The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is expected to set a blueprint for the country to march toward modernization under the banner of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
Since its 12th national congress in 1982, the CPC has always stressed “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Under this banner, China has become the world’s second largest economy and is stepping ever closer to becoming a moderately prosperous society in all respects in the next three years.
As the world’s largest developing country, socialist China’s rise in a playing field dominated by capitalist states has brought fresh ideas in addressing challenges facing humanity in at least ten respects. Let’s have a look at those ten areas:
This is by no means an abstract concept or political slogan, as its impact is evident in the ongoing poverty alleviation effort.
China has lifted 700 million people out of poverty in the past 30 years. In the coming three years, another 40 million will be added to the list, meaning 20 people are lifted out of poverty each minute.
The central authorities has said that not a single family living in poverty is to be left behind on the path to combating poverty.
Meeting people’s needs, ranging from those in education, employment, social security, medical services, housing, environment, to intellectual and culture life, is the top priority of the government.
At a meeting toward the end of 2016, the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs studied issues such as clean heating and garbage sorting. For policy makers, these are the most pressing issues facing the people.
2. A STRONG RULING PARTY
Late American political scientist Samuel Huntington said countries with no political parties, or many weak parties, were the least stable.
The 96-year-old CPC is determined to build the strongest ruling party in the world to keep the country stable and guide its reform and opening up.
The Party has evolved from a small group of around 50 members to an 89-million member party, a number that easily rivals the population of any country in western Europe. The Party has 4.5 million grassroots organizations.
He Yiting, vice president of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said the CPC strength was in its ability to “lead politically, gather popular support, organize and mobilize the people, and to reform and innovate itself.”
A survey by Pew Research Center shows that Chinese people’s satisfaction with the government is much higher than in most other countries under different political systems. According to the center’s 2016 survey, 87 percent of Chinese people were optimistic about the country’s economic development, which was top of the list of 16 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan.
The Party is tasked with leading China to rejuvenation. It has put forward a clear road map for a four-pronged “comprehensive strategy” to build a moderately prosperous society, deepen reform, advance rule of law and strengthen Party governance.
The CPC is committed to building an incorruptible political party. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the Party has investigated more than 280 senior officials, including Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai, Guo Boxiong, Xu Caihou, Sun Zhengcai and Ling Jihua.
3. POOLING RESOURCES
Unlike in western democracies, the Chinese government is highly efficient in pooling resources to deal with major problems, such as relieving natural disasters, preventing financial crisis, supporting the development of ethnic minorities and fighting against pollution.
China has achieved breakthroughs in areas such as quantum study, artificial intelligence, super computers and aircraft developing. Infrastructure is advancing rapidly, with the operating lines of trains that travel at a speed of 300 kilometers per hour or even higher reaching 9,600 km, higher than the figures in other countries combined.
As John Naisbitt, an American author on future studies, put it, the Chinese political system can help maintain stability and continuity of policies while stimulating vitality for development.
Stephen Perry, chairman of 48 Group Club, an independent business network, said no other country could have both long-term development plans and short-term goals like China does.
China’s leadership keeps its eye on the country’s sustainable future, formulating ambitious long-term plans, such as its two centennial goals, the Belt and Road initiative, and building the Xiongan New Area to advance the development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. Once the leadership makes a blueprint, it sees it through.
4. EFFECTIVE DEMOCRACY
The essence of democracy is to answer to the people.
In some countries, checks on power become deadlocks, and money can be used to tamper in elections. The political process soon becomes dormant after voting. This type of democracy may be “pretty,” but it hardly leads to good governance. Rather, it is likely to cause surprise and unwanted events.
Chinese democracy has a higher level of quality and efficiency, as can be seen in practice.
Serving the people and pursuing for the people’s interests is an essential mission of the people’s congress system — the fundamental political system of the country. The country is giving more seats in the National People’s Congress, the supreme organ of state power, to workers, farmers, professionals and women to represent more grassroots voices.
Consultation is a virtue of Chinese democracy. For instance, the 13th five-year plan, a critical component of building a moderately prosperous society, was produced after rounds of top-down and bottom-up consultation, covering all aspects of society. More than 32 percent of the 2,500 items of feedback collected nationwide were adopted, a feat that could only be accomplished by the Chinese democratic model of decision-making.
The contemporary Chinese state inherited a long political tradition of selecting and appointing talent, establishing a merit-based “selection plus election” system with a special focus on public opinion. The items for assessment include, but are not limited to, economic development, job creation, social security and environmental protection. Competition is fierce and only the most capable cadres are promoted.
5. ABILITY TO REFORM
The problems facing China are unique but not without the universality that transcends borders.
Reform is the engine of China’s economic miracle. Over the past decades, China has been one of the most successful countries in piloting reforms, while the new round of reforms in China, launched at the end of 2013 after a key meeting of the ruling CPC, will add more momentum to the Chinese Dream.
From ordinary families used to living paycheck to paycheck, to the founder of Alibaba Jack Ma, whose business venture has created tens of thousands of jobs, most Chinese people have benefited from reform. More than 280 million farmers have moved from rural areas to cities and joined the workforce in the digital age. China’s large scale value-added tax reform affects nearly 16 million businesses and 10 million individual taxpayers.
Yan Xuetong, School of International relations at Tsinghua University, believes that the main reason the outside world considers China to have great economic development momentum lies in confidence in China’s ability to adapt to new realities.
In the past five years, China has deepened supply-side structural reform in a new set of trying economic conditions, sometimes called the “new normal.” People are starting to cash in on the benefits of various reforms in such areas as intellectual property, the two-child policy, household registration, medical reform and university admission.
China’s reform and innovation has no limits and offers viable ideas for global governance. The country’s concept of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development became keywords at the G20 summit held in the city of Hangzhou last year and have been incorporated into the international discourse for global governance.
6. INNOVATIVE MARKET ECONOMY
Still in the primary stage of socialism, China has adopted a basic economic system with public ownership playing a dominant role and diverse forms of ownership developing side by side.
This allows the vitality of the public sector, especially state-owned enterprises, to be strengthened while encouraging, supporting and guiding the development of the private sector. China gives the market a decisive role in allocating resources, and the government can play a better role in macro-policy efficiency.
Known as “walking with both legs,” it reflects a fine Chinese tradition of holistic and dialectical thinking.
“The parochial understanding the western world has for the relationship between market and state does not apply to China, where the two sides enjoy a symbiotic relationship instead of being constantly at odds with each other,” said Professor Shi Zhengfu with the Center of New Political Economy at Fudan University.
Under such arrangements, China’s socialist market economy has had an excellent performance, creating economic miracles. The country saw 16,000 newly registered enterprises every day on average in the first half of this year. Consumption contributes 63.4 percent of economic growth. E-commerce, Alipay and shared bikes, which mainly involve private enterprises, stand with high-speed rail, that is manufactured and operated by state-owned enterprises, as new driving forces in China’s economy.
This vitality has made the nation a “talent magnet.” About 430,000 Chinese students studying overseas returned to work in China last year. Si Kang, a young entrepreneur from Zhejiang province, founded a startup back home after obtaining his degree in France. Now, his company has notched up more than ten patents.
“This is the opportunity of our lifetime, we must not let it slip away too easily,” he said.
7. MAINTAINING STABILITY
Social stability, along with development, is an absolute principle. Security is a crucial part of people’s livelihood and creates an environment for development.
Despite its ethnic diversity, large territory and the unbalanced development between different regions, the world’s most populous country has maintained social stability, mainly thanks to its ability to maintain balance between reform, development and stability.
Facing changes in social relations and interests during reform, China has solved problems directly concerning the people’s interests while guiding the public to deal with different interests and express their demands appropriately.
The Chinese government sees employment as the “stabilizer of society.” More than 13.1 million new urban jobs were created last year. Incomes are rising and the income gap narrowing. China has established the world’s largest social security network.
Officials are increasingly resorting to the law in coordinating interest groups and resolving conflicts. In recent years, China has enhanced management of cyberspace to ensure security and development in the field amid efforts to maintain social stability.
A growing number of people have recognized China as one of the world’s safest and most stable countries. China has provided a safe and stable living environment for about one-fifth of the world’s population, and this is a significant contribution to humankind.
8. WIN-WIN & SHARING
For countries that want to prosper in this increasingly open and globalized world, turning inward is not the way to go.
Today, many localities in China are turning into “cities of migrants, “ which more foreigners are investing and living in. Chinese people welcome them.
As a beneficiary and contributor to globalization, China proposed the Belt and Road project to connect dozens of countries in Asia, Europe and Africa against a backdrop of rising anti-globalization rhetoric.
China proposed the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which attracted 57 founding members, including the United Kingdom and Germany. The bank has approved $3 billion financing 28 projects.
There are more China-Europe freight trains. Economic corridors between China and neighboring countries are benefiting people. The China- Australia free trade agreement has yielded quick than expected results.
China has opened a brand-new territory for a “community of shared future,” a concept even incorporated into United Nations resolutions.
9. FOLLOWING ITS OWN PATH
The bitter experience of the past has taught China about the dangers of blindly copying the western model, both politically and economically. Unfortunately, such a tragedy is being repeated in other countries.
To solve its problems, the only way forward for China is to find its own path.
Chen Ping, professor of National School of Development at Peking University, said the 2008 financial crisis dealt a heavy blow to western powers, as social conflict intensified and global economic volatility ensued.
“However, China is doing surprisingly well. It has not only avoided the economic hard landing but also increased the competitiveness of its state-owned enterprises and government regulatory capability,” he said. “The fact that China is doing well has shaken the very foundation of western economics and politics.”
For Li Shimo, a venture capitalist based in Shanghai, China’s success has shown there is more than one model in the world that can produce good governance.
“China’s example is not that it provides an alternative, but that it shows alternatives exist,” Li said.
10. CULTURAL ROOTS
It is impossible for a nation to thrive if it abandons its culture and betrays its past.
Chinese civilization has existed uninterrupted for 5,000 years, and now the CPC has been put in charge of renewing Chinese culture and developing an advanced culture.
A series of policies have been issued to enhance the cultural confidence of the country. In the country’s primary and secondary schools, Chinese language textbooks have been revised to focus more on traditional culture, including more ancient articles and poems.
China respects cultural diversity and is keen to learn, import and absorb whatever cultural fruits it can, including those developed by capitalist countries.
Such a sense of cultural confidence and inclusiveness is integral to Chinese civilization. It also provides the spiritual dynamics for the realization of national rejuvenation.
For Martin Jacques, a senior research fellow in Cambridge University, the west remains far too ignorant about China, often resorting to cliche.
“We cannot understand the rise of China using Western concepts,” Jacques said. “Think China should be the guide to the way we think about our future.”