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A slogan in Futu, Hubei, which reads: "Practice the Thought of Three Represents, advance the reform on rural tax system", with the word "reform" (改革) blocked by a billboard.

The Three Represents (simplified Chinese: 三个代表traditional Chinese: 三個代表pinyin: Sāngè Dàibiǎo) is a socio-political ideology credited to General Secretary Jiang Zemin which became a guiding ideology of the Communist Party of China at its 16th Party Congress in 2002.

Jiang Zemin first introduced his theory on February 25, 2002 while on an inspection tour in Guangdong province. He was attempting a comprehensive summary of the party's historical experience and how to adapt to new situations and tasks when he stated:

In summarizing the 70 year history of our party, we draw an important conclusion which is: our party has always won the support of the people because in revolution, construction and reform over the various historical periods, the Party has always represented the developmental needs of China's advanced production capacity, represented the progressive direction of China's advanced culture, and represented the fundamental interests of the broad majority; in establishing the development of the correct lines, principals and policies, the Party has untiringly struggled to realize the Nation and People's fundamental interests. Humanity has come again into a new century and a new millennium. In these new historical conditions, how our Party can best dispatch these "three represents" is a important issue that all comrades, especially the Party's senior cadres, need to consider deeply.[1]

The official statement of the ideology stipulates that the Communist Party of China should be representative to advanced social productive forces, advanced culture, and the interests of the overwhelming majority. The ideology is important that it attempted to transform the Communist Party to become a ruling party representing the majority of the people as opposed to its old image of a vanguard revolutionary party driven by the proletariat. To a certain degree it legitimized the inclusion of members of the business class, i.e. capitalists, into the party. It has been criticized as a political legacy project by leader Jiang Zemin with no practical application, with the main purpose being to equate him with former leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, who each had their ideological vision enshrined in the party constitution.



The formal statement of the theory is:

Reviewing the course of struggle and the basic experience over the past 80 years and looking ahead to the arduous tasks and bright future in the new century, our Party should continue to stand in the forefront of the times and lead the people in marching toward victory. In a word, the Party must always represent the requirements of the development of China's advanced productive forces, the orientation of the development of China's advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people in China.
— Jiang Zemin's speech at the 16th CPC Congress, November 2002)

The actual function of the theory is two-fold. It legitimizes the inclusion of capitalists and private entrepreneurs within the Communist Party, and as a result has been the subject of quiet but heated opposition within the party. Second, it is an attempt to cement Jiang Zemin's historical legacy as a Marxist theorist on the level of Mao Zedong for Mao Zedong thought and Deng Xiaoping for socialism with Chinese characteristics.

One possible interpretation of the "Three Represents":

  • "Represents advanced social productive forces" = Economic production
  • "Represents the progressive course of China's advanced culture" = Cultural development
  • "Represents the fundamental interests of the majority" = Political consensus
Books of Three Represents theory applied to various fields were published, from the management of party and government, to the development of economy and military.

Some of the difficulty in interpreting the theory may be due to translation difficulties; but many Chinese, including members of the Party, find it incomprehensible. Even the translation of the name itself is awkward. Although open criticism of the Theory of the Three Represents is taboo, there have been reports of private unease at this theory from within the Communist Party of China for a number of reasons. Many dislike the focus of the theory on the advanced social productive forces, since it ignores the widening social gap between the rich and poor. Also many feel that Jiang Zemin's promotion of the theory was similar to the creation of a cult of personality.

One of the main goals of the Three Represents is to change the Communist Party of China into a governmental and more democratic party, rather than a strictly communist system of government. This opens up the Party to "the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people", such as businessmen and managers. This makes for a party ("dǎng" 党) that is much more attractive for a greater number of people. The Theory of the Three Represents is another expansion to what the communist government of China would define as "allies". Over the years, the number of people that could in fact still be defined as "class enemies" kept reducing, seeing how the number of people that belonged to the "wavering middle" (people that were not allies, but could in fact not threaten the Party's regime) increased.

Since the ideology's inception its reception has been cold both inside the party and in the general populace. Since taking power, the Hu-Wen Administration has gradually moved to take on Scientific Development Concept as the guiding ideology, and mentions Three Represents only in official documents and programs.

See also

External links


  1. ^ Jiang Zemin quote from the Baidu Encyclopedia, translated by,

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