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Is China’s Communist Party Still Communist?

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China’s Communist Party turns a century old this July, a milestone that Beijing is celebrating with a crescendo of fireworks, theatrics and a fervent campaign to honor its revolutionary past.

The party has often lurched between tragedy and triumph between its birth as an underground movement and its current dominance over the world’s most populous nation. It seized power in 1949, and its early decades in government were tumultuous, with Mao Zedong launching radical purges and a disastrous industrial program that led to one of the deadliest famines in history.

Mao’s death in 1976 precipitated political and economic changes under Deng Xiaoping that would transform an impoverished nation into a global economic powerhouse.

Xi Jinping, who took power in late 2012, has styled himself as a visionary statesman on par with Mao and Deng. As the party nears its Soviet counterpart’s record of 74 years in power, Mr. Xi is renewing pledges to ensure China’s rejuvenation ahead of the centenary of Communist rule in 2049. Here’s a brief look at the party’s past and its plans for the future.

When was the Communist Party founded?

Party histories trace the formation of China’s first communist organizations to 1920, when Marxist activists across the country set up local groups in their own cities. Just over a dozen representatives from such groups gathered at a brick house in Shanghai’s French Concession on July 23, 1921, to convene the Chinese Communist Party’s founding congress.