“Start with what China says and not with what commentators on China say.”
So what does China say? And when China speaks what does China mean?
What is the message the Party wants to get over to the people of China?
The 87m members of the Communist Party will have been studying in immense detail – word-by-word and line-by-line – the sixty five pages of Xi Jinping’s speech to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China – CPC.
I will select key points from the speech in a series of posts in https;//findservices.uk
Xi’s opening comments set the scene;
“The theme of the Congress is: Remain true to our original aspiration and keep our mission firmly in mind, hold high the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in aspects, strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, and work tirelessly to realise the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation”.
I suggest there are important indicators in this opening;-
- Remain true to our original aspiration
- Build Socialism but with Chinese characteristics
- Build a moderately prosperous society
- Realise the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation
“Remain true to our original aspiration.” What was the original aspiration? What did the Chinese Communist Party aspire to when it was formed in 1921. It was to liberate the people from exploitation – to make them masters of their destiny; to overturn those landlords who subjected the peasant on the land to a life of hardship and shame and deprivation. The Party’s foremost goal is to serve the people by providing leadership in the construction of a new society. That was the original purpose of the Party when it came into existence and the 87m party members, says Xi, should remember that they need to be loyal to the goals of the original founders of the Party. This is a recurring theme in Party policy – continuity. The Communists exist for the benefit of the people, to serve the people is what Xi is saying and the party members need reminding because there is evidence that over the years some members have succumbed to corruption and corruption must be beaten – at all costs.
There is a saying – Mao Tsetung Saved the Country. Deng Hsiaopeng saved the Economy and Xi Jinping saved the Party. We will hear more about Xi’s battles against corruption in future articles.
The appeal is to collective endeavour and a common goal and is aimed at all classes, all people, all provinces, all national minorities. It is inclusive and embracing. We are all involved in being patriotic and loyal. We all share a dream. We stand up for the flag. We are proud and determined. Our national aspiration is to continue the path to reclaiming and revitalising China. We are Chinese. We are proud. We aspire to helping China to realise its potential. That is Xi’s message
“Build Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.” This poses the question – Can you build Socialism and at the same time encourage millionaires to become billionaires? Is it possible to develop a socialist society and at the same time allow wage differentials to widen? Xi Jinping’s Socialism is not the China of class warfare when the Cultural Revolution brought the country to a standstill as “Politics In Command” became the slogan to justify an all assault on the old guard and symbols of China’s rich civilisation. Today the Government focuses on one word – Prosperity. And China has proved its commitment by lifting 500m citizens out of poverty. No meagre achievement – 500m Chinese citizens no longer living in poverty. Socialism means a better life for all but not a free for all. The Party permits capitalists to make money, drive better cars and to enjoy the fruits of their endeavours because their success makes the people successful. But there is a ‘but’ and it is this. The capitalists have to serve the national purpose and commit to the national goal of taking China from a poor country to a modestly prosperous country. If they step out of line they will be reined in, fined, even imprisoned. These are not the capitalists of old. Far from it. They are accountable and the Party keeps them in check. But the success of the Capitalists contributes significantly to the prosperity of the people as a whole.
“Build a moderately prosperous society”. Later in his speech Xi puts detail into the term, but in this introduction he makes clear that the endeavours of everyone have to be reflected in a better life style. And do remember China in 1949 – devastated by Civil War against the Kuomintang and the National War against Japan – was known throughout the world as The Sick Man of Asia. Poverty, destruction, disease was the lot of its people. There were no roads, few hospitals, fewer schools, meagre rations. Hardship prevailed. Today the people can travel, can enjoy centrally heated accommodation, can decide where to work, what to buy and where to go. The advances are considerable but still short of the goal of building a “moderately prosperous country”. The raising of living standards at all levels is the goal. Prosperity is for the People – Xi reminds his fellow Party members.
“Realise the dream of national rejuvenation”. Before the Communist Party came to power China was subjugated. It had been invaded. It was not in control of its own land, its own borders, its own rivers or its own roads. Imperialist countries such as Britain had a part and the French, the Germany and the USA too. The Opium Wars remain strong in the consciousness of the Chinese and the 19th Century is known as the Century of Humiliation. And then China stood up. The people became restive. The Party was formed and the country took control of its own destiny. It has taken one of the weakest countries in the world to become the second largest economy in the world after the US. The country and its people have experienced a rejuvenation. Hard work , determination and commitment – and the leadership of the Party has brought a revival of confidence, pride and achievement and that sense of national rejuvenation must not be taken for granted. The hard earned fruits of victory constantly need to be borne in mind to avoid slippage and retreat. So Xi exhorts the Party members to continue to work hard to realise the dream of even more prosperity.
Later in this series I will, using the important speech by Xi, look at issues of freedom and Taiwan and Hong Kong and the Uyghurs. No “awkward” or “uncomfortable” issues will be avoided. But the purpose of this series is not to confront daily issues that are topical but to encourage an understanding of China – where are they coming from – where are they going to – what is their motivation and what is their ambition? Xi’s speech is the right place to begin.