Xinhua Insight: “Xi political economy” renews China’s modernization drive

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Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses students of MGIMO (Moscow State University for Foreign Relations) in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, March 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

BEIJING, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) — More than four years after promising a great renewal of the Chinese nation, while making sure China stands tall in the world and the Communist Party of China (CPC) runs itself with strict discipline, Xi Jinping‘s insights on China’s political and economic development are revitalizing China’s modernization drive.

When Xi appeared in front of the press at the Great Hall of the People on Nov. 15, 2012 after being elected as the Party’s top leader, his confident demeanor and open admission of challenges such as the Party’s corruption all pointed to change.

“We are not complacent, and we will never rest on our laurels,” he told the 1.3 billion Chinese in a televised address, after praising past achievements.

More than 1,500 days into his helmsmanship, Xi has successfully imbued the country’s political and economic governance thought with his own thinking.

The Chinese president, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, has spearheaded a popular anti-graft drive which exposed a long list of fraudulent officials, from low-ranking “flies” to high-ranking “tigers.”

In 2016, a report by The Wall Street Journal said that during the campaign, which has punished more than a million officials since late 2012, Xi has called for greater checks on political power, creating a “cage of regulations” that ensures cadres “dare not, cannot and don’t want” to be corrupt.

Xi has publicly defended free trade against the backdrop of weak growth momentum in major economies and rising trade protectionism, and managed to sustain the world’s second-largest economy on the track of fast growth.

China’s GDP grew 6.7 percent to 74.4 trillion yuan (10.8 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2016, making China also the fastest growing among the world’s major economies.

Xi has also taken a quantum leap in leading China to participate in global governance, guiding the ancient civilization back to the center of the world stage.

“By 2016, a broad swathe of Americans had begun to feel the effects of China’s development in their everyday lives — in shopping malls, at the multiplex, in paychecks — and to sense that the center of global power might be shifting from the United States toward China,” Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, wrote early this year.

“In 2016, China’s big plans may have begun to tilt the balance,” Daly added in Foreign Policy.

Hu Angang, director of the center for China studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, attributed China’s political and economic achievements to new governance insights contributed by the newest generation of Chinese leaders.

“China’s most important success since the 18th CPC National Congress rests on the success in strategic policymaking, which constitutes the essential reason for China’s success,” Hu said.

CHANGING WORLD

With the advent of the new century, human civilization has ushered in a new era that is distinguished by falling efficiency of Western countries in terms of economy, society and systems, said Liu Shangxi, director of the Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences.

“On the other hand, emerging countries such as China, with their surging influence, are eager to find an independent path of sustainable development,” Liu said.

Although China’s development is in a period of strategic opportunity, the world’s second-largest economy is facing complex external and internal environments.

Externally, people are concerned with a sluggish recovery, a lack of growth momentum, weak trade and investment, and a backlash against globalization.

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the global political and economic order, as well as Western social and economic development models, fell short in coming up with a viable solution to the crisis. As a result, the crisis still has not been fundamentally dissolved.

Internally, China’s decades-long reform drive is at a crossroads amid pressing needs for a transition in the country’s growth model.

Worldwide, policymakers and researchers of both developed and developing countries are beginning to search for new governance concepts and theories in the hope of building a new international political and economic order as well as new models of economic and social development.

To that end, China has put forward the two centenary goals, pegged to the 100th anniversaries of the CPC and the People’s Republic of China, and the Chinese dream of great national renewal.

Liu believes the two centenary goals and the Chinese dream not only embody demands of the Chinese people to the ruling party, but also set off the Chinese nation’s new voyage to search for a new path for mankind.

Professor Tian Yingkui with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee agreed, highlighting the role of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the core in developing “political economic” theories with Chinese characteristics.

“It is based on the CPC’s long experience of governance and theoretical confidence that they applied Marxist political economy to guide the drive to build the well-off society on the one hand, and developed Marxism on the other hand,” Tian said.

Over the past four years, a set of approaches for China’s development have been raised, including the concept of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, the market’s decisive role in resource allocation, the “new normal,” and supply-side structural reform.

These theories suit China and the times and have created gateways to realize the Chinese dream of rejuvenation, Tian said.

“FOUR COMPREHENSIVES” FOR CENTENARY GOAL

With the mastery of advanced theories, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the core has outlined the “Four Comprehensives” strategic blueprint, which refers to comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, comprehensively deepening reform, comprehensively advancing the rule of law and comprehensively strictly governing the Party.

The third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in 2013 featured a comprehensive reform package covering 60 tasks and over 300 reform measures. The Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform has held 32 meetings over the last three years to chart the framework for further reforms.

The blueprint for rule of law set by the fourth plenary session in 2014 has put forward the fundamental tasks and the pathway to fully advance the rule of law in China.

In 2015, the fifth plenary session adopted the proposal on China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), mapping out measures to achieve the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and putting forward the five new development concepts.

Hu Angang believes that measures initiated in the plan will lay the groundwork for the nation’s further goal to become a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious in time for the People’s Republic of China to mark its centennial in 2049.

At the sixth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee last year, two documents on the discipline of the Party, including the norms of political life within the Party under the new situation and a regulation on intra-Party supervision, were approved.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, progress in the Party’s fight against corruption has won confidence among Party members and the public.

By netting both “tigers” and “flies,” pushing forward reforms with the anti-corruption system, and seeking international cooperation in this regard, the fight against corruption has gained “crushing momentum.”

Between 2013 and September 2016, disciplinary inspection agencies at all levels investigated over one million suspected violation cases and about one million CPC members received punishments for violations.

The above four plenary sessions of the 18th CPC Central Committee have opened a new chapter and drawn up a new blueprint for the country’s comprehensive development, revealing China’s effectiveness and strong will in governance, according to Hu.

Hu also noted that China has been taking part in the global governance system and promoting international relations featuring cooperation and win-win results.

Such efforts include building a new type of major country relations between China and the United States, implementing the Belt and Road Initiative linking Europe, Asia and Africa, emphasis on neighborhood diplomacy and vigorous participation in global governance.

Through the APEC Beijing summit in 2014, the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015 and the G20 Hangzhou summit in 2016, China’s top leader has played a responsible and irreplaceable role in relevant fields.

At a group study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Xi said that by taking part in the global governance system, China will work to make the system more just and reasonable and create a better environment for China’s development and world peace.

ACHIEVEMENTS OF OVERALL DEVELOPMENT APPROACH

China’s overall approach to building socialism with Chinese characteristics — that is, to promote coordinated economic, political, cultural, social and ecological progress — has been proved effective over the past four years.

The world economy is troubled by a sluggish recovery, flagging international trade, some backsliding on globalization and weak growth momentum in major economies.

In contrast, China’s economic growth, although in a slowdown, is still one of the highest in the world and continues to power global growth.

China aims to quadruple its GDP from 2000 levels by 2020. In constant prices, the country’s GDP last year was about 4.22 times that in 2000, which means that it met the 2020 goal in advance, Hu Angang said.

Chen Dongqi, an economist with the Academy of Macroeconomic Research under the National Development and Reform Commission, said, “It’s more important that this was achieved through China’s voluntary structural adjustment and forceful promotion of supply-side structural reform, so it means it is of higher quality.”

There will be about 440 million middle-class households in China after the country realizes its goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, Chen estimated. “There is great consumption potential to be tapped in China.”

In terms of political development, efforts have been made to introduce new rules and systems to advance the rule of law, reform administrative institutions, improve the people’s congress system — which is China’s fundamental political system — and promote socialist consultative democracy.

Moreover, China has built the world’s largest modern public cultural system covering the largest population.

In 2015, the country’s broadcasting and TV programs covered more than 98 percent of its population. Its public libraries, cultural centers and museums received nearly 2 billion visitors.

Chinese people’s quality of life has markedly improved, with the average growth rate of per capita income of urban and rural residents standing at 7.7 and 9.6 percent respectively between 2011 and 2015. The average life expectancy in China reached 76.34 years in 2015, compared with 74.83 years in 2010.

In a major ecological achievement, China is gradually decoupling its economic growth from heavy resource consumption and pollution.

In 2015, its industrial water consumption dropped 7.8 percent from the figure in 2010, while its agricultural water consumption was 1.8 percent lower than the peak year of 2013.

It cut energy use per unit of GDP down to 7.007 megajoule in 2015, which is close to the average level of middle- and high-income countries.

“China’s overall approach to modernization has made major achievements since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, lifting comprehensive national strength to a new level,” Hu said.

CHAMPIONING GLOBALIZATION

Amid attempts to blame globalization for hampering sustained economic growth and security, and even attempts to reverse the trend, China has defended globalization, reformed to better cope with it, and tried to chart a course forward.

“Whether you like it or not, the global economy is the big ocean that you cannot escape from. Any attempt to cut off the flow of capital, technologies, products, industries and people between economies, and channel the waters in the ocean back into isolated lakes and creeks, is simply not possible. Indeed, it runs counter to the historical trend,” Xi told the 2017 World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, Switzerland in January.

The right thing to do is to seize every opportunity that economic globalization brings, work with one another to address every challenge it poses, and chart the right course, Xi said.

Over the last years, the CPC Central Committee with Xi as the core has effectively coped with challenges, with the guidance of sinicized Marxist political economy, and through structural adjustment and internal reforms, said Zhang Youwen, director of the Institute of World Economy under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

To be specific, Zhang said, the central leadership has valued independent pursuit of innovation and innovation-driven development, comprehensively deepened reform to cultivate new engines of development, as well as strived to build the CPC into a better ruling party, build a service-oriented government and improve government regulation over the market.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the CPC Central Committee has led the country onto a path of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, and centered on improving the quality and benefits of development, with the market playing a decisive role in resource allocation and the government’s role brought into full play.

The central leadership has expedited the implementation of an innovation-driven development strategy, pushed forward supply-side structural reform, always placed work related to agriculture, farmers and rural areas high on its agenda, and promoted people-centered urbanization.

“Reform and opening up in China in nearly 40 years have proved that development and reform are the cardinal principles for resolving every problem,” said Prof. Huang Weiping with Renmin University of China.

China has set an example for the world in this regard, by not attributing problems to others, but reforming itself, with the spirit of enterprise, to adapt to changes, Huang said.

PURSUING ROAD TO COMMON PROSPERITY

Market reforms — mainly adjusting the relationship between government and the market — over the past three-plus decades have built China into the world’s second-largest economy, said Liu Shangxi, adding that “it’s like a human being having physically grown, but in need of a healthy mentality and mature spirit as well.”

He believes that social reform should become very important in the overall reform agenda, stressing that only when social reform improves can economic, political, cultural reforms and ecological construction go forward.

He went on to say that deepening social reform means pursuing socialist common prosperity and combining a market economy with common prosperity.

In Liu’s view, whether China can lead civilization in the 21st century hinges on whether it can realize common prosperity through letting the well-off help those who lag behind.

Hu Angang echoed Liu’s view, saying that a society that features common prosperity will be characterized by common development, sharing the results of development and eliminating poverty.

China’s pursuit of a commonly prosperous society has been reflected in the international arena, said Hu, adding that China and other countries are a community of shared interests and shared future.

Over the past three years, China has been sharing its capital, technology and poverty alleviation experience, which it gained amid globalization, with other developing and underdeveloped countries through the Belt and Road Initiative and the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, said Hu.

It is just as President Xi elaborated at the WEF meeting at Davos: “We are not jealous of others’ success; and we will not complain about others who have benefited so much from the great opportunities presented by China’s development.”

“We will open our arms to the people of other countries and welcome them aboard the express train of China’s development,” Xi added.

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