establishing the Chinese Communist Party. The congress adopted the first Party program and decided on the name of the Party as the Communist Party of China. It decided on the objectives of the Party as follows: to overthrow the bourgeoisie by means of the revolutionary army of the proletariat, to rebuild the country by the laboring classes and to work for the ultimate elimination of class distinction; to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat in order to attain the objective of class struggle, that is, the elimination of classes; and to abolish ownership by capitalists and establish ownership by the entire society through confiscating all the means of production. The congress also adopted the Resolution on the Present Tasks, according to which the central task of the Party after its founding was to get the working class organized and to provide guidance to the workers' movement.
The congress elected Chen Duxiu, Zhang Guotao and Li Da to form the Central Bureau with Chen serving as its secretary.
The Second National Congress
Date: July 16-23, 1922
Party membership: 195
Major contents: The congress adopted and issued a declaration. Based on Lenin's theories on national and colonial questions and the examinations of the basic questions of the Chinese revolution made since the founding of the CPC, the declaration analyzed the world situation and the semi-colonial and semi-feudal nature of the Chinese society, expounded the character, motive force and targets of the Chinese revolution and formulated the minimum and maximum programs of the Party. It pointed out that the Chinese revolution was a democratic revolution against imperialism and feudalism, and the motive powers of the revolution were proletariat, peasants and other petty bourgeoisie. The objectives of the minimum program included eliminating internal disorder and overthrowing the warlords to achieve peace in the country; overthrowing oppression by the world's imperialists to gain complete independence for the Chinese nation. The objectives set by the maximum program were: to organize the proletariat to establish the dictatorship by workers and peasants by means of class struggles, eliminate the system of private ownership and gradually move into the communist society. For the first time in modern China, the congress set forth a program of democratic revolution, opposing imperialism and feudalism, and thus it unequivocally stated the tasks and orientation of the Chinese revolution. It also adopted the Constitution of the CPC.
The Central Executive Committee of the Party composed of Chen Duxiu, Zhang Guotao, Cai Hesen, Gao Junyu and Deng Zhongxia were elected, with Chen Duxiu serving as the chairman of the committee.
The Third National Congress
Date: June 12-20, 1923
Number of delegates: over 30
Party membership: 432
Major contents: The congress was mainly to discuss the establishment of the united revolutionary front based on the Kuomintang-Communist cooperation. It accepted the Resolution on the Relationship Between the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang adopted by the Communist International on January 12 of that year and decided that all the CPC members would join the KMT in the capacity of individuals for the benefit of establishing the united front of various democratic classes. The Central Executive Committee elected Chen Duxiu, Mao Zedong, Luo Zhanglong, Cai Hesen and Tan Pingshan to form the Central Bureau. Chen Duxiu was elected chairman of the Central Executive Committee.
The Fourth National Congress
Date: January 11-22, 1925
Number of delegates: 20
Party membership: 994
Major contents: The congress analyzed the role of different classes in Chinese society in the national revolutionary movement. It drew attention to the importance of leadership by the proletariat and of alliance between workers and peasants, pointing out that the China's national revolutionary movement could only be victorious with the powerful participation and leadership of the proletariat and that the Chinese revolution needed the wide participation of workers, peasants and urban middle and petty bourgeoisie, of which peasants were "an important part" and the "natural allies of the working class". The congress summed up the experiences and lessons in the cooperation with KMT since the previous year and worked out plans for unfolding the workers' movement, peasants' movement, youth's movement and women's movement. It decided to set up and strengthen Party organizations throughout the country to meet the needs of great development in the revolution. The congress also elected the new Central Executive Committee (CEC).
The Central Executive Committee elected Chen Duxiu, Zhang Guotao, Peng Shuzhi, Cai Hesen and Qu Qiubai as members of the Central Bureau, with Chen Duxiu as general secretary of the CEC.
The Fifth National Congress
Date: April 27-May 9, 1927
Number of delegates: 80
Party membership: 57,967
Major contents: The congress was held at the critical moment of the Chinese revolution after Chiang Kai-shek staged a counter-revolutionary coup in Shanghai on April 12 of the same year, disarming the workers and having them and Communists rounded up and murdered. It accepted the resolution on the Chinese revolution adopted at the Seventh Enlarged Plenary Meeting of the Communist International Executive Committee. In accordance with the spirit of this resolution, the congress criticized Chen Duxiu for his Right deviationist mistakes as manifested in his neglect in the struggle with the bourgeoisie for leadership over the revolution. But it did not put forward any practical measures for correcting the mistakes so that Chen continued his Right deviationist mistakes after the meeting. The congress set the major tasks for the time being as to launch agrarian revolution and establish the rural revolutionary democratic power, but failed to put forward specific programs to meet the peasants' demand for land. As a result, the congress actually did not finish the task of rescuing the revolution at the crucial moment. It elected the Central Committee composed of 29 members and 10 alternate members.
The Central Committee elected Chen Duxiu, Zhang Guotao, Li Weihan, Cai Hesen, Li Lisan, Qu Qiubai and Tan Pingshan to form the Political Bureau. Chen Duxiu was elected general secretary.
The Sixth National Congress
Date: June 18-July 11, 1928
Number of delegates: 84 (plus 34 alternate delegates)
Party membership: More than 40,000
Major contents: The major tasks of the congress were to sum up the experiences learnt after the failure of the First Great Revolution (June 1923-July 1927), analyze the nature of the revolution and the political situation, work out the lines, guiding principles and policies of the Party during a new period, to unite the whole Party in thought and develop revolutionary forces. The congress affirmed that Chinese society remained in nature a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society, and that the "Chinese revolution at the present stage is by nature a bourgeois democratic revolution". It formulated 10 programs of the democratic revolution. It pointed out that the political situation in China at that time was one between two revolutionary high tides, and that the general task of the Party was, therefore, not to attack and organize uprisings but to win over the masses and prepare for insurrections. The congress criticized both "Right" and "Left" opportunism, especially putschist mistakes.
The congress elected the Sixth Central Committee composed of 23 members and 13 alternate members, which elected Xiang Zhongfa, Zhou Enlai, Su Zhaozheng, Xiang Ying, Qu Qiubai, Zhang Guotao and Cai Hesen into its Political Bureau, with Xiang Zhongfa serving as the general secretary.
The Seventh National Congress
Date: April 23-June 11, 1945
Number of delegates: 544 full delegates and 208 alternate delegates
Party membership: 1.21 million
Major contents: At the congress, Mao Zedong delivered the political report On the Coalition Government; Liu Shaoqi made the report On the Revision of the Party Constitution; Zhu De delivered the military report On the Battlefield in the Liberated Areas; and Zhou Enlai made an important speech On the United Front. The congress worked out the Party's political line which was to "boldly mobilize the masses and expand the people's forces so that, under the leadership of our Party, they will defeat the Japanese aggressors, liberate the whole people and build a new-democratic China". The new Party Constitution adopted at the congress stipulates that "the Communist Party of China takes the Mao Zedong Thought that integrated Marxist-Leninist theory with the practice of the Chinese revolution as the guideline for all its work". This helped the Party get consolidated and united in an unprecedented way, laying a foundation for the full victory against Japanese aggressors and later the nationwide victory of the people's democratic revolution.
The congress elected a new Central Committee composed of 44 members and 33 alternate members. At the First Plenary Session of the Seventh CPC Central Committee, Mao Zedong, Zhu De, Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, Ren Bishi, Chen Yun, Kang Sheng, Gao Gang, Peng Zhen, Dong Biwu, Lin Boqu, Zhang Wentian and Peng Dehuai were elected to the Political Bureau of the Central Committee. Mao Zedong, Zhu De, Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai and Ren Bishi were elected members of the Secretariat, and Mao Zedong was elected chairman of the Central Committee.
The Eighth National Congress
Date: September 15-27, 1956
Number of delegates: 1,026 full delegates and 107 alternate delegates
Party membership: 10.73 million
Major contents: This is the first CPC national congress since the Party came into power in 1949. It was held at a time when socialist transformation in China had been in the main accomplished and the Party was faced with new situations and new tasks. Mao Zedong gave the opening address. Liu Shaoqi delivered the political report. Zhou Enlai made the report on the proposals for the Second Five-Year-Plan (1958-1962) for the development of the national economy. Deng Xiaoping delivered the report on the revision of the CPC Constitution. It was pointed out at the congress that, as the socialist system has been basically established in China, the principal contradiction within the country was no longer the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie but the one resulted from the need of the people for rapid economic and cultural development which fell short of their requirements. The chief task confronting the entire nation was to concentrate all efforts on developing the productive forces, industrializing the country and gradually meeting the people's growing economic and cultural needs. The congress stressed the issue of the building of the Party in power, emphasized the need to uphold democratic centralism and collective leadership, opposed the personality cult, promoted democracy within the Party and cemented the Party's ties with the masses. Hence, the congress gave directions for the development of the socialist causes and the building of the Party in future.
The congress elected a new Central Committee composed of 97 members and 73 alternate members. At the First Plenary Session of the Eighth CPC Central Committee, new leading bodies were elected with Mao Zedong as chairman of the Central Committee, Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, Zhu De and Chen Yun as vice-chairmen and Deng Xiaoping as general secretary. These six people were also elected to form the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee.
The Ninth National Congress
Date: April 1-24, 1969
Number of delegates: 1,512
Party membership: 22 million
Major contents: The congress was held in unusual circumstances because the CPC had suffered a lot during the "cultural revolution", the Party committees of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and various grass-roots Party organizations had not been restored or established and the majority part of the Party members had not returned to regular Party activities. Lin Biao delivered the political report, in which he applied the "theory of continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat", expounded the formation and importance of this theory, reviewed the preparation and execution of the "cultural revolution" under the guidance of this theory, and extravagantly lauded the "great achievements" scored in the "cultural revolution". In the new Party Constitution adopted at the congress, Lin Biao was put down in the general program as "Comrade Mao Zedong's successor". The congress legitimized the theory and practice of the "cultural revolution" and solidified the position of Lin Biao and Jiang Qing in the Party Central Committee. The ideological, political and organizational guidelines of the Ninth Congress were utterly wrong.
The congress elected 170 members and 109 alternate members to the Central Committee, of whom, only 53 had been members or alternate members of the Eighth Central Committee. At the First Plenary Session of the Ninth CPC Central Committee, Mao Zedong was elected chairman, and Lin Biao vice chairman, of the Central Committee. The members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee were Mao Zedong, Lin Biao, Chen Boda, Zhou Enlai and Kang Sheng.
The Tenth National Congress
Date: August 24-28, 1973
Number of delegates: 1,249
Party membership: 28 million
Major contents: The congress was held after the Lin Biao counter-revolutionary clique was smashed. The delegates to the meeting indignantly denounced the crimes of the Lin Biao counter-revolutionary clique and unanimously supported the sanctions and all other measures adopted by the Party Central Committee against the clique. Zhou Enlai made a political report to the congress and Wang Hongwen made a report on the revision of the Party Constitution. The congress continued the "Left" deviation errors of the previous congress. After the congress, Jiang Qing, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan and Wang Hongwen formed the "gang of four" in the Political Bureau of the Central Committee. Jiang Qing and the company had seized more power, their ambition and activities attempting at usurping the highest power of the Party intensified.
The congress elected 195 members and 124 alternate members to the new Central Committee. At the First Plenary Session of the Tenth CPC Central Committee, Mao Zedong was elected chairman, and Zhou Enlai, Wang Hongwen, Kang Sheng, Ye Jianying and Li Desheng vice-chairmen, of the CPC Central Committee. The members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau were Mao Zedong, Wang Hongwen, Ye Jianying, Zhu De, Li Desheng, Zhang Chunqiao, Zhou Enlai, Kang Sheng and Dong Biwu.
The Eleventh National Congress
Date: August 12-18, 1977
Number of delegates: 1,510
Party membership: 35 million
Major contents: Hua Guofeng made a political report, Ye Jianying made a report on the revision of the Party Constitution and Deng Xiaoping delivered a closing speech. The congress summed up the struggle against the "gang of four", declared the 10-year-long "cultural revolution" ended and reiterated that the fundamental task for the Party in the new period was to make China a powerful and modern socialist state within the century. It played a positive role in criticizing the "gang of four" and mobilizing the whole Party and the nation to build China into a powerful and modern country. But as restricted by the historical conditions at that time and the influence of Hua Guofeng's wrong principle of "two whatevers" ("we will resolutely defend whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made and unswervingly follow whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave"), the congress failed to put right, but continued to affirm instead, the erroneous theories, policies and slogans of the "cultural revolution". Consequently, the congress did not accomplish the task of setting wrong things right theoretically and in terms of the Party's guidelines.
The congress elected 201 members and 132 alternate members to form the new Central Committee. The First Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee elected Hua Guofeng chairman, and Ye Jianying, Deng Xiaoping, Li Xiannian and Wang Dongxing vice chairmen, of the Central Committee. These five people were also elected to form the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau.
The Twelfth National Congress
Date: September 1-11, 1982
Number of delegates: 1,600 full delegates and 149 alternate delegates
Party membership: 39.65 million
Major contents: The congress was aimed at, by summing up the historical victory since the 11th Party Congress and eliminating the negative effects of the chaos of the "cultural revolution", defining a correct road, strategy, principles and policies for creating a new situation of socialist modernization construction. Deng Xiaoping made an opening speech. Hu Yaobang made a report on behalf of the 11th Central Committee. Ye Jianying and Chen Yun both delivered important speeches concerning the cooperation between the senior and young officials and the replacement of senior by young officials. Li Xiannian addressed the closing session. In his opening address, Deng Xiaoping put forward the idea of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. The congress outlined the general task of the Party in the new historical period as follows: to unite the people of all ethnic groups in working hard and self-reliantly to achieve, step by step, the modernization of industry, agriculture, national defense and science and technology and to make China a culturally and ideologically advanced and highly democratic socialist country. It also set the economic goal for the period from 1981 to the end of this century, that is, under the prerequisite of constantly improving economic efficiency, to quadruple the annual industrial and agricultural output value of the country, i.e. from 710 billion yuan in 1980 to about 2,800 billion yuan in the year of 2000, so that people can enjoy a better standard of living. The congress also adopted the new Party Constitution.
The congress elected a new Central Committee composed of 210 members and 138 alternate members, a Central Advisory Commission composed of 172 members and a Central Commission for Discipline Inspection composed of 132 members. At the First Plenary Session of the 12th CPC Central Committee, Hu Yaobang, Ye Jianying, Deng Xiaoping, Zhao Ziyang, Li Xiannian and Chen Yun were elected Standing Committee members of the Political Bureau, and Hu Yaobang general secretary of the Central Committee. Deng Xiaoping was appointed chairman of the Central Military Commission as well as chairman of the CPC Central Advisory Commission. Chen Yun was appointed first secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
The Thirteenth National Congress
Date: October 25-November 1, 1987
Number of delegates: 1,936 full delegates and 61 specially invited delegates
Party membership: 46 million
Major contents: The congress systematically expounded the theory about the primary stage of socialism and the basic line of the Party in this stage. It pointed out that a correct understanding of the present historic stage of Chinese society was of primary importance for building socialism with Chinese characteristics, that it was the essential basis on which to formulate and implement correct lines and policies. The congress set forth a "three-step" economic development strategy: First, to double the 1980 GNP to solve food and clothing shortages; second, to quadruple the 1980 GNP by the end of the century to achieve a relatively good standard of life for the people; and third, to basically complete the nation's modernization, raise the per capita GNP to that of intermediate-level developed countries and improve people's standard of living. The central task outlined at the meeting was to accelerate and deepen reforms. Economic restructuring was urged to focus on changing the operational mechanism of enterprises. Various supportive reforms in terms of planning, investment, materials and goods, finance, banking and foreign trade should be carried out in stages in order to gradually establish a framework for a new system of commodity economy in a planned way.
At the congress, 175 members and 110 alternate members were elected to form the 13th Central Committee. The newly elected Central Advisory Commission comprised 200 members and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection consisted of 69 members. The First Plenary Session of the 13th CPC Central Committee elected Zhao Ziyang, Li Peng, Qiao Shi, Hu Qili and Yao Yilin to form the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau. It elected Zhao Ziyang general secretary of the Central Committee, Deng Xiaoping chairman of the Central Military Commission. The session also approved Chen Yun as chairman of the CPC Central Advisory Commission and Qiao Shi as secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
The Fourteenth National Congress
Date: October 12-18, 1992
Number of delegates: 1,989 full delegates and 46 specially invited delegates
Party membership: 51 million
Major contents: The congress was held taking into account that China's reform and opening-up and modernization drive has stepped into a new era. It was a democratic and unified meeting, imbued with the spirits of reforming, opening up, advancing with a down-to-earth approach. Jiang Zemin, on behalf of the members of the 13th CPC Central Committee, delivered a report titled Accelerating the Reform, the Opening to the Outside World and the Drive for Modernization, So As to Achieve Greater Successes in Building Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. The meeting acknowledged the substantial achievements made in reforming and opening-up as well as in the modernization drive since the end of 1978, systematically summarized the practices and experiences over the previous 14 years, made a brilliant exposition of Deng Xiaoping Theory of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, and outlined the major tasks in the reform and economic and social development in the 1990s. It declared that the target of China's economic restructuring was to establish a socialist market economic system.
The congress elected 189 members and 130 alternate members to form the new Central Committee. The new Central Commission for Discipline Inspection consisted of 108 members. At the First Plenary Session of the 14th CPC Central Committee, Jiang Zemin, Li Peng, Qiao Shi, Li Ruihuan, Zhu Rongji, Liu Huaqing and Hu Jintao were elected to form the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau. Jiang Zemin was elected general secretary of the Central Committee and also chairman of the Central Military Commission. The session also approved Wei Jianxing as secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
The Fifteenth National Congress
Date: September 12-18, 1997
Number of delegates: 2,048 full delegates and 60 specially invited delegates
Party membership: 58 million
Major contents: This congress which was held in the crucial period of China's reform and opening up and the drive for modernization served as a link between the past and the future. It was to mobilize the people of the country to join hands to push forward the undertaking of building socialism with Chinese characteristics into the 21st century. It will become a milestone in Chinese history of development. At the congress, Jiang Zemin, on behalf of the members of the 14th CPC Central Committee, delivered a report titled Hold High The Great Banner of Deng Xiaoping Theory for an All-Round Advancement of the Cause of Building Socialism with Chinese Characteristics into the 21st Century. The report, which made a scientific summary of the history, prepared for the future, and drew up a cross-century blueprint for China's reform, opening and socialist modernization drive, served as the CPC's political declaration and program of action for the next century. The congress endorsed a resolution on Jiang's report and approved the reforming and development programs in economic, political and cultural fields expounded in the report. The resolution pointed out that the coming period until the first decade of the next century will be crucial for China's modernization drive, and efforts must be made relating to the following aspects: to promote the fundamental shift of the economic system and of the mode of economic growth; to establish a sound socialist market economy and to maintain sustained, rapid and sound development of the national economy so as to lay a solid foundation for achieving basic modernization by the middle of the next century; under the precondition of adhering to the Four Cardinal Principles, to continue to press ahead with the reform of the political structure, further extend the scope of socialist democracy and improve the socialist legal system, governing the country according to the law and making it a socialist country ruled by law; to strengthen ideological and ethic building, see to it that science and technology as well as education are made a priority, and positively develop various cultural undertakings.
The congress also deliberated and adopted the amendments to the Constitution of the CPC, believing that establishing Deng Xiaoping Theory as the Party's guiding ideology and stipulating in its Constitution that the CPC takes Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory as its guides for action is of great and far-reaching significance to guarantee that the CPC lead the Chinese people along the socialist road with Chinese characteristics to build China into a powerful, democratic and civilized modern socialist country.
At the congress, 193 members and 151 alternate members were elected into the new Central Committee. A total of 115 members were elected to form the new Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. The new Central Committee was strengthened with more middle-aged and young faces, the average age being 55. The educational level of members rose notably, with 92.4 percent of them receiving university and college education, up nine percentage points than the previous committee. Of the new Central Committee members, 38 are from ethnic minorities and 25 are female, a slight increase compared with their respective figure among the pervious Central Committee members. The First Plenum of the 15th CPC Central Committee elected Jiang Zemin, Li Peng, Zhu Rongji, Li Ruihuan, Hu Jintao, Wei Jianxing and Li Lanqing members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau. Jiang Zemin was re-elected general secretary of the CPC and also chairman of the Central Military Commission. The session also approved Wei Jianxing as secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.