The Origins of Novel Thinking for a New Era: The Positive Interaction Between Innovation in Theory and Practice

By: Li JieFrom:English Edition of QiuShi Journal April-June 2018|Vol.10,No.2,Issue No.35 | Updated: 2018-May-16 11:09
text size: T | T
Share:

The most important historical contribution made at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2017 was designating Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era (hereinafter Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism) as the guiding principles to be upheld by the CPC in the long term. Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism was formed through the positive interaction between innovation in theory and practice, and it continues to develop and drive the historic changes in the undertakings of the Party and the country.

The opening ceremony of the 19th National Congress of the CPC, held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 18, 2017

PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER LAN HONGGUANG

I. What are the origins of Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism?

1. Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism has taken shape through full and strict governance over the Party and strict punishment for acts of corruption.

With a commitment to a problem-oriented way of thinking, Xi Jinping has regulated Party conduct, tightened discipline, and fought corruption with dauntless spirit and determined mettle. In so doing, he has taken on the mission outlined in his statement, “Though it may mean insulting a few hundreds, we must not let down the 1.3 billion Chinese people.”

Efforts at full and strict governance over the Party came in three key steps: first, rules were formulated governing the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee; second, the Central Committee prescribed solutions with its “Eight-Point Regulation” on improving Party and government conduct; and third, initial breakthroughs were made with the anti-corruption campaign to “take down tigers and swat flies.” These efforts impose strict Party discipline, ensure that political activities within the Party are carried out in earnest, and strengthen internal oversight. In so doing, these efforts dismantle institutional obstacles and break down blockades of vested interests and weed out interest groups in which political and economic corruption were interwoven, thus safeguarding the authority and centralized leadership of the Central Committee. Experience has proven that adopting full and strict governance over the Party as a strategic plan has tempered our ranks with revolutionary vigor.

2. Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism has taken shape through setting things straight and strengthening Party leadership.

The defining feature and greatest strength of Chinese socialism is the leadership of the CPC. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, Xi Jinping has unequivocally laid emphasis on upholding the Party’s leadership over all endeavors; as such, all undertakings, regardless of their specific field or nature, begin and end with strengthening Party leadership, and from this they consolidate the authority of the CPC Central Committee.

3. Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism has taken shape through the formulation of the “Four Comprehensives” strategy.

Changes both within and outside of China, and the progress made in all areas of China’s endeavors, have presented us with a profound question – the question of an era. Our answer must combine theory and practice to systematically address what kind of Chinese socialism the new era requires us to uphold and develop, and how we should go about doing it. By taking a strategic perspective that gives consideration to history and reality, theory and practice, and domestic and international situations, we see that the key to addressing this question lies in how to coordinate a great struggle, great project, great cause, and great dream, and how to advance the five-pronged overall plan for developing Chinese socialism. Through practice, inquiry, and innovation, and with a commitment to upholding and developing Chinese socialism, Xi Jinping introduced the “Four Comprehensives” strategy: comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, comprehensively deepening reform, comprehensively advancing law-based governance, and comprehensively governing the Party with strict discipline. He also set a timeframe, roadmap, and plan of action, and made a pledge for the coordinated advancement of the “Four Comprehensives” strategy at the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth plenary sessions of the 18th CPC Central Committee. The “Four Comprehensives” consists not only of a strategic goal but also strategic measures. Each of the four is of considerable strategic significance in its own right. The building of a moderately prosperous society is the strategic goal, whereas the comprehensive deepening of reform, the comprehensive advancement of law-based governance, and the comprehensive governance of the Party with strict discipline are three strategic measures. This has formed a new pattern for governance whereby each of the “Comprehensives” complements, supports, and reinforces each other, thus opening up new frontiers for the CPC in governing the country over the long term.

4. Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism has taken shape in advancing the five-pronged overall plan.

In the past five years, a notable feature of China’s economic development is that it entered a new normal. In order to focus closely on the major task of understanding, adapting to, and harnessing the new normal of economic development, Xi Jinping proposed new principles for development, namely innovation, coordination, sustainability, openness, and sharing, formed on the basis of a profound reflection on domestic and international experiences in development. This has served to drive the five-pronged overall plan for developing socialism with Chinese characteristics to realize coordinated advancement of the economy, political affairs, culture, society, and ecological civilization.

Regarding economic advancement, this plan adopts a people-centered notion of development, puts quality first, and gives priority to performance. With supply-side structural reform as our main focus, this plan also drives better quality, higher efficiency, and more robust drivers of economic growth through reform so as to raise total factor productivity. Regarding political advancement, this plan firms our commitment to following the socialist path of political development with Chinese characteristics, and stipulates improving our democratic institutions, enriching our forms of democracy, establishing more democratic channels, and building a socialist country based on the rule of law. Regarding cultural advancement, this plan involves nurturing and practicing core socialist values, holding firmly the leading position of the Party in advancing its political philosophy, and promoting the creative evolution and development of fine traditional Chinese culture. Regarding social advancement, this plan adopts the wellbeing of the people as the fundamental goal, calling for using development to strengthen areas of weakness and promote social fairness and justice. Regarding ecological civilization, the plan calls for harmony between humans and nature.

5. Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism has taken shape through the development of China’s major country diplomacy and the development of a community of shared future for humanity.

China is now closer than ever to world center stage. China’s ideas, development, and proposals have won unprecedented attention and praise from the international community and developing countries in particular. Meanwhile, as China has become stronger, the international community also cares about whether China will repeat the historical pattern in which rising powers have always sought to dominate. As Xi Jinping pointed out, the dreams of the Chinese people are closely connected with the dreams of the peoples of other countries; the Chinese Dream can be realized only in a peaceful international environment and under a stable international order. China will continue to uphold peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit, stay on the path of peaceful development, and foster new thinking on common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security. China will work to build a community of shared future for humanity and oppose deglobalization and trade protectionism. China will continue its efforts to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development, and maintain international order.

All these new concepts, ideas, and strategies are derived from current trends and practice. Firmly founded in practice, they provide strong guidance and drivers for China’s reform and development, thus prompting historical shifts in the undertakings of the Party and the country. They also provide a basic guideline for advancing such undertakings and socialism with Chinese characteristics in a new era, and make historic contributions to the development of Marxism for the 21st century and Marxism in contemporary China.

II. How did the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics begin?

In the section above, I have reviewed the origins of Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism with an emphasis on how innovation in practice drives innovation in theory. In the section that follows, I will discuss how the new era of Chinese socialism began from the perspective of innovation in theory driving innovation in practice.

We have ample reason to say that the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics began under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism.

In the process of forming and developing, Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism has exerted a great guiding role in practice. The fundamental reason for this is because it carries forward and develops the attributes of Marxist theories, that is to say it is geared toward perceiving and resolving problems. Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism adopts the principles of upholding convictions, standing on the people’s side, taking historic responsibility, working in a realistic and pragmatic manner, displaying the courage to innovate, and applying scientific methodology, and incorporates them throughout the whole process of perceiving and resolving problems and guiding practice. In this way, it shows forth the distinct theoretical characteristic of Marxism in contemporary China – putting practice first.

Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism, we have solved many tough problems that were long on the agenda but never resolved, and accomplished many things that were wanted but never got done. With this, we have prompted historic shifts in the undertakings of the Party and the country. These shifts are demonstrated by our successful efforts in resolving many difficult problems in the following areas.

First, we have been successful in fighting corruption and in turning the tide against the “four malfeasances” of formalities for formalities’ sake, excessive bureaucracy, self-indulgence, and extravagance.

Second, we have been successful in pursuing economic growth while ensuring stability, stabilizing the economy and mounting a successful recovery, and rapidly transforming and upgrading the economy.

Third, we have been successful in carrying out targeted poverty alleviation, particularly in areas of extreme poverty.

Fourth, we have been successful in controlling pollution and protecting the environment.

Fifth, we have been successful in implementing our political philosophy and Internet governance.

Sixth, we have been successful in securing absolute CPC leadership over the armed forces and reforming the national defense and military.

Seventh, we have been successful in making sweeping efforts to strengthen Party leadership.

These successes are of fundamental, overall, and pioneering significance – they embody the formidable force that is Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism. These successes have driven a shift in China’s economy from a phase of rapid growth to one of high-quality growth and have led China’s development to a new point in history. It is due to these successes that the principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved, and that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era.

The adaptation of Marxism to China’s conditions is founded on the integration of the fundamental principles of Marxism with China’s realities and with the essence of China’s fine traditional culture; it draws inexhaustible strength from the changing times and through practical development. The three effective approaches via which we adapt Marxism to China’s conditions are continued efforts at deepening our understanding, building on our experiences, and effecting positive interactions between innovation in theory and practice.

Continually deepening our understanding is the prerequisite for innovation in theory. Thinking that becomes rigid and stagnant, or even that deviates from the correct political orientation, will lead us to commit disastrous errors, the consequences of which would be irreversible.

Continually building on our experiences is the basic approach toward innovation in theory. This also promotes innovation in practice, which in turn spurs further innovation in theory.

Continually effecting positive interaction between innovation in theory and practice is the optimal state for innovation in theory. Ideas are born from the times in which we live, and theories originate from practice. In order to use great endeavors to promote theoretical innovation on the basis of practice, we must be well-grounded in the basic tenets of Marxism; in this way we can reflect on and fully grasp a range of major strategic issues facing China’s future development from a broader and longer-term perspective. We must continually broaden our horizons regarding theories, and make new theoretical generalizations so as to continually promote innovation in theory, practice, institutions, culture, and all other areas.

III. What are the original theoretical contributions offered by Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism?

The positive interaction between innovation in theory and practice with a focus on contemporary issues has aided in generating many original theoretical contributions. These contributions are demonstrated by a clear “Eight-Point Statement of Purpose” made in the report to the 19th National Congress of the CPC.

First, it has made clear the overarching task of upholding and developing Chinese socialism in the new era and the approach to achieving this task.

Second, it has made clear the evolution of the principal contradiction facing Chinese society in the new era and the approach to resolving this contradiction.

Third, it has made clear that the plan for building socialism with Chinese characteristics is the five-pronged overall plan, and the strategy is the “Four Comprehensives” strategy. It has also highlighted the importance of fostering stronger confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Fourth, it has made clear the overall goal of furthering reform.

Fifth, it has made clear the overall goal of comprehensively advancing law-based governance.

Sixth, it has made clear the CPC’s goal of building a strong military in the new era.

Seventh, it has made clear two aims of major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics: to foster a new type of international relations and build a community of shared future for humanity.

Eighth, it has made clear that strengthening the overall leadership of the CPC is of the utmost importance. It has also set forth the general requirements for Party building in the new era and underlined the importance of political work in Party building.

The above “Eight-Point Statement of Purpose” and the 14 basic principles defined in the report to the 19th National Congress of the CPC are closely linked and provide us with the key to understanding the core aims, profound connotations, and practical requirements of Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism.

These original theoretical contributions encompassed by Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism have not only fully and systematically enriched and developed the theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics but also enriched the fundamental tenets of Marxism.

Regarding the principles of political economy, Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism stresses the dialectical unity between development and stages of development. It points out that while China is still and will long remain in the primary stage of socialism, the principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved from the ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people being unable to be met by lagging national production, to the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life. It stresses that we must make good use of the dialectical unity between the “visible hand” and the “invisible hand,” and introduces the major theory that we should enable the market to play the decisive role in the allocation of resources while giving better play to the role of the government. It stresses the dialectical unity between the thinking that development is CPC’s top priority in governing and rejuvenating the country and the concept of development that puts the people first, makes the major determination that China’s economic development has entered a new normal and requires implementation of the new development philosophy. Finally, it stresses the dialectical unity between national supply and effective demand, on the basis of which the major policy decision to advance supply-side structural reform was made.

Regarding the principles of scientific socialism, Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism points out that Chinese socialism forms a unity between the theoretical logic of scientific socialism and the historical logic of China’s social development. It requires that we must remain confident in the path, theory, system, and culture of Chinese socialism. It puts forward a people-centered notion of development. Finally, it states that the defining feature and greatest strength of Chinese socialism is the leadership of the CPC, and that the CPC is the highest force for political leadership.

Regarding the Marxist theory of the state, Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism states that the overall goal of continuing reform is to improve and develop the system of Chinese socialism and modernize China’s system and capacity for governance. It points out that we should develop socialist consultative democracy, improve our democratic institutions, diversify our forms of democracy, and establish more democratic channels, so as to see to it that the principle of the people running the country is put into practice in China’s political and social activities. Finally, it states that law-based governance is an essential requirement and important guarantee for socialism with Chinese characteristics.

With regard to the Marxist theory of international politics, Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism states that China will promote the building of a community of shared future for humanity, break away from the historical pattern in which rising powers have always sought to dominate, and conform to the current world trends of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit, in a bid to connect the Chinese Dream with the dreams of other peoples around the world.

With regard to the Marxist theory of the development of the governing party, Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism states that “it takes a good blacksmith to make good tools;” in other words, leading officials must ensure that their own conduct is good and proper before attempting to guide others. For the Party to unite the people and lead them in carrying out our great struggle, advancing our great cause, and realizing our great dream, we must unwaveringly uphold and improve Party leadership and make the Party still stronger. It proposes five general requirements of Party building for the new era. First, it proposes that we uphold and strengthen overall Party leadership and ensure that the Party exercises effective self-supervision and practices strict self-governance in every respect. Second, it proposes that we take strengthening the Party’s long-term governance capacity and its advanced nature and integrity as the main thrust; that we take enhancing the Party’s political building as the overarching principle; and that we take holding dear the Party’s ideals, convictions, and purpose as the underpinning; and take maximizing the whole Party’s enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity as the focus of efforts. Third, it proposes that we make all-round efforts to see the Party’s political building enhanced, its theory strengthened, its organizations consolidated, its conduct improved, and its discipline enforced, with institution building incorporated into every aspect of Party building. Fourth, it proposes that we step up efforts to combat corruption and continue to improve the efficacy of Party building. Finally, it proposes that we build the CPC into a vibrant Marxist governing party that is always at the forefront of the times, enjoys the wholehearted support of the people, has the courage to reform itself, and is able to withstand all tests. In addition, Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism also requires that Chinese Communists must remain true to our original aspiration, keep our mission firmly in mind, and continue to carry on the struggle in the new era. Lastly, it requires the establishment of an authoritative, efficient state oversight system with complete coverage under the Party’s unified command; and to integrate intraparty oversight with oversight by state organs, democratic oversight, judicial oversight, public oversight and oversight through public opinion.

Li Jie is President of Qiushi Journal Press.

(Originally appeared in Red Flag Manuscript, No. 23, 2017)