Cultivating Core Socialist Values and Putting Them into Practice

By: Liu YunshanFrom:English Edition of Qiushi Journal Vol. 6 No.3 July 1, 2014 | Updated: 2014-Aug-14 16:47
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Not long ago, the General Office of the CPC Central Committee issued the Guidelines on Cultivating and Observing Core Socialist Values (hereinafter referred to as the Guidelines). The issuance of the Guidelines marks an important step by the CPC to advance the building of a framework of core socialist values. In keeping with a series of speeches made by General Secretary Xi Jinping, we must take solid steps to ensure the full implementation of the Guidelines, work hard to develop a common cultural identity for the Chinese nation, and promote the formation of a powerful atmosphere in which people feel obliged to strive for progress and conduct themselves in a virtuous way. 

I. Understanding the relationship between core socialist values and the framework of core socialist values

We began by proposing the development of a framework of core socialist values. Now we are emphasizing the cultivation and observance of core socialist values. But how are the two related? Core socialist values are derived from the framework of core socialist values. As the Guidelines states, core socialist values constitute the inner core of the framework of core socialist values. They are a highly concentrated expression of the framework of core socialist values, reflecting the fundamental nature, basic characteristics, rich connotations, and requirements of this framework in practice. These statements actually constitute a basic definition of the relationship between core socialist values and the framework of core socialist values. 

In order to accurately understand the relationship between core socialist values and the framework of core socialist values, the first thing we must be aware of is the intrinsic consistency that exists between the two. Core socialist values and the framework of core socialist values share the same orientation. They both reflect the fundamental requirements of the socialist ideology, embody the substantive prescriptiveness of the socialist system on an ideological and spiritual level, and bring together the essence of advanced socialist culture, thereby constituting an expression of the values embodied in the path, theories, and system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and a guideline for the realization of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation. Moreover, core socialist values and the framework of core socialist values also emphasize the importance of development. That is, they both seek to promote common ideals, bring together spiritual strength, and foster moral trends, and both aim to form a bond that will allow the entire nation to strive for progress and unite in harmony, thereby making our nation, country, and people stronger in an ideological and spiritual sense, and better enabling us to keep to the Chinese path, carry forward the Chinese spirit, and bring together Chinese strength.

In order to accurately understand the relationship between core socialist values and the framework of core socialist values, we also need to recognize the differences in emphasis that exist between the two. In particular, we need to realize that core socialist values display several prominent features that set them apart from the framework of core socialist values. First, core socialist values give greater emphasis to core factors. The framework of core socialist values serves as a systematic and overall framework, comprising the guiding ideology of Marxism, the common ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics, national spirit and the spirit of the times, and the socialist conception of honor and disgrace. Core socialist values, on the other hand, lay emphasis on three particular aspects: prosperity, democracy, civility, and harmony; freedom, equality, justice, and the rule of law; and patriotism, dedication, integrity, and friendship. These three aspects highlight the inner core of the framework of core socialist values, defining the most fundamental values that we hold to in contemporary China. Second, core socialist values represent a more concentrated expression, clearly spelling out the values that the state, society, and citizens should aspire to, incline towards, and act by. Core socialist values are also more popular in nature, being easier to expound and convey. Third, core socialist values lay more emphasis on practice. The three aspects that make up our core socialist values are very clearly directed, with each layer exerting its own guiding influence. These are substantial requirements, being highly normative and practice-oriented in nature, and easy to both follow and implement. Our efforts to promote the cultivation and observance of core socialist values have provided us with a clearer entry angle and focal point from which to promote the development of the framework of core socialist values, and are thus more conducive to the completion of our various tasks.

Jiang Xiaoying (fourth on the left, middle row) poses for a group photo with her undergraduate and postgraduate students at the Nursing School of Fujian Medical University (Photograph taken on May 15, 2014). From ordinary nurse to university teacher, Jiang Xiaoying has worked in the field of nursing for more than 30 years. At the 43rd Florence Nightingale Awards in 2011, Jiang Xiaoying became China’s first educator in nursing to receive the Florence Nightingale Medal. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Wei Peiquan

II. Deepening popularization and strengthening identification

The cultivation of core values requires the unity of knowing and doing. Knowing represents a precondition and foundation, as only when we identify with these values deep down in our hearts will we be capable of conscientiously observing them in practice. Therefore, in promoting the cultivation and observance of core values, it is essential that we devote efforts to enhancing people’s level of identification with these values. In doing so, we will make these values known to all, and ensure that they can take root deep in people’s hearts.

In promoting the cultivation of core values, publicity and education represent foundation initiatives that must be handled well. Once the seeds of positive and healthy ideas and aspirations have been sown in people’s hearts, they will sprout, grow, and eventually bloom, becoming real deeds of a virtuous and good nature. For this reason, we need to clearly explain the three aspects that comprise our core socialist values. We need to ensure that people fully understand that prosperity, democracy, civility, and harmony are values the state aspires to; that freedom, equality, justice, and the rule of law are values our society inclines towards; and that patriotism, dedication, integrity, and friendship are values that citizens should conscientiously act by. We should closely combine the transmission and showcasing of contemporary Chinese values with initiatives to publicize the Chinese Dream, expounding on the idea that the Chinese Dream is not only a vivid expression of the common ideals and pursuits of the Chinese people, but also the highest common aspiration in the united endeavors of the Chinese nation. Perception and identification should not only be manifested rationally, but also emotionally. Only by combining the power of morality with the power of truth will identification with these values be able to endure. To do this, we need to find the point at which publicity and education campaigns are best able to connect with people’s thoughts, morals, and sentiments. With an aptitude for story-telling, we need to publicize the most outstanding role models, eulogize the spirit of the deeds that move us the most, use everyday events to educate people around us, and take advantage of common stories to elucidate profound truth. We need to adeptly utilize mass media to spread our core values, step up the publicity of core values on the Internet, and do our utmost to ensure the prevalence of positive voices to the greatest possible extent, so as to guarantee that our core values truly become a light in people’s hearts that guides them and an emotional foundation that supports them. 

In promoting the cultivation of core values, it is important that we enhance people’s ability to make value-based judgments and strengthen their sense of moral responsibility. Core socialist values exalt the true, the good, and the beautiful. As a nation, the Chinese people have a strong sense of morality and an enduring spirit of self-improvement. The good moral intentions and sentiments that are found in the hearts of every one of us constitute the rich soil on which we will cultivate our core socialist values. The focus of our efforts to publicize core socialist values needs to be placed on enhancing people’s ability to make value-based judgments and strengthening their sense of moral responsibility. We need to guide people in distinguishing the true, the good, and the beautiful from the false, the evil, and the ugly, and urge them to consciously cultivate good moral values, cherish good moral thoughts, and engage in good moral deeds. We must combine positive education with media supervision, and the moral judgments of the public with guidance on hot topics. We must firmly exalt the true, the good, and the beautiful, denounce the false, the evil, and the ugly, guide people in the right direction, clarify confused perceptions, and rectify inappropriate behavior. By doing so, we will be able to establish an arena for public opinion in which the bad is suppressed and the good is commended, and guide people in consciously developing good moral trends and promoting the advance of social civilization. 

In promoting the cultivation of core values, we must remain committed to cultivating values in children from a young age and making schools the starting point of our efforts. People’s values take shape during the course of their youth. For this reason, grasping the moral education of young people is effectively the same as grasping the future and asserting ourselves in the long run. Placing a strong emphasis on imparting values in young people, we must continue to put the cultivation of character and moral integrity first, ensuring that these principles are incorporated throughout our national education and in all aspects of school, family, and social education. We should adopt different means of guidance for young people of different ages, develop an integrated education platform that consists of classroom teaching, social interactions, and campus culture, and establish permanent mechanisms for activities to cultivate young people’s love of learning, labor, and the motherland. Driven by a strong sense of responsibility towards our country and nation, we need to cleanse the cultural environment in our society, rectify the environment online, and resolutely crack down on illegal acts that threaten the physical and mental health of young people, so as to ensure that young people are able to grow into healthy adults.

III. Drawing on the merits of fine traditional culture

China’s traditional culture, which is as old as it is profound, embodies the deepest aspirations of the Chinese nation, being the most fundamental determinant of its national spirit and a fountain of wealth for the cultivation of core socialist values. In promoting the cultivation and observance of core socialist values, we must draw ideas and moral elements from our fine traditional culture and expound them in a modern context. In doing so, not only will we adapt the most fundamental cultural genes of the Chinese nation to suit contemporary culture and modern society, but we will also allow our framework of core socialist values to become deeply rooted in the fertile soils of our fine traditional culture.

Only by remembering our roots will we be able to create a future for ourselves, and only by carrying forward tradition will we be better disposed to innovate and grow. During a visit to Shandong Province, General Secretary Xi Jinping stated that we should remain committed to refining our historical and cultural traditions—especially traditional values and moral standards—retaining the good and discarding the bad in a selective manner so that the past may serve the present and the new may be brought forth from the old. In promoting the cultivation and observance of core socialist values, we must regard our fine traditional culture as a foundation and strive to educate and cultivate people through culture. Drawing links to what we are basically advocating in our core socialist values, we should clearly explain the origins, evolution, and orientation of Chinese culture, and clearly explain its unique creations, values, and distinguishing features, so as to boost the confidence we have in our culture and values. We must earnestly draw the best ideas and moral values from traditional Chinese culture; vigorously promote ideas and aspirations that revolve around patriotism, such as unity, peace, diligence, braveness, and self-improvement; and delve into and expound on the contemporary relevance of values in Chinese culture such as benevolence, righteousness, humanism, honesty, trust, unity, and harmony, so that we can transfer and develop these fine Chinese traditional virtues in an innovative way. Of course, we need to view traditional culture from a dialectical perspective, discerning the good from the bad and winnowing the grain from the chaff, so as to genuinely make good use of the treasure trove that traditional Chinese culture represents. 

In our efforts to cultivate people through the transmission of culture, we will require cultural mediums to go with cultural substance, and cultural products to go with cultural activities. We need to widely launch campaigns that promote fine traditional culture, incorporate more elements of fine traditional culture into our national education, and make better use of China’s fine traditional culture as a means of nourishing the soul and refining moral sentiments. In different parts of the country, activities such as classics readings, forums on moral values, public talks on culture, and folk-culture activities coinciding with traditional festivals can now be seen. These all represent good mediums for carrying forward traditional culture. In addition, Our Festivals, a series of activities launched in recent years, has become a brand-name program for passing on Chinese culture and promoting cultural and ethical progress. By summing up the experiences that we have gained so far, we must ensure that these activities continue to be carried out successfully. We also need to press ahead with the implementation of programs for the passing on of China’s cultural heritage. With a view to reflecting the history of the Chinese nation, particularly the history of China since modern times, the history of the Party, and the history of the country, and bearing closely in mind the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, we need to draw up plans for the implementation of cultural programs and step up the priority support that these programs are afforded. In doing so, we will strive to create a large number of influential cultural products that propagate patriotism, collectivism, the ideology of socialism, and China’s contemporary values. I would also like to emphasize that all of these cultural products should embody a spirit of vigor. They should guide people in establishing and upholding the correct views with regard to our history, nation, country, and culture, and help them to enhance the inner strength and confidence that they feel as Chinese people.

IV. Encouraging the involvement of every individual in the observance of core values

The lifeblood of our core values lies in the conscientious actions of all members of society. The broader the participation, the stronger the social foundation for practicing these values will be. Therefore, in promoting the cultivation and observance of core values, we must lay emphasis on both education and practice, so as to guide practice through education and deepen education through practice.

Big things always start small. Given the fact that core values are observed through specific actions, it is essential that we start with the easy things that are closer to us before moving onto harder things that are further from us. We should encourage people to start with the little things around them, urging them to regard the three aspects of our core values as a code of conduct for their daily activities. This will better enable them to observe these values conscientiously in daily life. In addition, we should make constant efforts to promote the observance of these values through practice. To do so, we should hold widespread activities encouraging people to learn from Lei Feng and engage in volunteer work; launch public activities to promote cultural and ethical progress; and guide people in deepening their understanding of core values through the course of practice. At the same time, we should take full advantage of various major festivals and events to launch public activities themed around the observance of core values in practice. Where necessary, activities to promote etiquette should be held. These activities will help people to fully understand the meaning and essence of our core values. 

The most important thing is not the number of activities we hold, but their effectiveness. Activities to promote moral values will have no effect if they are detached from people’s real life and work, regardless of how loud their slogans are or how grand they are in scale. Therefore, in encouraging people to observe these values in practice, we must pay attention to making our activities relevant, targeted, and down to earth. With the right blend of substance and form, we need to ensure that people are willing to take part in these activities and that they are able to do so with ease. 

The promotion of healthy practices invariably calls for efforts to suppress unhealthy ones. In working to promote the observance of core values in practice, not only must we make efforts to develop healthy practices, but we must also rectify unhealthy ones. This means focusing efforts on dedicated campaigns to rectify outstanding problems in the moral domain that are the cause of strong reactions from the public. Making full use of the media, the law, and economic means, we must take resolute steps to curb and punish despicable and immoral practices that are the cause of public indignation. By mounting social pressure on such practices, we will ensure that they are never allowed to go unchecked. The issue of integrity in government affairs, in business, in society, and in the administration of justice has always been a focus of widespread attention. Although we have made some achievements in this regard, they are far from enough. Therefore, we must continue to make unremitting efforts in this regard, striving to address prominent issues concerning food and drug safety, social order, and public services, so as to secure results that can be both seen and felt. As our economy continues to develop at a rapid pace and standards of living continue to rise, tourism is increasingly becoming a part of people’s everyday lives. However, uncivilized behavior among tourists has also become an increasingly prominent trend. On the basis of the efforts that we have already made, we must step up our efforts to rectify such behavior, raise public awareness of what constitutes civilized tourist behavior, and strengthen the general moral standing of our tourists, so as to establish and display a good national image. 

V. Urging Party-member cadres to lead the way

The conduct of Party members has a direct bearing on the conduct of the government and the people. As an avenue through which they can exert an important guiding influence, Party-member cadres are required to set an example in carrying forward advanced ideas and morals and putting them into practice. There is no form of education more convincing than the example that Party-member cadres set. Since the Eighteenth National Congress of the CPC, our Party has placed an emphasis on improving its style of work. Adhering to a top-down approach in which leading cadres and Party-member cadres set a good example for their subordinates, we have managed to usher in a new outlook throughout our entire society. This has led us to a profound realization: to promote the cultivation and observance of core socialist values, we must give full play to the role of Party-member cadres and ensure that they set a good example for others to follow. 

In calling on Party-member cadres to lead the way, we are imposing higher standards and more stringent requirements on Party-member cadres to consciously observe core socialist values, act as vanguard figures of the times, and serve as role models for the public. Party-member cadres, especially leading cadres at all levels, must lead the way in reinforcing their ideals and beliefs, in maintaining fine ideological standards and moral integrity, and in establishing the correct outlook on the world, on life, and on values, so as to hold the moral high ground of Communists at all times. They should set an example in doing what they expect others to do, and resolutely refrain from doing what they do not permit others to do. Through their own concrete actions, they should influence and prompt the actions of society as a whole. At present, we need to identify the observance of core socialist values as an important aspect of our activities to grasp and implement the Party’s mass line and our initiatives to train Party-member cadres. We need to step up our efforts to educate Party-member cadres with regard to Party spirit, Party conduct, and the fine traditions of the Party; strongly oppose various forms of unhealthy conduct such as formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism, and extravagance; and draw on the fine conduct of the Party and government to prompt an improvement in the moral state of our society.   

Morality is an important principle that our Party emphasizes in the selection and appointment of personnel. Fundamentally speaking, the morality that we are referring to here is our framework of core socialist values and our core values. In giving play to the leading role of Party-member cadres, we must regard the implementation of core values as a primary consideration in the assessment, evaluation, selection, and appointment of cadres, and ensure that requirements concerning morality and core values are fully implemented. Cadres who are industrious, pragmatic, responsible, honest, and upright in their work, who have firm beliefs, and who wholeheartedly serve the people should be promptly promoted to suitable positions. This will allow us to establish morality as a prevailing criterion in the recruitment of personnel. At the same time, we need to act quickly in taking stern disciplinary action against those cadres who waver in their beliefs and let their spirit wither, who descend into corruption and degeneration, and who shirk their responsibilities at critical moments and provoke public indignation. We must ensure that these “problem” cadres do not undo the positive advances that we have made in ideological and moral development.  

VI. The common responsibility of the whole Party and society

The effort to promote the cultivation and observance of core socialist values involves a wide range of sectors and participants. This is not solely the duty of publicity departments; rather, it is the common responsibility of the whole Party and society. Therefore, Party committees at all levels are required to attach a high level of priority to promoting the cultivation and observance of core socialist values. They must strengthen their overall planning, enhance their guidance over the related initiatives, and take substantial steps to assume their political responsibilities and leading role. 

Acting under the leadership of Party committees, publicity departments at all levels must effectively exert their important role in the organization, implementation, and coordination of initiatives. They must strengthen their communication and ties with other departments, enhance their planning and supervision of major initiatives, and promote the successful completion of various tasks concerning the development of the framework of core socialist values. Member departments of the Central Commission for Guiding Cultural and Ethical Progress of the CPC, as well as departments operating in various other fields, are required to carefully put the core principles of the Guidelines into practice, incorporate the requirements of the core values into their initiatives, and work in close coordination with one another to form synergy. 

Policies and laws have an important role to play in guiding the cultivation and observance of core values. Therefore, while we are working to promote the modernization of our national governance system and governance capacity and deepen reform in an all-round way, we need to formulate and revise relevant policies and laws to support the cultivation and observance of core socialist values. By maintaining the correct policy orientation, we need to ensure that policies and measures for the promotion of economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress are all conducive to carrying forward core socialist values. At the same time, we need to be adept at promoting the cultivation and observance of core values through sound legislation, law enforcement, and judicial practice. Through the development of systems and mechanisms that are effective in regulating people’s behavior, we need to encourage behavior that conforms to our core values whilst inhibiting behavior that goes against them. In addition, we need to afford more care and assistance to moral role models and exemplary individuals who distinguish themselves through their advanced conduct. In addition to praising them in the media and giving them moral support, we also need to offer them material rewards and care in their daily lives. By promoting the formation of positive mechanisms to reward people for their good deeds, we will foster a social atmosphere in which morality and goodness are advocated and people strive to emulate each other’s good deeds.


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.2, 2014)

This is a speech delivered by Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and a member of its Secretariat, on January 4, 2014, at a forum on cultivating and observing core socialist values. The text has been edited and abridged for publication.