Fully Understanding the Eight Basic Requirements

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2013-05-28 19:20
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On the basis of the experiences that China has gained during more than 30 years of reform and opening up, and particularly since the Sixteenth National Congress of the Party, the report to the Eighteenth National Congress of the CPC set forth eight basic requirements that we must meet in order to achieve new victories for socialism with Chinese characteristics under new historical conditions. These requirements have gone a step further in answering fundamental questions that need to be answered, namely, what kind of socialism do we intend to build, and how do we go about building socialism in China—a large, oriental country with a huge population and a weak economic foundation. They constitute an action guide for the CPC in its continued efforts to take China’s modernization to a new level. 

I. The theoretical, practical, and historical basis of the eight basic requirements

As a political party, the CPC boasts a high level of theoretical awareness. Since the launch of the reform and opening up drive, the Party has constantly deepened its understanding of the laws that govern socialism with Chinese characteristics, summed up its experiences, and set forth new requirements accordingly as it has advanced along the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. As a result of these efforts, the Party has succeeded in taking the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics from one victory to another. At our Party’s Twelfth National Congress, the proposition of developing socialism with Chinese characteristics was introduced for the very first time. From our Thirteenth to Sixteenth National Congresses, the basic theory, line, program, and experiences of the Party were successively identified. Furthermore, at the recently held Eighteenth National Congress of the Party, eight basic requirements were clearly set forth, all of which have a strong theoretical, practical, and historical basis. 

Wu Renbao—a guide to common prosperity. In the picture, Wu Renbao (left), the then Party Secretary of Huaxi Village, chats with representatives during a conference held to celebrate the forthcoming convening of the Eighteenth National Congress of the CPC and discuss the further development of the village on October 8, 2012. Huaxi Village, located in the south of Jiangsu Province, is widely regarded as the richest village in China. The holder of more than 50 records in China, Huaxi Village has achieved operating revenue in excess of 380 billion yuan through its collectively owned ventures, and has paid more than 6 billion yuan in taxes. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Sun Shen

1. The theoretical basis of the eight basic requirements

Socialism with Chinese characteristics is a form of scientific socialism that takes Marxism as its guide. Not only remaining faithful to its roots in Marxism, it has brought about continued advances in the adaptation of Marxism to suit Chinese conditions. The basic principles of scientific socialism constitute the theoretical basis of the eight basic requirements. Taking historical materialism as its theoretical footstone, scientific socialism has always identified the realization of communism as its highest ideal, the leadership of proletarian political parties as its core driving force, and the emancipation and development of productive forces as its fundamental task. It has always placed an emphasis on representing the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people; on adhering to a basic economic system in which the public sector is dominant and the public and non-public sectors develop side by side; on guaranteeing the position the people enjoy as masters of their own country as the inherent feature of socialist democracy; and on reforming and improving the systems, institutions and mechanisms of socialism. The eight basic requirements fully embody the core essence of scientific socialism, constituting an extension of its fundamental principles. The Party has given close consideration to both the realities in China and contemporary trends during the course of its efforts to adhere to the basic principles of scientific socialism in a creative way. On this basis, it has constantly enriched and developed the basic principles of scientific socialism, thus endowing them with new contemporary relevance. These constant efforts to adapt Marxism to China’s conditions have given rise to the theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The theoretical basis of the eight basic requirements derives from viewpoints that are embodied in this group of theories. These include viewpoints on the primary stage of socialism; on the nature of socialism; on the development of a socialist market economy; on development as the number one task of the Party in exercising power and rejuvenating the country; on building a harmonious socialist society; on building a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity, and on strengthening the Party’s capacity for governance, advanced nature, and purity.

2. Practical basis of the eight basic requirements

China’s development has demonstrated a series of features characteristic of a new phase since the turn of the century. As this has occurred, we have encountered a number of new situations in the implementation of socialism with Chinese characteristics, which have given rise to new requirements. First, although our economic strength has increased significantly, our overall level of productive forces remains low, our capacity for independent innovation is still insufficient, and the structural imbalances and extensive mode of development that took shape over a long period of time have yet to be fundamentally addressed. Therefore, while we need to ensure that the overall size of our economy keeps on growing, we face a much more challenging task in raising our scientific and technological level and increasing the quality of our economic growth. Second, although we have succeeded in basically establishing a socialist market economy, there are still numerous institutional barriers impeding our development and a number of deep-rooted issues and problems that need to be resolved. Therefore, the major issue facing us is how to go about deepening reform in accordance with the requirements for implementing the Scientific Outlook on Development, so as to provide an institutional guarantee for comprehensive, balanced, and sustainable development. Third, although living standards have reached a moderately prosperous level, the income gap is continuing to increase, there are still a large number of low-income and impoverished residents in both urban and rural areas, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to balance the interests of all parties. This requires that we pay greater attention to the people’s wellbeing in order to achieve prosperity for all. Fourth, while we have made great progress in achieving balanced development, we are still troubled by weak agricultural infrastructure and lagging rural development. Thus, we face an arduous task in narrowing the development gap between urban and rural areas and between different regions, and promoting the balanced development of economy and society. Fifth, although our socialist democracy has continued to develop and the rule of law has been steadily implemented as a fundamental principle, our democracy and legal system as they stand at present are unable to meet demands for wider democracy and for economic and social development. This has made the continued deepening of political reform a necessity. Sixth, socialist culture has become more prosperous, but we are confronted with the ever-growing non-material and cultural demands of the people and a clear increase in independent, selective, variable, and diverse thought among individuals. Therefore, the need to develop advanced socialist culture has become increasingly greater. Seventh, our society has become much more active.Profound changes are taking place to our social structure, to the form which social organizations assume, and to the relationships between various interested parties in society. This has given rise to many new issues in social development and management. Eighth, as China increasingly opens up to the outside world, the international competition that we encounter is set to become even more intense. Developed countries continue to have the economic, scientific, and technological edge, the number of foreseeable and unforeseeable risks is on the increase, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to balance domestic development with opening up to the outside world. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we introduce clearer and more scientific theories and practical guidelines if we are to correctly interpret the features of our current stage of development, adapt to new requirements for development in practice, meet the expectations of the people, effectively solve issues and problems present in our economic and social development, and constantly push our causes towards more advanced stages. 

3. The historical basis of the eight basic requirements

The struggles of the Party over the course of more than 90 years tell us that the progression of our cause has a great deal to do with our ability to promptly take stock of our experiences in practice and correctly apply the lessons that we have learned. One of the major reasons why the CPC took several missteps, and even encountered serious setbacks, in the initial stages of China’s revolution, development, and reform was due to its lack of experience. However, as time has gone on, the Party has made constant efforts to learn from its own successes and failures and to draw scientifically from the successes of others. Through these efforts, the Party has constantly matured, and its causes have gone from one victory to the next. The eight basic requirements are founded on the experiences that the Party has gained in more than 90 years since its establishment, more than 60 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, more than 30 years of reform and opening up, and in particular, since its Sixteenth National Congress. These requirements embody the numerous sacrifices that the CPC has made in its tireless search for a socialist path, the wisdom and dedication that it has demonstrated in establishing socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the new experiences that it has gained through the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The eight basic requirements, with their solid historical foundations, have once again demonstrated that the CPC is a Marxist political party which is adept at drawing on its past experiences to constantly enrich and develop scientific truth and constantly move forward. 

II. The rich content of the eight basic requirements

1. Maintaining the people’s principal position in the country

Only by committing to the principle that development is for the people, dependent on the people, and beneficial to all the people will the CPC be able to maintain the support of the people and lead the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics forward. We should ensure that the people continue to be the masters of the country, adhere to the Marxist viewpoint on the masses as well as the Party’s mass line, and maintain the people’s principal position in the country. We must continue to put the interests of the people first, and regard safeguarding, realizing, and developing the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people as both the purpose and the ultimate goal of all our initiatives. At the same time, we need to uphold the rule of law as a fundamental principle by which the Party leads the people in running the country. In order to better protect the people’s rights and interests and ensure that they can determine their own destiny, we must rally the public and organize for the broadest majority of the people to administer state and social affairs, manage the economy and cultural programs, and devote themselves actively to socialist modernization in accordance with the law. 

2. Continuing to release and develop productive forces

Productive forces are the fundamental driving forces behind the development of society. Releasing and developing the productive forces is the fundamental task of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Identifying economic development as the central task is an essential prerequisite for enduring peace and stability and the prosperity of the country and the Party. Development is the key to solving all problems in contemporary China. Moreover, adherence to scientific development is the fundamental requirement for our commitment to the notion that development is the absolute principle. Thus, only by promoting the sustainable and healthy development of the economy will we be able to lay down solid material foundations for the prosperity of the country, the wellbeing of the people, and the harmony and stability of society. We must continue to regard the pursuit of development in a scientific way as an underlying guideline and the transformation of our growth mode as a major ongoing task, advance economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress in an all-around way, and achieve scientific development which is comprehensive, balanced, and sustainable and which puts people first. 

3. Persevering with reform and opening up

Reform and opening up are crucial choices that will determine China’s future. They represent a path that must be taken if we are to adhere to and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics. As the main driving force behind the rapid growth of China over the past 30 years, reform and opening up will continue to fuel China’s development in the future. We must continue focusing our reforms on the socialist market economy, and lose no time in deepening reform in key areas. We must adhere to the basic state policy of opening up to the outside world, learn what we can from other countries while other countries learn what they can from us, and accelerate our development through competition and cooperation. We must apply the spirit of reform and innovation in all aspects of governance, continue to push for innovations in theory, in institutions, in science and technology, in culture, and in other fields, and constantly promote the self-improvement and self-development of China’s socialist system.

4. Safeguarding social fairness and justice

Fairness and justice are inherent requirements of socialism with Chinese characteristics. In carrying out reform and opening up and developing the market economy, fairness and justice are not only a fundamental prerequisite for reform and innovation in various sectors and the fundamental principles for balancing the relationships between different social groups, but are also important banners for increasing social cohesiveness. We must establish a framework of measures to guarantee social fairness, the core aspects of which include equal rights, equal opportunities, and fair rules for all. Moreover, efforts need to be made to create a fair social environment in which people’s rights to participate and develop as equals are guaranteed.

5. Striving for common prosperity

Common prosperity is the fundamental principle of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The future of our reform and opening up drive and the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics hinges on whether or not the people can benefit from the fruits of reform and development. Therefore, adhering to the basic socialist economic system and the socialist income distribution system, we must adjust our national income distribution in order to raise resident incomes as a proportion of national income, increase the share of wage remuneration in primary distribution, and bring income growth in step with economic growth and pay increases in step with productivity increases. We also need to step up adjustment by secondary distribution. Solid efforts need to be made to raise the incomes of low-income groups, ensure equal access to basic public services, and improve our social safety net. Through dedicated efforts to address the income gap, we will guarantee that all the people can benefit more fairly from the fruits of development and move steadily towards the goal of common prosperity.

6. Promoting social harmony

Social harmony is an inherent attribute of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Building a harmonious socialist society in which all people can give rein to their talents and find their proper place is not only one of our important goals in pursuing economic and social development, but also an important guarantee for the realization of economic and social development. Therefore, we must resolutely promote the building of a harmonious socialist society. We should give higher priority to ensuring and improving the people’s wellbeing, do more in the interests of the public wellbeing, and resolve more of the difficulties that the people face. With the aim of strengthening and making innovations in social management, we must work faster to establish a law-based social management system featuring Party committee leadership, government accountability, non-governmental support, and public participation. 

7. Pursuing peaceful development

Peaceful development is the only choice for socialism with Chinese characteristics. With the continuation of economic globalization, China has sought to optimize its resource allocation by constantly opening up to the outside world. Under this backdrop, development brought about through opening up has become an inevitable historical trend. Faced with numerous global challenges, such as nuclear proliferation, international terrorism, environmental deterioration, energy shortages, and the spread of epidemics, the countries of the world must step up their cooperation and address these problems together. Thus, development brought about through cooperation has become a major future trend. With the constant deepening of economic globalization and the rapid pace of technological advancement, the countries of the world are becoming increasingly dependent on one another and increasingly sharing common interests. Thus, development that brings about mutual benefits has become the practical choice. We should pursue development through opening up, development through cooperation, and development that brings about mutual benefit. We must seek our own development by securing a peaceful international environment and uphold and promote world peace through our own development. We should expand common interests with all countries and work to build a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity.

8. Upholding the leadership of the CPC

The Communist Party of China is the leading core of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Without the leadership of the Party, all efforts to uphold and develop the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics will amount to nothing. Therefore, we should uphold the principle that the Party was founded for the public good and that it exercises state power for the people. We need to enhance and improve the Party’s leadership, place an emphasis on improving the way that the Party exercises leadership and governance, and enhance the Party’s capacity to govern scientifically, democratically, and in accordance with the law. By doing so, we will ensure that the Party continues to serve as a leading core exercising overall leadership and coordinating the efforts of all related parties. We should uphold the principle that the Party should supervise its own conduct and run its own affairs in accordance with a strict code of discipline. Meanwhile, we should make all-around efforts to strengthen the Party. To do this, we should vigorously promote intra-Party democracy and uphold the centralized leadership of the Party; thoroughly improve Party conduct, promote integrity, and combat corruption; maintain the Party’s advanced nature and purity; and strengthen its creativity, cohesiveness, and capability, so as to ensure that it continues to be the leading core of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. 

III. Claiming new victories for socialism with Chinese characteristics by adhering to the eight basic requirements 

The eight basic requirements have provided us with a route to follow as we strive to claim new victories for socialism with Chinese characteristics under new historical conditions. As we set out to do this, there are four points that we must bear in mind. 

1. We must adhere to the Party’s basic line

The global situation has become much more unpredictable since the end of the Cold War. The Soviet Union and socialist countries in Eastern Europe have collapsed; political unrest has been seen in many developing countries; and developed countries have descended into various forms of crisis. The situation in China, however, presents a stark contrast, with the country steadily furthering the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics and captivating the world with its remarkable achievements. In large part this is due to the fact that we have adhered to the Party’s basic line for the primary stage of socialism. Therefore, we must maintain our unswerving commitment to the basic line of “one central task, two basic points,” adhering to the central task—economic development—and to the two basic points—implementing the Four Cardinal Principles and the policy of reform and opening up—in our great endeavor to develop socialism with Chinese characteristics. Only then will we be able to fulfill the eight basic requirements and achieve substantial new victories for socialism with Chinese characteristics.

2. We should have every confidence in our path, in our theories, and in our system

The path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics represent the fundamental accomplishments of the Party and people throughout more than 90 years of arduous struggles. We must cherish these accomplishments, uphold them, and continue to enrich them. Over the last 30 years or so, socialism with Chinese characteristics has created a miracle of development the likes of which has rarely been seen before in the history of China or the rest of the world. It has brought about unparalleled vitality, development at unprecedented speeds, and rapidly rising living standards in China, allowing the Chinese nation to catch up with the pace of progress and welcome bright prospects for its own great rejuvenation. In addition, socialism with Chinese characteristics has contributed significantly to global economic development and the advance of human civilization. These achievements have fully demonstrated the enormous superiority of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Therefore, we must have every confidence in our path, in our theories, and in our system whilst we are implementing the eight basic requirements. 

3. The eight basic requirements should be an important guideline on which we base our thinking and decision making

Since the launch of the reform and opening up drive, the Party has gradually developed its basic theory, line, program, and experiences by adhering to the Marxist ideological line, taking stock of its practical experiences, and pooling the wisdom of the entire Party. The Party’s basic theory, line, program and experiences are the product of Party’s efforts to lead the Chinese people in building socialism with Chinese characteristics. They represent a powerful tool, and an important guideline on which we should base our analysis and decision making. The eight basic requirements essentially share the same practical origins and goals as the Party’s basic theory, line, program, and experiences. Their introduction fully demonstrates that the Party’s awareness of theory and its sense of initiative in the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics have reached new highs. These requirements should be taken as an important guideline on which we base our thinking and our decision making in practice. 

4. We should enrich and develop the eight basic requirements through new efforts

There is no end to practice, to seeking truth, or to making theoretical innovations. The eight basic requirements do not constitute a final understanding of truth. We must continue to free our minds, and draw new lessons from the experiences of the Party as it leads the people in deepening reform and opening up and promoting scientific development, so as to endow these requirements with new meanings as the times progress. We should continue to enrich and develop these basic requirements, give full play to the role of theory as a guide to practice, and ensure sound interaction between theoretical innovation and practical innovation. By doing so, we will constantly break new ground in the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics. 


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.24, 2012)

Author: Executive Vice-President of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee   

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