Opening a New Stage for Comprehensively Deepening Reform

By: Guo QiangFrom:English Edition of QiuShi Journal April-June 2018|Vol.10,No.2,Issue No.35 | Updated: 2018-May-16 11:09
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Comprehensively deepening reform is an important component of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, as well as a basic policy confirmed by the 19th CPC National Congress. As Chinese socialism has entered a new era, a new journey has also begun for the comprehensive deepening of reform.

I. The new era: setting forth new requirements for comprehensively deepening reform

Chinese socialism has entered a new era, and so has China’s economy. The CPC has drawn up new strategic plans for the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, which have placed higher and longer-term demands on comprehensively deepening reform.

1. The new era of economic development has raised the requirements for comprehensively deepening reform.

China’s economy has already begun the transition from a phase of rapid growth to a phase of high-quality development. Over four decades of development through reform and opening up, a sturdy foundation of productive power has been laid in support of economic development. The CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core has made reforming economic structures a point of focus as it has continued reform across the board. This has given shape to a large batch of theoretical, institutional, and practical achievements, and caused China’s economy to change its course from rapid growth toward high-quality development. It is imperative for China to promote high-quality development, build a modern economic system, and be more demanding of reform.

2. The evolution of the principal contradiction in Chinese society has shown how we must approach comprehensively deepening reform.

The principal contradiction we now face is that between imbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life. This provides a basic theoretical grounding for comprehensively deepening reform, while also pointing out what its main priorities should be. On the one hand, our efforts to comprehensively deepen reform should conform to the people’s needs for a better life in the new era, which are constantly growing larger and more extensive. Reform must be beneficial for both adding new drivers of growth and defending social fairness and justice. It must not only help satisfy the people’s higher demands on material and cultural life, but also help meet the people’s growing calls for improvement with regard to democracy, the rule of law, fairness, justice, security, and the environment. On the other hand, we must make resolving the problem of imbalanced and inadequate development the priority of deepening reform, with particular emphasis on imbalances. For example, the enormous development gap between urban and rural areas is a concrete reflection of the fact that our social structures are now incompatible with the needs of the market economy and modern development. Such issues must be addressed through further reform.

3. A new blueprint has been drawn up for comprehensively deepening reform on our new journey toward socialist modernization.

The 19th CPC National Congress introduced a two-step plan for building China into a fully modern socialist country. The new journey is a new blueprint, which has spelled out more explicit and long-range requirements for deepening reform. The new journey has set the objectives and pointed the way for comprehensively deepening reform, but at the same time, it needs reform to provide continuous momentum. Moving up the goal of basically achieving modernization by 15 years and setting an even grander goal for the middle of the century mean that reform must extend further, penetrate deeper, and advance with greater determination. Reform must uphold a problem-oriented approach and always aim at deficiencies in our systems and mechanisms as the target. It must also uphold a system-oriented approach, with a constant focus on becoming more systematic, holistic, and coordinated. Finally, reform must continue to be geared toward modernization, keeping its sights trained on our overall objectives.

An aerial view of Yanjiapo in Tanping Village, Zhaojun Town, Xingshan County, Hubei Province, where new housing has been built as part of the “alleviating poverty through relocation” campaign PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER DU HUAJU

II. The overall objectives and roadmap for comprehensively deepening reform

The 19th CPC National Congress confirmed comprehensively deepening reform as a basic policy underpinning our endeavors to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. It also put forward new tasks and further refined the overall objectives and roadmap for the comprehensive reform program.

1. Modernization of national governance must progress in step with modernization of the country as a whole.

At the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee held in 2013, the Party identified improving and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics and advancing the modernization of China’s national governance system and capacity as the overall objectives of comprehensively deepening reform. Furthermore, the session set the goal of forming a complete, well-conceived, well-regulated, and effective institutional framework by 2020 in order to help institutions in all areas become more mature and settled in place. However, simply achieving this goal does not amount to modernization of the national governance system. At the 19th National Congress four years later, it was proposed that institutions in all fields will be improved even further and modernization of China’s governance system and capacity will be basically achieved by 2035, while their full modernization will be achieved by the middle of the present century. From one perspective, this new timetable for comprehensively deepening reform will ensure that the modernization of China’s governance system and capacity advances in sync with the country’s overall modernization. From the other perspective, the establishment of a complete, well-conceived, well-regulated, and effective institutional framework as a principled requirement for upholding comprehensively deepening reform will be gradually achieved in pace with the modernization of China’s governance system and capacity.

2. What does modernizing our national governance system and capacity entail?

In reference to the goal of basically realizing socialist modernization by the year 2035, the report to the 19th National Congress indicates the following conditions: “The rights of the people to participate and to develop as equals are adequately protected,” “The rule of law for the country, the government, and society is basically in place,” and, “A modern social governance system has taken shape.” On economic reform, the report suggests, “We should endeavor to develop an economy with more effective market mechanisms, dynamic micro-entities, and sound macro-regulation.” It also states, “In our economic reforms, we must concentrate on improving the property rights system and ensuring the market-based allocation of factors of production, so that property rights act as effective incentives. We should ensure free flows of factors, flexible prices, fair and orderly competition, and that business survival is determined by competition.” These statements draw a rudimentary outline of the basic content involved in modernizing China’s governance system and capacity.

Guo Qiang is a research fellow at the Research Center for the Theories of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics of the School of the CPC Central Committee.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 3, 2018)