A Century of Misery for the Chinese Communist Party | Opinion

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP will ensure that the occasion is met with pomp and circumstance in order to maintain a thin veneer of legitimacy. But nobody should forget the long history of the CCP's atrocities and the persistent dark side of its heavy-handed rule.

The evil nature dates back to the party's origins. The CCP rose to power just as it has remained there: through deception. In 1924, it entered an alliance with China's then-reigning Nationalist Party government, whom it quickly betrayed before dragging the nation into a 15-year civil war.

Starting in the 1930s, the CCP conspired with Japanese invaders to take down China's government. It pretended to join the nationalist government in a "United Front" against the Japanese, a feint it then exploited to sell critical intelligence to Tokyo. This is the same CCP that gives incessant lip service to Chinese nationalism today.

The CCP rose to power through indiscriminate acts of violence and cruelty. After the Second World War, the CCP again betrayed the Nationalist government and launched a nationwide campaign of destruction. In 1948, the CCP prevented civilians from leaving the besieged city of Changchun, which resulted in 160,000 starving to death.

The CCP will say or do anything to expand its power. Nothing is off limits, and nothing is sacred. This has been clear from the very beginning, and yet all these years later, the world still struggles to grasp its implications.

Once the CCP successfully took charge, it attacked virtually anyone with ties to the former Nationalist government. At least 5 million civilians met an early grave during the CCP's first tyrannical decade.

As bleak as the first few years were, the worst was yet to come. In 1958, CCP Chairman Mao Zedong initiated the "Great Leap Forward," a harebrained plan to rapidly industrialize the Chinese economy. He herded hundreds of millions of laborers into work communes and seized control of every lever of the economy. Everything was collectivized, and food was rationed.

The result was the worst famine in history. As one historian put it, "China descended into hell." At least 45 million people died, with starvation so widespread that many resorted to cannibalism.

The CCP knew exactly what was happening. Mao rebuffed reports of famine, purged officials who raised concerns and ordered those who remained to double down.

In any given year of the famine, the CCP incarcerated at least 8 to 9 million people in gulags where forced labor, torture and political indoctrination were the norm. At least 3 million died of starvation and disease in these barbaric houses of horror.

The CCP has conspired for decades to transform and destroy local identities in Tibet and now Xinjiang. These campaigns of cultural erasure have slowly stripped Tibetans, Uyghurs and other ethnic groups of their culture, language, faith and way of life. The ongoing mass internment and genocide in Xinjiang today is the latest and most egregious manifestation of this campaign.

After the famine ended in 1962, Mao managed to retain power for more than a decade by waging his infamous "Cultural Revolution." The result was an indiscriminate war on all things traditional, targeting intellectuals, businessmen, religious leaders and others.

The campaign created mass hysteria and unthinkable violence, with constant "struggle sessions" against those suspected of disloyalty to the CCP. Mobs of radicals would drag innocents into the public square, accuse them of political crimes and beat them, often to death.

A man hold placard reading " don't
A man hold placard reading " don't forget June 4 1989" during a vigil at Leicester Square in London. May James/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Victims were forced to stand in the burning sun, or sometimes kneel on broken glass. People were mutilated, branded with hot irons, doused in gasoline and immolated, and buried alive. The mobs forced husband to turn against wife, brother against sister and parent against child. Two million were killed as the Cultural Revolution tore apart the fabric of Chinese society.

Of course, some insist that the CCP should be judged primarily on its more recent history—not the murderous record of its first three decades in power. They will point to China's subsequent economic growth and absolve the CCP for Mao's crimes that left the country in ruins.

After Mao's death, in a desperate attempt to retain power, the CCP allowed limited reforms. But while those economic reforms provided breathing room for the regime and some space for the industrious Chinese people to create the wealth we see today, the political brutality continued. Corrupt CCP members lived like parasites off of the hard labor of a subjugated people.

The Chinese people continue to live under the threat of political violence and suffer systemic human rights abuses, epitomized by the CCP's massacre of hundreds, likely thousands, of peaceful protesters in Tiananmen Square in June 1989.

Furthermore, the CCP's so-called "reform era" brought us the greatest attack on the sanctity of the family— the most important institution in traditional Confucian society—in all of history: the "one-child policy," which resulted in an estimated 400 million state-mandated abortions and sterilizations. These same evils are now being utilized to commit genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslims, more than a million of whom suffer today in Xi Jinping's labor and detention camps.

The CCP's so-called "reform era" has most recently brought us the effective destruction of a free Hong Kong. Across the entire country, the CCP has closed thousands of Christian churches, banned the Falun Gong outright and imprisoned or disappeared hundreds of lawyers who defend the CCP's victims in court.

Outside its borders, the CCP is working tirelessly to destroy the democratic international order, bully Taiwan and terrorize neighboring states through ludicrous territorial claims.

The CCP's reform era amounted to nothing by the measure that matters most: creating lives of purpose protected by freedom and fundamental rights. Even the economic gains are starting to slip away thanks to the CCP's mismanagement. Why? Because this is the Chinese Communist Party. This is who it has been for 100 years, and it is who it will be for the next 100 if we fail to stand up to its tyranny.

But if we rise to the occasion, the Chinese Communist Party will surely meet its just end in time, and July 1 will then be observed as a day of mourning in a free, democratic China.

Until that day arrives, let us take a moment to reflect on, and pray for, the brave Chinese—as well as Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongolians—who have suffered under the CCP.

Let us look to the examples set by those who have dared to resist the CCP and resolve to stand with them. Lawyers Gao Zhisheng and Xu Zhiyong; Hong Kong heroes Joshua Wong and Jimmy Lai; the Panchen Lama and Pastor Wang Yi; Dr. Ilham Tohti and Dr. Gulshan Abbas; COVID-19 whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang—the world is waking up to your suffering and will no longer stay silent.

No longer will we sit passively as aiders and abettors in the West—nationless corporations, Hollywood, Big Tech and Wall Street—help bankroll the CCP's oppression and censor the stories of these freedom fighters. Instead, we resolve to fight side by side with them until the day that this evil regime falls and the people whom the CCP have subjugated can finally live freely, without fear.

Marco Rubio, a Republican, is the senior U.S. senator from Florida.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.