China’s journey of reform and opening up over the last the last 30 years have definitely been, if nothing else, colorful and eventful. Last week, Chinese officials marked the 30 year anniversary of China’s reforms and opening up with a series of meetings and speeches.
Xin Hua News had a short summary of one of President Hu Jintao’s speeches, excerpts of which I include below:
— The 3rd plenary session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China established again the ideological, political and organizational lines of Marxism, symbolizing the great wakening of the Chinese Communists.
— We calmly dealt with a series of international emergencies which concerned our country’s sovereignty and security, overcoming political and economic difficulties as well as natural risks.
— This particular moment is inspiring our deep memory of Comrade Mao Zedong, Comrade Deng Xiaoping and the rest of the older generation of revolutionists.
— Without democracy, neither socialism nor socialist modernization could be realized.
— We need to learn all creams of political civilization of the human society, but will never copy the mode of the Western political institutions.
— We have to wisely handle the case of participating in the economic globalization while keeping independence, comprehensively arrange both domestic and international tasks, and make contributions to the lofty cause of peace and development in the world.
— China has no chance to develop itself without the world while the world needs China to go ahead with development.
— We firmly uphold the idea that Chinese affairs must be handled by Chinese people in a Chinese way, and oppose any foreign forces to interfere in Chinese domestic affairs.
— The country that develops asserts itself, and to keep stability is an overriding task. We will achieve nothing without stability.
— The progressiveness of a political party and its ruling status are not things that are obtained once and for all. That it was progressive doesn’t necessarily mean it is progressive and will still be progressive. The power it had doesn’t ensure that it’s only right and proper to have the power now, let alone have it forever.
— Don’t sway back and forth, relax our efforts or get sidetracked, but firmly push forward the reform and opening-up as well as adhere to socialism with Chinese characteristics. In that way, we will definitely achieve our grand blueprint and ambitious objectives (on realizing modernization in the middle of the 21st century).
— The reform and opening-up policies are in accord with both the Party consensus and the public will, and in compliance with the trend of the times. The direction and the path are completely correct, the results and achievements cannot be denied, and any halt or retreat is unacceptable.
I personally think this is a good top-level summary of China’s current state of reforms and affairs.
Many people in the West may believe that China has focused too much on economics and not enough on political reforms. These people might ask: what does the Chinese government mean by “democracy”? – something referred to numerous times in Hu’s speeches.
I don’t think by “democracy” Hu means direct election of top government officials – or other norms of Western style democracy per se. I think the Hu’s use of the term “democracy” has always meant a governance that is more equitable, more inclusive of all segments of society – a government that is more accountable to and that better serves the people.
In another article on President Hu’s eulogizing of the last three decades of reforms, Xin hua explained:
Hu said China has vigorously pushed forward the socialist democratic politics, featuring the parliamentary system of the National People’s Congress, the political consultation arrangement under the CPC leadership, the autonomous governance mechanism in areas populated by ethnic groups, as well as the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics.
Hu said the pursuit of advanced socialist spirits and culture helped increase cohesion in hearts and minds among the whole Chinese nation.
The government spared no efforts to bettering social welfare, including free nine-year compulsory education, the medical care network and reliable social security, Hu said.
Hu said the independent foreign policy of peace helped China forge comprehensive ties with developed countries and amiable relations with neighboring countries.
Hu said the CPC has to strictly discipline itself and improve its capability in good governance, corruption resistance and risk control.
He reiterated the principled guidance for a secure and prosperous future.
Hu said China is still faced with difficulties such as low-efficient modes of development, wealth imbalance between the rich and the poor, and lagging economic state and underdeveloped livelihood in some rural areas.
This year will probably mark the close of one chapter of China’s modernization effort – a chapter driven by export-led economics. The next chapter would probably have to focus more on developing China’s enormous internal markets and demand as well as embarking on a development model that is more socially equitable and environmentally friendly.
What’s your view of the last thirty years?
In light of the last thirty years and current world economic crisis, where do you think China is (should be) headed?