Socialism and National Rejuvenation

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-09-20 12:10
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  Research Center for the Theoretical System of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China 

  The year 2009 was the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China our socialist motherland has made great achievements over the past 60 years, attracting the attention of the world. Our socialist cause is full of life and vigor. China has developed from a poor backward nation into a strong and prosperous country. Looking back at the history of the past 60 years, we find that there are many factors and events behind China’s development and progress. The events that have given people the deepest impression, have the greatest impact and the greatest significance are the birth of New China, the establishment of the basic system of socialism, working out the road to socialist development and following the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

 The birth of New China

 China is one of the world’s ancient civilizations, occupying the leading position most of the time in the history of world civilization. The country has made great contributions to human civilization. However, after British imperialism broke open China’s door with firearms in the Opium War of 1840, China gradually became a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. China was nibbled away by many Western powers, not just one. The rulers of the Qing Dynasty fell on their knees in surrender after defeat and signed numerous unequal treaties that betrayed and humiliated the nation. China completely fell into the sorry plight, in which it was partitioned at will by Western powers.

 A century of humiliation and suffering awakened the Chinese nation. In order to save the nation from its peril and realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, numerous men and women with high ideals sought after the truth everywhere and carried out a struggle that moved people to song and tears. The patriotic and democratic May Fourth Movement erupted on May 4, 1919 touched off by the Northern Warlords who prepared to engage in the treacherous act of signing a humiliating treaty at the Paris Peace Conference. Inspired by the October Revolution of Russia of 1917, people in China with advanced ideas chose scientific Marxist socialism from among all types of doctrines after a careful comparison carried out before and after the May Fourth Movement. This was a serious historical choice that played an extremely important and decisive role in China’s later development. China’s socialist movement began with the May Fourth Movement, which led to the spread of Marxism in China and the founding of the CPC. Immediately following its founding in 1921, the CPC entered into a revolutionary struggle for new democracy. The CPC became more mature with each passing day, particularly after the Zunyi Conference of 1935, which established Mao Zedong’s position as leader of the Party. One great contribution of Mao Zedong was his idea of applying the universal truth of Marxism while taking into consideration the specifics of the Chinese revolution thus creating a revolutionary road with Chinese characteristics. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese people eventually overthrew the three great mountains of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism and established the People's Republic of China after 28 years of bloody struggle that entailed great sacrifice and cost. The birth of New China marked the end of China’s history of more than 100 years as a semi-feudal, semi-colonial nation and ended the reign of China’s feudal rulers that had enslaved the Chinese people. The people had suffered through a long series of internal wars and chaos as the country was torn apart in bitter strife. The Chinese people stood up and began to take control of their own future and destiny, opening a new chapter in Chinese history.

  Fireworks display at the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics forming the 5-ring Olympic symbol. / Photo supplied by Xinhua

 Establishment of the basic system of socialism

 China did not make the transition to a socialist society from a capitalist society but from a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society via a society under new democracy following the New Democratic Revolution. Mao Zedong pointed out in October of 1953 that the period from the founding of the People's Republic of China to the basic completion of the socialist transformation was a transitional period. He also worked out a general line for the transitional period, the basic content of which was to carry out simultaneously socialist development and socialist transformation. During the seven short years from October 1949 when New China was founded to the basic completion of socialist transformation in 1956, the CPC did all it could to build New China and restore and develop the national economy, making great achievements in all areas while under an imperialist blockade imposed by external forces and disruptive activities carried out by internal hostile forces. The most valuable and significant of these accomplishments was the establishment of the basic system of socialism, which mainly consisted of the following elements:

 First of all, the basic political system of socialism was established, beginning with the state system. We did not copy the state system of the Soviet Union, but implemented a people’s democratic dictatorship that is led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and farmers, which better suited China’s conditions. Next, the system of government was established. We neither copied the Soviet system nor adopted the separation of the three powers practiced by some Western countries, instead established the system of people’s congresses, so that the system of government was in conformity with the state system. The third element was the system of political parties. We adopted neither a multi-party system practiced by some Western countries nor the one-party system of the Soviet Union but a brand new political party system of multi-party cooperation under the leadership of the CPC. Next, the structural form of the state was determined. Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, with far sight and sagacity, decided that New China should not have a compound system, such as a federal system, but instead should establish an autonomous system in regions where ethnic minority groups live in compact communities within a unified republic. These four basic political systems were the products of the Communist Party of China applying the basic principles of Marxism to solve China’s political problems. They were completely original and have played a positive role in the development of China’s socialism over a long period of time.

 Next, the basic economic system of socialism was established. There were five economic sectors in the country shortly after New China was founded, the state economic sector, the cooperative economic sector, the individual economic sector, the private capitalist economic sector and the state capitalist economic sector. After the general line for the transitional period was defined in 1953, China opened up a road of socialist transformation with Chinese characteristics. China carried out the socialist transformation of agriculture via a transitional period in which interim mutual-aid teams were developed into permanent mutual aid teams then into elementary cooperatives and then into advanced cooperatives. In the handicraft industry, China mainly adopted the three forms of supply and marketing cooperative groups, supply and marketing and production cooperatives, and production cooperatives and gradually organized large numbers of scattered individual handicraft workers to realize the socialist transformation of these people from a scattered state to a concentrated one and from a low level to a high level. The socialist transformation of capitalist industry and commerce was gradually realized by implementing the policy of peaceful redemption. At the beginning of the transition, the government placed orders for processing with private businesses while holding a monopoly on the purchase and marketing of the products of private enterprises, followed by joint state-private management of enterprises. Institutional transformation was combined with transformation of the people as the overwhelming majority of national industrialists and merchants were transformed into workers whose livelihoods depended on their own labors. This was a major creation in the history of the socialist movement. After the three great transformations were basically completed, China established a basic economic system with two types of public ownership, ownership by the people as a whole and ownership by the collective, and established a system of distribution based on each person’s abilities and the amount of work he or she has done in conformity with the basic economic system. At the same time, we worked to develop a socialist culture with Marxism as the guide. Great changes were made from economic base to the superstructure in the establishment of a brand new socialist system, which was a long cherished goal of the people and was far superior to the old society and capitalism. There was no major social unrest, industrial and agricultural output was not reduced and the economy continued to grow during this great social change. This was an extraordinary achievement of great importance. Although some shortcomings and problems emerged during the course of this transformation, which was carried out a bit too anxiously, too rapidly and too roughly, they were only secondary in the overall picture.

 In summary, the victorious conclusion of the people’s revolution, the birth of New China and the establishment of the basic system of socialism marked the basic solution of the first of two major historical issues, namely, national independence and liberation of the people and making the country strong and the people prosperous, for which the nation had waited for over a century. The main task for the future was to solve the second issue. The victory of the New Democratic Revolution and the establishment of the basic system of socialism provided the political prerequisite and the institutional foundation for all the later development and progress of contemporary China. It also provided the prerequisite for seeking a Chinese road to socialist construction.

 Painstaking efforts on seeking a Chinese road to socialist construction

 China entered a period of socialist construction after completing the transition from a new democratic society to a socialist society. Lacking experience in development, China decided to learn from the advanced experiences of the Soviet Union in the period immediately following the founding of New China. This meant that features of the Soviet model were incorporated in China’s institutions, organizations and policies. Later it gradually became apparent that certain features of the Soviet Union were not suited to China’s conditions. Under the circumstances, Mao Zedong decided that China needed to take a warning from the Soviet example while working out an independent road of socialist construction that was different from the Soviet model and more suited to China’s conditions. Following this decision, China began an arduous 20-year process of seeking and forming a preliminary systematic line of thought, whose main contents included: 

 First, the idea of following a Chinese road to industrialization different from the Soviet model, which mainly consists of three principles. These were: taking agriculture as the foundation and industry as a guide, simultaneously developing coastal industry and interior industry, and strengthening national defense based on economic development. Second, the objectives to be met and steps to be taken in carrying out the socialist modernization of China, viz. “the four modernizations” and the strategy of two-step development. Third, the idea of socialist commodity production and exchange, giving play to the role of the law of value. Fourth, the policy of “letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend.” Fifth, the idea of dividing the development of a socialist society into stages. After it was recognized that the development of socialism is a long historical process, the development of socialism was divided into an undeveloped period and a developed period, the latter would be longer. Sixth, the policy of mainly relying on our own efforts while working to win external aid. It was decided that we must mainly rely on our own efforts to solve our development issues but not exclude foreign aid. Seventh, the idea of implementing an independent foreign policy of peace. The five principles of peaceful coexistence were advanced as the basis for relations between countries with different social systems. Eighth, the idea of bringing all positive factors into play to build socialism. Mao Zedong stressed the importance of properly handling five relationships: the relationship between the central and local governments, between the Party and non-party organizations, between the state and the collectives and individuals, between the Han nationality and ethnic minorities, and between China and foreign countries. He called for mobilizing all the positive factors from inside and outside the Party, in the country and overseas, and direct and indirect. Ninth, theories on the contradictions in a socialist society. Aiming at the metaphysical view of Stalin that the productive forces and the relations of production of a socialist society are “completely in conformity with each other,” Mao Zedong stressed that there are contradictions in all aspects of a socialist society, that contradictions are the motive force to drive development of a socialist society. He also creatively advanced the theory that there are both basic contradictions and two kinds of contradictions of different natures in a socialist society to support the road of socialist construction for China.

 The nine points described above are the basics of the road for building socialism in China formed in an arduous process of exploration. It should be said that this road was critical of and different from the Soviet model, but it was not a complete break from the Soviet model. The reason it was not a complete break is because some basic aspects of the Soviet economic model were still present, such as total public ownership, the management system of a unitary planned economy system and closed-door development. Nevertheless, China still made major achievements in socialist development during this period, such as the development of Daqing Oilfield, the detonation of China’s first atomic bomb and first hydrogen bomb, the launching and retrieval of satellites, construction of Wuhan and Nanjing Yangtze River bridges, the building of Chengdu-Kunming Railway and the development of an independent and relatively comprehensive industrial system and national economic system.

 Success in opening up the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics

 The Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee marked the beginning of a new historical period for China. The most distinctive feature of this new period is the implementation of the reform and opening up policy. The fundamental reasons for all the achievements and progress we have made since the institution of reform and opening up can be summed up as follows: we developed a road of socialism with Chinese characteristics and formed a theoretical system for socialism with Chinese characteristics that incorporates the major concepts of Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development.

 The second generation of central collective leadership with Deng Xiaoping at the core continued to build on the theoretical achievements of Mao Zedong following the Third Plenary Session of the Party’s 11th Central Committee, particularly following the Party’s 12th National Congress. While preserving the correct ideas of Mao Zedong, they corrected the errors made by Mao Zedong in his later years, created many new ideas, gradually formed Deng Xiaoping Theory and opened up a new road to socialism with Chinese characteristics. This road has a number of distinct markers. First, we made a historic change from “taking class struggle as the key link” to taking economic construction as the central task, concentrating efforts on and wholeheartedly pursuing development and concentrating on socialist modernization. Second, we implemented the strategic policy of reform and opening up, liberated and developed the productive forces, and absorbed and borrowed from the fruits of human civilization to build and develop socialism. Three, we adhered to the four cardinal principles, viz. we adhered to the basic system of socialism, carrying out the reform and opening up policy and modernization within the scope and framework of the socialist system to ensure their socialist nature and orientation. One major contribution of Deng Xiaoping was to incorporate the three basic features of this road in the basic line set forth at the 13th National Congress of the Party as the fundamental guiding principles with overall bearing on the primary stage of socialism to ensure that the country unwaveringly adheres to this road.

 The third generation of central collective leadership with Jiang Zemin at the core continued to take Deng Xiaoping’s Theory as its guide and developed the important thought of Three Represents over a period of 13 years, further contributing to the development of the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics. One, they introduced the theory of a socialist market economy based on Deng Xiaoping’s judgment that a market economy can exist under socialism and actively worked to develop a new socialist market economic system in which a market economy is developed under the basic system of socialism, thereby making good use of the superiority of the socialist system while fully reflecting the vitality of the market economy. This is one of the greatest creations in human history. Two, they developed a strategy of taking advantage of good opportunities and avoiding risks in the midst of the overall wave of economic globalization by participating in economic globalization and joining the World Trade Organization while safeguarding the country’s independence and sovereignty and protecting the country’s economic security. Three, they introduced the basic policy of administering the affairs of the state in accordance with the law, closely integrated the rule of law with moral administration of state affairs and worked to develop China into a socialist country ruled by law.

 Taking Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents as the guide and first of all taking into consideration the characteristics of China’s social and economic development in the current stage, the CPC Central Committee with Hu Jintao as General Secretary introduced a series of important strategic concepts such as the Scientific Outlook on Development in this first period of the new century, adding new elements to the theory of the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics. One, they have pursued scientific development. The most important aspect of the Scientific Outlook on Development is development, the core concept is putting human concerns first, the fundamental requirement is comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development and the basic method is to take into consideration all factors. It is possible to guide development onto the track of scientific development only when we persist in taking Scientific Outlook on Development as the overall guide in carrying out economic and social development. Two, they have pursued harmonious development. In accordance with the decision of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 16th CPC Central Committee, they have worked to build a harmonious socialist society, promote harmony between individuals and society and between human society and nature, and promote harmonious economic and social development in accordance with the general requirements for a democratic rule by law, equity and justice, trustworthiness and friendship, strong vitality, stability and order, and harmony between nature and human society. Three, they pursued peaceful development. China has been working for a peaceful international environment for the sake of the country’s development and promoting world peace and development through its development. This is a brightly lit road offering mutual benefit and a win-win situation for China and all other countries of the world.

 In summary, the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics is a road that was first explored by Mao Zedong, further opened up by Deng Xiaoping’s diligent efforts and continuously widened by Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. This is a broad road that is enabling the Chinese nation to thrive, making the country rich and powerful, making the people prosperous and happy and promoting social harmony. It is the only correct road for China’s development and progress. New China has been adhering to this road for 60 years and has made historical achievements that have caught the attention of the whole world. China’s economy has been growing especially rapidly during the past 30 years of reform and opening up, growing at an annual average of over 9%. GDP rose from 364.5 billion yuan in 1978 to 30.067 trillion yuan in 2008, vaulting China from the 11th place in the world to the third place, and China jumped to the first place in the world in terms of foreign exchange reserves. During this time, the average standard of living in China has been raised from bare subsistence to moderate prosperity. On this basis, China has made comprehensive progress in politics, culture, social development and Party development. In addition, China’s overall strength has taken a great leap forward, its international status has continuously improved and its international influence has constantly expanded.

 Experience has shown that socialism and China’s national rejuvenation are inseparable, that socialism is a strong driving force and the only possible road for China’s national rejuvenation, that only socialism can save China and only socialism with Chinese characteristics can develop China, make the country strong and powerful, make its people rich and realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

(From Qiushi in Chinese No. 23, 2009)

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