The 19th CPC National Congress: What are the defining features of the “New Era” of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics?
Major breakthroughs have been made in building Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. China is now standing at a new historic development point, and a new era is about to begin for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics stands.
By Sun Jingsong
The 19th National Congress of the CPC opened on October 18 in Beijing.
The 19th CPC National Congress is of great importance, since China is now coming to a decisive stage in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and the door is opening to a new era for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. This National Congress will shoulder the historic mission of building on past successes to drive China’s development to new heights.
Since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, and especially since the reform and opening up, China’s development tells a remarkable story of success. The causes of the CPC and China have all gone through a phase of historic revolution, and regular and iconic achievements have been made in driving reform to a deeper level. Major breakthroughs have been made in building Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. China is now standing at a new historic development point, and a new era is about to begin for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics stands.
The Chinese nation, which since the advent of modern times had endured so much for so long, has achieved a tremendous transformation – it has risen to its feet, grown prosperous, and become strong – and it has now reached a new historic juncture.
General Secretary of the CPC Xi Jinping described this in his Work Report to the 19th National Congress as “a new era” for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.
What are the prospects for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the new era?
The scale and speed of China’s social development has changed markedly.
At the end of 1979, which saw the launch of reform and opening up, per capita GDP in China lagged at around 250 USD.
By the time of the 12th National Congress in 1982, at which Deng Xiaoping proposed the idea of “constructing socialism with Chinese characteristics”, China’s GDP had not yet reached one-tenth of the US.
However, by the end of 2016, after more than three decades of reform and opening up, China had lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty and raised its GDP to 11.2 trillion USD, or 60% of the US GDP， with per capita GDP at 8124 USD. There has been a vast improvement in the lives of the Chinese people.
China is also catching up in high-end industries and science and technology. In space, sky, land and deep ocean, “Made in China” is making a growing contribution to progress in every field of human endeavor.
China is now proactively participating in global governance, working with interested parties around the world to build a new model for global cooperation under the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, and linking the Chinese Dream with a community of destiny for mankind through platforms like the Belt and Road.
The old days are gone. China has undergone a period of great change and is now establishing a new image.
These changes serve to define “the new era”, together with the new historic juncture for China’s development.
This new era will be one of building on past success to further advance our cause, and of continuing to strive for the success of socialism with Chinese Characteristics in a new historical context.
It will be an era of securing a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, and of moving on to all-out efforts to build a great modern socialist country.
It will be an era for the Chinese people of all ethnic groups to join together and make every effort to create a better life for themselves, and ultimately to achieve common prosperity for all.
It is an era when the principal contradiction in society is between people’s ever-growing needs for a better life and unbalanced, inadequate development.
It will be an era for all of us, the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation, to strive with one heart to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.
It will be an era that sees China moving closer to center stage and making greater contributions to mankind.
The new era manifests the changes taking place both inside and outside China. So how should we tackle the new challenges imposed by these changes, and what should be our bearing for the future?
General Secretary Xi Jinping noted in the report to the 19th National Congress that “Since our 18th National Congress, changes both in and outside China, and the progress made in all aspects of China’s endeavors, have presented us with a profound question – the question of an era.
Our answer must be a systematic combination of theory and practice and must address what kind of socialism with Chinese Characteristics the new era requires us to uphold and develop, and how we should go about doing it.
This involves fundamental issues like the overarching objectives, tasks, plan and strategy for upholding and developing socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the new era; like the direction, model, and driving force of development, and the strategic steps, external conditions, and political guarantees.
As well as this, to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese Characteristics, we should, based on new practice, undertake theoretical analysis and produce policy guidance on the economy, political affairs, rule of law, science and technology, culture, education, the well-being of our people, ethnic and religious affairs, social development, ecological conversation, national security, defense and the armed forces, the principle of “one country, two systems” and national reunification, the united front, foreign affairs, and Party building.”
This new era will present us with new tasks, and these new tasks will call for new ideas to guide us. These new ideas are captured in “the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”.
The full definition of this thought is that “In answering this question, our Party has been guided by Marxism- Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development.
It has continued to free our minds, seek truth from facts, move with the times, and apply a realistic and pragmatic approach.
In answering this question, our Party has continued to uphold dialectical and historical materialism; has considered carefully the new conditions of the era and the new requirements of practice; and has adopted an entirely new perspective to deepen its understanding of the laws that underlie governance by the Communist Party, the development of socialism, and the evolution of human society.
It has worked hard to undertake theoretical explorations, and has achieved major theoretical innovations, ultimately giving shape to the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.”
Hence, the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era will offer theoretical and practice guidance to the development of China in the new era.
What are the contents of the new Thought?
General Secretary Xi Jinping specified in his report to the 19th National Congress that “The Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era makes certain things clear:
It makes clear that the overarching goal of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese Characteristics is to realize socialist modernization and national rejuvenation, and, that on the basis of finishing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, a two-step approach should be taken to build China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the middle of the century.
It makes clear that the principal contradiction in society is between people’s ever-growing needs for a better life and unbalanced, inadequate development. We must therefore continue commitment to our people-centered philosophy of development, and work to promote well-rounded human development and common prosperity for everyone.
It makes clear that the overall plan for building socialism with Chinese Characteristics is the five-sphere integrated plan, and the overall strategy is the four-pronged comprehensive strategy. It highlights the importance of fostering stronger confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
It makes clear that the overall goal of deepening reform in every field is to improve and develop the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and modernize China’s system and capacity for governance.
It makes clear that the overall goal of comprehensively advancing law-based governance is to establish a system of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics and build a country of socialist rule of law.
It makes clears that the Party’s goal of building a strong military in the new era is to build the people’s forces into world-class forces that obey the Party’s command, can fight and win, and maintain excellent conduct.
It makes clear that major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics aims to foster a new type of international relations and build a community with a shared future mankind.
It makes clear that the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the leadership of the Communist Party of China; the greatest strength of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the leadership of the Communist Party of China; the Party is the highest force for political leadership. The Thought sets forth the general requirements for Party building in the new era and underlines the importance of political work in Party building.”
The content of the new thought defines the basic direction of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the new era. It represents the results of a vital assessment made by the central committee of the CPC concerning China’s current development, and the theoretical basis on which the direction and the strategies for future development have been built.
By Sun Jingsong, professor of Party School of the Central Committee of CPC
Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China Matters