Editor’s note: Since its founding more than 100 years ago, the Communist Party of China has led the country in making remarkable achievements at home as well as contributing to global development and peace. Combining political theory and practice to make those remarkable achievements, the CPC has set a great example for the world. Three experts share their views on the CPC’s governance philosophy with China Daily.
Plato’s The Republic, which is the foundation of Western political thought, is the key for foreigners to understand today’s China. The republic Plato envisaged more than 2,300 years ago is somewhat similar to the People’s Republic of China. China’s governing party can be called the “guardian party” because of its similarities to the “Guardians” that ruled the ideal republic Plato envisaged. The Communist Party of China founded the People’s Republic of China and has led China to achieve enormous social and economic progress unique in speed, size and global impact.
Xi Jinping has been the CPC’s leader since 2012, and his lifelong values and goals guide the continuation of the Party’s highly successful system of government that is essential for achieving China’s national rejuvenation. Xi emerged as China’s leader with close to four decades of experience and constant evaluation in diverse government roles in the Party’s highly competitive leadership training and selection system.
It is a mark of the effectiveness of the Party leadership’s selection process that Xi’s personal values and goals exemplify the rare type of statesman-philosopher, as he is seeking to institutionalise the ideals and pragmatic goals that he manifested in his early articles and during his work as a minor government official and in his books as China’s leader on The Governance of China in four volumes.
My new book, China in 2049: The Meaning of Xi Jinping, presents my analysis, as a Western trained lawyer, businessman and political scientist who is not Chinese, about the importance of Xi’s values and formative experiences that created his goals as China’s leader seeking a constructive shared future for humankind.
The book also explains why and how the economic growth and national security of the United States and China must and can be aligned to peacefully coexist. My goal is to help the policymakers of the two countries to find a constructive instead of a catastrophic shared future.
A Chinese friend once asked me what in my view, as a foreigner, is the most important change in China. The answer is: people in China have become more confident.
The Chinese people have transitioned from timidity and uncertainty about their position in the world to being confident and proud of what China has achieved in just over four decades, something which no other country has been able to do.
The Chinese people’s pride in their country is justified, because the Party has propelled China to a position of global leadership, commensurate with its economic power and population, which comprises more than 20 percent of the global total.
For 38 of the last 40 centuries, China’s was the world’s largest and most technologically advanced economy. Then it started looking inward, which did not turn out well because the economic, technological and military advances made by other countries made China vulnerable to foreign exploitation.
But when pushed into the corner, the Chinese people produced a unique system of government that could defend the country’s sovereignty and make astonishing economic and social achievements. The Party’s people-centered government policies have enabled China to leap from being one of the poorest countries to becoming the world’s second-largest economy.
Hence, future Chinese generations must never forget that without a stable, strong political leadership capable of formulating and implementing successful long-term economic and social planning, China’s fate could easily turn out differently.
Many foreign observers used to say that China’s success was temporary, because it has a political system different from that of Western countries.
In 2020 Eric Schmidt, a key US government adviser and former Google CEO, summed up China’s advantage in developing and applying new technologies to industries that will control the future, saying: “China is simply too big. There are too many smart people in China.”
Yet many Americans used to say China’s one party-led system of government, socialism with Chinese characteristics and the Chinese economy dominated by State-owned enterprises ought to fail because China’s policymakers are not doing what the US thinks they should. But China could not, would not and should not copy other countries’ systems of government and economic management.
China’s political and economic systems are not failing. Instead, the Party leadership is enabling China to become the world’s largest economy. For many Americans, who did not expect the speed and global impact of China’s success, this is a traumatic shock.
Researchers at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University released in July 2020 a landmark study examining Chinese public opinion over a 13-year period, covering the policy impact of three of China’s government administrations. The study titled “Understanding CCP Resilience: Surveying Chinese Public Opinion Through Time” was the longest-running independent effort to determine Chinese citizens’ satisfaction level with the government’s performance.
Edward Cunningham, director of the Ash Center’s China Programs said: “Since the start of the survey in 2003 to its conclusion in 2016, Ash Center researchers found that Chinese citizen satisfaction with government has increased virtually across the board. From the impact of broad national policies to the conduct of local town officials, Chinese citizens rate the government as more capable and effective than ever before. These strong satisfaction rates counter the argument that as China’s economy continued to expand and economic inequality increased, citizen satisfaction levels would drop as their relative demands increased.”
Many Americans cannot understand or accept China’s success, because they unrealistically assumed that China would copy non-Chinese models of government and economic management.
But the reality is that China’s century-old party rapidly adapts to changing circumstances, and is capable of formulating and implementing successful long-term economic, social and national security policies. The CPC has enabled the country to implement socialism with Chinese characteristics and increase China’s per capita income from $50 to more than $10,000 and lifted close to 800 million people out of abject poverty. These achievements underpin the legitimacy of the Party.
China has a population of over 1.4 billion and the US 334 million. So the US’ economic stability and national security depend on Americans accepting and understanding the reality of the CPC’s success and US policymakers reciprocating the CPC’s policy of peaceful coexistence.
John Milligan-Whyte the author is chairman of the America China Partnership Foundation.
First published in the CHINADAILY Sept 19 2022