This article was published first in Qiushi, on 13 October.
We Are Marching on the Right Path
Some Points of Understanding concerning the Path of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics
- When we say that China’s path can be marched correctly and to the end, this is not anyone’s subjective judgment, it is a powerful answer made in practice, it is a profound verdict reached through history and international comparison. We haven’t walked the old, closed and fossilized path, and haven’t walked the crooked road of changing our banners and allegiances, but have marched the new path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics.
- The path and the system are closely related, the success of the path is inseparable from systemic guarantees. China has chosen a particular system that is unique to it, which is the result for standing up to severe tests. Since the modern era, China has tried on various kinds and sorts of “shoes”, and has even thought about imitating the “peak” of Western systems, but in the end, these haven’t succeeded.
- Value concepts are the core of a development path. In understanding China’s path, the dimension of value cannot be overlooked. Where a nation and a country are concerned, the longest lasting and the most profound force are the core values that the entire society commonly recognizes.
- China’s path is the choice of the people, it is created by the people, and it has been made and marched by the Party in the lead of the people.
- On whether or not the path is good, the people who are on this path have the strongest right to speak. China’s people have, through the continued improvement in the material necessities of life, through the huge changes in the look of the country and through their eager desires and overflowing hopes, realistically felt the correctness of China’s path, and supported this path deep in their hearts.
There are no two completely identical tree leaves in the world. Similarly, there are no completely identical paths for the development of countries. It is as General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out, a nation and a country must know who they are, where they came from and where they will go, and if this has been thought out clearly and well, they must unwaveringly advance towards their goal. Contemporary China is currently taking big strides on the path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. This path has been marched through the magnificent practice of more than three decades of reform and opening up, it is marched through the sustained exploration in the more than six decades since the establishment of the New China, it is marched through the profound verdict of the development process of the Chinese nation in over 170 years since the advent of modernity, it is marched through the inheritance of the 5000 year of civilization of the Chinese nation, it ahs profound historical sources and a broad basis in reality. This path suits China’s national conditions, conforms to China’s characteristics, complies with the development requirements of the times, and is the necessary path to create beautiful lives for the people and realize the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
We have come to the fore, and are running in the front row, in the “international contest”
When we say that China’s path can be marched correctly and to the end, this is not anyone’s subjective judgment, it is a powerful answer made in practice, it is a profound verdict reached through history and international comparison. If we look back to the grinding poverty and persistent weakness after the Opium War, and the destitution when the New China was established, and now look again at the completely new look and thriving vitality of present-day China, the great leaps and great advances of history exceed people’s imaginations, and provide the most vivid emphasis for the Communist Party leading the people in marching the Chinese path.
Practice is the best judgment, comparison is the most convincing. After the end of the Second World War and especially in the last thirty years, a contest between development paths and development models has imperceptibly formed between various countries worldwide. In this contest, many countries’ starting points were higher than China’s, their resources were richer than China’s, their external environments were better than China’s, and yet, after these years of struggle, the results of this competition are already starting to become clear. Some countries have changed their banners and their allegiances, with the result that they have taken wrong turns, and become mired in difficulties; some countries imitated other countries’ systems, with the result that these systems failed to acclimatize, like “planting southern oranges in the north”. In clear contrast, we have not marched an old, closed and fossilized path, neither have we marched a crooked path of changing banners and allegiances, but we have marched a new path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. On this path, we have used decades of time to complete a development process that took developed countries centuries, we realized a historical leap from poverty to comfort and again to moderate prosperity, the Chinese nation has overtaken the waves of progress of the times with big strides, and is welcoming a glorious prospect of great rejuvenation. In economic development, for instance, between 1979 and 2012, our country’s average annual GDP growth rate was 9.8%, which is far higher than the annual 2.8% growth in the global economy during the same period; our economy has vaulted into the second position worldwide, and its proportion of the global economy has risen from less than two per cent to nearly twelve per cent, from suffering material shortages and lack of products that happened in the past, we changed into “the factory of the world”, and are marching towards “the centre of the global stage”. Naturally, this path has not been even, on the journey, we have also suffered many complications and bumps, and have vanquished a series of risks and challenges. We don’t need to look far, we can just look at our response to this great test of the international financial crisis, when China submitted an outstanding answer sheet, and took a global lead in realizing an improvement in economic stability, it became an important driver in pushing the global economy to round the corner, and in recent years, China’s contribution to global economic growth exceeded 20 per cent, by now, it is even higher than thirty per cent. Some foreign government leaders and academics have named the huge changes in China as “the most significant event in current times”, and believe that China’s achievements are “without comparison”, the previous US Secretary of State, Kissinger, even sighed that it was “hard to believe” and “exceeded expectations”.
Since the 18th Party Congress, the Party Centre with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary has taken over the baton of history, it has persisted in taking Marxism as guidance, unwaveringly marched a Chinese path, blazed China’s path in step with the times, and continued to write this great writing of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. On a path of pursuing dreams and making them come true, the Party Centre has comprehensively planned the both the domestic and international big pictures, it has completely deepened reform, dared to bite through hard bones, dared to ford treacherous waters, resolved to destroy systemic and mechanistic abuses on all sides, and promoted the modernization of the country’s governing system and governing ability; it adapted to the new trends in economic growth, persisted in seeking progress through stability, reformed and innovated, and promoted the sustained and healthy development of the economy; it improved and protected people’s livelihoods on the basis of national circumstances, and wove a tight security net of the people’s livelihood; it persisted in strictly managing the Party and governing the Party, in leaving an impression on the stones it trod on, grasping work style construction with an iron ruthlessness, and combated corruption with an attitude of zero tolerance; it persisted in marching a path of peaceful development, and strove to build a new type of international relations with cooperation and common benefits at the core, and won the wholehearted support of the popular masses, and the broad respect of international society. The Party and the country have initiated a new dimension, they have created a new wind, and they have gained new successes, and have engraved a new historical marker in the journey along China’s path.
Decoding China’s path
As more and more attention came to be paid to China’s development miracle, its international influence grew ever larger, and “decoding China” became a hot topic in international society. Why is China able to do what it does? Why is the Chinese Communist Party able to do what it does? Such questions can always attract people’s broad reflection. The path and the system are closely connected, the success of the path is inseparable from the guarantees of the system. China has chosen a particular system unique to itself, which is the result of withstanding great tests. Since the beginning of modernity, China has tried on all kinds and sorts of “shoes”, and has even tried to imitate the “peaks” of Western systems, but in the end, this has never been successful. Only at the point where the Chinese Communist Party expanded, did all of this fundamentally change. Our Party has led the people in the practice of arduous struggle, it has found the path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics through exploration, it created the theoretical system of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, and established the system of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. In comparison with other systems, this system of ours has clear superiorities in many aspects, and reflects a sort of unique characteristics and a superior systemic civilization.
For instance, scientific and efficient policymaking and implementation. A country’s policymaking capacity and implementation efficiency are important yardsticks to measure its systemic quality. If unpredictable changes are made in policy, anything would become impossible. The previous president of Afghanistan, Karzai, said: “If Afghanistan had the opportunity to choose again, it would certainly have marched a Chinese-style development path. Because it acts efficiently, makes resolute policies, and is guided towards results.” This displays a prominent advantage of the Chinese system. Our system is able to focus on the overall interest of the people and the long-term development of the country, scientific and timely policymaking, and efficient and powerful implementation have effectively integrated continuation and exploration. The formulation of every “Five-Year Development Plan” processes through consultation and inquiry with all sides, things go up and down repeatedly, until up and down are integrated, and in the end, a consensus is shaped and a decision made. In concentrating strengths to deal with major affairs and resolve difficulties, our system displays strong implementation power. In the process of resisting the Great Wenchuan Earthquake and other such huge disasters, as soon as the Party Centre gave the order, immediate action was undertaken up and down the entire country, a majestic force was assembled to fight the disaster and provide disaster relief, and new homes were built within a quite short time.
For instance, broad and effective people’s democracy. Our democracy is a people’s democracy. Some things can be settled through discussion, the masses negotiating the affairs of the masses , and finding the greatest common denominator of the will and demands of the entire society is found, are the true essence of the people’s democracy. We have instituted the basic political system of the People’s Congress system, we implement multi-Party cooperation and political consultation systems under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, autonomous ethnic region system as well as grass-roots mass autonomy systems and other such basic political systems. The people exercise their power through elections and voting, and a broad, multi-level and institutionalized consultative democracy is implemented among the people, these are two kinds of important democratic elements of our country’s Socialist democratic politics. Such democratic forms not only have a complete systemic order, they also have a complete practice of participation, which benefits strengthening the cooperation and consultation between all forces in society. In comparison, Western democracies characterized by multi-party systems and tripartite separations of power, reveal their abuses and limitations more and more every day. A number of Western scholars recognize that in recent years, Western democracy has faced a profound crisis, checks and balances in democratic systems have evolved into impediments of power, while party games have taken the national interest hostage. A number of countries have blindly “transplanted” or “imported” Western democracy, but have fallen into an endless cycle of regime change and social unrest, resulting in “the early death of democracy”. Only a democratic system that has taken root in the soil of a country, and draws abundant nutrients from it, can be reliable and effective. In this regard we must keep a clear mind and maintain our political orientation, we cannot attend to trifles while neglecting the main matter, nor slavishly imitate others.
For example, the multi-layered practice and experience of selecting the able for appointments. Through a long period of exploration, we have formed selection and appointment mechanisms that broadly take in the virtuous, and are brimming with vitality, we have broadly assembled talents from all sides within all undertakings of the Party and the State. All levels’ leading cadres have, on the journey to their leading positions, had to undergo severe organizational inspections, democratic recommendations, competitive selections and other such procedures, they have all undergone the test of time and have been tempered in practice, they all have grass-roots experience in many positions and remarkable work achievements. The cartoon film “How Are Leaders Selected” that is popular online has vividly displayed this. Now, a long time of “Chinese kung-fu”-style training, selecting and appointing the able, is gaining the recognition of ever more visionaries around the world.
For example, the coordinated efforts of the “two hands” of market and government. Our country implements the Socialist market economy system, its clear characteristic is that it stresses giving rein to the role of the market, and stresses giving rein to the role of government, to ensure that the “invisible hand” and the “visible hand” are both used well. This systemic arrangement both respects the common laws of the market economy, and remedies the failures of market mechanisms, such as is blindness, its spontaneity and its lag, it integrates the roles of the market and the government well. By relying on this system, we have produce a “report card for the Socialist market economy” that has caused admiration around the world. Some countries worldwide have become separate of their own reality, and mechanically applied prescriptions written out by neoliberalism, they conducted complete non-interference, liberalization, privatization and marketization, the result is that they have stumbled into development “traps”, from which it is difficult to extricate them. On the basis of explorations in practice and deepening understanding, our Party has proposed “letting the market play a decisive role in the allocation of resources and giving better rein to the goal of government” as a major theoretical viewpoint, this provides a new scientific orientation to the relationship between market and government. This inevitably promotes the incessant deepening of reform in our country’s economic system, and further gives rein to the superiorities of the Socialist market economy.
In his important speech at the conference to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the National People’s Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping clearly put forward important standards for evaluation whether a political system is democratic and effective. In comparison with these standards, with our decisive progress in practice, we have handed over a convincing examination sheet. Practice demonstrates that China’s system has huge superiorities, resilience, vitality and potential, it has enriched and developed the institutional culture of human societies .Some foreign scholars have pointed out that the Western development model is being resorted into a regional development model, and that the success of China’s model has opened up a plural era in which various systems coexist and compete. Even Fukuyama, who put forward the “end of history theory” believes that the Chinese model has a number of important advantages that Western democratic systems lack, and that space should be reserved for China in the treasure house of human thought and civilization.
Seeking the roots of China’s path
We have concentrated the most persistent and most profound spiritual forces
Chinese culture is the “root” and “spirit” of our nation, and is the deep soil in which the Chinese path was born and lives. The magnificent culture that the Chinese nation has created for over 5000 years contains precious ideological resources and noble value pursuits, it contains important inspirations to resolve the difficulties that humanity faces at present, such as the beautiful ideals of “grand harmony” and “moderate prosperity”, the political concept that “the people are the root of a country, and if the roots are stable, the country is tranquil”, the spirit of struggle of “as Heaven is ever vigorous, the virtuous must constantly strive for improvement”, the important thought of “harmony in difference, and harmonious coexistence”, the broad heart of “maintaining amity through good faith”, “peace and harmony between all nations” and other such things, unobtrusively influence the ways of thinking and acting of Chinese people. But since modernity, some people have come to believe that the reason China fell back was not only because it was inferior in skills or systems, but because it was inferior in culture, it lost confidence in its national culture, and even put forward the viewpoint of “wholesale Westernization”. The Chinese Communist Party has taken up the great banner of inheriting and carrying forward Chinese culture, and proposing and developing advanced culture, it has used scientific theory to endow Chinese culture with advanced ideological content. During the long-term practice of revolution, construction and reform, we have held fast to the position of Chinese culture, inherited China’s cultural genome, promoted the creative transformation and innovative development of Chinese culture, shaped a modern Chinese culture, and provided rich nourishment for the creation and development of China’s path.
Value concepts are the core of a development path. To understand China’s path, we cannot overlook the dimension of values. For a nation or a country, the most persistent and the most profound force are core value views that the entire society jointly recognizes. Our Party has put forward the Socialist core value system which advocates wealth and strength, democracy, civilization and harmony, advocates freedom, equality, fairness and the rule of law, and advocates patriotism, respect for work, sincerity and amity, this profoundly answered the major question of which kind of country to build, which kind of society to build, and which kind of citizen to foster, it is the concentrated expression of the spiritual and value level of the Chinese path. This core value system inherits the value core of traditional Chinese culture, reflects the essential properties, development requirements and struggle objectives of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, and is the “greatest common denominator” of Chinese civic values. On the Chinese path, in the face of the intensifying mutual agitation, exchange, mingling and clashing of various ideologies and cultures, we forcefully construct the Socialist core value system, vigorously foster and practice the Socialist core value system, establish dominance over pluralism, seek consensus in diversity, and effectively integrate social ideologies and value pursuits. To persist in and expand the Chinese path, we must further strengthen self-confidence about values, we can absolutely not blindly become an echo of Western value concepts, and we can absolutely not lose our own spiritual independence.
The result of smelting yellow sand is gold. The formation and development of the Chinese path not only means material enrichment and institutional perfection, it also reflects spiritual plenty and cultural vitalization. The most important matter in this regard is inheriting and carrying forward a national spirit with patriotism at the core, casting a spirit of the times with reform and innovation at the core, and assembling them into a magnificent Chinese spirit. Along the way, we experienced baptisms through various major events, we were steeled by various risks and challenges, we incessantly infused the Chinese spirit with new vitality and content, and inspired the Chinese people to march toward the future with a vigorous and youthful spirit. On this path, we have pained a magnificent scroll of cultural development and flourishing, traditional plays, folksongs, folk music, stories, poems and other cultural forms have gained a bright life force, modern films, television dramas, popular music, network cartoons and other cultural forms emerge one after another in great splendour, cultural innovation, creation and vitality are incessantly strengthening, the cultural lives of the popular masses have become more varied and colourful, their spiritual world has been incessantly enriched. “Made in China” and “sent abroad”. Now, a “Chinese culture craze” continue to rise in temperature, Confucius institutes have opened branches and spread their leaves across more than 100 countries, learning Mandarin, reading Chinese books, watching Chinese films and listening to Chinese stories have begun being popular in a number of countries, the international influence and infectiousness of Chinese culture has greatly strengthened, and the long-standing and well-established Chinese culture is marching towards new glories.
Judging China’s path
We take the common development of and common sharing by the whole body of the people as the final standard.
China’s path is the choice of the people, and is created by the people, it has been worked out and marched by the Party leading the people. It may be said that every breakthrough and innovation we made in understanding and practice, the emergence and development of every novelty during reform and open up, the creation and accumulation of every important experience in modernization an construction, invariably originated from the practice and the wisdom of the popular masses. From the 18 peasant households in Xiaogang Village who put their red fingerprints on a “household contract”, as well as countless peasants washing their feet, leaving agriculture and throwing themselves into township and village enterprises, to “taking a long and arduous journey and suffering untold hardships” to set up people-run enterprises, etc., hundreds of millions of people have explored and innovated, this became a powerful driver for reform and opening up. Exactly because our Party respected the dominant role of the people, and respected the pioneering spirit of the masses, it was able to let all the vitality of all labour, knowledge, technology, management and capital compete and burst forth, and let all sources creating social wealth flow freely, which enabled the Chinese path to obtain the most profound sources of strength.
The people’s yearning for a beautiful life is our struggle objective. The Chinese people warmly love life, their are full of dreams, they hope for a better education, more stable jobs, more and comfortable housing conditions, they seek the protection of their dignity, the success of the undertakings and the realizations of their values. In more than three decades of reform and opening up, these simple drams have progressively come true, and they are now striding ahead to even higher levels. Our determination to invest in people’s livelihood is great, and our strength is great, this is rare everywhere in the world. We have taken ten years of time to realize a minimum living security system, a system for basic care for the elderly in town and country, and basic healthcare system with complete coverage, we have built a basic social security network that some Western countries have only completed in a century. Through many years of efforts, China now has 600 people who escaped from poverty, and completed seventy per cent of the complete global task of poverty reduction. There is no end to protecting the people’s livelihood, there is only an incessant stream of new starting points. Since the 18th Party Congress, household registration reform, student recruitment examination reform, and birth planning policy adjustment have been completed, and a batch of policies to improve people’s livelihoods has been rolled out, ensuring that more fruits of development are extended more fairly to the whole body of the People. The American scholar Kuhn believes that, “in all of human history, it has never happened that this many people have achieved these living standards at such a speed.”
On whether or not the path is good, the people who are on this path have the greatest right to speak. The Chinese people have personally felt the correctness of the Chinese path, through the sustained improvement in material living conditions, through the huge changes in the look of the country, and through their full hopes and desires, and have embraced this path in their hearts. Some people metaphorically say that in the more than three decades of reform and opening up, the absolute majority of Chinese people have actually undergone a “welfare revolution”, the “major purchase” consumption in common households has gone from wristwatches, bicycles, sewing machines in the past to refrigerators, colour television and washing machines, and again to houses, cars and computers at present, an earthshattering change has happened. At present, Chinese people have a relatively satisfied and optimistic attitude towards the general circumstances and development prospects of their own country. In 2013, the amount of returning overseas students exceeded 350.000, this is more than thirty times the number at the beginning of this century, and an increase of over 32 per cent annually. The “homecoming wave” of these overseas students clearly demonstrates the attraction of China, and from one angle reflects people’s convictions in the future of the country. With hundreds of millions of people firmly believing in the Chinese path, we will have ever more reason and ever more stamina to march along this path.
The question about the path is most fundamental, it relates to the rise and fall of the nation’s destiny, and the happiness of the people. In the Nineties of the previous century, when he stood on the bridgehead of the Yangpu Bridge, and overlooked the new Shanghai, where the great wave of reform and opening up was surging, Comrade Deng Xiaoping sighed: “the joy of seeing the road of today surpasses reading for a century.” We must ever more cherish the Chinese path, on which the Party has led the people to undergo untold hardships, and whose success has come against various kinds of costs, persistently and incessantly extend and expand it. We must incessantly deepen our ideological identification, theoretical identification and emotional identification with Socialism with Chinese characteristics, incessantly strengthen our self-confidence about the path, self-confidence about theory and self-confidence about the system, maintain our strategic orientation from beginning to end, not fear any risk, and not become doubtful for any interference. We firmly believe that the path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics must become ever broader, and the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the nation can absolutely be realized!