Xi Thought Q&A Series: The Full Collection

On July 19, the People’s Daily began a special Q&A-based column, which has since been published on every weekday on Page 5.

There have been 25 pieces so far, each addressing two specific questions. I’ve been covering it in this tracker regularly, but thought that it might be useful to have all of these pieces in one post for anyone who is interested in the collection.

So below I’ve listed out my coverage of each of these pieces as I did on the day. I haven’t edited or added anything. Also, in case there are more pieces, I’ll add them to this post.

Hope this is useful.

I. Xi Thought is Guiding Ideology

The beginning today of a new series of articles on Xi Jinping Thought. This is in Q&A format. It talks about the thoughts and theories of earlier leaders and tells us that Xi Thought has today allowed the “Party’s guiding ideology (Marxism) to keep pace with the times.” It says that Xi thought is “the fundamental guideline of national political and social life” in China.” There’s a lot of effort to tell us that Xi thought is Marxist and is actually keeping Marxism relevant today. Rather helpfully, at the end of each of these long-winded answers, we have a summary of the key points:

“Xi Jinping's thought of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era is the inheritance and development of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of "Three Represents" and the scientific concept of development. It is the latest achievement of Marxism in China, the crystallization of the practical experience and collective wisdom of the party and the people, an important part of the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and an action guide for the whole party and the whole people to strive for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. It must be adhered to and continuously developed for a long time.” 习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想是对马克思列宁主义、毛泽东思想、邓小平理论、“三个代表”重要思想、科学发展观的继承和发展,是马克思主义中国化最新成果,是党和人民实践经验和集体智慧的结晶,是中国特色社会主义理论体系的重要组成部分,是全党全国人民为实现中华民族伟大复兴而奋斗的行动指南,必须长期坚持并不断发展.

The next question is about how Xi thought was developed. The answer is that Xi Thought aims to answer the questions of the times. So basically, amid these unprecedented changes that are taking place in the world, everyone’s been wondering what should be done.

“The Party Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, has gained profound insight into the laws of the evolving international landscape, accurately grasped the pulsating world trends, and actively promoted the building of a community of human destiny, providing a new direction and new options for solving a series of major issues such as the world economy, international security and global governance.” 以习近平同志为核心的党中央深刻洞悉国际格局演变的规律,准确把握世界潮流浩荡的脉动,积极推动构建人类命运共同体,为解决世界经济、国际安全、全球治理等一系列重大问题提供了新的方向、新的选择. 

And there’s already been so much success!

“With great political courage and strong responsibility, the Party Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, has faced up to major challenges, major risks, major resistance and major contradictions, promoted the overall layout of "five in one" and coordinated the strategic layout of "four comprehensives", climbed over the hurdles in reform and innovation, and marched forward in tackling difficulties, promoting the Party and the State to make historic achievements and historical changes.” 以习近平同志为核心的党中央,以巨大的政治勇气和强烈的责任担当,直面重大挑战、重大风险、重大阻力、重大矛盾,统筹推进“五位一体”总体布局,协调推进“四个全面”战略布局,在改革创新中爬坡过坎,在攻坚克难中奋勇前行,推动党和国家事业取得历史性成就、发生历史性变革. 

Anyway, here’s how this ends:

General Secretary Xi Jinping is the main founder of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. With the extraordinary theoretical courage, outstanding political wisdom and strong missionary commitment of a Marxist statesman, thinker and strategist, Xi Jinping put forward a series of groundbreaking new concepts, ideas and strategies with the sentiment of ‘I will be selfless and determined to devote myself to serving the Chinese people’, which played a decisive role and contributed to the creation of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. The founding and development of this ideology has been a decisive role and contribution. The creation and development of this ideology condenses the practical experience and collective wisdom of the Party and the people, and manifests the essence of the Chinese spirit of the times. As the guiding ideology that the Party and the state must adhere to in the long run, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era holds a high spiritual banner for upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, and provides Chinese wisdom for world peace and human progress, which will surely shine more brilliantly in the history of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the history of the development of Marxism and the history of human social progress.”   习近平总书记是习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想的主要创立者。习近平总书记以马克思主义政治家、思想家、战略家的非凡理论勇气、卓越政治智慧、强烈使命担当,以“我将无我,不负人民”的赤子情怀,提出一系列具有开创性意义的新理念新思想新战略,为习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想的创立发挥了决定性作用、作出了决定性贡献。这一思想的创立和发展,凝结了党和人民实践经验和集体智慧,彰显了中国精神的时代精华。作为党和国家必须长期坚持的指导思想,习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想为新时代坚持和发展中国特色社会主义高高举起了精神旗帜,为世界和平和人类进步提供了中国智慧,必将在中华民族复兴史上、马克思主义发展史上和人类社会进步史上绽放出更为灿烂的真理光芒.

II. Xi Thought a 'Strategic System to Guide China'

The second instalment in the series on Xi Thought. It tells us that:

“Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, using Marxist positions and perspectives, focuses on new propositions of the times, condenses new ideological essence, summarizes groundbreaking and original, practical experience, enriches and develops Marxism with new ideological content, and forms a scientific theoretical system that is systematic and comprehensive, logically rigorous, rich in connotation and internal unity.” 习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想,运用马克思主义立场观点方法,聚焦新的时代命题,凝结新的思想精华,总结开创性独创性的实践经验,以崭新的思想内容丰富和发展了马克思主义,形成了一个系统全面、逻辑严密、内涵丰富、内在统一的科学理论体系.

It says that Xi Thought is an “expression of the Party's ideological maturity and theoretical self-confidence.” We then get some key characteristics of Xi Thought, beginning with the 

八个明确 - Bā gè míngquè - I guess this will be the 8 Clears/Unequivocals

  • Clearly adhere to and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics

  • Make it clear that the main contradiction of our society in the new era is the contradiction between the people's growing needs for a better life and the unbalanced and inadequate development.

  • Make it clear that the overall layout of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the ‘five in one’ and the strategic layout is the ‘four comprehensives’, emphasizing self-confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture.

  • It is clear that the overall goal of comprehensively deepening reform is to improve and develop the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, and to promote the modernization of the national governance system and governance capabilities.

  • It is clear that the overall goal of advancing the rule of law in an all-round way is to build a socialist rule of law system with Chinese characteristics and a socialist country ruled by law.

  • Make it clear that the Party’s goal of strengthening the army in the new era is to build a people’s army that obeys the Party’s command, can win battles and has an excellent work style, and to build the people’s army into a world class army.

  • It is clear that major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics should promote the construction of a new type of international relations and promote the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind.

  • It is clear that the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the leadership of the Communist Party of China.

It then talks about the 14-point basic policy under Xi:

  • Uphold the party's leadership over all work.

  • Adhere to people-centered development

  • Persist in comprehensively deepening reforms.

  • Adhere to the new development concept

  • Persist in the people being the masters of the country

  • Adhere to the comprehensive rule of law

  • Adhere to the system of core socialist values

  • Persist in safeguarding and improving people’s livelihood

  • Persist in the harmonious coexistence of man and nature

  • Adhere to the overall national security concept

  • Uphold the party's absolute leadership over the people’s army.

  • Adhere to ‘one country, two systems’ and promote the reunification of the motherland.

  • Persist in promoting the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind.

  • Persist in administering the party strictly in an all-round way.

The next question in this is about how Xi Thought is “a powerful weapon that has been tested by practice and has great practical power.” The answer is that Xi Thought “is not only a systematic theoretical system, but also a strategic system to guide China, the world's largest developing country and the largest socialist country, to stride forward. In the process of guiding us to understand and transform the world, it has displayed tremendous power to explain reality and offer practical leadership, and has become the ideological flag and spiritual soul of the whole party and the people of all nationalities.” 习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想不仅是一个系统的理论体系,而且是一个指导中国这个世界上最大的发展中国家、最大的社会主义国家阔步前进的战略体系,在指引我们认识世界、改造世界的过程中,展现出巨大的现实解释力和实践引领力,成为全党全国各族人民的思想之旗、精神之魂.

Some of the major challenges that the commentary highlights, while telling us that Xi Thought has led to positive outcomes in these. This is a glowing review of Chinese foreign and security policies. Why would one change track or course-correct if this is the perception?

“The CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core have scientifically grasped the profound and complex changes in the international and domestic situation, adhered to the bottom-line thinking, enhanced the sense of urgency, and made overall plans for development and security. They have put the prevention and resolution of major risks in a more prominent position and have effectively resolved the risks and challenges in the economic, scientific and technological, social, network and diplomatic fields. They have dared to struggle and excel in the context of a series of major issues such as the Sino-US economic and trade frictions, the sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyu Islands, the Sino-Indian border conflict, the maintenance of sovereignty and rights and interests in the South China Sea, as well as those involving Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and human rights, vigorously defended China's sovereignty, security and development interests, and won the strategic initiative.” 以习近平同志为核心的党中央科学把握国际国内形势发生的深刻复杂变化,坚持底线思维,增强忧患意识,统筹发展和安全两件大事,把防范化解重大风险摆在更加突出位置,有效化解了经济、科技、社会、网络、外交等领域的风险挑战,在中美经贸摩擦、钓鱼岛主权争议、中印边境冲突、南海主权和权益维护以及涉港、涉台、涉疆、涉藏、人权等一系列重大问题上敢于斗争、善于斗争,有力维护了我国主权、安全、发展利益,赢得了战略主动.

There’s an  acknowledgement of the challenges brought by COVID-19, floods, with the proposition being that the Party has emerged better and stronger after a year of “arduous struggle.” And all of this, of course, was possible because of “the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, and the scientific guidance of Xi Jinping’s thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.” So going forward, more focus on following and implementing Xi Thought.

III. Xi's 'Visionary' Thought

we have the third piece in our Xi Thought series. This one tells us that Xi Thought has evolved taking into account long-term and historical thinking. It “demonstrates historical consciousness, has a deep insight into and grasps the historical mission of our party, country, and nation...”

We learn that:

“General Secretary Xi Jinping has paid attention to grasping the laws of history and development trends from the prisms of history, reality and the future, thinking about the future destiny of the Chinese nation in the context of the 5000-year history of Chinese civilization, understanding the direction of the socialist movement in the context of the 500-year history of socialist development in the world, understanding the correct path for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation in the context of the history of China’s struggle for more than 180 years since modern times, and grasping the historical orientation and historical mission of the Party in the context of the 100 years of revolution, development and reform, demonstrating a political vision and historical thinking of ‘thinking a thousand years and seeing a thousand miles’.” 习近平总书记注重从历史、现实、未来的贯通中把握历史规律和发展趋势,联系5000多年中华文明史来思考中华民族的前途命运,联系500多年世界社会主义发展史来认识社会主义运动的前进方向,联系中国近代以来180多年奋斗史来理解中华民族伟大复兴的正确道路,联系100年革命、建设、改革的历程来把握党的历史方位和历史使命,展现了“思接千载、视通万里”的政治眼界和历史思维.

This, the piece tells us, is unlike Western leaders who think from a limited time-frame perspective, say one, two or five years; Chinese leaders, on the other hand, tend to think from a perspective of 50 years, 100 years, or even 200 years. The piece also says that “seeking truth from facts is the basic ideological method and working method of Xi Jinping’s socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.” 

We are also told that Xi Thought is problem-oriented, and it lists a bunch of issues in this context. Of course, this adherence to problem orientation “embodies the superb leadership and governance skills of General Secretary Xi Jinping in understanding, analyzing, and solving problems, and embodies the bright background of Xi Jinping’s dialectical thought of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.” 坚持问题导向,集中体现了习近平总书记在认识问题、分析问题、解决问题中推进事业发展的高超领导艺术和执政本领,集中体现了习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想唯物辩证的鲜亮底色.

There’s an emphasis on how Xi Thought is about grasping the strategic and commanding heights by looking at the overall situation, and calls for improving strategic thinking, historical thinking, dialectical thinking, innovative thinking, rule of law thinking and bottom line thinking. It tells us that Xi Thought “carries forward the spirit of struggle, guides the promotion of a great social revolution and a great self-revolution, and adheres to the dialectical unity of the identity and struggle aspects of contradictions.” 这一思想发扬斗争精神,指导推动伟大社会革命和伟大自我革命,坚持矛盾同一性和斗争性的辩证统一.

The next question is answered like this:

“In-depth study and implementation of Xi Jinping's socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era is the primary political task of the whole party at present and in the future, and efforts must be made to learn and understand.” The task entails understanding Xi Thought, enriching its study with historical and Marxist thinking and then integrating Xi Thought in terms of day-to-day actions.

Interestingly, the emphasis on the success of this is in terms of how well this is done by “the ‘key minority’ of leading cadres.” It says that:

“Leading cadres at all levels should improve their political standing, establish a historical perspective, strengthen their theoretical thinking, and enhance their concept of the overall situation. They should learn first and further with conviction, emotion and mission, strengthen their ideals and beliefs, transform their subjectivism, and solve practical problems in their study, so as to be righteous in mind, manner, spirit and body.” 各级领导干部要提高政治站位、树立历史眼光、强化理论思维、增强大局观念,带着信念学、带着感情学、带着使命学,先学一步、学深一层,在学习中坚定理想信念、改造主观世界、解决实际问题,做到心正、道正、神正、身正. 

In doing this, it is important to give full play to the leading role of the theoretical study center of party committees at all levels and the Central Party School, and strive to create a ‘demonstration group’ and ‘model class’ for learning Xi Jinping's Thought.

IV. Why is this a ‘New Era’?

The fourth in the series on Xi Thought today. The first question is what is the newness that makes this the “new era”? The first point of the answer to this is about the change in the principal contradiction. 

“China’s development has reached a new historical starting point. The main social contradiction has changed from the contradiction between people's growing material and cultural needs and backward social production to the contradiction between people's growing needs for a better life and unbalanced development.” 在新中国成立特别是改革开放以来取得重大成就的基础上,我国发展站到了新的历史起点上,社会主要矛盾已由人民日益增长的物质文化需要同落后的社会生产之间的矛盾,转化为人民日益增长的美好生活需要和不平衡不充分的发展之间的矛盾.

The next new aspect is Xi’s perspective “on combining the basic principles of Marxism with China’s specific reality and with China’s excellent traditional culture.” This is a new theoretical innovation, the piece tells us. The last aspect is that based on all this, there are new goals. The 2035 goals, mentioned during the 19th Party Congress, of building “​​a prosperous, democratic, civilized, harmonious and beautiful modern socialist country”  highlighted here. 

Some of the other key points mentioned:

  • “The new era is the era of strugglers.”

  • “The new era will create a new situation in the relationship between China and the world.” It tells us that China “is getting closer to the center of the world stage. The relationship between China and the world has undergone profound changes. Contemporary China is no longer a passive recipient of the international order, but an active participant, builder, and leader.” 中国与世界的关系发生深刻变化,当代中国已不再是国际秩序的被动接受者,而是积极的参与者、建设者、引领者.

  • Other new aspects that are mentioned are Xi’s core position, the Party’s enhanced ability to govern, and emphasis strict internal party governance. It talks about punishing “corruption” and “evil” with thunderous force. And says that all of this has led to “historic and groundbreaking achievements,” which have given the Party a new look.

  • “We have achieved a great leap from ‘catching up with the times’ to ‘leading the times.” 

It adds:

“The continuous development of socialist road, theory, system and culture with Chinese characteristics has expanded the pathways for developing countries to move towards modernization, provided a brand-new choice for countries and nations in the world who want to accelerate development and maintain their independence, and contributed Chinese wisdom and Chinese solutions to solving humanity’s problems.” 这意味着,中国特色社会主义道路、理论、制度、文化不断发展,拓展了发展中国家走向现代化的途径,给世界上那些既希望加快发展又希望保持自身独立性的国家和民族提供了全新选择,为解决人类问题贡献了中国智慧和中国方案.

The next question is about global changes that are taking place. Here’s the diagnosis of what’s taking place:

“the current international pattern and system are undergoing profound adjustments, the global governance system is undergoing profound changes, the international power balance is undergoing the most revolutionary changes in modern times…”

The piece talks about the shifting dynamics of economic power, with developed countries exhibiting weakness while emerging economies increasingly contributing more to global economic growth. At one point, it says that:

“The revolutionary changes in international balance of power are unprecedented. There are many internal contradictions in developed countries, and their strength is relatively declining. A large number of developing countries have risen in groups and become an important force affecting the international political and economic structure.” 国际力量对比发生的革命性变化前所未有,发达国家内部矛盾重重、实力相对下降,一大批发展中国家群体性崛起,成为影响国际政治经济格局的重要力量.

It talks about the “fierce competition brought by the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation” which “are unprecedented” and are “not only effectively reshaping the global innovation map” but also will have a “far-reaching influence on the international pattern and system.”

The piece talks about China moving ahead in terms of national rejuvenation and refers to Brexit, the yellow vest protests in France and riots in the US. Interestingly, it notes that the financial crisis was the root of these events coming to the fore. It says that consequently, the gap between the rich and the poor in western countries continues to widen, resulting in political polarization, populism, ethnic conflicts and other issues. 英国“脱欧”、法国“黄马甲”运动、美国大规模骚乱等“西方之乱”不断上演,其背后是国际金融危机深层次影响持续发酵,西方国家贫富差距不断扩大,催生政治极化、民粹主义、种族冲突等问题. 

Here’s more:

“In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has become a new variable and catalyst for the unprecedented changes taking place around the world. This once-in-a-century pandemic not only adds to the sluggishness of the already weak recovery of the world economy, but more importantly, it highlights the serious shortcomings of the international system under the leadership of Western capitalism, declares the complete bankruptcy of neoliberalism, accelerates the fluctuation of international forces, makes the trend of ‘East rising, West falling’ more obvious, and pushes the deepening of the great changes that are taking place.” 特别要看到,2020年新冠肺炎疫情全球大流行,成为世界百年未有之大变局的新变量、催化剂. 这次百年一遇的大疫情,不仅让复苏乏力的世界经济雪上加霜,更重要的是它凸显出西方资本主义主导下国际体系的严重弊端,宣告了新自由主义的彻底破产,加快了国际力量此消彼长,使国际格局“东升西降”的趋势更加显著,推动大变局不断向纵深发展.

And here’s more:

“Fundamentally speaking, the century of great changes we are experiencing is the inevitable result of the contradictory movement of productive forces and relations of production worldwide, reflecting the general trend of the development of human civilization. This big change is the transformation from a unipolar world with a de facto ‘monopoly’ to a multipolar world with synergy and co-governance. Unilateralism has become increasingly unpopular, multipolarity has become an unstoppable trend of the times, and China has become an important force in the process of multipolarity in the world. This big change is the transformation of the development path of modernization from unity to pluralism. In the eyes of the world, especially in the eyes of Westerners, modernization means Westernization, but the socialist modernization path pioneered by China shows a new possibility to realize modernization. The big change is the transformation from a world in which socialism suffered from serious twists and turns to scientific socialism coming to life in the 21st century. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dramatic changes in Eastern Europe, the Western world was eager to claim that history had ended with the capitalist system, but instead, the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics has declared the end of the ‘end of history’.” 纵横不出方圆,万变不离其宗。从根本上说,从根本上说,我们正在经历的百年巨变,是世界范围内生产力和生产关系矛盾运动的必然结果,反映了人类文明发展的大趋势. 我们正在经历的百年未有之大变局,是世界范围内生产力和生产关系矛盾运动的必然结果,反映了人类文明发展的大潮流大趋向。这个大变局,是从事实上“一家独大”的单极世界向协同共治的多极世界的转变。单边主义越来越不得人心,多极化成为不可阻挡的时代潮流,中国成为世界多极化进程中的一支重要力量。这个大变局,是现代化发展路径从一元走向多元的转变。在世人眼中特别是在西方人眼中,现代化就是西方化,而中国开创的社会主义现代化道路,展现了实现现代化的全新可能。这个大变局,是从世界社会主义遭受严重曲折向科学社会主义在21世纪焕发勃勃生机的转变。苏联解体、东欧剧变后,西方人迫不及待宣称历史已经终结于资本主义制度,结果却是,中国特色社会主义的巨大成功宣告了“历史终结论”的终结.

V. Understanding the Principal Contradiction

We have the fifth piece in the series on Xi Thought today. The first question is about the basis on which one can say that China’s principal contradiction has changed. The response to this is that over time with the growth in the economy, the concern has shifted from “backward social production.” Now the issue is the people’s “yearning for a better life.” This entails “higher requirements for material and cultural life, but also increasing desire for democracy, rule of law, fairness, justice, security, and a better environment.”

It adds:

“Development is a dynamic process. Insufficiency and imbalance will always exist, but when it reaches a certain stage, when inadequacy and imbalance become the main aspect of the main social contradiction, it is necessary to work to understand it, solve it, otherwise it will limit the overall development. The changes in the main contradictions of our society have not changed our judgment of the historical stage of our socialism. Our country is still and will be in the primary stage of socialism for a long time. Our basic national conditions have not changed, and our international status as the world’s largest developing country has not changed.” 发展是动态过程,不平衡不充分是永远存在的,但当发展到了一定阶段,不平衡不充分成为社会主要矛盾的主要方面时,就必须下功夫去认识它、解决它,否则就会制约发展全局. 我国社会主要矛盾的变化,没有改变我们对我国社会主义所处历史阶段的判断,我国仍处于并将长期处于社会主义初级阶段的基本国情没有变,我国是世界最大发展中国家的国际地位没有变.

The piece also says that given China’s rise, some have hyped up perspectives like the China Threat Theory and China Responsibility Theory. After this, the author tells us that China’s per capital GDP is still much lower than say the US’; urbanisation rate at 60.6% is much lower than that in Western countries; technological developments still faces many bottlenecks and core technology dependancies persist; ergo: “there is still a long and arduous journey ahead to achieve the goal of building a modern and powerful socialist country in an all-round way.”

The next chunk talks about regional developmental imbalances. “To correctly understand and grasp the ‘change’ of the main social contradiction and the ‘unchanged’ of the primary stage of socialism, we are required to continue to promote development on the basis of efforts to solve the problem of unbalanced and insufficient development, and better promote the overall development of people and social progress.”正确理解和把握社会主要矛盾的“变”与社会主义初级阶段的“没有变”,要求我们在继续推动发展的基础上,着力解决好发展不平衡不充分问题,更好推动人的全面发展、社会全面进步.

And this, the piece tells us, puts new requirements in terms of the tasks that the Party and state need to perform.

The next question is about why socialism with Chinese characteristics is described as the “choice of history and the people’s choice.” Here the answer is essentially the Party’s historical narrative that we’ve read so often throughout this year. And therefore, I am not repeating it. But it is framed in the context of performance legitimacy.

“What kind of doctrine a country implements depends on whether this doctrine can solve the historic issues facing the country.”

VI. Scientific Socialism & Post- & Pre-Reform History

today we have the sixth in the series on Xi Thought. The first part talks about why socialism with Chinese characteristics is socialism. We then get told that what China follows is scientific socialism. To say that “China is engaged in ‘capitalist socialism’, ‘state capitalism’ and ‘new bureaucratic capitalism’ is all wrong,” the author chides.

So what does scientific socialism mean?

The piece tells us that Marx and Engels once made scientific predictions and assumptions about the development process, development direction, and general characteristics of the future socialist society. They believed that the decisive differences between a socialist society and a capitalist society mainly included:

  • organizing production on the basis of public ownership of the means of production and satisfying the needs of all members of society as the fundamental purpose of socialist production.

  • Providing systematic guidance to adjust social production in a planned way

  • Implementing the principle of distribution of individual compensation as representative of one's contribution to the social product

  • transform and utilize nature in accordance with the laws of nature

  • Proletarian revolution is the highest form of proletarian struggle, which must be led by proletarian political parties and aimed at establishing a country under the dictatorship of the proletariat

  • Through the dictatorship of the proletariat and the high development of socialism, we will finally realize the transition to a communist society that eliminates classes and exploitation and realizes the all-round and free development of human beings

Then we learn that socialism with Chinese characteristics adheres to all this.

“In terms of the leadership system, the leadership of the CPC is the most essential characteristic of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the greatest advantage of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. In the state and political system, the people's democratic dictatorship and the people's congress system are implemented; In terms of economic system, we should adhere to the common development of public ownership and multiple ownership systems; we adhere to the distribution of labor as the mainstay and the coexistence of various modes of distribution, along with this we adhere to the implementation of the socialist market economy system; In terms of ideology, we insist on the guiding position of Marxism and cultivate and practice the core socialist values; In terms of the fundamental position, we insist on putting the people at the center, continuously promoting the all-round development of people and realizing the common prosperity of all people; and so on. All these embody the basic principles of scientific socialism in the new historical conditions, and continue the genetic lineage of scientific socialism. If these are lost, it will not be socialism.” 



Later, we are also told that:

“Socialism with Chinese characteristics is a scientific socialism rooted in the land of China, reflecting the wishes of the Chinese people and adapting to the development requirements of China and the times. When world socialism suffered serious twists and turns, socialist China did not fall down with the domino effect, but stood many tests, and scientific socialism rose up in the twists and turns.” -- Seriously, and everyone else has to get over their Cold War thinking.

中国特色社会主义是植根中国大地、反映中国人民意愿、适应中国和时代发展要求的科学社会主义. 当世界社会主义遭受严重曲折时,社会主义中国没有随着“多米诺骨牌效应”倒下,而是经受住了重重考验,科学社会主义在曲折中奋起. 

The next question in the piece deals with the distinction that people draw between the pre-reform and post-reform periods of China. 

“on the issue of how to view the relationship between the two historical periods before and after the reform and opening up, some people treat them as distinct, or juxtapose the two historical periods, or even argue that they negate each other, which is totally wrong.” 然而,在如何看待改革开放前后两个历史时期关系问题上,有的人将这两个历史时期割裂开来、对立起来,甚至相互否定,这是完全错误的.

The author says that while these two periods “had great differences in the ideological guidance, principles and policies, and actual work of socialist development, but the difference does not mean that they are distinct from each other, let alone being fundamentally opposed.” We then get an old Xi quote as saying: “The historical period before reform and opening up must be correctly evaluated. The historical period after reform and opening up cannot be used to negate the historical period before reform and opening up, and the historical period before reform and opening up cannot be used to negate the historical period after reform and opening up.”

It then points to the Party’s ability to adapt after the early foundations that were laid by the period before reform and opening up. “When the ‘shoes’ of the Soviet model did not fit, our Party led the people to start independent exploration of socialism, pioneering in the unknown and advancing through twists and turns, accumulating important experiences both positive and negative.” 在苏联模式的“鞋子”不合脚的情况下,我们党带领人民毅然开始独立进行社会主义探索,在未知中开拓,在曲折中前进,积累了正反两方面的重要经验.

My take: So basically, Xi wants people to see the period since 1949 as a continuum with the Party evolving and adapting to changing situations and needs; rather than seeing the 1949-78 and post 1978 period as being fundamentally different. Again, this isn’t new. He’s done a lot to rehabilitate Mao and paint a picture of the Party’s rule being led by a visionary grand strategy. The reality is much more complex.

VII. Four Self-confidences & Choice of Governance System

The page carries the seventh piece in the series on Xi Thought today. The first question today is about the four self-confidences. These are, of course, having confidence in path, theory, system and culture. Interestingly, in responding to this, when it comes to talking about having confidence in the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the piece makes a comparison between China and India.

“In 1978, China and India were comparable in terms of economic strength and comprehensive national power, and China's per capita GDP was less than 4/5th of India’s; in 2020, China’s per capita GDP exceeded $10,000, nearly five times that of India’s, and it is already significantly ahead of India in areas such as science and technology, transportation, education, healthcare, and living environment.” 1978年,中国与印度在经济实力、综合国力等方面相差无几,中国人均国内生产总值不到印度的4/5;2020年,中国人均国内生产总值超过1万美元,是印度的近5倍,在科技、交通、教育、医疗卫生、人居环境等领域已大幅领先印度. 

Ergo, socialism with Chinese characteristics works for China. In fact, it is “only this road and no other roads can lead China’s progress, enhance the well-being of the people, and realize national rejuvenation,” the piece says.

In terms of theoretical confidence, the piece talks about the evolution of theory as per leaders’ thoughts and answers the key questions of the times, because “this theoretical system is scientific, it embodies the fundamental position of Marxism, is based on the methodology of dialectical materialism and historical materialism, and has unparalleled power of truth.” 这一理论体系是科学的,它体现了马克思主义的根本立场,贯穿了辩证唯物主义和历史唯物主义的世界观方法论,具有无可比拟的真理力量.

On system and institutional confidence, the key argument is that the system has proved efficient and effective. And on cultural confidence, the piece says that this comes from “historical inheritance, from revolutionary struggle, from reform and innovation.”

The next question is about the Chinese governance system. The response says that:

“What kind of state system and national governance system a country chooses is determined by its history and culture, social nature, and level of economic development. In the course of thousands of years of history, the Chinese people accumulated a wealth of ideas about the state system and state governance, and gradually formed a whole set of state system and state governance system, including the imperial court system, county system, land system, taxation system, imperial examination system, supervision system, military system and other aspects of the system, which was studied and imitated by neighboring countries and nations.” 一个国家选择什么样的国家制度和国家治理体系,是由这个国家的历史文化、社会性质、经济发展水平决定的. 在几千年的历史演进中,中华民族积累了关于国家制度和国家治理的丰富思想,逐步形成了一整套包括朝廷制度、郡县制度、土地制度、税赋制度、科举制度、监察制度、军事制度等各方面制度在内的国家制度和国家治理体系,为周边国家和民族所学习和模仿.

We then fast-forward to modern times when after the fall of the Qing, there was a search for a system, which ended in the founding of New China. This recap is used to make the point: “The national system of our country not only embodies the basic principles of scientific socialism, but also has distinct Chinese characteristics, national characteristics and characteristics of the times.” 使我国国家制度既体现了科学社会主义基本原则,又具有鲜明的中国特色、民族特色、时代特色.

Of course, the CCP’s leadership is the “greatest advantage of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and the ‘core code’ of China’s national system and national governance system.” Another key attribute, the piece tells us, is to “always represent the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people.”

Think about this; it sounds like a juxtaposition to the idea of individual liberty being at the heart of governance and rule of law. Or am I just overthinking this stuff?

VIII. Persisting in Social Revolution & Enriching Marxism

The eighth piece in the Q&A series on Xi Thought. Thankfully, these are getting smaller. The first question is upholding socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. It says that this is the key to advance China’s “great social revolution.” “Only by persisting in advancing the social revolution, constantly adjusting the relations of production and perfecting the superstructure can we better liberate and develop the productive forces.” 

“This great social revolution covers an extremely wide range of areas, involving contradictions and problems in economic, political, cultural, social, ecological civilization construction and national defense and military development, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan work, diplomatic work, and Party building. There’s a profound readjustment of interests taking place, and it is necessary to break through the barriers of ideology and concepts, as well as to break through the fences of vested interests...The task of breaking through institutional barriers is extremely arduous, and institutional drawbacks and institutional obstacles are like ‘obstacles’ and ‘stumbling blocks’ hindering the process of reform and development.” 这场伟大社会革命,涵盖的领域极其广泛,涉及经济、政治、文化、社会、生态文明建设和国防和军队建设、港澳台工作、外交工作、党的建设等方面的矛盾和问题 触及的利益格局调整极其深刻,既要冲破思想观念的障碍,又要突破利益固化的藩篱...突破体制机制障碍的任务极其艰巨,体制性弊端、机制性梗阻犹如“拦路虎”、“绊脚石”阻碍改革发展进程.

The international situation is turbulent, and the situation of the “great struggle” is complex and arduous. Ergo, it is important to continue pursuing the social revolution. 

We then get this, which I have edited for context and explanation.

“Once upon a time, how powerful was the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and how powerful was the Soviet Union? Now it has become a painful memory of a homeland that one cannot bear to turn and look back at in the light of the moon. Forgetting revolution and not talking about struggle, the Communist Party will deteriorate and socialism will change color.” 曾几何时,苏共何其强大,苏联何其强大,现在早已是“故国不堪回首月明中”了. 忘记革命、不讲斗争,共产党就会变质,社会主义就会变色. 

This 故国不堪回首月明中 refers to a quote from the Lǐ Yù’s poem Yú Měi Rén. This is a good translation.

The next question is why should China enrich and develop Marxism. Some good old hubris here.

“The Chinese Communists, who are in the midst of great historical changes, have a greater responsibility and capability to reveal the historical experience and laws of development contained therein and make original contributions to the development of Marxism.” 置身历史巨变之中的中国共产党人,更有责任、更有能力揭示其中所蕴含的历史经验和发展规律,为发展马克思主义作出原创性贡献.

IX.  Sustaining the Original Aspiration

The 9th instalment in the series on Xi Thought. This one talks first about why it is important to keep the original intention in mind. The answer is that the original aspiration and mission are “the concentrated embodiment of the party's nature, purpose, ideals, beliefs and goals.” There’s talk about representing the people and their interests and then the warning that if the Party loses its original aspiration and mission then it will “change its nature and color, and lose the people and its future.” Keeping the mission and aspiration in mind are akin to inheriting the “red gene” and “carrying forward the revolutionary spirit.” 

The other aspect of the original aspiration and mission is to keep in mind that it informs party building. The Party “is the strong leadership core of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” And over time, with parties that are in power for a long time, lots of problems can set in, such as “such as impurities in ideology,  impurities in politics,  impurities in organization and  impurities in style.” And these problems in the CCP have yet not all been fundamentally resolved. 在党内存在的思想不纯、政治不纯、组织不纯、作风不纯等突出问题尚未得到根本解决. Therefore, Xi wants cadres at all levels to return to their roots and keep in mind the original mission, the piece tells us. 

It adds that this is also important as the Party moves to achieve the objective of national rejuvenation. China’s situation and the international environment are changing; and the tasks of development and security remain arduous. There are many contradictions and risks, which have brought unprecedented challenges to the Party’s governance. Therefore, it’s all the more important to keep in mind the original aspiration and mission while enhancing the sense of hardship and challenges ahead, always being vigilant and toughening the spirit. 当今世界正经历百年未有之大变局,我国正处于实现中华民族伟大复兴关键时期,我们党正带领人民进行具有许多新的历史特点的伟大斗争,形势环境变化之快、改革发展稳定任务之重、矛盾风险挑战之多、对我们党治国理政考验之大前所未有...我们要增强忧患意识,时刻保持警醒,以初心砥砺前行的精神,以使命鼓舞奋发的斗志,不断夺取伟大斗争新胜利.

A nation that forgets the road it has traveled is a nation that does not have a way forward, and a political party that forgets its original mission and intention is a political party without a future. 一个忘记来路的民族必定是没有出路的民族,一个忘记初心的政党必定是没有未来的政党.

The next chunk talks about why keeping in mind this original intention is not a momentary thing, but rather a lifelong pursuit. 

The author calls on Party members and cadres to “first of all take the study and implementation of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in a New Era as the top priority to arm themselves with theory, make great efforts to learn and understand and do practical work, and nourish the original aspiration and lead the mission with the Party’s innovative theory.”党员干部首先要把学习贯彻习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想作为理论武装的重中之重,在学懂弄通做实上下苦功夫,以党的创新理论滋养初心、引领使命. 

The is that keeping in mind the original aspiration is an active and continuous task. This is not a passive thing. This isn’t something that will maintain its “quality and freshness” naturally. If you don't pay attention to it, it will likely get dusty and fade. If you don't nourish it for a long time, it will dry up and wither…consequently, it is easy to lose one’s way if one does not pay attention. Then it says: the reason why those corrupt elements who have been investigated fell into the trap of violating discipline and law is because they have discarded their original intention and mission. 初心不会自然保质保鲜,稍不注意就可能蒙尘褪色,久不滋养就会干涸枯萎,很容易走着走着就忘记了为什么要出发、要到哪里去,很容易走散了、走丢了. 被查处的那些腐败分子,之所以跌入违纪违法的陷阱,从根本上讲就是把初心和使命抛到九霄云外去了.

The piece calls for “regular ideological and political tests.” This is really interesting. Perhaps, there’s a much tougher crackdown in the offing. This part uses some strange analogy of physical medical examinations. It say that cadres should be benchmarked based on the requirements of the CPC Central Committee; scanned using the party constitution and rules; assessed from the prism of new expectations of the people; and contrasted against Party’s forefathers, martyrs, and role models, constantly removing impurities, removing viruses and preventing pollution… 经常进行思想政治体检,同党中央要求“对标”,拿党章党规“扫描”,用人民群众新期待“透视”,同先辈先烈、先进典型“对照”,不断去杂质、除病毒、防污染,始终做到初心如磐、使命在肩。

Also note this:

“Irrespective of where they are and when it is, party members and cadres should always remember that their first identity is that they are a member of the Communist Party; their first duty is to work for the party; the first goal is to work for the benefit of the people; always put the party and the people in the first place.” This is an “eternal” and “lifelong” thing. 初心使命与党员干部一生相随,无论何时何地,党员干部都要始终牢记第一身份是共产党员、第一职责是为党工作、第一目标是为民谋利,始终把党和人民放在首位,在“永恒”和“终身”上下大气力、下足功夫. This is an interesting message; I wonder how this sort of messaging is perceived outside when it comes to Chinese officials occupying key positions in international agencies and institutions?

X. People-Centred Development & a Better Life

The 10th report in the series on Xi Thought on the page today. The first question today is: why is it said that putting people at the center is the fundamental position of the Party?

The answer is used to make a point about corruption and Party members not seeking personal gain. Of course, if foreign media outlets report about these things, they get promptly banned. But then rule by law is different from rule of law. 

Anyway, the piece talks about the fight against Japan in the 1930s, the overthrow of the Kuomintang, the development effort after 1978, and the poverty alleviation campaign as a fight for the people’s interests. 

“In the final analysis, the achievement of these achievements lies in the fact that our Party always puts the people in the highest position in the heart and engraves the happiness of the people on the milestone leading to the great rejuvenation of the nation.” 这些成就的取得,归根结底就在于我们党始终把人民放在心中最高位置,把人民幸福镌刻在通向民族伟大复兴的里程碑上.

“If you forget the people and separate from the people, our party will become a water without a source, a tree without a root, and nothing will be accomplished.” 忘记了人民,脱离了人民,我们党就会成为无源之水、无本之木,就会一事无成.

The next question is about the pursuit of a better life as an objective. This offers a glowing review of China’s development.

“After a long and arduous struggle, the life of the Chinese people has undergone radical changes. By the end of 2020, the per capita disposable income of residents increased to more than 30,000 yuan, and the middle-income group continued to expand. All rural poor people under the current standards have been lifted out of poverty. The compulsory education enrolment rate is close to 100%, the urbanization rate of the resident population exceeds 60%, basic medical insurance covers more than 1.3 billion people, and basic pension insurance covers nearly 1 billion people. The problems that have plagued the Chinese people for thousands of years, such as starvation, lack of food and clothing, and hardship in life, have generally disappeared.” 经过长期艰苦奋斗,中国人民生活发生了翻天覆地的变化。截至2020年底,居民人均可支配收入增加到3万多元,中等收入群体持续扩大。现行标准下农村贫困人口全部脱贫。义务教育入学率接近100%,常住人口城镇化率超过60%,基本医疗保险覆盖超过13亿人,基本养老保险覆盖近10亿人. 忍饥挨饿、缺吃少穿、生活困顿这些几千年来困扰中国人民的问题总体上一去不复返了.

It says the people now expect “better education, more stable jobs, more satisfactory income, more reliable social security, higher level of medical and health services, more comfortable living conditions, more beautiful environment, and richer spiritual and cultural life.” It acknowledges the gap between urban and rural development, income distribution, etc, and finally emphasises that in the past, the Party had to address the issue of scarcity, today it has to address the issue of quality.

XI. People are 'Heroes,' But it's the Party in Charge

Today, we have the 11th piece in the series on Xi Jinping Thought. The first question today is about the role of the people in that the people are the greatest strength for the Party’s command over power. It tells us that:

“The historical idealist view of heroic history holds that history is created by a few heroic figures, and that the evolution of history depends on their will, character and talent, while the people are a group of ‘ignorant rogues’ or ‘blind followers’ of the heroic figure. In the past, most of the protagonists were emperors and princes, gifted scholars and beautiful women, and ordinary people were just there for gags/gimmicks.”

Contrary to this view of history, the historical materialist view of history, the article tells us, identified people as “the creators of history and the true heroes.” We get told that “Comrade Mao Zedong pointed out: ‘The people, and only the people, are the driving force for the creation of world history’.” 

We then get this, with Xi channeling Lincoln.

“The people are the source of power of our party’s leadership and governance, and the fundamental force that determines the future destiny of the Party and the country. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that ‘our party comes from the people, is born for the people, and thrives because of the people’...Only by always connecting with the people's heart, sharing the same breath and destiny, can the Party be as firm as a rock, stable and progress steadily.” 人民是我们党领导和执政的力量源泉,是决定党和国家前途命运的根本力量。习近平总书记指出,“我们党来自于人民,为人民而生,因人民而兴”...只有始终与人民心连心、同呼吸、共命运,党才能坚如磐石、行稳致远.

We also get a netizen view: “The relationship between the party and the people is the same as that between fish and water. Fish cannot do without water, and the party cannot do without the people.”

The next couple of paragraphs essentially emphasise the importance of performance legitimacy, telling cadres that at the end of the day, the people are the ultimate judges.

“The ordinary people are heaven, and the ordinary people are the earth.” 老百姓是天,老百姓是地.

The next question in the piece is: “Why is it that only the CPC can shoulder the historical mission of achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation?” The answer begins with talking about how the Party united the people and built a “new China.” We then get this sentence, which tells us a bit about the Party placing itself as an inheritor of Chinese dynasties; and it does so while drawing a distinction between itself and the “feudal monarchies” of the past.

Only a nation that has created glory in the past understands the significance of rejuvenation; only a nation that has experienced hardship has a deep desire for rejuvenation.” 只有创造过辉煌的民族,才懂得复兴的意义;只有经历过苦难的民族,才对复兴有深切的渴望. 

After this we get the familiar origins story about a 5000-year-old flourishing civilisation, the decline of the Qing dynasty, the experimentation with multiple models, and the emergence of the CCP within this milieu. And what made the Party special?

“The guiding ideology, nature and purpose of the Party determined that the Communist Party of China would inevitably become the historical bearer of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The guiding ideology is the spiritual banner of a political party, and its nature and purpose reflect the essential characteristics of a political party.” 党的指导思想、性质宗旨决定了中国共产党必然成为中华民族伟大复兴的历史担当者. 指导思想是一个政党的精神旗帜,性质宗旨体现一个政党的本质特征.

In a nutshell, the guiding ideology is Marxism, which the Party has used and sinicized to achieve practical objectives; Marxism is true scripture“真经” of the Party; the Party is the “vanguard of the Chinese working class and at the same time the vanguard of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation”; and its purpose is “to serve the people wholeheartedly. Apart from the interests of the broadest masses of the people, the party has no special interests of its own.”

The rest of the piece talks about the development of China over the past 70-odd years; and how today China is the world’s second-largest economy and an indispensable global actor. Basically, this “miracle of development” is what proves “that only the Communist Party of China can shoulder the historical mission of national rejuvenation.”

XII. Xiaokang & Great Struggles for Great Dreams

The 12th piece on Xi Jinping Thought is divided into two pieces today - strange sudden stylistic change. Each piece discusses a specific question.

The first question is “why do we say that great struggles, great projects and great undertakings must be carried out to realize great dreams?”

The answer is that “to realize the great dream, a great struggle must be carried out. Society advances in a movement of contradictions, and where there are contradictions, there will be struggles. The process of realizing great dreams is full of contradictions and struggles. At present, the major changes in the world are accelerating and profoundly evolving; there are an increasing number of sources of turbulence and risk points, and the external environment is complex and severe; China is facing major risks and challenges in the fields of politics, ideology, economy, science and technology, society, and party building.” It warns that the “closer we get to national rejuvenation, the less smooth it will be.” There will be risks, challenges and even stormy waves. It quotes Xi warning of “obstacles and stumbling blocks” on the road ahead and calling for carrying “forward the spirit of struggle,” enhancing “the ability to struggle,” and “continuously win new victories in the great struggle.” 实现伟大梦想,必须进行伟大斗争。社会是在矛盾运动中前进的,有矛盾就会有斗争。实现伟大梦想的过程充满矛盾和斗争。当前,世界大变局加速深刻演变,全球动荡源和风险点增多,外部环境复杂严峻;我国在政治、意识形态、经济、科技、社会、党的建设等领域都面临重大风险挑战。“看似寻常最奇崛,成如容易却艰辛。”越是接近民族复兴越不会一帆风顺,越充满风险挑战乃至惊涛骇浪。习近平总书记强调,我们前进的道路上有各种各样的“拦路虎”、“绊脚石”,面临的重大斗争不会少,必须以越是艰险越向前的精神奋勇搏击、迎难而上。要充分认识这场伟大斗争的长期性、复杂性、艰巨性,到重大斗争一线去真枪真刀磨砺,把准斗争方向,发扬斗争精神,增强斗争本领,不断夺取伟大斗争新胜利.

The piece also says that “it is necessary to more consciously strengthen the principles of party spirit, be brave in facing problems, dare to scrape the bones and cure the poison, eliminate all factors that damage the party’s advanced nature and purity, remove all viruses that erode the party’s health, so that our party will become more mature, purer, stronger and more effective.” 要更加自觉地坚定党性原则,勇于直面问题,敢于刮骨疗毒,消除一切损害党的先进性和纯洁性的因素,清除一切侵蚀党的健康肌体的病毒,使我们党越来越成熟、越来越纯洁、越来越强大、越来越有战斗力.

The last key point here is upholding the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The next question is why achieving Xiaokang is a big step forward for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation? The response begins with the developments that Liangjiahe has experienced. The answer then tells us that Xiaokang is linked to the grand idea of the big dream of the Chinese nation as much as it is to the little experiences of everyday life of individuals. Achieving this, the piece says, “means that the Chinese nation has fulfilled its long-cherished wish for thousands of years.” The piece then talks about the prosperity that China has experienced. This is done not just in terms of the macro numbers but also in terms of the little things that people have experienced and material improvements in their individual lives.

“Building a well-off society in an all-round way is not only reflected in the leap in economic strength and comprehensive national power, but also in bringing tangible changes to the lives of every Chinese. From the 1950s to 1970s, bicycles, watches, sewing machines and radios were the ‘four big items that urban families longed for. After reform and opening up, color TV sets, refrigerators, washing machines and tape recorders replaced them to become the new ‘four big items.’ Now, in the new era, the old and new ‘four big items’ have already become history, and even ‘forty big items’ cannot sufficiently tell the story of the good life that the Chinese people are enjoying today.” 全面建成小康社会,不仅体现在经济实力、综合国力的跃升上,更体现在给每一个中国人的生活带来实实在在的变化上。20世纪50年代至70年代,自行车、手表、缝纫机、收音机,这“三转一响”是城市家庭渴望拥有的“四大件”。改革开放后,彩电、冰箱、洗衣机、录音机取代“三转一响”,成为新的“四大件”。进入新时代,新老“四大件”早已成为历史,“四十大件”也说不完中国人今天的美好生活.

The final bit in this is that China’s economic development and achievement of Xiaokang has “greatly improved the overall development level of human society...It is China's unremitting efforts to build a well-off society in an all-round way that has nearly doubled the number of people with per capita GDP exceeding 10,000 US dollars in the world.” 

XIII. Poverty Alleviation & New Development Stage

The next in the series on Xi Thought - this is the 13th such piece. The first question is about the poverty alleviation campaign and its contribution to mankind. 

“Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core has adhered to the people-centered development thought, United and led the whole party and the people of all ethnic groups, placed poverty alleviation in a prominent position in governing the country, gave full play to the leadership of the Party and the political advantages of China's socialist system, and adopted many unique and original major initiatives, organized and implemented the largest and strongest fight against poverty in human history, and completed the goal and task of poverty alleviation in the new era on schedule. This great victory has earned admiration from around the world.” 党的十八大以来,以习近平同志为核心的党中央坚持以人民为中心的发展思想,团结带领全党全国各族人民,把脱贫攻坚摆在治国理政突出位置,充分发挥党的领导和我国社会主义制度的政治优势,采取了许多具有原创性、独特性的重大举措,组织实施了人类历史上规模最大、力度最强的脱贫攻坚战,如期完成了新时代脱贫攻坚目标任务,取得了令全世界刮目相看的重大胜利.

The next paragraph is how China’s poverty alleviation drive has contributed towards reducing global poverty, faster movement towards sustainable development goals and has proved “to the world the significant advantages of the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics.” In addition, China’s campaign has provided opportunities to lend “Chinese wisdom and Chinese solutions for global poverty reduction.” 

The next question is about the new development stage. “The new stage of development is the stage of building a modern socialist country in an all-round way and marching towards the second centenary goal. It is the new stage of our party leading the people to a historic leap from standing up and getting rich to becoming strong.” This ends with highlighting the “long-term goal of socialist modernization by 2035.”

XIV. Chinese-style Modernisation & Strategic Opportunities

The 14th piece in the series on Xi Thought. The first question today is about how Chinese-style modernization is a great change unprecedented in human history. So what is this?

“Chinese-style modernization is socialist modernization, which is unique and different from capitalism. Western capitalist modernization is based on the primitive accumulation of bloody plunder by foreign colonization and cruel exploitation of people at home. Marx once said: ‘Capital comes into the world, from head to toe, every pore is dripping with blood and dirty things’.” And then there’s talk of colonialism, slavery, etc.

“Chinese-style modernization is a modernization with a huge population, a modernization with common prosperity for all people, a modernization in which material civilization and spiritual civilization are coordinated, a modernization in which man and nature coexist harmoniously, and a modernization that takes the road of peaceful development. Chinese-style modernization breaks the myth that modernization can be realized only by following the capitalist modernization model, overcomes the inherent defects of capitalist modernization, provides a new choice for modernization, and shows the bright future of modernization of human society.” 中国式现代化是社会主义现代化,是独具特色、有别于资本主义的现代化。西方资本主义现代化是建立在对外殖民血腥掠夺、对内残酷剥削人民的原始积累基础上的。马克思曾说过:“资本来到世间,从头到脚,每个毛孔都滴着血和肮脏的东西。”据统计,自15世纪末开始,西方殖民者在300多年间,仅从中南美洲就抢走了250万公斤黄金、1亿公斤白银。英国的“圈地运动”、美国的“西进运动”以及罪恶的奴隶贸易等,都标注了西方资本主义现代化的“原罪”。邓小平同志强调,中国搞现代化,搞的是中国式现代化,只能靠社会主义,不能靠资本主义。中国共产党领导的中国式现代化始终坚持社会主义目标和方向,具有许多重要特征。中国式现代化是人口规模巨大的现代化,是全体人民共同富裕的现代化,是物质文明和精神文明相协调的现代化,是人与自然和谐共生的现代化,是走和平发展道路的现代化。中国式现代化打破了只有遵循资本主义现代化模式才能实现现代化的神话,克服了资本主义现代化所固有的先天性弊端, 提供了现代化的全新选择,展现了人类社会现代化的光明前景.

The next paragraph talks about how:

“Chinese-style modernization is the modernization of developing countries, which has opened up a brand-new road for late-developing countries to move toward modernization. There is neither a one-size-fits-all modernization model nor a universally applicable modernization standard in the world.” It says that the modernization path depends on “historical conditions.” Western countries developed with “industrialization, urbanization, agricultural modernization and informationization developing in sequence and it took more than 200 years to reach the current level.” If China were to follow a similar road, it would be “impossible for China to keep pace with the development process of modernization of western developed countries.” China, therefore, “must give full play to its advantages as a latecomer, base itself on China's reality, and take its own road to comprehensively promote modernization. China’s development is a ‘parallel’ process in which industrialization, informatization, urbanization and agricultural modernization are superimposed...Chinese-style modernization has expanded the way for developing countries to move toward modernization, and made it possible for countries that want to develop and want to develop by adhering to the development path that suits their own national conditions. The successful practice of Chinese-style modernization shows the world that there is more than one road to modernization. As long as we find the right direction, keep moving forward and take our own road, we will be able to realize modernization.” 中国式现代化是发展中国家的现代化,开辟了后发国家走向现代化的崭新道路。世界上既不存在定于一尊的现代化模式,也不存在放之四海而皆准的现代化标准。现代化不是单选题,历史条件的多样性,决定了各国选择发展道路的多样性。在世界历史的坐标上,中国式现代化是后发国家的现代化。西方发达国家发展是一个“串联式”的过程,工业化、城镇化、农业现代化、信息化顺序发展,发展到目前水平用了200多年时间。中国要后来居上,把“失去的二百年”找回来,就不可能沿着西方发达国家现代化发展过程亦步亦趋,必须发挥后发优势,立足中国实际,走自己的路,全面推进现代化。我国发展是一个“并联式”的过程,工业化、信息化、城镇化、农业现代化是叠加发展的,我国仅用了几十年的时间,在发展的很多方面走过了西方发达国家上百年甚至数百年的发展历程。新中国成立70多年来,中国全速奔跑在现代化的赛道上,从“现代化的迟到国”成为“世界现代化的增长极”、“最大的经济和社会变革的实验室”。中国式现代化,拓展了发展中国家走向现代化的途径,让想发展、要发展的国家看到坚持走符合自身国情的发展道路是可行的。中国式现代化的成功实践昭示世人,通向现代化的道路不止一条,只要找准正确方向、驰而不息,走好自己的路,就一定能够实现现代化.

The next question is about why is China still in a period of “important strategic opportunities”? The response begins with the Macartney Embassy. It says that the Qing rulers saw the “industrial revolution achievements as tribute collections for enjoyment” rather than thinking of long-term consequences. 

The piece says:

“The ability to accurately judge and make good use of strategic opportunities at key historical junctures will have a global, long-term and decisive impact on the future and destiny of a country and nation. Seizing the opportunity, winning the strategic initiative, and taking advantage of the momentum will usher in great development; if you cannot seize or end up missing an opportunity, you may fall into strategic passivity, gradually fall behind, or even miss a whole era.” 能否在关键历史节点准确判断和利用好战略机遇,将对一个国家和民族的前途命运产生全局性、长期性、决定性的影响. 抓住机遇,赢得战略主动,乘势而上,事业将迎来大发展;如果不能抓住或错过一个机会,就可能陷入战略被动,逐渐落后,甚至错过一整个时代.

Then we get an assessment of what the current situation is:

  • China’s GDP is at RMB 100 trillion

  • China is in a stage of high-quality development

  • Instability and uncertainty have increased significantly in the world

  • Unprecedented changes are taking place

  • Economic globalisation is under strain, but countries remain intertwined, and globalisation is “irreversible.”

  • Risk and challenges have increased

  • “A war between major powers is not only unaffordable for the major powers themselves, but also disastrous for the world, and will certainly be opposed by people all over the world.”

  • The basic conclusion is that things will be difficult going forward compared to the recent past, but there are still opportunities for China. This is fundamentally because of its strengths:

China’s strengths are identified as:

  • “Solving various global problems requires strengthening international cooperation, and China has strong capabilities and resources to solve global problems such as international poverty reduction, climate change, major infectious diseases and regional hotspot issues, and its role is irreplaceable.”

  • China has a key role to play in the emerging technology scenario, in terms of its business environment, and China has the “world’s most complete and largest modern industrial system.”

  • “There are more than 170 million people with higher education or professional skills, and the abundant human resources contain huge potential and vitality.”

  • Market size and expanding domestic demand.

  • The socialist economy system.

The piece ends with a call that opportunities and challenges will coexist; this is the eternal dialectical law. But given this, it is important to enhance the awareness of opportunities, mobilize and use all the positive factors, give full play to China’s unique advantages, seize the commanding heights of future development, enhance risk awareness, accurately recognize changes, respond scientifically, and be brave. 

This is important: “Maintain strategic determination, make ideological and work preparations to deal with changes in the external environment for a longer period of time, concentrate our efforts to run our own affairs well, and continue to advance towards the grand goal of building a modern and powerful socialist country in an all-round way.” 彩虹和风雨共生,机遇与挑战并存,这是亘古不变的辩证法则。我们要深刻认识当前机遇和挑战的新变化,坚定不移抓机遇、应变局,努力在危机中育先机、于变局中开新局。要增强机遇意识,调动和运用好国内外形势变化带来的一切积极因素,充分发挥我们的独特优势,抢占未来发展制高点。增强风险意识,准确识变、科学应变、主动求变,勇于开顶风船,善于转危为机。保持战略定力,做好较长时间应对外部环境变化的思想准备和工作准备,集中力量把自己的事情办好,朝着全面建成社会主义现代化强国的宏伟目标不断前进.

XV. Plenaries of Reform & Comprehensive Deepening Reform

Today we have the 15th piece in the series on Xi Thought. The first question today talks about the third plenaries of the 11th and 18th Central Committee and why these were important. On the third plenary of the 11th Central Committee, the piece says that it ushered in a new era of reform and opening up, particularly after the period of the Cultural Revolution.

China's economy was on the verge of collapse due to the ten-year civil unrest of the ‘Cultural Revolution’; there were doubts even about basics such as food and clothing; there was much to be done for national development. 我国由于“文化大革命”十年内乱, 经济濒临崩溃的边缘, 人民温饱都成问题, 国家建设百业待兴. 

The piece says that at this juncture, Deng Xiaoping supported by older revolutionaries, “broke through the shackles of long-term ‘left mistakes’.” Deng, the piece says:

“decisively ended ‘taking class struggle as the key link’, re-established the ideological line, political line and organizational line of Marxism, and made a historic decision to shift the central work of the Party and the state to economic development and implemented reform and opening up, thereby realizing a great turning point with far-reaching significance in the history of the Party since the founding of New China.” 在党和国家面临何去何从的重大历史关头,邓小平同志振聋发聩地指出:“如果现在再不实行改革,我们的现代化事业和社会主义事业就会被葬送。”在邓小平同志领导下和老一辈革命家支持下,党的十一届三中全会冲破长期“左”的错误的严重束缚,果断结束“以阶级斗争为纲”,重新确立马克思主义的思想路线、政治路线、组织路线,作出把党和国家工作中心转移到经济建设上来、实行改革开放的历史性决策,实现了新中国成立以来党的历史上具有深远意义的伟大转折.

We then get data about China’s economic development after reform and opening up began. We then come to the third plenary of the 18th Central Committee.

“For the first time, the plenary session put forward the overall goal of comprehensively deepening reform, improving and developing the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and promoting the modernization of the national governance system and governance capacity...The plenary session also decided to establish a central leading group on comprehensively deepening reforms to build a leadership mechanism for comprehensively deepening reforms. The Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China made the most systematic and comprehensive top-level design for reform since the reform and opening up.”

The piece also informs that “by the end of 2020, General Secretary Xi Jinping personally presided over 40 meetings of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reform and 17 meetings of the Central Comprehensively Deepening Reform Committee, reviewed and approved more than 500 important reform documents, and introduced more than 2,000 reform plans.” So what are all these reform areas that are covered? Here’s a list that I’ve pulled up from the piece.

  • Reform of economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological civilization system and the party-building system

  • Party and the state institutional reform, 

  • Administrative management system reform

  • Rule of law system reform

  • Judicial system reform

  • Reform of the foreign affairs system

  • Reform of the social governance system

  • Reform of the national security system,

  • Reform of the national defense and the army

  • Reform of the discipline inspection and supervision system

It then adds that: “Reform and opening up are the key to determining the destiny of contemporary China, as well as the key to achieving the two centenary goals and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

The next question is about the goal and purpose of comprehensively deepening reforms. Basically, the idea is that the reform process had reached a critical period and minor adjustments and fixes or a piecemeal approach would just not work anymore. Therefore, what was needed was a re-look at the overall design and a comprehensive approach. It was important to “coordinate and promote reforms in various fields” and look at the overall outcomes that were needed.

The piece references Deng’s 1992 southern tour and then says that the first part of establishing a basic socialist system has been achieved; and now the “main historical task is to improve and develop the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and build a more complete, stable and effective institutional system.” 后半程我们的主要历史任务是完善和发展中国特色社会主义制度,建成一整套更完备、更稳定、更管用的制度体系.

This is an “ambitious project” and requires the “interlinking of reform and improvements in various different areas.” In essence, all of this “will form and achieve the overall effect in terms of the modernization of the national governance system and governance capacity.” So this then neatly links to the fourth plenary of the 19th Central Committee, which focused on the modernization of the national governance system and governance capabilities.

“From the history of socialism, from its birth to the present, how to govern a brand new society like socialist society has not been solved. Marx and Engels did not experience the practice of fully governing a socialist state, and many of their visions of future societies were predictive. The Soviet Union explored this issue and achieved some success, but it also made serious mistakes and failed to entirely address the problems that arose. This resulted in the collapse of the country and the government. Our Party had been constantly thinking about what kind of national governance system to establish in the future as early as the revolutionary period. After the founding of New China, our Party considered and explored how to build socialism and how to govern China, and although serious twists and turns occurred, we accumulated rich experience and made significant achievements in the national governance system and governance capacity. Since the reform and opening up, our Party has thought about and explored the issue of national governance system and governance capacity from a new perspective, achieving political stability, economic development, social harmony and national unity. It is important to see that our national governance system and governance capacity are generally good and adapted to our national conditions and development requirements. At the same time, in the context of the requirements of China's economic and social development, in the context of the expectations of the people, in the context of the increasingly fierce international competition in today’s world, in the context of achievement long-term national security, we still have many shortcomings in the national governance system and governance capacity. We must make up for the shortcomings, plug the loopholes, strengthen where we have weaknesses, and accelerate the formation of a complete system that is scientific, standardized and effective.” 提出全面深化改革总目标是纵观世界社会主义历史发展得出的深刻结论。从社会主义诞生到现在的历史来看,如何治理社会主义社会这样全新的社会,在以往的世界社会主义实践中没有解决得很好。马克思恩格斯没有经历全面治理一个社会主义国家的实践,他们关于未来社会的设想很多是预测性的。苏联在这个问题上进行了探索,取得了一些成功经验,但也犯下了严重错误,没有解决好这个问题,最后的结局是国亡政息。我们党早在革命时期就不断思考未来建立什么样的国家治理体系问题。新中国成立后,我们党深入思考和探索怎样建设社会主义、怎样治理中国的问题,虽然也发生了严重曲折,但在国家治理体系和治理能力上积累了丰富经验、取得了重大成果。改革开放以来,我们党以全新的角度思考和探索国家治理体系和治理能力问题,实现了政治稳定、经济发展、社会和谐、民族团结。要看到,我们的国家治理体系和治理能力总体上是好的,是适应我国国情和发展要求的。同时,相比我国经济社会发展要求,相比人民群众期待,相比当今世界日趋激烈的国际竞争,相比实现国家长治久安,我们在国家治理体系和治理能力方面还有许多不足。必须抓紧补短板、堵漏洞、强弱项,加快形成系统完备、科学规范、运行有效的制度体系,把制度优势更好转化为治理效能.

XVI. New Era Reform Needs Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones & Top-Level Design

We have the 16th piece in the series on Xi Thought. The first question is about comprehensively deepening reform. More specifically, it is about the “direction,” “position” and “principle” of reform and opening up. 

This begins with Xi’s visit to Guangdong after becoming General Secretary. He had visited a park with Deng’s statue. That was a sign that “we want to show that we will unswervingly advance reform and opening up, and strive to make new progress in reform, opening up and modernization…” It was also then, the piece tells us, that Xi said: “Our reform and opening up has a direction, a position, and a principle.”

Interesting point this: “As early as the early stage of reform and opening up, Comrade Deng Xiaoping clearly pointed out that reform must adhere to the direction of socialism, and without the premise of socialism, reform and opening up will lead to capitalism.” 早在改革开放初期,邓小平同志就明确指出,改革必须坚持社会主义方向,没有社会主义这个前提,改革开放就会走向资本主义.

“Today, comprehensively deepening reform is facing a profound and complicated international and domestic environment, and various ideas and interests are stirring each other. In order to take the pulse of reform from the complex appearance of things, and to prescribe a good reform prescription amid the diversity of opinions, we must adhere to the right direction.General Secretary Xi Jinping has emphasized that our direction is to continuously promote the self-improvement and development of the socialist system, not to change the socialist system.” 今天,全面深化改革面临深刻复杂的国际国内环境,各种思想观念和利益诉求相互激荡. 要从纷繁复杂的事物表象中把准改革脉搏, 在众说纷纭中开好改革药方,必须坚持正确方向. 习近平总书记强调,我们的方向就是不断推动社会主义制度自我完善和发展,而不是对社会主义制度改弦易张.

The next bit talks about the position of reform and opening up. This says that “to deepen reform comprehensively, we must always stand firm on the people’s position and adhere to the people-centered reform.” The task of reform and opening up is to “enable the people to live a good life. If it cannot bring tangible benefits to the people and create a fairer social environment, the reform will be meaningless and cannot be sustained.” The piece also emphasises that reform must “continuously promote social fairness and justice, and enhance people’s well-being.”Think of this in terms of the recent technology sector shake-up, and policies with regard to delivery workers and the private tutoring industry. That’s what this means tangibly, I guess.

Amid this, the piece reminds us that:

“Regardless of what is changed or where it is changed, the party’s centralized and unified leadership over reform cannot be changed, the overall goal of perfecting and developing the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, and promoting the modernization of the national governance system and governance capabilities must not be changed, and the value orientation of people-centered reform cannot be changed..” 无论改什么、改到哪一步,坚持党对改革的集中统一领导不能变,完善和发展中国特色社会主义制度、推进国家治理体系和治理能力现代化的总目标不能变,坚持以人民为中心的改革价值取向不能变.

Here’s more:

“What direction, position and principle should be adhered to in the reform is a fundamental issue. For a period of time, some hostile forces and people with ulterior motives have been waving flags and shouting and have been trying to shape public opinion and confuse the public, by arguing that reform essentially implies moving in the direction of the Western political system, or else it is not reform. They are ‘Xiang Zhuang dancing with the sword, with the intention being to target the Duke of Pei.’ General Secretary Xi Jinping has emphasized that Western theories and viewpoints should not be mechanically applied to oneself in order to cater to the applause of some people. It is necessary to keep an open mind, maintain political firmness, define political orientation, and have firm determination. We must resolutely reform what should and can be changed; we must resolutely not reform what shouldn't and cannot be changed." We must never make subversive mistakes on fundamental issues. We will always adhere to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the basic socialist system and the leadership of the Party.” 改革要坚持什么方向,坚定什么立场,坚守什么原则,是带有根本性的问题。一段时期以来,一些敌对势力和别有用心的人在那里摇旗呐喊、制造舆论、混淆视听,把改革定义为往西方政治制度的方向改,否则就是不改革。他们是“项庄舞剑,意在沛公”。习近平总书记强调,不能为了迎合某些人的“掌声”,把西方的理论、观点生搬硬套在自己身上。要洞若观火,保持政治坚定性,明确政治定位,有主张、有定力。该改的、能改的我们坚决改,不该改的、不能改的坚决不改,决不能在根本性问题上出现颠覆性错误,始终坚持走中国特色社会主义道路不动摇,坚持社会主义基本制度不动摇,坚持党的领导不动摇.

I did some digging into this idiom: “项庄舞剑,意为裴公” - Interesting story and usage; conjures up such a sense of lethal deceitful behaviour.

The next question asks why comprehensively deepening reform requires not just crossing the river by feeling the stones but also top-level design. In a nutshell, the answer is that “strengthening top-level design and crossing the river by feeling the stones are dialectically linked.” 加强顶层设计和摸着石头过河是辩证统一的.

Anyway, the first part of the answer supports the Dengist approach to reform. It says that “gradual reform avoids social unrest caused by unclear situation and improper measures, and provides a guarantee for steadily advancing the reform and smoothly achieving the goal. On the other hand, some countries engage in so-called ‘shock therapy’, which results in violent political turmoil and social unrest. This is a profound learning. 这种渐进式改革,避免了因情况不明、举措不当而引起的社会动荡,为稳步推进改革、顺利实现目标提供了保证. 反观有些国家搞所谓“休克疗法”,结果引起了剧烈政治动荡和社会动乱,教训是很深刻的.

Okay, then why is top-level design needed? The answer is a bit convoluted. The argument is that “comprehensively deepening reform involves a wide range of major reform initiatives that may affect the whole body”; therefore, one must be careful and cautious. 

Then as best as I understood, it says that:

“The so-called top-level design refers to the overall design of the economic system, political system, cultural system, social system, ecological civilization system and party building system, etc. It is a process that strengthens research into and assessment of the relevance of various reforms; it strives to match the overall situation with the local one; it combines the root cause and cure, and promotes gradual progress and breakthrough. Comprehensively deepening reform is a complex systems project; it involves the whole situation of the Party and the State, both the productive forces and the relations of production, both the economic base and the superstructure, and all fields of economic and social development, involving many major theoretical and practical issues. For this reason, more attention must be paid to top-level design and overall planning. Only by strengthening top-level design, the promotion of reforms in economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological civilization, and the promotion of theoretical innovation, institutional innovation, technological innovation, cultural innovation and other innovations can be organically connected and promoted as a whole.” 全面深化改革不仅需要摸着石头过河,也必须有一个施工图,需要进行顶层设计. 所谓顶层设计,就是要对经济体制、政治体制、文化体制、社会体制、生态文明体制和党的建设制度等作出统筹设计,加强对各项改革关联性的研判,努力做到全局和局部相配套、治本和治标相结合、渐进和突破相促进. 全面深化改革作为一个复杂的系统工程,涉及党和国家工作全局,既涉及生产力又涉及生产关系,既涉及经济基础又涉及上层建筑,涉及经济社会发展各领域,涉及许多重大理论问题和实际问题. 为此,必须更加注重顶层设计、整体谋划. 只有加强顶层设计,把推进经济、政治、文化、社会、生态文明等各方面改革有机衔接起来,把推进理论创新、制度创新、科技创新、文化创新以及其他各方面创新有机衔接起来,整体推进,重点突破,才能防止畸重畸轻、单兵突进、顾此失彼,才能保证各项改革的相互促进、良性互动, 形成推进改革的强大合力.

XVII. Reform 'Promoters & Doers' & the Three Distinctions 

The 17th piece in the series on Xi Thought today begins with a question about how one should understand the task of becoming reform promoters and doers. The piece says that reform is a continuous process. 

“Reform is forced by problems, and it is deepened by solving problems constantly. When old problems are addressed, new problems will arise; so reform can neither be accomplished overnight nor can it be completed once and for all.” It adds that comprehensively deepening reform is a process in which it is “inevitable to touch upon deep-rooted vested interests and social relations.” Therefore, these reforms will “encounter increasing obstacles, turbulence and maelstroms.” Therefore, what is needed is greater “courage” and “sense of responsibility” and what is needed are “reform promoters and doers who are realistic and pragmatic.” 何为改革促进派?何为改革实干家?习近平总书记明确指出:“拥护改革、支持改革、敢于担当的就是促进派,把改革抓在手上、落到实处、干出成效的就是实干家。”改革由问题倒逼而产生,又在不断解决问题中得以深化。旧的问题解决了,新的问题又会产生,因而改革既不可能一蹴而就,也不可能一劳永逸。改革开放初期,我们成功“杀出一条血路”,离不开广大党员干部特别是各级领导干部对改革的支持拥护和贯彻落实。今天,随着全面深化改革向纵深推进,不可避免触及深层次利益格局和社会关系,遇到的阻力越来越大,面对的暗礁、潜流、漩涡越来越多,更需要敢于啃硬骨头、敢于涉险滩的勇气与担当,需要求真务实的改革促进派、实干家.

The piece says that at present, “vast majority of party members and cadres support reform,” but “we should also see that in the process of comprehensively deepening the reform, some party members and cadres are clamouring for reform, but their actual actions are slow, and there are also instances of inaction and chaos.” 但也要看到,在全面深化改革的进程中,一些党员干部嘴上改革叫得响,实际行动慢半拍,存在不作为、乱作为等现象.

  • This is followed by three specific criticisms. First, the kind of people who prefer inaction or work passively or carry out only perfunctory action. In making this point, the idiom used is 当一天和尚撞一天钟 -Dāng yītiān héshàng zhuàng yītiān zhōng- loosely translated as “Go on tolling the bell as long as one is a monk.”

  • Second, those who engage in “selective reform,” which essentially is about benefiting one’s local region, department or unit while not being concerned about negative externalities. 

  • The third set of people are the “obstruction factions,” who resist reform irrespective of how critical it is. 

The piece then says that these people behave this way because they are “anaemic” in thought, suffer from “calcium deficiency” when it comes to their spirit and are “weak” in action, and the decision-making arrangements for implementing the comprehensive deepening reform are not in place. 有的抱着“当一天和尚撞一天钟”的态度,只要不出事,宁愿不做事;有的搞“选择性”改革,对本地区本部门本单位有利的干劲十足,不利的则雷声大雨点小;有的在关键时刻和大是大非面前当“骑墙派”,甚至成为“梗阻派”. 出现此类现象的根本原因在于这些党员干部思想上“贫血”、精神上“缺钙”、行动上“乏力”, 贯彻落实全面深化改革的决策部署不到位.

It says that in implementing reforms “determination is more important than understanding, and responsibility is more important than methods.” It talks about how leading cadres should basically take the responsibility and lead with actions. 

The piece also talks about the “three distinctions” that must be kept in mind while carrying out reform. This is something that Xi had said during the fifth plenary of the 18th Central Committee. Roughly, these are:

  • First, distinguish the mistakes made by cadres in promoting reform due to lack of experience or because they are pioneering something from violations of laws and regulations that are knowingly committed

  • Second distinguish between mistakes made in terms of exploration which has not been explicitly restricted by higher authorities from the violations of discipline and law in terms of cadres going their own way despite something being restricted by higher authorities

  • Third, distinguish between unintentional negligence from violations of discipline and law for personal gain, with the aim of protecting cadres who work with integrity, and are bold and enterprising.


My thoughts: This sounds well and good, but it would really be interesting to see how all of this has been implemented. There is such mixed messaging here, and so much discretion that is required for this stuff to support grassroots innovation. Add to this the fact that political loyalty is the top criterion for a cadre in moving up the ranks. Very messy all this.

The next question is about reform and how one should understand the view that China’s door will open wider and wider going ahead. This says that “history has proved that only by adhering to open cooperation can we obtain more development opportunities and greater development space; self-imposed closure will only result in losing the world, and ultimately losing oneself.” 历史已经证明,只有坚持开放合作才能获得更多发展机遇和更大发展空间,自我封闭只会失去世界,最终也会失去自己.

The piece talks about CIIE, BRI and China’s expanding trading relationships. The piece says that China has “successively established 21 pilot free trade zones to implement high-level trade and investment liberalization and facilitation policies.” It talks about the RCEP and China’s contribution to global GDP growth. 

At present, the world economy is facing a downturn, the global market is shrinking, international exchanges are limited, protectionism and unilateralism are prevalent in some countries, and the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the whole world and has had an unprecedented impact on all countries and the global order. At this moment, many are wondering whether China’s economy will continue to remain open. To these, who wonder all such things, the piece says:

“If China’s economy is to develop, it must dare to swim in the vast ocean of the global market. If you never dare to go to the ocean to experience the wind and rain and see the world, one day you will drown in the ocean.” 中国经济要发展,就必须敢于到世界市场的汪洋大海中去游泳,如果永远不敢到大海中去经风雨、见世面,总有一天会在大海中溺水而亡. 

Basically, the policy of opening up must continue. Of course, the piece does not delve into what this means qualitatively.

XVIII. Economic Globalisation & Rule of Law

Today, we have the 18th piece in the series on Xi Thought. The first question is about why counter currents or inwards looking trends will not turn back the trend of economic globalisation. The piece says that:

“Marx and Engels pointed out that ‘the bourgeoisie, by opening up the world market, have made the production and consumption of all nations universal’, and ‘the more completely the primitive closed state of nations is eliminated by the increasingly perfected mode of production, by exchanges, and by the division of labour between different nations naturally formed as a result of exchanges, the more history becomes world history’. These insights and expositions by Marx and Engels profoundly reveal the essence, logic and process of economic globalization, and point out that economic globalization is not artificially created by some people or countries; rather it is the objective requirement of the development of social productive forces and the inevitable result of scientific and technological progress, and it is the inevitable path of human social development.” 马克思恩格斯指出,“资产阶级,由于开拓了世界市场,使一切国家的生产和消费都成为世界性的了”,“各民族的原始封闭状态由于日益完善的生产方式、交往以及因交往而自然形成的不同民族之间的分工消灭得越是彻底,历史也就越是成为世界历史”. 马克思恩格斯的这些洞见和论述,深刻揭示了经济全球化的本质、逻辑和过程,指明了经济全球化不是哪些人、哪些国家人为造出来的,而是社会生产力发展的客观要求和科技进步的必然结果, 是人类社会发展的必经之路。

There’s also this bit on Xi’s Thought, i.e., he has argued that economic globalisation has gone through three stages.

  • First, colonial expansion and the formation of the world market.

  • Second, the stage of two parallel world markets. This is essentially the capitalist and communist camps during the Cold War.

  • Third, a stage of economic globalisation wherein interdependence between countries has greatly improved.

Then writers argue that economic globalisation is “not a panacea, there are also shortcomings and problems” but this does not mean that it should be done away with. 

“Economic globalization was once seen as Alibaba’s cave, and now it is seen as Pandora’s box by many people. Some arguments against globalization simply blame economic globalization for the problems plaguing the world, which is neither factual nor helpful to solve the problem. For example, the international financial crisis was not an inevitable product of economic globalization, but the result of excessive profit-seeking of financial capital and serious lack of financial supervision.”同时也要看到,经济全球化并非万能灵药,也存在不足和问题,但我们不能就此把它一棍子打死。经济全球化曾经被人们视为阿里巴巴的山洞,现在又被不少人看作潘多拉的盒子。一些逆全球化的论调把困扰世界的问题简单归咎于经济全球化,既不符合事实,也无助于问题解决。比如,国际金融危机并不是经济全球化发展的必然产物,而是金融资本过度逐利、金融监管严重缺失的结果。不能从一时一己之利看待经济全球化,也不能从一城一隅之私推崇逆全球化.

The writers say that it is wrong to look at economic globalization from one’s “selfish” prism. “The ocean of the world economy, whether you like it or not, is there, and you cannot avoid it. It is impossible to artificially cut off the capital flow, technology flow, product flow, industrial flow and personnel flow of various countries' economies, and turn the ocean of the world economy into isolated small lakes and rivers. This is also not in line with the historical trend. A trade war is not desirable because there will be no winners. Economic hegemonism is even worse, because it will harm the common interests of the international community, and is akin to shooting oneself in the foot.” 世界经济的大海,你要还是不要,都在那儿,是回避不了的。想人为切断各国经济的资金流、技术流、产品流、产业流、人员流,让世界经济的大海退回到一个一个孤立的小湖泊、小河流,是不可能的,也是不符合历史潮流的。贸易战不可取,因为不会有赢家。经济霸权主义更要不得,因为这将损害国际社会共同利益,最终也将搬起石头砸自己的脚. 

It then says:

“At present, the world economy is in a deep recession, international trade and investment are shrinking sharply, and the international financial market is in turmoil. The international community is facing increasing new issues and challenges, and mankind once again stands at the crossroads of history. In the face of these problems, we should not stop eating for fear of choking (因噎废食), adopt protectionist and unilateralist measures at every turn, and adopt selfish practices of beggar-thy-neighbour. The correct choice is to adhere to the concept of win-win cooperation, trust instead of suspicion, join hands rather than wielding fists, and consultation rather than cursing. We should make full use of all opportunities and cooperation to meet all challenges, guide the direction of economic globalisation, dissipate the negative impact of economic globalisation, so that the fruits of development fairly benefit different countries and different classes of people.” 当前,世界经济深度衰退,国际贸易和投资大幅萎缩、国际金融市场动荡,国际社会面临的新课题新挑战与日俱增,人类再次站在了历史的十字路口。面对这些问题,不能因噎废食,动辄采取保护主义、单边主义措施,不能采取以邻为壑的自私做法。正确的选择是,坚持合作共赢理念,信任而不是猜忌,携手而不是挥拳,协商而不是谩骂,充分利用一切机遇,合作应对一切挑战,引导好经济全球化走向,消解经济全球化的负面影响,让发展成果公平惠及不同国家不同阶层不同人群.

The point then is that China is on the right side of history and is engaging in economic globalisation and creating opportunities.

The next question is about comprehensive rule of law being a profound revolution in national governance. The piece begins by talking about the Civil Code and then has an interesting dip into history, referencing the reign of the Tang Emperor Taizong. It talks about how the law developed at the time “laid the legal foundation for the flourishing of the Tang Dynasty and became a model for the Chinese legal system.” The piece then says that while “the overall situation of China's reform, development and stability is good,” there are problems of inadequate and unbalanced development, social contradictions, political issues within the Party, and issues of violations of law that need to be addressed. The examples cited are:

  • The 2018 Changchun Changsheng vaccine scandal

  • Lax supervision leading to illegal mining projects and hydropower stations along the Qilian Mountains National Nature Reserve

It then says that the approach to comprehensive rule of law is not just important  to address contradictions and problems related to reform, development and stability, but also from a long-term strategic perspective. “This requires us to stand at the strategic height of upholding and developing the overall situation of socialism with Chinese characteristics” but also to “provide a fundamental, overall and long-term institutional guarantee for the development of the cause of the party and the state, and to ensure that social development is both vigorous and orderly amid the profound changes that are taking place.”

Here’s more:

“From ‘rule according to law’ to ‘comprehensive rule according to law,’ from ‘socialist legal system’ to ‘socialist rule of law system’, from ‘there is a law to follow, the law must be followed, law enforcement must be strict, illegal acts will be punished’ to Scientific legislation, strict law enforcement, impartial justice, and universal compliance with the law’, the idea of building the rule of law is becoming clearer, the positioning is becoming more precise, and the initiatives are being increasingly put in place.” 从“依法治国”到“全面依法治国”,从“社会主义法律体系”到“社会主义法治体系”,从“有法可依、有法必依、执法必严、违法必究”到“科学立法、严格执法、公正司法、全民守法”,法治建设的思路越来越清晰,定位越来越精准,举措越来越到位.

XIX. Socialist Rule of Law

We have the 19th piece in the Xi Thought series. The first question is about why socialist rule of law is the correct system for China. In a nutshell, this is the core argument:

“The road of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics is the concentrated embodiment of the achievements and experience of socialist rule of law development, and the only correct way to build a socialist country ruled by law...Adhering to the people’s dominant position and equality before the law, the socialist road of rule of law with Chinese characteristics can ensure the people to manage state affairs, economic and cultural undertakings and social affairs through various channels and forms under the leadership of the Party and in accordance with the law. In essence, it is the concrete embodiment of the socialist road with Chinese characteristics in the field of rule of law...We have our historical and cultural traditions, as well as our own long-term accumulated experience and advantages...A distinctive feature of the road of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics is to absorb the essence of ancient Chinese thoughts such as the complementarity of morality and punishment and the combination of Confucianism and law, and always adhere to the combination of ruling the country by law and ruling the country by virtue. 中国特色社会主义法治道路是社会主义法治建设成就和经验的集中体现,是建设社会主义法治国家的唯一正确道路...中国特色社会主义法治道路坚持人民主体地位,坚持法律面前人人平等,能够保证人民在党的领导下,依照法律规定,通过各种途径和形式管理国家事务,管理经济和文化事业,管理社会事务,本质上是中国特色社会主义道路在法治领域的具体体现...我们有我们的历史文化传统,也有我们自己长期积累的经验和优势...中国特色社会主义法治道路一个鲜明特点,就是汲取我国古代德刑相辅、儒法并用等思想精华,始终坚持依法治国和以德治国相结合.

There is also a reference to how there are no guide books/textbooks on building this system and neither can there be a teacher/instructor for China in building its rule of law system.

It also adds that “there is a political position at the base of every path of rule of law, and there is a political logic in every model of rule of law. The core essence of the road of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics is to uphold the leadership of the Party, adhere to the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, and implement the socialist rule of law theory with Chinese characteristics, which fully embodies the socialist nature of our country and has distinct Chinese characteristics, practical characteristics and characteristics of the times. On the fundamental question of what kind of rule of law to follow, we will never copy other countries' models and practices, and never follow the western path of ‘constitutional government’, ‘three-party antagonism’ (referring to the system of checks and balances between executive, legislature and judiciary) and ‘judicial independence’. We must build up self-confidence, maintain our determination, and move forward resolutely on the road of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics.” 走好这条法治道路,必须头脑清醒、立场坚定。每一条法治道路底下都有一种政治立场,每一种法治模式当中都有一种政治逻辑。中国特色社会主义法治道路的核心要义,就是要坚持党的领导,坚持中国特色社会主义制度,贯彻中国特色社会主义法治理论,这充分体现了我国社会主义性质,具有鲜明的中国特色、实践特色、时代特色。在走什么样的法治道路这个根本问题上,我们决不照搬照抄别国模式和做法,决不走西方“宪政”、“三权鼎立”、“司法独立”的路子,要树立自信、保持定力,在中国特色社会主义法治道路上坚毅前行.

The second question is about fairness and justice. The response begins with talking about the mythical beast Xiezhi. Wikipedia tells me that “the Xiezhi possesses the innate ability to distinguish right from wrong, and when it finds corrupt officials, it will ram them with its horn and devour them. It is known as a symbol of justice.” 

And after this, PD says that to promote the rule of law in an all-round way, we should focus on safeguarding and promoting social fairness and justice, and pursue this value throughout the whole process and all aspects of legislation, law enforcement, justice and compliance with the law.” 推进全面依法治国,要紧紧围绕保障和促进社会公平正义来进行,把这一价值追求贯穿到立法、执法、司法、守法的全过程和各方面. 

The piece says the judicial credibility depends on a sense of fairness and integrity; and it is important that people believe this is how the system functions. Interestingly, fairness is described as ensuring protection of rights or remedial action, along with punishing illegality and criminality. In saying this, the piece also references problems such as corruption, judicial injustice, wrongful convictions, and issues with cases involving those in power, etc. The piece then talks about the need for greater transparency and judicial accountability. The aim it says is to “improve judicial credibility from three aspects: ensuring the independent and fair exercise of judicial power and procuratorial power according to law, improving the operation mechanism of judicial power and perfecting the judicial guarantee system for human rights.”

XX. Governing by Constitution vs Constitutionalism

We have the 20th piece in the series on Xi Thought. This one begins with a very good question. How is governing by the constitution different from constitutional government. The piece begins by talking about Xi swearing on the PRC constitution as president in the NPC in March 2018. It then says:

“Since modern times, China has tried various political systems such as constitutional monarchy, parliamentary system, multi-party system, and presidential system, but they all ended in failure. History has proved that the path of Western ‘constitutionalism’ is simply not feasible in China. After long-term practical exploration and theoretical thinking, the Chinese Communist Party has led the people to successfully establish, persist in and expand the path of socialist political development with Chinese characteristics and the road of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics. The current constitution of our country was formulated and continuously improved on the basis of profoundly summarising the successful experience of China’s socialist revolution, development, and reform. It is the inevitable result of the historical logic, theoretical logic and practical logic of our Party leading the people in their long-term struggle. The constitution of our country, in the form of a fundamental law, establishes the core leadership position of the Communist Party of China, stipulates that China’s state system is a people’s democratic dictatorship and the government system is a people’s congress system. When we say that we insist on governing the country according to the constitution and governing according to the constitution, it entails unswervingly insisting on the leadership of the Communist Party of China as determined by the constitution, and adhering to the unshakable state system of the people’s democratic dictatorship and the system of people’s congress as determined by the constitution.” 近代以来,围绕“宪法”、“立宪”,中国尝试过君主立宪制、议会制、多党制、总统制等各种政治制度,但最终都以失败告终。历史证明,西方“宪政”这条路,在中国根本走不通。经过长期实践探索和理论思考,中国共产党带领人民成功开辟、坚持和拓展了中国特色社会主义政治发展道路和中国特色社会主义法治道路。我国现行宪法是在深刻总结我国社会主义革命、建设、改革的成功经验基础上制定和不断完善的,是我们党领导人民长期奋斗历史逻辑、理论逻辑、实践逻辑的必然结果。我国宪法以根本法的形式,确立了中国共产党在国家中的领导核心地位,规定我国的国体是人民民主专政、政体是人民代表大会制度。我们说坚持依宪治国、依宪执政,就包括坚持宪法确定的中国共产党领导地位不动摇,坚持宪法确定的人民民主专政的国体和人民代表大会制度的政体不动摇.

And how is this different from constitutional government or constitutionalism?

Well, “Marxism believes that the constitution as a superstructure is determined by the economic base. The capitalist constitution and the political system that it engenders are based on private ownership. Capital determines the operation of social machinery. Irrespective of whether it is the system of constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary system, or a presidential system, this does not change the nature of political rule in capitalist countries. The constitution formulated by our party and led by the people is the first people’s constitution in the true sense in Chinese history. It has distinct socialist attributes, embodies the common will of all the people, is supported and observed by the overwhelming majority of the people, and realises the high unity of the party’s ideas and the people’s will. To persist in governing the country and governing in accordance with the constitution, it is necessary to fully implement the constitution, ensure that the people enjoy extensive rights and freedoms in accordance with the lawsafeguard the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people, and realise the people’s yearning and pursuit of a better life.” 我们坚持的依宪治国、依宪执政,与西方所谓的“宪政”本质上是不同的。马克思主义认为,宪法作为上层建筑,是由经济基础决定的。资本主义的宪法及其确立的政治制度是以私有制为基础的,资本决定着社会机器的运转,不论是君主立宪制还是议会制、总统制,都没有改变资本主义国家政治统治的本质。我们党领导人民制定的宪法,是中国历史上第一部真正意义上的人民宪法,具有鲜明的社会主义属性,体现了全体人民的共同意志,得到最广大人民拥护和遵行,实现了党的主张和人民意志的高度统一。坚持依宪治国、依宪执政,要不折不扣贯彻实施宪法,保证人民依法享有广泛的权利和自由,维护最广大人民根本利益,实现人民群众对美好生活的向往和追求.

Here’s more:

“To rule the country and govern in accordance with the constitution is in no way to weaken, deny or abandon the leadership of the Party, but rather to emphasise that the Party leads the people in formulating constitutional laws, the Party leads the people in implementing constitutional laws, and the Party itself must operate within the scope of constitutional laws…Nowadays some people play the ‘constitutional government’ card, that is, by packaging the political concept of ‘constitutional government’ academically, they view China from the prism of Western ‘constitutional government’ standards, argue that China’s is not a ‘constitutional state’ or it is not a country with ‘rule of law’; they allege that the socialist state led by the Party is best placed in the category of a ‘country ruled by man’ or even and ‘authoritarian state’, and use the so-called ‘constitutional government’ conceptualisation to hollow out the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. Anyone who denies the leadership of the CPC and the fundamental system of socialism on any pretext is wrong, harmful and absolutely unacceptable, and is also fundamentally violating the Constitution.” 现在一些人打出“宪政”牌,就是通过对“宪政”这一政治概念进行学术包装,拿西方“宪政”的标准来框住我们,攻击我们不是“宪政国家”、“法治国家”,把党领导的社会主义国家打入“人治国家”甚至“专制国家”的另类,用所谓“宪政”架空中国共产党领导. 任何人以任何借口否定中国共产党领导和社会主义根本制度,都是错误的、有害的,都是绝对不能接受的,也是从根本上违反宪法的.

What that said, in the new era: “We must be confident in the national guiding ideology, development path and goals established by our Constitution, confident in the leadership of the CPC and our socialist system confirmed by our Constitution, and confident in the advanced socialist culture and excellent Chinese traditional culture created by our Party under the leadership of the people confirmed by our Constitution.” 我们要对我国宪法确立的国家指导思想、发展道路、奋斗目标充满自信,对我国宪法确认的中国共产党领导和我国社会主义制度充满自信,对我国宪法确认的我们党领导人民创造的社会主义先进文化和中华优秀传统文化充满自信.

The next question basically talks about the Party’s relationship with the constitution and law. So if the CCP is the core of the system, but it also emphasises the supremacy of the constitution and the law. Then what is the relationship between the party's leadership and the rule of law? The answer that people who juxtapose the Party and the law and ask which is supreme can tend to have ulterior motives - 醉翁之意不在酒 zuì wēng zhī yì bù zài jiǔ - loosely translated as a “a drinker’s real interest is not in the drink” - For folks in India, I think the Hindi translation is richer in conveying the meaning: शराबी का असली मतलब शराब नहीं है.

The answer then given is that “the law is the unified expression of the party’s propositions and the people’s will. The party leads the people to formulate the constitution and laws and also leads the people to implement the constitution and laws. The party itself must act within the scope of the constitution and laws.” After some more elaboration, there’s this warning:

“One of the major reasons for the collapse of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of the Soviet Union was that, at the instigation of Western forces, the Soviet Union removed from its Constitution Article 6, which insisted on the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, with the result that the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union became ‘unconstitutional’ and had to be dissolved, leading to the death of the Party and the country. This lesson is extremely profound. In a socialist country, the rule of law must adhere to the leadership of the party, and the leadership of the party must rely on the rule of law.” 当年,苏共垮台和苏联解体的一个重要原因,就是在西方势力的鼓动下,苏联从宪法中取消了坚持苏共领导地位的第六条,结果是苏共领导成了“违宪”,最后只能解散,导致亡党亡国. 这个教训极其深刻. 在社会主义国家,法治必须坚持党的领导,党的领导必须依靠法治.

And then there’s this call for people: “For all kinds of arguments that deliberately ‘dig holes’ and ‘set traps’, we must have strategic determination, and clearly declare political positions and attitudes.” 对于那些故意“挖坑”、“设陷阱”的形形色色论调,一定要有战略定力,旗帜鲜明地宣示政治立场、表明政治态度. It also calls for “promoting the the institutionalisation of the Party’s leadership” and “ensuring the effective implementation of the Party's line, principles and policies through the rule of law.” With all of this said, there’s also a warning to cadres to not use the Party’s leadership as a “shield” and “abuse” law. It says that throughout history, power has been a “double-edged sword.” When exercised in line with "the rule of law, it can benefit the people. But when exercised outside the bounds of law, it will harm the country and the people. The specific focus here is on “leading cadres” at all levels to set examples.

XXI. Strict Governance & Self-Revolution

Today we have the 21st piece in the series on Xi Thought, phew! The first question today says: “Why is the comprehensive strict governance of the Party a great self-revolution?”

The response tells us that from the 18th Party Congress to the end of 2019, around 333,000 cases of violations of the eight central regulations have been investigated and dealt with. This covered 414 central-level cadres, 18,000 cadres at the bureau level and 137,000 cadres at the county level. So why is this self-revolution needed?

“As Marx pointed out, the difference between proletarian revolution and other revolutions lies in that it criticizes itself and grows by criticizing itself. To defeat a strong enemy one must overcome one’s own weaknesses first.* The Communist Party of China is a Marxist political party, and the nature of the party determines that our party has no special interests of its own except the interests of the country, nation and people. Only by not seeking self-interest can we seek the foundation and profit, and be qualified, emboldened and brave in facing problems and self-revolution.” 正如马克思指出的,无产阶级革命与其他革命不同之处就在于:它自己批评自己,并靠批评自己壮大起来. “能胜强敌者,先自胜者也。”中国共产党作为马克思主义政党,党的性质决定了我们党除了国家、民族、人民的利益,没有任何自己的特殊利益. 不谋私利才能谋根本、谋大利,才有资格、有底气敢于直面问题、勇于自我革命. 

*translation of the phrase to convey its meaning rather than a literal translation. 能胜强敌者,先自胜者也 - Néng shēng qiáng dí zhě, xiān zì shèng zhě yě.

Our party has matured through continuous self-criticism and self-revolution. We have picked up scalpels to eliminate diseases, solved our own problems time and time again, and overcome seemingly insurmountable difficulties one after another. History has shown us that we must continue to carry out self-revolution, resolutely fight against all issues that affect the party’s advanced nature and weaken the party’s purity, and achieve self-purification, self-improvement, and self-renewal.” 我们党就是在不断自我批评、自我革命中成长成熟的,一次次拿起手术刀革除自身的病症,一次次靠自己解决了自身问题,攻克了一个又一个看似不可攻克的难关. 历史深刻昭示我们,必须不断进行自我革命,同一切影响党的先进性、弱化党的纯洁性的问题作坚决斗争,实现自我净化、自我完善、自我革新、自我提高.

The piece then quotes Xi warning cadres that “no external force can defeat us. Only we can defeat ourselves...Things must rot first, and only then do insects grow.” 东西必须先腐烂,然后昆虫才会生长.

Then we get a breakdown of what comprehensive strict governance means. So comprehensive means all across the Party, but with a specific focus on a “key few.” Strict means...err, I guess it means to be strict. And governance means “from the CPC Central Committee to local party committees at all levels, from the central ministries and commissions, the party committees of state organs and departments to the grassroots party branches, they must shoulder the main responsibility, and the party secretary should take party building as a matter of key responsibility; disciplinary committees at all levels should shoulder the responsibility of supervision...be brave in discipline and accountability.” “治”就是从党中央到地方各级党委,从中央部委、国家机关部门党组(党委)到基层党支部,都要肩负起主体责任,党委书记要把抓好党建当作分内之事、必须担当的职责;各级纪委要担负起监督责任,敢于瞪眼黑脸,勇于执纪问责。

Comprehensive strict governance requires enhancing the “systematic” style of operation and having “foresight, creativity, effectiveness” so that all efforts “are focused on enhancing the party's self-purification, self-perfection, self-renovation, self-improvement capacity.” The final paragraph of the answer talks about the achievements in this process since the 18th Party Congress.

  • Integration of strict governance across the Four-pronged Comprehensive Strategy, i.e., comprehensively building a well-off society, comprehensively deepening reform, comprehensively implementing the rule of law and Comprehensively strengthening the Party's discipline.

  • implementation of the eight central regulations to improve the style of work.

  • Establishment of an effective supervision and discipline system

  • Mass line education campaign

  • Campaign to emphasise original aspiration

  • “From the strict regulation of political life within the party to the efforts to create a clear and beautiful political ecology”

This paragraph towards the end is useful:

Although there have been historic achievements in the Party’s comprehensive strict governance, this effort is still far from complete. The long-term, complex, and severe nature of the risks and challenges imply that it is necessary to be consistent and persistent in governing the Party strictly...It is necessary to fully implement the general requirements of party building in the new era, adhere to strict ideology, strict supervision, strict discipline, strict governance of officials, strict style of work and strict anti-corruption efforts, improve and implement the system of comprehensive strict governance of the Party...党面临的风险挑战的长期性、复杂性、严峻性,决定了全面从严治党必须一以贯之、持之以恒,不能有差不多了该松口气、歇歇脚的想法,不能有打好一仗就一劳永逸的想法,不能有初见成效就见好就收的想法. 要全面贯彻新时代党的建设总要求,坚持思想从严、监督从严、执纪从严、治吏从严、作风从严、反腐从严,完善和落实全面从严治党制度,以彻底的自我革命精神,以永远在路上的执着,把全面从严治党这场伟大自我革命进行到底。

The next question is why is the CCP a Marxist ruling party but also a Marxist revolutionary party?

There has been a popular argument for some time that our party has changed from a ‘revolutionary party’ to a ‘ruling party’, and now it is only a ‘ruling party’ instead of a ‘revolutionary party’. This statement is not only untenable in theory, but also inconsistent with historical facts. In reality, it has caused ideological ambiguity, which is wrong and harmful.” 一段时间以来,有一种流行的说法是,我们党从“革命党”变成了“执政党”,现在只是“执政党”,而不是“革命党”。这种说法不仅在理论上站不住脚,而且与历史事实不符。现实中造成了思想上的模糊认识,是错误的,也是有害的.

It tells us that “General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized that there is no distinction between ‘revolutionary party’ and ‘ruling party’; revolution and ruling are not to be regarded as two completely different things. This reveals the dialectical unity of our party as a Marxist ruling party and Marxist revolutionary party.” 习近平总书记强调,这里面并没有区分“革命党”和“执政党”,并没有把革命和执政当作两个截然不同的事情. 这揭示了我们党作为马克思主义执政党与马克思主义革命党的辩证统一.

“Marxism holds that ‘revolution is the locomotive of history,’ ‘a powerful driving force for social and political progress’ and that ‘the first step of the workers' revolution is to make the proletariat rise to the position of the ruling class.’ After the proletariat holds state power, it is necessary to establish new relations of production, and on this basis, carry out extensive and profound social revolution.” 马克思主义认为,“革命是历史的火车头”,是“社会进步和政治进步的强大推动力”,“工人革命的第一步就是使无产阶级上升为统治阶级”;在无产阶级掌握国家政权之后,就要建立新的生产关系,在此基础上展开广泛而深刻的社会革命.

The next paragraph tells us that the CCP took power with a revolution and has never forgotten revolution while in power. The author casts the Soviet period, the Maoist era of the PRC, and reform and opening up within this revolutionary light. In essence, the argument being made is that the Party under Deng Xiaoping was not breaking from its revolutionary past; rather it was in a different phase of revolution, which entailed removing “all ideological and institutional obstacles that hindered the development of the country.” Finally, in the new era, 

“in order to fulfil the party's historical mission and push forward the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, we must always maintain the revolutionary spirit and fighting spirit under the long-term ruling conditions, and continue to push forward the great social revolution that our party has led the people for a hundred years. We must never be proud of our victory, never slack off because of our achievements, and never retreat because of difficulties...The longer our party is in power, the more we cannot lose the essence of being a Marxist party, the more we cannot forget the original mission of the party, the more we cannot forget that we are communists, we are revolutionaries, and we should not lose our revolutionary spirit.” 进入新时代,要完成好党的历史使命,把中国特色社会主义事业继续推向前进,就必须在长期执政条件下,始终保持革命精神、革命斗志,将我们党领导人民进行了百年的伟大社会革命继续推进下去,决不能因为胜利而骄傲,决不能因为成就而懈怠,决不能因为困难而退缩...我们党越是长期执政,就越不能丢掉马克思主义政党的本色,越不能忘记党的初心使命,越不能忘记我们是共产党人,我们是革命者,不要丧失了革命精神.

XXII. Party’s Political Construction, Listening to Xi’s Voice & Low-level Red and High-level Black

Today we have the 22nd piece in the Xi Thought series. The first question is about the significance of political construction of the Party.

It says that taking a “clear-cut stand on politics is the fundamental requirement of Marxist political parties.” All political parties are representatives of specific class interests. All political parties have political attributes and have their own political missions, political goals, and political pursuits. Taking the emancipation of the proletariat and all mankind as its own responsibility and having a clear political stand are the distinguishing characteristics of a Marxist party from other parties. As a Marxist party, our party has lofty political ideals and noble political pursuits. It has never shied away from its own political attributes and political missions. If the party’s political advancement is lost, the party’s advancement and purity will be impossible to maintain. This is the reason why we regard political building as the fundamental aspect of party building.” 旗帜鲜明讲政治是马克思主义政党的根本要求。政党是特定阶级利益的代表,任何政党都有政治属性,都有自己的政治使命、政治目标、政治追求。以无产阶级和全人类的解放为己任,把鲜明的政治观点写在自己的旗帜上,是马克思主义政党区别于其他政党的显著特征。我们党作为马克思主义政党,具有崇高政治理想、高尚政治追求,从不讳言自己的政治属性和政治使命,如果党在政治上的先进性丧失了,党的先进性和纯洁性就无从谈起。这就是我们把政治建设作为党的根本性建设的道理所在.

After a bit of history, we get to the new era:

The general requirements of party building in the new era emphasize the comprehensive promotion of the Party's political development, ideological development, organizational development, work-style advancement, and discipline construction should be comprehensively promoted and overall system development should be advanced through these with the deepening of the fight against corruption. And in this context, among these, the Party’s political construction is the most important, occupying the leading position; it is fundamental and the core. 新时代党的建设总要求强调,全面推进党的政治建设、思想建设、组织建设、作风建设、纪律建设,把制度建设贯穿其中,深入推进反腐败斗争. 这里面,党的政治建设是最重要的,居于统领地位,是核心、是根本.

The next bit talks about the work done since the 18th Party Congress and adds:

“we must be soberly aware that the political problems existing in the Party have not been fundamentally solved, and the problems of some comrades neglecting politics and downplaying politics are still quite prominent...Our party has more than 91 million party members and more than 4.6 million grass-roots party organizations. It is not an easy task to maintain and develop the political attributes of Marxist political parties. We cannot expect to completely solve the problems by having a general grasp or by concentrating our firepower on a few battles. The party's political construction is an eternal subject, which should not be slackened in the future, but must be constantly grasped.同时,必须清醒看到,党内存在的政治问题还没有得到根本解决,一些同志忽视政治、淡化政治的问题还比较突出...我们党有9100多万名党员和460多万个基层党组织,保持和发展马克思主义政党的政治属性不是一件容易的事,不能指望泛泛抓一抓或者集中火力打几个战役就能彻底解决问题...党的政治建设是一个永恒课题,来不得半点松懈,必须常抓不懈.

Then we get a very direct comparison of Xi with Mao:

During the war years, the Party Central Committee and Chairman Mao used the radio to command the whole Party and the whole army. The ‘tick-tock, tick-tock’ sound then was the voice of the Party Central Committee and Chairman Mao, which the whole Party and the whole army followed and implemented unconditionally. In the new era, we should also listen to the exciting new ticking; this ‘tick-tock, tick-tock’ sound is the voice of the Party Central Committee and General Secretary Xi Jinping; it too must be unconditionally implemented. We must resolutely maintain the position of General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core of the CPC Central Committee and resolutely maintain the authority of the Party Central Committee and centralized and unified leadership…”

It also talks about “preventing and correcting all wrong words and deeds that deviate from the ‘two maintenance.’ There’s a call to “discover and correct all kinds of ‘low-level red’ (低级红) and ‘high-level black’ (高级黑’) phenomena in time, and be highly vigilant against all kinds of ‘pseudo-loyalty or false reverence’ (伪忠诚) and ‘two-faced groups’ (两面派).”

  • This China Media Project piece explains that low-level red “now refers in official CCP parlance to language or conduct that is intended to praise the Party or government, but which ultimately has the opposite effect because it is patently false, cheap, or ill-considered.” 

  • This one explains that high-level black “refers to the act of using humorous language to criticize and satirize, or to offered exaggerated praise on the surface in what is actually an act of criticism.”

The next question asks: why are ideals and beliefs the spiritual “calcium” of Communists? The answer is that look at the CPSU... “The CPSU seized power when it had 200,000 members, defeated Hitler when it had 2 million members, and lost power when it had nearly 20 million members. The reason for this was it had lost its ideals and beliefs. “Both history and reality warn us: a political party with firm ideals and convictions will have incomparable power; if ideals and convictions are weak, it will become a mob, and it will dissipate as soon as the wind blows.” 历史和现实都告诫我们:一个政党理想信念坚定,就拥有无比强大的力量;理想信念淡薄,就会成为乌合之众,风一吹就散.

Then there’s another message to cadres:

“Ideals become ideals because of their loftiness, and beliefs become convictions because of persistence.” 理想因其远大而为理想, 信念因其执着而为信念. In this context, then there’s emphasis on ideological construction, ensuring that cadres are prepared to ensure hardships, have the courage to shoulder burdens, deal with major political trials and develop a sense of purpose. Then there’s emphasis on ideals and beliefs-linked education to ensure that these become a “beacon” that guides the hearts and minds of cadres and the party as a whole.

XXIII. Loyal, Clean and Responsible Cadres & Formalism and Bureaucracy

We have the 23rd report on Xi Jinping Thought. I struggled with lots of terms and concepts in this one; but I think I’ve captured the key points here. The first question is about the need to train high-quality cadres who are loyal, clean and responsible. The answer begins with a bit about Jiao Yulu. The piece talks about the Party historically emphasising both skill and morality. It talks about the Party’s talent policy focusing on people both “being red and professional” - or “having both ability and political integrity, putting morality first while appointing people on their merits.”

Then since the 18th Party Congress, Xi has elaborated on the requirements from cadres of serving the people, diligence, pragmatism, the desire to take on challenges, honesty, self-discipline, particularly when it comes to use of power…“having a party in your heart, having people in your heart, having responsibilities in your heart,” having “iron beliefs” and virtue, etc. This bit ends with: 

“Emphasizing loyalty, cleanness and responsibility reflects the clear orientation of selecting and appointing people not only focusing on ability, but also paying more attention to political literacy and moral character (政治素养和道德品质), and embodies the inherent requirements of the party's organizational line in the new era.” 

What does loyalty imply?

“It is to be loyal to the party’s beliefs, loyal to the party organization, loyal to the party’s theory, line, principles and policies, earnestly enhance the ‘four consciousnesses’, strengthen the ‘four self-confidences’, and achieve ‘two maintenance’, and always maintain a high degree of consistency with the CPC Central Committee in terms of political positions, political directions, political principles and political path; we must respect power, manage power well, use power cautiously, be self-respectful and self-motivated, be cautious and cautiously guard one’s political life, maintain the political nature of resisting corruption and preventing corrosion...We must adhere to principles, perform our duties, be brave enough to take on our responsibilities, shine in the face of challenges, rise to difficulties in the face of contradictions, stand up in the face of crises, take responsibility in the face of mistakes, and fight resolutely in the face of bad styles.” 就是要对党的信仰忠诚,对党组织忠诚,对党的理论和路线方针政策忠诚,切实增强“四个意识”、坚定“四个自信”、做到“两个维护”,始终在政治立场、政治方向、政治原则、政治道路上同党中央保持高度一致;就是要敬畏权力、管好权力、慎用权力,做到自重自省自警自励、慎独慎微慎始慎终,守住自己的政治生命,保持拒腐蚀、永不沾的政治本色;就是要坚持原则、认真负责,面对大是大非敢于亮剑,面对矛盾敢于迎难而上,面对危机敢于挺身而出,面对失误敢于承担责任,面对歪风邪气敢于坚决斗争. 

Then there’s this bit:

At present, most leading cadres are politically reliable and have good styles. At the same time, it is undeniable that there are still some old problems rebounding and new problems constantly appearing in the construction of the cadre team. Some of the problems it talks about are:

  • people being “two-faced” (两面派) when discussing the central government’s policies;

  • People engaging in “small circles” or factionalism; 

  • something that I simply did not understand - so would be great to get some inputs from you folks - (有的热衷于搞“小圈子”“拜码头”“拿天线”); 

  • officials lacking entrepreneurial spirit or delaying/refusing to take decisions

  • officials disregarding Central Committee directives

Here’s the original paragraph: 强调领导干部要做到忠诚干净担当,具有很强的现实针对性。现在大多数领导干部政治上是可靠的,作风上也是好的,同时不可否认,干部队伍建设中依然存在一些老问题反弹回潮、新问题不断出现的情况。比如,有的党员干部妄议中央大政方针,当两面派、做两面人;有的热衷于搞“小圈子”、“拜码头”、“搭天线”;有的不顾党中央三令五申,依然不收敛、不收手;有的干事创业精气神不够,畏首畏尾不敢拍板定事,干工作推诿拖延;等等。这些问题严重破坏党的团结和集中统一,严重败坏干部队伍形象,严重影响党和人民事业发展。必须强化问题意识和问题导向,坚持从严教育、从严管理、从严监督,着力培养忠诚干净担当的高素质干部.

The next question today is about the need to oppose formalism and bureaucracy. The response begins with reference to a CCTV documentary (English report on the issue) talking about illegal villas built at the northern foot of the Qinling Mountains in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. Xi’s first directives on these were issued in May 2014. In all, he issued six directives to get rid of these villas. But the leading cadres of the provincial and municipal party committees did not act as required; in fact, they “only said things but they did not act.” This is cited as an example of formalism and bureaucracy, “which has seriously hindered the implementation of the major decisions and deployments of the Party Central Committee.”

The piece says that although formalism and bureaucracy manifest in various forms, in essence it is about a deviation from the Party’s spirit, a loss of purpose in action. 虽然形式主义、官僚主义表现多样,形形色色,但究其实质都是从根子上背离了党性、丢掉了宗旨.

Then the response says that “formalism and bureaucracy kill people, and are the great enemy of our party and the great enemy of the people. This issue is related to the hearts and minds of the people, the survival of the party.” 形式主义、官僚主义害死人,是我们党的大敌、人民的大敌. 作风问题关系人心向背,关系党的生死存亡.

It leads to wastage of resources and delayed action; this in turn can alienate the masses, “just like an invisible wall separating the party from the people, just like a ruthless knife cutting off the flesh-and-blood ties between the party and the people.” 就像一道无形的墙把党和人民隔开,就像一把无情的刀切断了党和人民的血肉联系.

So what should be done?

To oppose formalism, the Party should focus on addressing the problem of unrealistic work, urge leading cadres to establish a correct view of political achievements, overcome impetuousness and abandon selfish and self-serving distractions. 反对形式主义要着重解决工作不实问题,督促领导干部树立正确政绩观,克服浮躁情绪,抛弃私心杂念.

To oppose bureaucracy, the Party should focus on addressing the problem of officials not doing what is in the interest of the masses; officials should focus on the fundamental and long-term interests of the broadest number of masses but also address the more immediate and direct needs of the people. 反对官僚主义要着重解决在人民利益上不维护、不作为问题,既注重维护最广大人民根本利益和长远利益,又切实解决群众最关心最直接最现实的利益问题.

The piece then goes on to caution that the problem of formalism and bureaucracy is a long-term issue. However, at present, the high pressure that has been maintained has led to the space for this “disease” being squeezed, but it’s a stubborn disease; and in some sense there has been a metamorphosis of sorts. Therefore, vigilance is required. 当前,在强有力的高压态势下,形式主义、官僚主义的生存空间被大大挤压,但顽疾尚未根除,在一些地方、一些领域、一些党员干部身上,形式主义、官僚主义走进“青纱帐”、穿上“隐形衣”, 改头换面, 有了新的表现.

XXIV. Party Discipline & Caging Power

We have the 24th piece in the Xi Thought series. The first question today is about Party discipline. Basically the response is that “Party discipline and rules are the code of conduct that all Party organizations and all Party members must abide by. The different types of discipline are:

  • political discipline

  • organizational discipline

  • integrity discipline 

  • mass discipline

  • work discipline 

  • life discipline


Useful to note that this is not just about professional conduct or corruption. It is about ideology and morality outside of public life too. And this is not surprising, right? We’ve seen adultery and licentiousness often mentioned in reports on disciplinary violations when it comes to some officials. 

Also, we learn that discipline entails written (“party constitution, party guidelines, national laws, and the fine traditions and working practices that the party has formed in its long-term practice.”) and unwritten rules. We also learn that the rules that are not explicitly included in discipline are matters of self-discipline. 纪律是成文的规矩,一些未明文列入纪律的规矩是不成文的纪律;纪律是刚性的规矩,一些未明文列入纪律的规矩是自我约束的纪律.

There’s an interesting anecdote in there about how after Zhou Enlai’s death, some people went to visit Deng Yingchao and asked her about some things. She responded by saying she didn’t know. Surprised, the other party asked her how she wouldn’t know things that Zhou knew. And she said: “Don’t think that I know everything that Comrade Enlai knew; he never said anything I shouldn’t know.” 邓颖超说,“不要以为恩来同志知道的事情我都知道,不该我知道的事他是从来不说的”. -- Ergo, discipline implies prioritising the Party and responsibilities towards the Party above all else, including family.

The next bit talks about the need to ensure “iron discipline.” Data from the discipline inspection campaign is highlighted to talk about how certain problems continue to persist. 

“The first and foremost thing that should be done to tighten the Party’s discipline is to tighten political discipline. Political discipline is the most fundamental and important discipline of our party…” In this the piece warns against political discipline simply becoming a perfunctory matter - something just for show; this, it says, could lead to a “broken window effect” 破窗效应, which could eventually lead to the disintegration of the party. 严明党的纪律,首要的是严明政治纪律。政治纪律是我们党最根本、最重要的纪律,是全党在政治方向、政治立场、政治言论、政治行动方面的刚性约束。如果党的政治纪律成了摆设,就会形成“破窗效应”,党就会沦为各取所需、各行其是的“私人俱乐部”,最终导致分崩离析,“忽喇喇似大厦倾”.

Therefore, it is important to adhere to the two maintenances, have no exceptions to the rules for anyone, not tolerate actions that are prohibited and ensure that central decisions are implemented. All Party members are called on to study and “internalise” the constitution and also “externalise” it in their actions. There should be no “secret doors” or “skylights” for offenders to escape through.

The next question is about the idea of constraining power in a cage. This is about governing the Party effectively and coordinating Party governance with national laws. The idea is that “a good system can prevent bad people from operating arbitrarily, and a bad system can prevent good people from doing good things well.” Therefore, there must be mechanisms to constrain and guide the exercise of power and authority, i.e., governing according to law. It says that “As long as public power exists, it must be restricted, otherwise it will be abused.”只要公权力存在,就必须受到制约,否则就会被滥用. 

“Leading cadres at all levels must bear in mind that no one has absolute power outside the law. Anyone who exercises power must serve the people, be responsible to the people, and consciously accept the people's supervision.” 各级领导干部都要牢记,任何人都没有法律之外的绝对权力,任何人行使权力都必须为人民服务、对人民负责并自觉接受人民监督.

So how does one place power in a cage? Well, first, it is important to build a cage. This refers to internal party guidelines, national laws, education and improving the party and state supervision system. In the context of the latter, there’s reference to supervisors being ineffective in the past because they’ve been worried about losing support, taking tough decisions and disturbing the “peace”  of the system. Going ahead, the article calls for:

“strengthening the supervision of senior cadres and leading cadres at all levels, improve the internal supervision system of leading bodies, and solve the problems of supervising the top leaders and peer supervision.” 重点加强对高级干部、各级主要领导干部的监督,完善领导班子内部监督制度,破解对一把手监督和同级监督难题. In this context too, the aim is to strengthen political supervision first.

XXV. Party’s Approach to Deal with Corruption

We have the 25th piece in the Xi Thought series. The first question is about corruption. This talks about why is the approach to ensure that officials “dare not, can not, will not be corrupt?

It begins by talking about the Sky Net campaign, and then says that “Corruption is a social cancer and the greatest threat to our Party.” 腐败是社会毒瘤,是我们党面临的最大威胁. The piece emphasizes that the fight against corruption must be comprehensive and strict. It quotes Xi as saying that “if you don't offend hundreds of corrupt elements, you will end up offending more than one billion people.” 习近平总书记斩钉截铁地指出,不得罪成百上千的腐败分子,就要得罪十几亿人民,这是一笔再明白不过的政治账、人心向背的账. 

The piece talks about an organic unity between tasks in terms of the goals of “dare not, can not, will not be corrupt.” This is not something that’s a reference to stages of tackling corruption.

In essence, the argument is that first, there has to be a deterrence effect, which was established by taking out tigers; second, there must be institutional safeguards and processes, scientific approach to allocation and exercise of power, and effective supervision and accountability; third, i.e., the will not, refers to education on ideals and beliefs and the Party’s spiritual inheritance. 

This is important going ahead:

At present, the fight against corruption has achieved an overwhelming victory, but the severity and complexity of the situation can not be underestimated at all. Despite repeated orders from the Party Central Committee, some cadres still do not stop and do not restrain themselves, continuing to act in a contrary manner. 当前,反腐败斗争已经取得压倒性胜利,但对形势的严峻性和复杂性一点也不能低估。尽管党中央三令五申,一些干部仍然不收手、不收敛,心存侥幸、顶风作案.

The second question is about the new development concept opening up a new dimension of the socialist political economy with Chinese characteristics. I am not going into this here because it’s basically similar to pieces explaining the concept earlier. If you are interested, do check out my breakdown of the April 9 Ren Ping commentary on the NDC and the May 11 ​​Ren Lixuan piece on it.