Communists Fight for Communism in Spite of Changes in Concept of Communism
Xi Jinping is a communist. The concept of communism and the way to attain communism have to change along with the changes of times, but Xi remains unchanged as a communist that has sworn to fight for communism all his life.
He wants not only himself but also all the CCP members to fight for communism all their lives as they have sworn to. Therefore, the theme of his report to 19th CCP Congress starts with “Remain true to our original aspiration and keep our mission firmly in mind”. The original aspiration is to fight for communism all one’s life in the oath each and every CCP member takes when he/she joins CCP.
However, the concept of communism has changed along with the times. For Marx fighting for communism was to resolve the principal contradiction of capitalism that production is carried out for the public but the means of production are owned privately. It means a violent revolution to turn private ownership of means of production (enterprises) into public ownership and capitalist free economy into planned economy.
However, monolithic public ownership and planned economy have been proved inefficient by Socialist camp and China’s experience. Socialism with Chinese characteristics encourages both state-owned (with public ownership) and private enterprises (with private ownership).
The concept of communism has changed, but resolving the principal contradiction of the society remains communists’ task. For China now the principal contradiction is not that of capitalism that Marx wanted to resolve. Xi Jinping has made clear in Xi Jinping Though on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era that the principal contradiction now is that between China’s unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.
Socialism Revives with Enormous Vigor like Phoenix after Being Burnt by Fire
When the Soviet Union collapsed, most socialist countries in Socialist Camp have switched to Western capitalism with the exception of only China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba. At that time, China was poor and backward while the other 3 were not only poor and backward but also small and weak. The West believed at that time that socialism and communists had finished in the world. China’s reform and opening-up made the West believe that China was pursuing Western capitalism. They have been waiting for China’s total Westernization, i.e. China’s transformation into a Western multi-party democracy. That is what the West regards as China’s political reform. China’s establishment of the rule of law, development of mass line democracy for people to supervise officials, abolition of re-education-through-labor system, reform of letters and calls system are all not regarded by the West as political reforms. Only the switch to multi-party democracy is regarded as political reform.
However, China has not and will not conduct that switch. It has overcome orthodox socialism and creatively developed its own special socialism with Chinese characteristics. At first as China kept a low profile, it had not attracted West’s attention. However, when the US found China’s continuous rise may threaten its world leadership, former US President Obama began his pivot to Asia to contain China.
China Encircled by Hostile Western Democracies
As Japan stopped rise after three decades of tremendous economic growth, people believed that China would also did so. However, China’s socialism has proved superior to Western democracies in achieving economic and technological progress. It has enabled China to surpass Japan and become the second largest economy in the world. Judging by China’s economic growth rate, China might surpass the US to become the largest economy in the world in a decade or so.
That has caused the US to fall into Thucydides trap and launch a trade war to stop China’s rise. It also scared other Western democracies. Will China’s rise mean the recovery of socialism to replace their capitalist systems, they wonder. EU began to regard China as a systemic rival while Japan, Australia and Canada are all politically and ideologically hostile to China though they all want to benefit by their economic, especially trade relations with China.
The Chinese model of one-party democracy proves superior to Western multi-party democracy. Its attractive impact on developing countries has roused Western democracies’ greatest concerns. Moreover, they even fear that China may cause their political system to collapse. That is why EU regards China as a systemic rival. However, Chinese leader has made very clear that China has no intention to export its model. In addition, facts have proved that China has never interfered in other countries’ internal affairs. Still their fear is natural. Since it is natural for them to export their system through regime change by whatever means including military ones why shall China not export its system?
Cold War has ended but Cold War mindset remains. Due to that mindset, Western democracies believe like the Soviet Union, China, when strong, will conduct an international revolution to change their system.
However, China’s own and Soviet experience has proved that it is impossible to export social system, even by force. The Soviet Union may force Eastern European countries to accept socialism but as soon as Soviet military pressure had been lifted after the collapse of the Soviet Union, all those countries switched to Western capitalism. Western experience of regime changes brought about by the West by military and other means have also proved that. US invasion of Iraq, West’s attack at Libya, etc. have succeeded in bringing about regime changes but failed to turn those countries into Western-style democracies.
Simply, Chinese is not so stupid as to pursue world revolution, which will hinder instead of facilitate China resolving its principal contradiction through balanced and adequate development to satisfy people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.
The Need and Potential to Restore the Socialist Camp
Therefore, China has to restore the socialist camp to show to the world that China’s socialism means pursuit of economic development to raise people’s living standards instead of violent international revolution. By so doing, China will break West’s encirclement of China and make its model popular in the world.
Xi is a Chinese President quite different from his predecessors. He is much more active than them in conducting diplomacy that he can be regarded as China’s major diplomat.
Why has he been so busy a diplomat?
He has the vision to see China’s rise may cause the West to encircle it to hinder China’s rise. The description of the above section precisely proves that. The restoration of the socialist camp will enable China to break the encirclement.
Moreover, Western liberal democracy seems the only good system in the world. China’s socialist democracy, though proved by fact to be much more successful and more beneficial to the people than Western liberal democracy, has always been denounced by the West as an autocracy. The success of all the members of the socialist camp will prove the superiority of socialist democracy to Western liberal democracy.
That will be especially convincing if China is able to make North Korea give up orthodox socialism and copy China’s reform and opening-up. If North Korea that has been notorious for its famine and backwardness, has been able to obtain fast economic growth and substantially raise its people’s living standards, it will have shocking impact not only on developing countries but also on developed Western democracies.
In June 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited North Korea. In his speech at the banquet given by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in his honor, he pointed out that under Kim’s leadership North Korean is implementing a new strategic line to focus on economic development and improving people’s livelihood. Xi obviously supports Kim’s efforts because the obstacles to Kim’s copy of Chinese model has been removed.
Previously North Korea could not follow China’s model as its conservatives regard China’s reform as capitalist in nature. Chinese Communist Party recently has adopted Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era that holds that the Chinese model is socialist in nature.
In Kim’s speech, he said that through four meetings, Xi Jinping and Kim have confirmed that persisting the socialist system is the core of the maintenance of Korea-China friendship. He meant that North Korea had admitted that China’s system was a socialist system so that North Korea was willing to copy Chinese model.
The timing is good for North Korea as US tariff hikes on steel import from developed European countries, China, Japan, etc. facilitate North Korea’s development of steel production as no high tariff will be levied on its export of iron and steel. Kim said in his speech that North Korea had been stepping up coal mining and improving the technology and equipment for the production of iron and steel. China can help North Korea by transfer of its surplus iron and steel production capacity.
North Korea’s change will make other socialist countries follow Chinese model. Vietnam has already conducted some reforms similar to China’s but its liberalization of economic resources is still limited. Foreign enterprises are still unable to own land there. Many Chinese enterprises that have moved there for cheap labor and land wanted to move back to China as they should have a Vietnamese partner to own the land they use, which is quite risky for them. Moreover, labor costs have risen quite sharply to make moving to Vietnam not cost effective.
Vietnam has further needs to copy China’s reform. The United States has been exploiting China’s maritime border disputes with Vietnam to pit Vietnam against China, but Trump’s trade war attacks at Vietnam will push Vietnam to Chinese side as after all good relations with a rich neighbor like China may bring much more benefits to Vietnam.
Cuba may be better than Vietnam in switching from orthodox socialism to Chinese style of socialism. It is seeking Russian and Chinese investment in its infrastructures.
The socialist camp will not be restricted to the four countries China, North Korea, Cuba and Vietnam.
Russian can also be regarded as a socialist country as it also has both state-owned and private sectors. Moreover, though it conducts multi-party election with universal suffrage, it is not regarded by the West as a democracy. Some Former Soviet Central Asian countries are similar. They may declare that they remain socialist. Multi-party democracy may also be socialist when the parties upholding socialism are in power. When their new socialism is popular, the parties upholding socialsm will remain in power and those countries may remain socialist.
If Russia and those Central Asian countries join the socialist camp, the socialist camp will be larger and stronger.
What about communists’ international obligations for international revolution?
That will be dealt with in my later posts.
Article by Chan Kai Yee
Rights are indispensably accompanied with duties
Another goal of Xi Jinping’s mass line education practice campaign is that he wants to guide the masses of the people to perform their duties of supervision in more actively exposing malpractices, making criticism and putting forward suggestions. In pursuing democracy, particular stress is often laid on people’s rights but their duties were often neglected.
Xi Jinping is wise in advocating that the education campaign will not only grant people the rights of democratic supervision but also teach people to perform their duties of supervision. If in spite of the democratic rights of supervision people have, people have no sense of responsibility to exercise their democratic rights or turn a blind eye to the corruption they personally see, what is the use to have their rights? Corruption, the despotism that turns CCP into people’s enemy and the four malpractices would remain unrestricted.
It reminds me of China’s feminist forerunner and heroic democratic fighter Ms. Qiu Jing. When she mobilized women to fight for equal rights, she said that women had to perform equal duties if they wanted equal rights. She personally set an example for them. She died bravely for China’s democratic revolution along with male revolutionaries.
Western Democracy Declines due to People’s Neglect of Duties
In the course of overthrowing autocracy and striving for democracy, priority certainly has to be placed on people’s democratic rights. However, as soon as democracy has been established, people shall be taught to be aware that they have democratic duties as well as democratic rights. The prosperity of a democracy is the result of people not only exercising their democratic rights but also performing their democratic duties. Otherwise, there will be the Diet Coke culture mentioned by Latin American international political expert Moises Naim in his book The End of Power. Just as people want sweetness without calories, they want rights without responsibilities, benefits without costs, consumption without savings and a safety net, infrastructure and quality education without taxes.
For a time, some Western democracies were in economical difficulties precisely due to the pursuit of such a democracy.
Perhaps due to one-sided stress on rights, in a Western democracy, people vote for their interests instead of out of their duties for their country. As people’s interests vary, in quite a few democracies, no party can win a majority in parliament so that a major party has to cooperate with one or two minor parties in forming a government, resulting in difficulties in reaching consensus even in the ruling cabinet. A Western democracy is usually a split democracy due to various differences in people’s interests.
Chinese Democracy Excels in Stressing Both Rights and Duties
In China’s socialist democracy, both people’s rights and duties are stressed. As people have the same sense of duties, there is unity in the nation. People are making united efforts in achieving their common goal to realize their China dream of the grand rejuvenation of their motherland.
It is generally accepted that Western democracy is declining. US great efforts for regime changes by whatever means have failed to spread its democracy. China’s socialist democracy, however, is rising. China has lifted most people out of poverty and set a target to eliminate poverty by 2021. It provides medical, retirement and unemployment insurance for almost every citizen and has built lots of subsidized housing for those who cannot afford it on their own.
Western media and politicians are fond of describing China as an autocracy, but china, in fact, is a democracy, a better democracy than Western democracy. Chinese people have full freedom of speech to criticize the government. For example, Bloomberg’s report “China’s Slowdown Is Fraying Nerves” describes Chinese netizens’ brutal commentaries on a government call to improve the ethics and conduct of the Chinese scientific community. There is a clause in the call that asks affluent developed regions not to use big compensation packages and bidding wars to recruit talent, especially from China’s Rust Belt.
As a call to improve ethics, it certainly is not “prohibiting affluent developed regions from using big compensation packages and bidding wars to recruit talent, especially from China’s Rust Belt” as Bloomberg tries to make readers believe. However, netizens’ brutal commentaries on the Internet as reported by Bloomberg precisely proved that Chinese people have the freedom of speech to criticize the government.
Bloomberg may be censored as it published fake news on the basis of netizens’ commentaries, which were general opposition in order to advocate market economy and freedom of employment in disregard of residence. The government call does not oppose market economy or such freedom. It only gives the advice to improve ethics and keep some talents in less-developed areas.
Normally, China’s slowdown may fret some nerves but netizens’ opposition to the call has nothing to do with that. The report with such a title shows Bloomberg’s intention to mislead readers with false information. Moreover, netizens’ commentaries by no means reflect skilled workers anxiety as described in the first sentence of the report, i.e. “A social media uproar over an obscure government decree shows how anxious the country’s most skilled workers are.”
On the contrary, the government’s call reflects the keen competition among various areas in China for talent. It precisely proves that various areas in China are switching to innovation- and creation-led economic growth so that there is a great demand for talent. Such talent refers to scientists, engineers and technicians instead of skilled workers. Bloomberg’s reporters certainly know that there is no need for “big compensation packages and bidding wars to recruit” skilled workers.
The report shows that in order to mislead readers with false information, Bloomberg’s reporters even forget their common sense.
To prevent Chinese people from being misled by such false information China certainly shall tighten its censorship. Bloomberg is unhappy about that, but it can do nothing except keeping on demonizing China.
Article by Chan Kai Yee
Xi Jinping launched his first nationwide mass line campaign for a year commencing from July 2013.
Xi Jinping calls his campaign mass line education practice activities. Its goal was to establish democratic supervision for the rectification of officials’ work style and imposition of strict discipline on them by means of democratic supervision. His democratic supervision aims not only at overcoming for the time being corruption, being divorced from the masses of people and the four malpractices of formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance but also ensuring that officials really become public servants and work for people’s benefits.
Before Xi Jinping came to power, when the government had received a report on an official’s offense, it first investigated the informer’s background to see whether he had an ulterior motive. So the informer may well be the first to suffer instead of the official. Who dared to report?
Under Xi’s leadership, as soon as such a report has been received, an investigation is made whether what has been reported on is true. If it is, the official is punished while the offense-reporter’s background and motive are disregarded.
That is why in CCP’s mouthpiece the People’s Daily’s four commentaries on Xi Jinping’s mass line education practice activities, officials are told that “They are able to face squarely the problems only when they listen to opinions from grass-root up.” The problems referred to in the commentaries are being divorced from the masses, and the four malpractices of formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance.
In Xi’s first speech to the press after he became the general secretary on November 15, 2012, he said, “Under the new situation, our party faces many severe challenges and there are many pressing problems that need to be resolved, especially corruption, being divorced from the mass of people, formalism and bureaucratism among some party officials that we must make great efforts to resolve. The whole party must be on full alert.”
Why corruption the problem that ranks the first in the speech was not included in the problems referred to in the commentaries?
Official Despotism Is the Top Issue as It Turns CCP into the People’s Enemy
Being divorced from the masses of the people” is Xi Jinping’s euphemism for local officials’ despotism that has turned CCP into the people’s enemy. Local despots’ infringement on the people’s interests in allowing the establishment of projects harmful to people’s health or environment, conducting land grabs, levying unauthorized tax, taking bribes, exacting unwarranted fines, etc. had given rise to tens of thousands of people’s protests each year. There were statistics from investigations that before Xi’s campaign there were more than one hundred thousand incidents of mass protest to protect their rights in China every year. Instead of understanding and making allowance for people’s complaints, local governments sent armed police to suppress protesters.
When local despotism prevailed almost in almost every area, petition to the central authorities was the only way for them to obtain some remedy. Under Hu Jintao’s leadership, the central authorities still took care of the people. Hu Jintao’s Scientific Outlook on Development advocates “putting the people first.” However, local despots sent thugs to round up petitioners and detain them in the black jails they set up in Beijing. The petitioners caught by local depots would be released only when they promised not to petition any more. If they did not cease petitioning, local despots sent them to re-education-through-labor camps to silence them. The masses of the people, though silenced by such persecution, remained indignant. Their indignation might erupt at any time and would be impossible to suppress like volcano eruptions.
Xi understood that official despotism was the greatest threat that might cause China to collapse. It was the foundation of rampant corruption. Therefore, as soon as he took over, he took blitz actions to close black jails and held national conference to strengthen China’s petition system. That was in fact the shocking, surprising commencement of his campaign to eliminate local despotism. Due to its shocking and surprising impact, I call it Xi Jinping cyclone.
The corruption cases that had incurred great popular wrath could be dealt with along with other malpractices in the campaign. Other cases that could not be discovered in the campaign had to wait till they could be exposed later when people were emboldened by the campaign or discovered by other means such as declaration of assets. Such cases, though in the long run were extremely dangerous to the country, could wait for the time being as they did not incur people’s enmity within a short period of time so that they would not threaten CCP’s survival. Moreover, if official despotism had not be eliminated, corrupt officials would remain powerful and able to scare common people. It would be dangerous for common people to fight their corruption.
Therefore, removal of official despotism through the campaign was Xi’s priority at that time.
In Hong Kong’s weather system, cyclones are classified from low to high intensity into depression, storm, severe storm, typhoon, severe typhoon, super typhoon.
The cyclone of Xi’s blitz actions to close black jails though strong, was not a storm so that it lacked killing power. Now, Xi had intensified the cyclone and turned it into a typhoon. In July 2018, Xi began a nationwide mass line education practice campaign for one year to overcome the malpractices of being divorced from the masses of people, formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance.
At that time, those were the mistakes that almost every official from top to bottom had to a certain extent committed; therefore, Xi Jinping called his campaign an education campaign, i.e. a campaign to educate the officials in order to overcome those mistakes and implement his mass line. It meant that all officials should examine themselves before the masses of people so that it was a campaign that would make them all lose their dignity and face. As a result, common people would no longer be afraid of them and would be bold enough to expose their mistakes and crimes.
Did that work? Could officials really be made to examine and criticize themselves? Would the masses of people come out to expose officials’ mistakes in spite of being scared by officials? The higher officials’ ranks, the more serious their mistakes. Who would dare to expose high officials’ mistakes? Take care that there might be retaliation!
That was why Xi Jinping had to first urge conservatives to be the vanguards in opposing the malpractices of being divorced from the masses of people. The number of conservatives was large and they were supported by lots of retired high officials. They had long been indignant at officials’ misconducts. Now, they had the opportunities to attack officials for their misconducts. As soon as the conservatives began their attack, all the factions would find faults with one another and there would be heat in the campaign. When there was heat in the campaign to cause officials to be punished for their mistakes, lots of officials’ prestige and dignity would be swept into the dust and the masses of the people would begin to believe that they have the right of democratic supervision and dare to expose official corruption.
That was perhaps not enough. Conservatives and the masses of the people might still be no rival to the united group of a large number of local powerful officials.
Xi Jinping had conducted careful planning before starting the campaign. Soon after the 18th CCP Congress, he sent more than 800 officials selected from central ministries and enterprises to various areas to be high officials when lots of old officials retired in the major reshuffle after the 18th CCP Congress.
Xi divided the campaign into two phases of six months. To ensure the success of the first phase, he sent 45 supervision teams to 15 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, 7 ministries and commissions including the National Audit Office, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission and National Health and Family Planning Commission and 7 central enterprises including Sinopec and State Grid and key colleges at vice minister-level including Nanjing University to ensure that the mass line education practice campaign will be carried out in an “orderly and effective manner” without being just for show, The large number of central officials he had sent to those areas and organizations would cooperate with the teams.
In addition, he reformed Hu Jintao’s inspection tour system of sending about a dozen inspection teams every six months to province-level areas and major corporations and organs. He reduced their scope of inspection to discovering and reflecting clues of violation of law and discipline and thus turned them into anti-corruption inspection teams. The 12 teams he sent around June 2013 world coordinate with the central inspection teams for the campaign. As a result, local officials were under triple or at least double central surveillance.
The heads and deputy heads of the 45 central inspection teams were all former high officials with enough weight to direct local officials in carrying out the campaigns.
Local officials from top to bottom had to conduct self-examinations before common people and listen humbly to their criticism and comments. It was an ordeal for even the most honest official as official work style at that time was indeed very poor so that the criticism against his/her work style might make him/her perspire all over.
For example, an official was severely criticized for having a subordinate holding an umbrella for him when he was out in the rain. That was quite common before the campaign but an official was people’s servant. Now he became the master to be served by his subordinate.
Xi’s democracy campaign educated not only officials but also common people. It made his democracy superior to Western democracy. That would be elaborated later.
Article by Chan Kai Yee