Theoretical Characteristics of China’s New Development Principles
In 2012, the Communist Party of China convened its 18th National Congress. Since then, the CPC Central Committee headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping has taken China’s national governance into new territory by relying on innovation in theory to guide innovation in practice. Reflecting deeply on the past experiences of China and other countries, and in view of major trends of development both domestically and internationally, the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, convened in 2015, proposed the new principles of innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development. Geared not only to China’s national conditions, but also to the needs of the times, these principles of development represent a major breakthrough in both theory and practice that will have far-reaching implications for the future.
Politically speaking, these new principles of development embody the CPC’s profound understanding of the underlying patterns of economic and social development. Pointing out a clear direction and path of development, they constitute important guidelines that China must uphold on a long-term basis. Theoretically speaking, these new principles of development present new answers to a series of major questions concerning China’s development. Not only have they significantly enhanced the CPC’s existing theories of development, but they have also enriched and further developed Marxist theories on development. Practically speaking, these new principles of development respond to new expectations of the CPC and government as raised by the evolution of practice and the times. As a profound shift in thinking that will have a bearing on all aspects of China’s development, they constitute an action guide that will help us to overcome difficulties, gather momentum, and foster advantages in development. Internationally speaking, these new principles of development accurately pinpoint the key issues in world development at present. Displaying notable Chinese features, they contribute Chinese wisdom and a Chinese solution to world development.
China’s new principles of development are broad in scope and profound in meaning. Forming a fully-systematic, highly logical, and scientific framework, they are underpinned by the standpoint, viewpoints, and methods of Marxism, and illuminated by the wisdom of dialectical and historical materialism, embodying salient theoretical properties and character.
A systematic set of principles: China’s new development principles constitute a closely inter-connected, highly-cohesive, and mutually-supportive whole.
The principles of innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development were not proposed at random, but were carefully selected and refined from a number of factors affecting development at present. This has resulted in a systematic framework of principles comprising the five most important and decisive factors of development. As an overall outline and logical framework to guide development, these five principles each have their own specific focus while supporting the other four. Together, they form an overall schematic for China’s future development, integrating seamlessly into the CPC’s basic line for the primary stage of socialism; into the “Five-Pronged” overall plan and the “Four Comprehensives” strategy; into the endeavor to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics; and into China’s “Two Centenary Goals” and its push to realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.
China’s new principles of development constitute an organic whole that cannot be separated. Looking at how each of these principles relates to development, it is evident that none can be omitted. Innovation is the primary driving force behind development; coordination is an inherent requirement of sustained, healthy development; greenness is a prerequisite of sustainable development and an important embodiment of the better life that people desire; opening up is vital for China’s prosperity and development; and sharing is the essence of socialism with Chinese characteristics. In terms of content, while innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development each have their own clear orientation, they also link to the other four in a mutually-reinforcing, mutually-complementary fashion. Logically speaking, these five principles, each with their own attributes, come together to form a closely-knit whole. In terms of effectiveness, these principles have not merely upgraded our traditional concept of development, but have pushed the boundaries of modern development in all directions, presenting us with a more unified, inclusive, and sustainable concept of development. And on the operational level, these principles are designed to be implemented, advanced, and put to effect in an integrated, unified fashion. No one of these principles can be emphasized over, or in place of, any of the others. With a firm grasp of the systematic nature of these principles, we need to foster a comprehensive, systematic, and scientific way of thinking, develop holistic working techniques, enhance overall coordination, and constantly broaden our horizons of development.
A dialectic set of principles: China’s new development principles represent a paradigm for the application of the Marxist worldview and methodology.
China’s new development principles represent a major theoretical outcome of our efforts to perceive, analyze, and resolve development problems through the application of materialist dialectics. Following more than 60 years of efforts since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and particularly during more than 30 years of reform and opening up, China has successfully completed the “first half” of its modernization drive, and has now reached a new plane of development. However, it should be noted that in spite of this success, China has encountered more post-development problems than originally anticipated. The contradictions and difficulties it faces are increasingly overlapping, and uncertainty is becoming more pronounced. Not only must China resolve old problems that have built up over the long-term, but it also needs to respond to new ones that emerge in the process of development. Not only must it bolster the internal driving forces of development, but it also needs to raise its level of economic openness. Not only must it improve its economic system, but it also needs to coordinate its political, cultural, social, and environmental systems. Not only must it increase the efficiency of development, but it also needs to promote social equity and justice. It is not difficult to appreciate the sheer difficulty and enormity of navigating China through such a complex array of problems. But China’s new principles of development, through their innovative application of Marxist materialist dialectics, have cleared away the mist on the path ahead, pointing to a correct course for China, like navigating a great ship to break the waves and sail into the distance.
Representing an integration of materialism and dialectics, China’s new principles of development highlight the scientific attitude and great wisdom with which the CPC navigates complex situations and handles complex problems. First, these principles not only actively adapt to and guide the new normal of development, but also take the global economy into account and borrow from the experiences of other countries. Universal in some respects and unique in others, they are rooted in China but demonstrate global perspective. Second, these principles not only lay out a strategic plan according to the “Five-Pronged” overall plan, but also manage to identify key points and focus on weak areas and shortcomings, thus achieving a balance between overall planning and specific priorities. Third, these principles not only constitute a major strategy formulated in line with the wider developmental trends of the CPC and the country, but also present clear thinking and practical measures for responding to highly pronounced problems. In this sense, they represent the middle ground between strategy and operability. In summary, China’s new principles of development display the character of materialist dialectics, providing a sound methodology to guide our country’s economic and socialist development. With a firm grasp of the dialectic nature of these principles, we need to seize the spirit of materialist dialectics embodied therein, and apply dialectic thinking to coordinating development and guiding innovation.