The Chinese Communist Party rules a country that is already an economic superpower and is poised to become a military and geopolitical one as the 21st Century unfolds. But Harvard Kennedy School Professor Tony Saich says the party’s 100th birthday next month is also a time to remember the party’s struggles and humble beginnings. From it’s early days as Soviet-supported client and its existential struggles with the Chinese Nationalists; to the tragic excesses of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution; to its economic transformation and growing middle class, the party has made disastrous errors as well as successes. But through it all, Saich says, the party has shown a remarkable ability to survive, adapt, and maintain control of 1.4 billion people. That’s why understanding China’s politics is crucial for the future of everything from the world economy to the climate crisis to international human rights. Professor Saich, the director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, has written a new book due out next month called “From Rebel to Ruler: One Hundred Years of the Chinese Communist Party.” He talks to host Ralph Ranalli about the party’s past and why understanding it is important for the future.
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