Eight Basic Requirements for Developing Socialism with Chinese Characteristics

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2013-08-20 15:52
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The report to the Eighteenth National Congress of the CPC set forth eight basic requirements that we must meet in order to score new victories for socialism with Chinese characteristics under new historical conditions. These requirements are: maintaining the position of the people as the primary actors in national affairs, continuing to release and develop productive forces, persevering in reform and opening up, safeguarding social fairness and justice, striving for common prosperity, promoting social harmony, pursuing peaceful development, and upholding the leadership of the Party. The introduction of these requirements is certain to come as a major boost to our efforts to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, to sustain the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation in the not too distant future.

I. An embodiment of new experiences 

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, and in more than 30 years of reform and opening up. In particular, they are based on the decade of new experience in socialist modernization that the Party has gained since the convening of the Sixteenth National Congress of the CPC. These requirements provide an accurate outline of the most important theoretical and practical issues concerning the upholding and development of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The eight basic requirements constitute a scientific summary of the guiding principles that the Party must adhere to moving forwards. The report to the Eighteenth National Congress of the CPC clearly stated that the Party must hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics and follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. By highlighting the fundamental foundation, task, driving force, and feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the fundamental approach to socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the fundamental guarantee for the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the eight basic requirements provide us with a more accurate summary of the guiding principles that must be upheld and the basic requirements that must be met going forwards. They clearly define where the focus of our efforts should be placed, and plot out the direction of our initiatives in the future. The eight basic requirements clearly illustrate what in essence socialism is, and how we should go about developing socialism. Therefore, these requirements can be deemed as a strategic approach to and a scientific plan for the realization of socialist modernization and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, as well as an important guiding principle for all initiatives of the CPC. 

The eight requirements have clarified the fundamental issues concerning the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics in line with the profound changes that have been taking place globally, nationally, and within our Party. These issues, which involve productive forces and relations of production, the economic base and the superstructure, various aspects of social and economic development, the great undertaking of Party building, and the overall balancing of domestic and international concerns, constitute an overall framework for socialism with Chinese characteristics. Therefore, in covering these issues, the eight basic requirements have allowed the Party to gain a clearer understanding, a firmer grip, and a higher level of confidence with regard to upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. 

The eight basic requirements have expanded the strategic thinking of the CPC. The basic theory, line, program, and experiences of the Party represent theoretical achievements made through the course of efforts to build socialism with Chinese characteristics. Formed under the guidance of these basic theoretical achievements, the eight requirements, which cover economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress as well as Party building, demonstrate the major new advances in theoretical awareness that the Party has gained through the implementation of socialism with Chinese characteristics. These requirements represent an expansion of the Party’s basic theory, line, program, and experiences; they not only share the same ideals, convictions, and political views, but have also incorporated new ideas and new recognitions that reflect contemporary trends and the expectations of the people. Together with the basic theory, line, program, and experiences of the Party, they are the fundamental principles that we must adhere to in our great endeavor to develop socialism with Chinese characteristics. They embody the core aspects of the Party’s major strategies, theoretical lines, and action plans, which have an overall, long-term, and decisive bearing on China’s development. For this reason, the eight basic requirements have become a common belief and a basic principle held to by the whole Party and the people of all ethnic groups in China. 

Picture: In the Promising Fields—Old Song, New Passion

Significant improvements in public wellbeing offer ample proof that governing for the people is not only a political proposal of the CPC, but also its political character. Starting from a new historical point, new efforts throughout the whole of society to protect the rights of the people, to develop the interests of the people, and to put the people first are sure to make life even more dignified and resplendent for the people of China. / Xinhua (Drawing by Jiang Yuexin)

II. An answer to what upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics entails

Based on an enhanced understanding of the current features of China’s development, and by drawing from new theories and new experiences, the eight basic requirements provide rationally conceived answers to a series of fundamental questions with regard to upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. 

First, the fundamental foundation for developing socialism with Chinese characteristics is the people. Socialism with Chinese characteristics is a cause for over one billion Chinese people. We must guarantee that the role of the people as masters of the country is exerted, and fully leverage the enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity of the people. The requirement that “we must maintain the position of the people as the principal actors in national affairs” provides clear answers to two fundamental questions: Who socialism with Chinese characteristics is for; and who it is dependent on. Emphasizing the fundamental foundation that must be relied upon in the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, this requirement embodies the basic outlook of the CPC on history, the fundamental standpoint of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the overriding principle for claiming new victories for socialism with Chinese characteristics under new historical conditions.

Second, the fundamental task of socialism with Chinese characteristics is to release and develop productive forces. China is still in the primary stage of socialism, and will continue to be so for a considerable period of time to come. At this point, the biggest problem that Chinese society currently faces is still the fact that the ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people cannot be met by our backward social production. Therefore, development still holds the key to addressing all the problems we have in China. The requirement that “we must continue to release and develop productive forces” tells us where the fundamental task of socialism with Chinese characteristics lies. Emphasizing economic development as the central task, scientific development as the underlying guideline, and transforming the growth model as a major task, this requirement calls for efforts to advance economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress in an all-round way and to achieve a scientific form of development which is comprehensive, balanced, sustainable, and people-based.

Third, the essential approaches to developing socialism with Chinese characteristics are reform and opening up. Reform and opening up are crucial to adhering to and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. They represent a crucial decision that will shape the destiny of contemporary China. The requirement that “we must persevere in reform and opening up” addresses the path that we must take and commit to in order to develop socialism with Chinese characteristics. It emphasizes the resolve and political courage of the CPC to solve new problems, overcome new risks, unleash new vigor, and achieve new progress as it faces up to the challenges of social transformation, switching between systems, and transforming the growth model.  

Fourth, the inherent requirements of socialism with Chinese characteristics are fairness and justice. Fairness and justice are not only ongoing themes in humanity’s efforts to build a better society, but are also important principles of socialism. The requirement that “we must safeguard social fairness and justice” clarifies the inherent requirements of socialism with Chinese characteristics as well as the values that it strives towards. It emphasizes the need to uphold social justice and fairness during the course of socialist modernization, so that the cohesiveness, affinity, and appeal of socialism with Chinese characteristics may be strengthened. 

Fifth, the fundamental principle of socialism with Chinese characteristics is common prosperity. Prosperity for all is the unremitting goal of the CPC, and is also the fundamental difference between socialism and capitalism. The requirement that “we must strive for common prosperity” points out the fundamental principle, the direction, and the goal of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It indicates that all Chinese people will be better able to participate, compete, develop, and benefit as equals during the course of economic and social development, thereby moving steadily towards common prosperity.

Sixth, the inherent feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics is social harmony. Social harmony is both the common desire of the people and an important guarantee for the progression of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The requirement that “we must promote social harmony” reveals the essential nature of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It emphasizes that the Party must rally all forces that can be rallied, maximize factors conducive to harmony, and increase the creative vitality of society in a bid to ensure that people live and work in contentment, that society is stable and orderly, and that the country enjoys enduring peace and stability. 

Seventh, the only viable choice of socialism with Chinese characteristics is peaceful development. Peaceful development is a common goal pursued by all humankind. The requirement that “we must pursue peaceful development” defines the only viable choice of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It emphasizes that we must continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, take into account both domestic and international situations, and pursue open, cooperative, and mutually-beneficial development during our great endeavors to build socialism with Chinese characteristics. By doing so, we will promote the building of a harmonious world characterized by enduring peace and common prosperity. 

Eighth, the fundamental guarantee for developing socialism with Chinese characteristics is the leadership of the CPC. The leadership of the CPC is vital to resolution of the problems that China faces. The requirement that “we must uphold the leadership of the Party” makes clear the fundamental guarantee for upholding and building socialism with Chinese characteristics. According to this requirement, while working to build socialism with Chinese characteristics, we must strengthen and improve the Party’s leadership, enhance its capacity to govern scientifically, democratically, and in accordance with the law, and uphold the principle that the Party should supervise its own conduct, run itself in line with a strict code of discipline, and strive to better itself. By taking these steps, we will ensure that the Party continues to serve as the firm leadership core guiding the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. 

The eight basic requirements set forth at the National Congress of the Party have provided positive responses to issues concerning China’s economic and social development at present, to challenges pertaining to China’s reform drive and the transformation of its economic growth model, and to hotspot issues of common concern among both officials and the public. At a decisive stage of our efforts to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, these requirements will provide us with a correct guide to promoting China’s reform, development, and stability, to handling domestic affairs, foreign affairs, and national defense, and to governing the Party, the state, and the armed forces.

III. A significant exploration into the laws of governance by a communist party, the laws of building socialism, and laws that govern the development of human society 

With a view to upholding and developing the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the eight basic requirements constitute a major theoretical innovation and advancement that the CPC has made through its efforts to further explore the laws of governance by a communist party, the laws of building socialism, and the laws governing the development of human society. 

The eight basic requirements emphasize mastery over contemporary themes while exploring the laws of governance by a communist party. Mastering the laws of governance by a communist party is a long-term task of the Party, one that will have a bearing on the Party’s capacity to govern scientifically, democratically, and in accordance with the law. The eight basic requirements are innovative in that they apply the basic tenets of Marxism to the development of a governing party in practice. The requirements demonstrate that the Party has accurately judged the “four major tests” that it faces under new conditions: exercising governance, carrying out reform and opening up, developing the market economy, and responding to the external environment. They also indicate that the CPC is facing up directly to the “four main dangers” that it faces under new historical conditions, namely, losing drive, incompetence, becoming out of touch with the people, corruption, and other forms of misconduct. The eight basic requirements bring the governance of the Party, the position of the people as masters of the country, and the rule of law together as one in the great cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. They tie together the concepts, tenets, methods, principles, and tasks of the CPC’s governance, as well as its capacity for governance and the guarantees for its governance, during the course of the Party’s actual governance initiatives, and bring together economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress in the effort to claim new victories for socialism with Chinese characteristics. These requirements embody the new ideas, viewpoints, and theories that the CPC has developed on the basis of having thoroughly summarized historical experiences and innovatively probed into the laws pertaining to governance by a communist party. 

The eight basic requirements give emphasis to Chinese characteristics whilst exploring the laws governing the building of socialism. Efforts to constantly deepen our understanding of the laws that govern the building of socialism are of major practical significance for upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. Based on an overall understanding of the historical position of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the realization that China is still in the primary stage of socialism, the eight basic requirements reveal our developmental goal, path, stage, and strategy, our fundamental tasks, our driving force for development, and other issues of major importance in line with the overall plan for promoting economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress. The eight basic requirements constitute a highly condensed summary of the fundamental principles and values of the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. They are a continuation of the awareness that the Party has gained with regard to the laws governing the development of socialism over more than 60 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and particularly during more than 30 years of reform and opening up. Moreover, they also represent a major result that the CPC has achieved through its efforts to explore the laws of socialism under new historical conditions. 

The eight basic requirements explore the laws governing the development of human society from the perspective of historical materialism. Historical materialism is a methodical approach to studying the universal laws that govern the development of human society. By linking the lofty ideals of Communists to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the eight basic requirements convey the new thoughts and reflections of the CPC regarding the future direction and path for the development of human society. They emphasize a series of new ideas, such as exerting the role of the people as masters of the country, releasing and developing productive forces as the fundamental task, committing to reform, opening up, and harmonious development, safeguarding and improving the living standards of the people, and maximizing factors contributing to harmony. These ideas embody the basic views of historical materialism, namely, that the masses are the creators of history, and that contradictions between productive forces and relations of production and between the superstructure and the economic base are the fundamental contradictions promoting social development. In this sense, the requirements add contemporary themes, new practical experience, and new thoughts to the laws governing the development of human society.

IV. An exemplification of freeing the mind, seeking truth from facts, keeping up with the times, and being realistic and pragmatic 

Every single statement that makes up the eight basic requirements is an embodiment of the Party’s theoretical line of freeing the mind, seeking truth from facts, keeping up with the times, and being realistic and pragmatic.

The eight basic requirements embody the idea of freeing the mind. Taking into consideration both the past and the future, the eight basic requirements have set forth a series of new ideas, new affirmations, and new concepts whilst highlighting the theme of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. In doing so, they have provided scientific responses to major theoretical and practical issues that have attracted the attention of the world and that are of concern to the people. Realizing the integration of practice and theory, upholding and development, as well as tradition and innovation, these requirements represent another major theoretical achievement of the CPC in its efforts to free the mind.  

The eight basic requirements embody the idea of seeking truth from facts. Based on the experience gained from a profound understanding of history and an awareness of the paramount reality that China remains in the primary stage of socialism, the requirements bravely face up to a series of realities such as safeguarding the people’s rights and interests, deepening reform and opening up, maintaining social fairness and justice, promoting social harmony, and pursuing world peace. In doing so, the requirements come as a positive response to outstanding issues that China has encountered in development, to challenges that the country faces in reform, and to hotspot issues of common concern among both officials and the public. They reflect the mission, goal, and historic commitment of the CPC, fully exemplifying its theoretical line of seeking truth from facts. 

The eight basic requirements embody the idea of keeping up with the times. Coming in the footsteps of the Party’s basic theory, line, program, and experience, the eight basic requirements demonstrate the new ideas, new understanding, new theories, and new principles of the CPC concerning the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics. They indicate that the Party’s understanding of socialism with Chinese characteristics has reached a new stage, a new level, and a new high. The eight basic requirements represent a breakthrough in the Party’s thinking on freeing the mind, a scientific assertion of seeking truth from facts, and a substantial outcome of efforts to keep up with the times. They highlight the character demonstrated by the CPC in striving to keep up with the times in theory and practice, and have enriched socialism with Chinese characteristics in both practice and theory, endowing it with stronger national and contemporary features.

The eight basic requirements embody the idea of being realistic and pragmatic. The requirements show the determination of the CPC to face up to objective reality and respond to the concerns of the people. Staying true to the reality that China is still in the primary stage of socialism, the eight basic requirements pragmatically adhere to the principle of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. In doing so, they have highlighted the importance of correctly understanding China’s national conditions and taking that as a basis for the formulation of lines, principles, and policies. The formation of the eight basic requirements demonstrates the CPC’s attitude towards understanding, mastering, observing, and utilizing objective laws as well as its determination to overcome blindness, master laws, adopt scientific methods, and increase initiative as it follows the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Representing the CPC’s commitment to being realistic and pragmatic, these requirements fully embody the spirit of dialectical materialism and historical materialism. 

V. A declaration that the CPC will embrace the future on the basis of past experiences

The eight basic requirements represent a program of action on the basis of which the Party shall lead the people of China in claiming new victories for socialism with Chinese characteristics under new historical conditions. They demonstrate the determination of the CPC to bridge the past with the future, and to rally and lead the people of China in continuing to march on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. 

We must unswervingly adhere to socialism with Chinese characteristics. Socialism with Chinese characteristics represents the ideals and explorations of several generations of Chinese Communists. It embodies the will and hopes of countless patriots, and is the result of the struggles and sacrifices of millions of revolutionary martyrs. Forged from the common ideals and efforts of people from all ethnic groups in China, socialism with Chinese characteristics is an inevitable choice that has been determined by the course of China’s social development since modern times. It is therefore the correct choice of both the people and history. The eight basic requirements embody the underlying theme of holding high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics and firmly marching on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. In doing so, they fully demonstrate the Party’s confidence in its path, in its theories, and in its system. These requirements indicate that China has rejected both the rigid, closed-door policy of the past as well as any attempt to take the erroneous path of abandoning socialism, in spite of the numerous challenges that await us on the path ahead. They show that the CPC will continue to lead the people of China boldly down the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.  

We will never stop upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. The great endeavor to develop socialism with Chinese characteristics has brought about 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 also allowed the people of China and the Chinese nation to contribute significantly to global peace and development. The eight basic requirements are not only a solemn declaration of the CPC to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, but also provide a policy foundation for its efforts to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics. They indicate that the CPC will cherish, uphold, and continue to develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, advance in an all-round way economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress as well as Party building, and continue to claim new victories for socialism with Chinese characteristics. 

We must make unremitting efforts to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Aiming to capitalize on an important period of strategic opportunity, the CPC has set forth the grand goal of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. This goal serves as a new theme for our practical efforts to take the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics into new territory. The eight basic requirements serve as a political program and an action guide for our endeavors to claim new victories for socialism with Chinese characteristics and to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. They indicate that the CPC, under the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the General Secretary, will seize unprecedented opportunities for development, strive to meet unprecedented challenges, and commit itself to freeing the mind, reform and opening up, pooling strength, and overcoming difficulties. On this basis, the CPC will forge ahead with tenacity, dedication, and perseverance, striving towards the goals of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the time the Communist Party of China celebrates its centenary; turning China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious by the time the People’s Republic of China marks its centennial; and achieving the “Chinese Dream” of national rejuvenation.


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.7, 2013)

Author: Director of the Consulting Committee for the Project of the CPC Central Committee for the Study and Development of Marxist Theories 

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