After the People's Republic of China was set up in 1949, the party became the administrative and policymaking center of the government. It was the party hierarchy that was challenged and nearly destroyed by Mao in the Cultural Revolution (1966–76). The rehabilitation of Deng Xiaoping (1977) represented reestablishment of party control, which was strengthened further by events at Tiananmen Square (1989). It is currently the largest and most important governing Communist party, but it has essentially abandoned the principle of a collective economy directed by the state, emphasizing economic growth instead. It does continue to exercise exclusive political power, however, and it has actively suppressed real and perceived challenges to its power. Jiang Zemin, who was party leader from 1989 to 2002, essentially rejected the notion of class struggle in 2001 when he promoted the recruitment of business executives and entrepreneurs as party members. Jiang was succeeded as party leader by Hu Jintao, who largely maintained the status quo and was not an active reformer; Xi Jinping succeeded Hu in 2012.
For additional information, see China.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.