Socialism with Chinese Characteristics Has Entered a New Era: A Comprehensive Analysis
A major political determination was announced at the 19th National Congress of the CPC: socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. This specifies the new historical juncture in China’s development, endowing the Party’s historic mission, theoretical guideline, goals, and tasks with new currency. It also identifies the temporal context and scientific basis that enable us to fully appreciate the new features of contemporary China’s development and reform, and apply Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era in a more purposeful and determined manner.
I. Basic evidence that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era
The CPC was born in response to the trend of the times; its development, growth, and maturation have also been in conformity with the trend of the times. In today’s China, to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, it is essential that we understand the peculiarities of the current era and confront contemporary issues, so that Chinese socialism will continue to show strong vitality while embodying the spirit of the times, reflecting a mastery of the laws of development, and demonstrating creativity. With an accurate grasp of this new historical juncture in China’s development, our Party has made the major political determination that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, a determination with solid temporal, theoretical, and practical underpinnings.
First, this determination is based on the fact that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new stage of development.
Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core has accurately understood major development trends at home and abroad, and acted in line with practical needs and the people’s wishes. With great political courage and a strong sense of responsibility, the Central Committee has set the direction, made overall plans, and braved challenges with a pioneering spirit. On this basis, it has made historic achievements in reform, opening-up, and socialist modernization, and propelled historic changes in the undertakings of the Party and the country. The high intensity, wide scope, marked effect, and far-reaching impact of these changes are unprecedented in the history of the CPC, the history of the development of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the history of the development of the Chinese nation. On the basis of the major achievements made in China’s development since the founding of the PRC in 1949, especially those made since reform and opening-up, it is clear that China’s development has come to a new historical starting point and that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new stage of development. This new stage of development not only runs in continuity with the nearly 40 years of reform and opening-up, but also incorporates many new features of contemporary relevance. For example, it incorporates new breakthroughs in the Party’s theoretical innovations, major innovations in the Party’s methods and principles of governance, major shifts in the principles and models the Party uses to drive development, major changes in the environment and conditions in which China’s development takes place, and higher demands regarding the level and quality of development. In order to correctly understand and fully engage with the new stage of development at which socialism with Chinese characteristics finds itself, we need to make considerations and plans in light of this new historical juncture and temporal context.
Second, this determination is based on the evolution of the principal contradiction in Chinese society.
At the 19th National Congress, it was stated that the principal contradiction in Chinese society, which used to be that between the people’s ever-growing material and cultural needs and backward social production, has evolved into that between the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life and unbalanced and inadequate development. Regarding China’s development, this statement reflects its realities, reveals its major constraining factors, and identifies the fundamental priorities it faces today. After nearly 40 years of reform and opening-up, China has ensured the basic needs of over a billion people have been met, has basically made it possible for people to make a decent living, and will soon become a moderately prosperous society. Meanwhile, the people have increasingly broad needs to be met for a better life. Not only have they voiced growing material and cultural needs; they also have increased demands regarding democracy, rule of law, fairness and justice, security, and the environment. At the same time, China’s overall productive forces have significantly improved and in many areas the country’s production capacity leads the world. At present and into the future, a prominent problem we need to address is that of unbalanced and inadequate development. Unbalanced development refers to developmental imbalances between different regions, sectors of society, and aspects of those sectors, which have restrained China’s overall development; inadequate development refers to the problem that development in some regions, sectors of society, and aspects of those sectors lags behind, and that much work remains to be done with regard to development. These have become major obstacles to meeting the people’s needs for a better life. The evolution of the principal contradiction in Chinese society will undoubtedly exert an extensive and profound influence on China’s overall development. In order to correctly understand and fully engage with the evolution of the principal contradiction in Chinese society, we also need to make considerations and plans in light of this new historical juncture and temporal context.
Third, this determination is also based on a reassessment of the Party’s goals.
The period between the 19th and the 20th national congresses is the period in which the timeframes of the “Two Centenary Goals” converge. In this period, not only must we achieve the first centenary goal of becoming a moderately prosperous society; we must also build on this achievement to embark on a new journey toward the second centenary goal of becoming a modern socialist country. This glorious mission and weighty responsibility require further top-level design and meticulous planning. The 19th National Congress conducted a thorough analysis of the international and domestic situations as well as of the conditions in which China’s development is taking place, and outlined specific requirements for securing a decisive victory in becoming a moderately prosperous society, and divided the second centenary goal into two stages. In the first stage from 2020 to 2035, building on the foundation created by the moderately prosperous society, we will work hard for a further 15 years to see that socialist modernization is basically realized; in the second stage from 2035 to the middle of the 21st century, building on having basically achieved modernization, we will work hard for a further 15 years and see that China develops into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful. This is our strategic plan for the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics for the new era. It not only identifies a clearer road map and timetable for realizing the “Two Centenary Goals,” but also indicates that China’s original goal of basically achieving modernization will be reached 15 years ahead of schedule, and that the second centenary goal has been enriched and upgraded to developing China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful. In order to correctly understand and engage with this inspiring and feasible goal and this grand, new blueprint, we also need to make considerations and plans in light of this new historical juncture and temporal context.
Fourth, this determination is based on the new changes in the international environment that China faces.
The world is in a period of major development, transformation, and adjustment, and China’s development is still in an important period of strategic opportunity; the prospects are bright, but the challenges are severe. China is at the crucial stage of its transformation from being a large country to becoming a strong one, and this transformation increasingly brings with it the phenomenon whereby success invites detraction. China is confronted with a more complex external environment in which some countries and international forces have become increasingly apprehensive about China, or attempt to contain or coerce it; this is also a major issue that we need to face. China’s development is increasingly integrated, interrelated, and interactive with the outside world, and China is moving closer to center stage. To conclude that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, we have also given full consideration to the new changes in the international situation and our neighboring environment.
Generally speaking, the major political determination that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era is made on the basis of accurately grasping three key changes. First are the major changes in contemporary trends and in the international situation. Second are the profound developments globally, nationally, and within the Party. Last are the new situations, issues, and conflicts that have been, will be, or might be encountered, or that are unpredictable during the period when we work to realize the “Two Centenary Goals.” This determination conforms to the realities of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It is the consequent outcome of China’s social progress since reform and opening-up, of the movement of the principal contradiction in Chinese society, and of the historic changes in the undertakings of the Party and the country in the five years following the 18th National Congress; it is also essential for our Party’s efforts to unite all Chinese people and lead them to a bright future.