There has been some hubbub concerning a speech of Hu Jintao that was reprinted in the Party magazine Qiushi. In the speech, Hu Jintao warns, amongst others, against “foreign hostile powers” that want to Westernize and divide China, presumably out of envy of its newfound international position. This comes against the background of the fact the China, according to General Secretary Hu, still does not enjoy soft power commensurate with its economic stature. There’s more to the speech however. In itself, it contains little that we did not know before. It was first delivered in October, at around the time the Central Committee decision on culture was published. Like the Decision, it mainly emphasizes three things:
(1) The need for China to gain more cultural and soft power abroad.
(2) The necessity of providing better public cultural service at the local and grass-roots level, as a component of achieving the xiaokang shehui or relatively well-off society. Also, this is a part of the harmonious society
(3) The emphasis on socialism with Chinese characteristics as a part of a wider thrust to bring ideology back to the forefront of social and economic development.
Also, the language that is used is quite interesting. The speech (like the Decision) contains many military-related terms, like struggle, battlefield and “arming the Party”. This sort of language has become more frequent recently, and looks a bit like a throwback to the language of the early Communist era.
The background for this evolution is quite clear. First, China seems to feel that it should be treated with more respect and that it should get its way more often in the international arena. It would also like to see a greater influence of Chinese culture, through which it could then extend its political reach. See, for example, the Confucius institutes and the enormous amounts of money pumped into exchange programmes for Chinese language and culture teaching. However, the continuous stream stories such as the fate of Liu Xiaobo, Ai Weiwei and other dissidents, the Wukan incident, human rights abuses, trade issues and – ironically, the breaking of this story – are negating much, if not all, of those efforts.
Second, the Party may be facing increasing limits to growth at home, and the consequences of unbalanced development. The drive to expand cultural facilities to the grass-roots could be interpreted as an effort to expand the “main melody” into the minds of those who have been at the losing end of China’s development. The necessary transformation of China’s development model will be painful for some, and cultural tactics seem to be considered as a way to at least maintain some CCP legitimacy. Furthermore, culture seems to be considered as an answer to the perceived lack of morality in Chinese society, illustrated by the Wang Yue incident, as well as corruption and other abuses.
The question, as always, is what the consequences of this will be. Many of China’s issues, including those in the cultural sphere, are caused by systemic issues in the political and economic system. It is also difficult to see how the lack of trust in officialdom, and hence, official media, can be solved by increasing the amount of official or State-supported media. Similarly, it’s difficult to see how the drive to diversify tallies up with the recent decisions to crack down on entertainment programming, and to contain microblogs.
In any case, here is a translation of the article:
Resolutely walk the path of Socialist culture development with Chinese characteristics
Striving to construct a strong socialist culture country
Cultural Construction is an important component part for constructing the general composition of socialist undertakings with Chinese characteristics, cultural flourishing and development is an important goal for completely constructing a relatively well-off society. The Decision passed by the plenary session, completely summarizes the achievements and experiences of the Party’s leadership of cultural construction, deeply analyzes the situation and tasks facing cultural construction, and on the basis of concentrating the wisdom of the entire Party, has elaborated the development path for socialist culture with Chinese characteristics, has established strategic objectives for constructing a strong socialist culture country, has put forward the guiding ideology, important guiding principles, objectives, tasks and policy measures for promoting cultural reform and development under new circumstances, and is a programmatic document for guiding our country’s cultural reform and development in the present and future periods. The entire Party must earnestly study and deeply comprehend it, and jointly substantially implement the spirit of the plenary meeting, and struggle to realize the objectives and tasks put forward in the plenary meeting.
First, deeply recognize the importance and urgency of promoting cultural reform and development. Giving full rein to the function of advanced culture in guiding the direction of progress, concentrating struggle forces and promoting development of undertaking, is a precious experience and a great political superiority of our Party. In all historical periods of revolution, construction and reform, our Party has integrated the conditions of the time and revolved around the central tasks of the Party to put forward guiding cultural principles, cultural goals and cultural policy, persisted in unremittingly moving cultural construction forward, has forcefully promoted the development of Party and people’s undertakings. Through unremitting efforts since reform and opening-up, we have walked the path of developing socialist culture with Chinese characteristics, have clearly raised the ideological and moral quality and the scientific culture quality of the entire nation, stimulated the complete development of people, clearly strengthened the country’s cultural soft power, have provided strong spiritual forces to persist in and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, have established a solid basis and have accumulated precious experience for further arousing a new high tide of socialist culture construction.
At present, the world is in a period of great development, great change and great readjustment, present China is in the course of turning towards new struggle objectives to forge ahead to in a new historical starting point, the function of culture is even more broad and deep. From the international view, one clear characteristic of comprehensive national strength and competition is that the position and function of culture have become even more prominent, many countries, and especially the major large countries all have taken raising cultural soft power as an important strategy for strengthening national core competitiveness. With the background that within the global scope, all sorts of ideological and cultural exchange, blending and battle have become even more frequent, who occupies the commanding heights of cultural development, possesses strong cultural soft power, and is able to gain the initiative in the fierce international competition. At the same time, we must soberly be aware that, hostile foreign powers are intensifying strategies and plots to Westernize and divide our country, the ideological and cultural sphere is the focus sphere in which they conduct long-term infiltration. We must deeply recognize the gravity and complexity of struggle in the ideological domain, ring the alarm bell, be on a long-term guard, adopt forceful measures to be on guard and react. From the domestic view, through development since the founding of New China and especially since the more than thirty years of reform and opening up, our country’s economic strength and comprehensive national strength has clearly strengthened, but our country is still and will for a long time remain in an unchanged national condition of the primary stages of socialism, the principal social contradiction of contradictions between the people’s daily increasing material and cultural requirements and the backward social production has not changed. Our country has already entered the key period of completely constructing a relatively well-off society and the assault time for deepening reform and opening up, accelerating transformation of economic development methods, culture has increasingly become an important source for national cohesion and creativity, has increasingly become an important factor in comprehensive national strength and competition, has increasingly become and important pillar for economic and social development, enriching spiritual culture life has increasingly become a fervent desire of our country and people. From the view of our country’s cultural construction itself, the cultural sphere is now undergoing broad and deep change, cultural development has obtained huge achievements, but generally speaking, cultural development is not yet completely adapted to economic and social development and the people’s daily increasing spiritual culture requirements, systemic and mechanistic problems fettering cultural production forces’ development have not been fully solved, the function of culture in aspects such as guiding the prevailing trends, educating the people, serving socialism, promoting development, etc., has not yet been given free rein, our country’s comprehensive cultural strength and international influence are ill-matched with our country’s international position, the international cultural and public opinion structure of “strong West and weak us” has not yet been fully reversed. In aspects of education on ideals and beliefs, ideological and moral construction, sincerity and honesty construction, cultural creation, public cultural services, cultural industry development, rural culture development, floating population cultural life, network construction and management, promoting Chinese culture to march towards the world, etc, not a few prominent contradictions and problems still exist, which must be grasped and resolved.
In short, grasping and using well the important strategic opportunity period of our country’s development, and deepening cultural structural reform in a new historical starting point, promoting the grand development and grand flourishing of socialist culture, concerns realizing the struggle objective of completely constructing a relatively well-off society, concerns persisting and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics, concerns realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The plenary meeting has put forward guiding ideology for moving forward cultural reform and development, and has emphasized the necessity to completely implement the spirit of the 17th Party Congress, raise high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, takes Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important “Three Represents” though as guidance, deeply implements the scientific development view, persists in the progressive direction of advanced socialist culture, takes scientific development as the core, takes construction a core socialist value system as the basic task, takes satisfying the people’s spiritual culture requirements as starting point and stop-over point, takes reform and innovation as drivers, develops a socialist culture facing modernization, facing the world, facing the future, of the people and of science, fosters high-level cultural consciousness and cultural self-confidence, raises the civilization quality of the entire nation, strengthens national cultural soft power, carries forward Chinese culture, strives to construct a strong socialist culture country. The entire Party must deeply understand and completely implement this guiding ideology, and at the same time as persisting in economic constructing at the centre, consciously make cultural flourishing and development into an important content of persisting that development has hard truths, and that development is the first important task of the Party governing the country, make it into a basic requirement for deeply implementing the scientific development view, further promote the coordinated development of cultural construction with economic construction, political construction, social construction as well as ideological and civilization construction, providing a strong ideological guarantee, strong spiritual drive, forceful public opinion support and desirable cultural conditions for continuing to liberate thoughts, persisting in reform and opening up, promoting scientific development, stimulating social harmony.
Second, resolutely marching the development path of socialist culture with Chinese characteristics. The path of socialism with Chinese characteristics has rich connotations, and concretely reflects the necessity to completely comprehend and completely implement the guiding ideology, important principles, objectives, tasks and policy measures put forward by the plenary meeting. Here, I’d like to stress some issues.
To persist in the development path of socialist culture with Chinese characteristics, we must persist in taking Marxism as guidance, and persist in the progressive direction of advanced socialist culture. Persisting in taking Marxism as guidance and taking advanced socialist culture as the lead, is the most distinctive characteristic of socialist culture with Chinese characteristics, and is also a basic issue concerning the overall picture of cultural reform and development. Only by persisting in taking Marxism as guidance and taking advanced socialist culture as the lead, will it be possible to build a durable basis for the development of socialist culture with Chinese characteristics. Under the circumstances of the daily development of the socialist market economy and the incessant expansion of opening up to abroad, our country’s social ideology has become more diverse, social values have become more varied, social trends have become more changeable, the importance and urgency of persisting in taking Marxism as guidance and taking advanced socialist culture as the lead has become more prominent. To promote the grand development and grand flourishing of socialist culture, we must persist in the guiding position of Marxism in the ideological sphere, provide forceful theoretical guidance to cultural construction, guarantee that cultural reform and development completely advances along the correct path; we must persist in applying Marxist theory and especially socialism with Chinese characteristics theory in all areas of cultural reform and development, incessantly enrich and develop cultural construction theories having Chinese characteristics, that conform to the development requirements of the times, making sure that all aspects of our country’s culture development are built on a solid theoretical basis; we must persist in the orientation of serving the People and serving socialism and the guiding principle of letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend, correctly handle the relationship between carrying forward the main melody and encouraging diversification, the relationship between educating the people and satisfying the people’s diverse spiritual culture requirements, the relationship between putting social interest first and raising economic benefits, effectively lead social trends, forcefully resist wrong and degenerate ideological influence, incessantly consolidate and expand mainstream socialist ideology and culture.
To persist in the path of socialist culture development with Chinese characteristics, we must give rein to the main function of the people in cultural construction, persist cultural development being for the people, cultural development relying on the people, and cultural development results to be enjoyed by the people. To work for whom and rely on whom is a basic question in our promotion of cultural reform and development, and decides the nature and orientation of socialist culture. Socialist culture with Chinese characteristics is culture jointly constructed and jointly enjoyed by the people, the people are the most profound source of strength for the grand development and grand flourishing of socialist culture. Persisting in this matter is and essential requirement for our country’s socialist system, and is also an important reflection of our Party’s Party-building to serve the public and the idea of governing for the people. To promote the grand development and grand flourishing of socialist culture, we must persist in taking people as the core, take satisfying the people’s spiritual culture requirements and stimulating people’s overall development as basic goal, incessantly raise the ideological and moral quality, and the scientific and culture quality of the people, foster socialist citizens having ideals, having morals, having culture and having discipline; we must implement the Party’s mass line, respect the main position of the people and their pioneering spirit, making social culture creation vitality vie and burst forth; we must persisting in the creative orientation of the people as the centre, be concerned with the fate of the people, sympathize with the people’s desires, reflect the people’s aspiration, draw nourishment from the great creations of the people, respectfully present the best spiritual nourishment to the people; we must persist in facing the grass-roots, facing the masses, take satisfying the people’s basic culture requirements as the basic task for socialist culture construction, encourage creation and production of even more cultural products that are welcomed by the people, letting cultural development achievements be extended to the entire people.
To persist in the development path of socialist culture with Chinese characteristics, we must inherit and carry forward excellent Chinese cultural traditions, forcefully carry forward Chinese culture, construct a common spiritual garden for the Chinese nation. Chinese culture is long-standing and well-established, wide-ranging and profound, accumulating the profound spiritual requirements of the Chinese nation is a never-ending driver for the Chinese nation to multiply endlessly, to unite and to advance, it is a profound basis for developing socialist culture with Chinese characteristics. To promote the grand development and grand flourishing of socialist culture, we must forcefully carry forward excellent Chinese cultural traditions, forcefully carry forward the revolutionary cultural tradition shaped since the May 4th movement, forcefully carry forward a range of new ideologies, new ideas and new trends shaped in the cultural sphere since reform and opening up, base ourselves on the great practice of socialism with Chinese characteristics, develop advanced socialist culture; we must with an even more wide vision and even more erudite minds treat foreign culture, vigorously participate in international cultural exchange and cooperation, study and learn from all useful experience and outstanding achievements beneficial to our country’s cultural reform and development.
To persist in the development path of socialist culture with Chinese characteristics, we must persist in grasping public interest culture undertakings with one hand, and grasp cultural industries with one hand, promote the complete integration and sustainable development of cultural undertakings and cultural industries. Developing public interest culture undertakings is a basic channel to guarantee the people’s basic cultural rights and interest under the socialist system, and is a systemic guarantee to realize that cultural development achievements are jointly constructed and jointly enjoyed by the people. Developing cultural industries is an important channel to satisfy the people’s diverse spiritual culture requirements under the conditions of a socialist market economy, and is a necessary requirement to fully give rein to the vigorous function of the market in cultural resource allocation and to arouse the cultural creative vitality of the entire society. To promote the grand development and grand flourishing of socialist culture, we must scientifically determine the people’s basic cultural rights and interest, and diverse spiritual culture requirements, completely grasp the responsibilities and functions of government and market in cultural construction, promote the shaping of a work structure of grasping cultural undertakings and cultural industries with two hands, and strengthening both hands; we must according to the requirements of public interest, essence, equality and convenience, take government as the lead, take public finance as the pillar, take public interest cultural work units as backbone, take the entire people as a service target, take guaranteeing the people’s basic cultural rights and interests as the main content, encourage the entire society to vigorously participate, forcefully develop public interest cultural undertakings; we must strive to foster a batch of powerful and competitive backbone cultural enterprises, raise our country’s comprehensive cultural industry strength and competitiveness, shape a cultural industry structure with public ownership at the core, jointly developing with many kinds of ownership. Regardless of developing public interest-type cultural undertakings or developing cultural industries, all must persist in the progressive orientation of advanced socialist culture, correctly handle the relationship between social interest and economic interest, completely put social interest first.
Third, with a spirit of reform and innovation, implementing all tasks put forward by the plenary meeting well. The plenary meeting has made a complete deployment to move forward cultural reform and development under new circumstances, and has put forward a series of new tasks, new measures and new requirements, all localities and all departments must plan considering all factors, base themselves on reality, in a planned way divide tasks and implement them, and must both completely implement tasks and focus on prominent matters, the most important is that they must closely revolve around the “Four Withs” in the guiding ideology decided by the plenary meeting concerning moving forward cultural reform, grasp and implement this well.
Persisting in taking scientific development as the core. Scientific development is the clear core of Party and State work, and is also the clear core of cultural reform and development. We must consciously penetrate all aspects of cultural reform and development with the requirements of scientific development, closely integrate the reality of cultural reform and development, strive to transform cultural development methods, raise cultural development quality and efficiency, incessantly raise the scientific level of cultural development. We must persist in taking people at the core, sticking close to reality, sticking close to life and sticking close to the masses, guarantee all cultural rights and interest of the people, stimulate the complete development of people. We must persist in completely coordinating and developing sustainably, strive to resolve prominent problems influencing the scientific development of culture, coordinate well all spheres and all segments of cultural reform and development, stimulate culture to continue to accelerate healthy development. We must persist in planning considering all factors, correctly understand and appropriately handle the important relations of cultural reform and development, wholly plan all work items of cultural reform and development, perfect cultural deployment, cultural structures, cultural resource allocation, stimulate the integrated development of town and country and regional culture, promote cultural resources to be tilted towards the countryside and the grass-roots, to be tilted towards old revolutionary regions, ethnic regions, border regions and poor regions, incessantly strengthen the aftermath of cultural development, realize that culture develops both well and quickly.
Persisting in taking the construction of a core socialist value system as a basic task. The socialist core value system is originated from excellent national culture and advanced socialist culture and has developed by absorbing the civilization achievements of humankind, and is a lead and guide for our country’s socialist culture. To promote the grand development and grand flourishing of socialist culture, we must closely grasp this basis of constructing a socialist core value system. We must persist in using the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics to arm the entire Party, educate the people, forcefully move forward the Sinicization, modernization and popularization of Marxism, use developing Marxism to guide new practice. We must persist in taking education in ideals and beliefs as the focus point, guide the broad cadres and masses in incessantly strengthening and persisting in the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, a consciousness and firmness in the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. We must broadly launch propaganda and education on national spirit and the spirit of the times, and the socialist view of glory and dishonour, deepen mass-type spiritual civilization construction activities, strengthen ideological and moral construction, construct harmonious culture, foster civilized tendencies, We must launch study and education concerning the socialist core value system deeply in the entire Party, merge the socialist core value system into compulsory education, spiritual civilization construction and the entire process of party construction, penetrating all spheres of reform and opening up, and socialist modernization and construction, reflecting into all aspects of spiritual culture product creation, production and dissemination. Constructing a socialist core value system is not the work of a single day, but is an important task facing us, and is also a long-term strategic task, we must make it truly become a universal understanding in the entire Party and society through unremitting and persevering efforts, to transform it into a conscious action by the broad cadres and masses.
Persisting in taking satisfying the people’s spiritual culture requirements as starting point and stopover point. To satisfy the people’s requirements concerning realizing their cultural rights and interests and enriching their spiritual culture life, we must forcefully make cultural creation flourish, enrich the masses’ cultural life, raise the people’s cultural life quality, We must expand input strength into small-town and grass-roots cultural construction, deeply implement focus culture projects benefiting the people, accelerate basic public culture infrastructure construction. We must strengthen cultural creation and production guidance, guide cultural workers to persist in the correct cultural standpoint, carry forward the true, the good and the beautiful, denounce the false, the evil and the ugly, merge academic exploration and artistic creation into the undertaking of realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, create and produce outstanding literature and art products unifying ideology, artistry and enjoyability, that the people love to see or hear. We must develop health and upward network culture, make the Internet and other burgeoning media truly become a new battleground for advanced socialist culture, a new platform for public cultural services, a new space for the people’s spiritual culture. We must organize and launch cultural activities that the masses like to participate in, and that are convenient to participate in, guide the masses in self-expression, self-education and self-service in cultural construction, rely on the wisdom and strength of the masses to promote cultural flourishing and development.
Persisting in taking reform and innovation as drivers. Only by deepening cultural structural reform and innovating cultural content and forms, is it possible to incessantly liberate and develop cultural productive forces, and incessantly provide strong drivers for the grand development and grand flourishing of socialist culture. We must revolve around constructing systems and mechanisms full of vitality, rich in efficiency, that are even more open and are beneficial to cultural scientific development, strive to obtain new headway in focus areas and key segments, do away with systemic and mechanistic obstacles that restrict cultural development. We must deepen public interest-type cultural work unit reform, deepen State-owned commercial cultural work unit reform, deepen cultural management structural reform, and incessantly raise public interest-type work unit capacity and level of service to the masses. We must raise cultural industry upscaling, intensification and specialization levels, optimize cultural industry structures, stimulate the integrated development of culture, science and technology, promote the cultural industries to become backbone industries in the national economy. We must revolve around raising the international influence and competitiveness of Chinese culture, vigorously expand into international cultural markets, innovate methods for culture to march out, incessantly raise national cultural soft power.
All levels’ Party Committees and Governments must put cultural construction into an important position in overall work, bring it into general planning for economic and social development, research and deploy, organize and implement, supervise and examine matters together with economic and social development. We must earnestly develop investigation and research, summarize experience, discover problems, formulate implementation opinions by integrating reality, clarify work responsibilities, put forward concrete requirements, guarantee that the objectives, tasks and policy measures put forward by the plenary meeting are substantially implemented. We must bring cultural reform and development results into the scientific development appraisal and evaluation system, and make it into an important basis to evaluate the work achievements of leading ranks and leading cadres. We must put cultural talent team construction in an even more refinement position, strive to expand fostering strength for young talent, high-level talent, and compound talent, strive to train a batch of influential cultural personalities, cultural masters and leading personalities in all spheres, construct great cultural talent teams. We must deeply do intellectual work well, fully muster the vigour and creativity of broad intellectuals, unite the broad intellectuals closely inside the vicinity of the Party. In short, the entire Party must implement the spirit of the plenary meeting well, and do all it can to initiate a new dimension in socialist culture construction in the process of completely constructing a relatively well-off society and on the scientific development path.
(This is a part of the speech of Comrade Hu Jintao at the Second Plenary Meeting of the Sixth Plenum of the 17th Central Committee.)