By Ritu Raj Subedi (28 August 2018) – As the West-led international order is crumbling away, China stands to take the lead. The Asian giant is filling the void with multiple initiatives, thanks to the vision and dynamism of President Xi Jinping, who offers a credible recipe to fix the world’s vexing problems that range from trade wars and economic crisis to governance failures and ecological disasters.
Named after Chinese President Xi Jinping, Xi Jinping Thought has become a defining political ideology in contemporary history and has its own space in the preamble of the Constitution of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The ideology not only details a roadmap for transforming China into a great modern socialist nation by the middle of this century but also calls for redefining the global governance system with justice, fairness, equality, and peaceful cooperation.
A human face to globalization
As U.S.President Donald Trump’s anti-trade, anti-globalization, anti-immigration, and anti-climate policies have alarmed the world, Xi Jinping Thought raises hope with a commitment to”build a community of shared future for mankind. “In his political report presented to the CPC’s 19th National Congress last year, Xi said, “We call on the people of all countries to work together to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity.”
Neoliberal-driven globalization has created significant gaps between the haves and have-nots. Xi, also head of the CPC, strives to give a human face to globalization to cure the problems triggered by corporate-led capitalism. He stands for “making economic globalization more open, inclusive, and balanced so that its benefits are shared by all.”
Taken aback by China’s peaceful rise, some Western countries are skeptical about China’s global aspirations primarily due to their poor understanding of its 5,000-year-old civilization and the revolutionary consciousness that evolved through fighting against domestic feudalism and foreign aggression.
The Chinese president has staunchly defended the post war multilateral system and free trade regime that Trump is intent on tearing apart. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate deal sharply contrasts Xi’s defense of an “ecological civilization” that is critical for the preservation of the planet and the human race.
Amidst Trump’s growing irrational tantrums and the European Union’s deepening discord, Xi unveiled a string of initiatives to promote multilateral cooperation and overcome democratic deficits that have enervated the “international order” based on the principles of the United Nations, Bretton Woods institutions and other multilateral organizations and mechanisms.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO), Boao Forum for Asia, the 16+1 group and BRICS are some major China-led initiatives that have boosted economic cooperation, connectivity, trade, investment, industrialization, technological innovation, and people to people relations.
With an ever-increasing number of participating countries, these initiatives are effective economic instruments to achieve win-win benefits for all. The BRI, approved by the U.N., has been described as “the project of the century” as it enhances connectivity among the continents through massive investment in the construction of roads, railways, ports, industries, hydro plants, transmission lines, and other basic infrastructure essential for the reduction of global poverty.
Despite the Western media’s anti-China rhetoric, China’s credibility has grown on the world stage because of its policy to respect and defend the rights and sovereignty of all nations irrespective of their size. “No matter what stage of development it reaches, China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion,” Xi said. However, Western media continues to invoke the “China Threat Theory” to undermine China’s peaceful rise.
How does the Xi Jinping Thought-guided Chinese version of the global governance system differ from the Anglo-Saxon-led hegemonic model of international order?
- China stands for a socialistmarket economy while Western capitalism is driven by a freewheeling market that causes cyclic crises in the capitalist world.
- China stresses a multilateral-based cooperative system against the hegemonic system of the West.
- Unlike the West’s penchant for “security alliances,” China focuses on regional economic development and cooperation.
- The West divides the world into “We” and “They,” but China promotes the common interest of humanity.
- Western powers withdraw from failed states, but China steps into the breach to fix their problems by promoting reconciliation and harmony.
- China strives to build an interdependent world in contrast to the West’s inclination for creating a dependency of nations. China believes in the mutual sharing of burdens and benefits of partnership.
Vibrant guiding principle
On the domestic front, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era has become a vibrant guiding principle for the Party as well as the people. It has become the Chinese version of Marxism that combines the ancient progressive values inherent in Confucius’ teachings with epoch-making thoughts of Mao and Deng. It derives spiritual inspiration from Confucianism, revolutionary zeal from Mao, and reformist approach from Deng.
Achieving the national rejuvenation of the Chinese dream is the key goal of Xi Jinping Thought.
It has 14 main principles that call for complete and deep reform and new developing ideas, absolute authority of the party over the people’s army, harmonious living between man and nature, and one country two systems and reunification with the motherland. It lucidly highlights the latest achievements in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context.
Xi’s two volumes of The Governance of China and his political report presented in the CPC’s 19th national congress have articulated the theoretical underpinnings of his thought. It has not only enriched the ideological contents of the Party but also brought immense prosperity to the Chinese people. Xi has put forward a two-stage development plan for the period from 2020 to the middle of the 21st century to usher China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful.
Xi says the principal contradiction facing the Chinese society is between the unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.
Xi Jinping Thought synthesizes the experiences of the success and failure of the communist movement from around the world. The Soviet Union collapsed as its leaders abused the state powers to transform themselves into an elite class only to be alienated from the masses. This is one of the main reasons why the people refused to take to the streets to defend communism when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991.
Xi Jinping Thought takes lessons from the downfall of Soviet communism and commits to keeping a strong bond between the Party and people. Xi said, “We must do more to protect our people’s interest, and firmly oppose all moves that damage their interests or put distance between the Party and the people.”
The CPC has enthusiastically implemented the “mass line” education policy to spur development and improve people’s livelihoods. The “mass line” guideline obliges CPC officials and members to “see things from the perspective of the masses, prioritize the interest of the people, and persist in representing them and working on their behalf.”
Immediately after assuming office in 2012, Xi launched an anti-corruption campaign to check the emergence of privileged classes within the Party and government. The Party acted to “take out tigers,” “swat flies,” and “hunt down foxes” to enforce good governance, transparency, and accountability in the public administration. This effectively stamped out the rent-seeking attitude, nepotism and possible illegal nexus between the Party’s members, businesses, and the market.
Socialist rule of law
“Chinese system of the socialist rule of law” is another highlight of Xi Jinping Thought. An innovative concept within the Marxist parlance, the socialist rule of law demands that Party leadership follow law-based governance, considered a critical requirement for socialism with Chinese characteristics. Xi attaches importance to embracing the core socialist values to further advance the ideal of communism based on the realities and context of the Chinese society.
While exercising full democratic control on the entire affairs of the state, the CPC has developed a socialist consultative democracy that enhances inner-party democracy, improves democratic institutions, diversifies the forms of democracy and establishes more democratic channels of communication with the people. China has implemented CPC-led multiparty cooperation, regional ethnic autonomy and community-level self-governance and grassroots democracy.
China’s unique experiment of socialist democracy strongly suggests that the term “democracy” has various forms and dimensions. It is not an individual property of the West. The Western-style of a multiparty democratic system has also suffered serious setbacks and turned out to be dysfunctional in many countries. The Chinese version of socialist democracy, as explained in Xi Jinping Thought, serves as an alternative to the capitalist-led democracy that has triggered frequent economic crises, gross inequality, and an ecological meltdown.
This article first appeared in China.org.cn. Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.