The Communist Party of China (CPC) has reached the milestone of its first centennial. Amid lavish celebrations, the ruling party of the People’s Republic under Xi Jinping, the highest leader of the party and the nation, have boasted about the achievements and epic of the deservedly named “Asian giant”, as they have every reason to do so.
China stood on the spoils left by the Opium Wars in the 19th century and reached the 20th century as a semi-colonial, semi-feudal, overpopulated, rural and impoverished country.
The 21st century now has China as the world’s second economic power, destined to be the first in a few years, with unquestionable achievements, as the country that has most reduced poverty in the world, with a portentous scientific, technological and military development, the latter, without China’s weapons leaving its territory in aggression against other countries for resources.
How did they achieve this? How was this epic possible, which allowed them to go through historical cycles, even beyond the fall of the Berlin Wall, to raise the hammer and sickle today? How have they managed to weaken the hegemony of the West, creating a point of balance and a great and necessary counterweight in our World System?
THE LACK OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT CHINA
Perhaps the great uncertainties on our side of the world about China stem from the lack of knowledge of its history and evolution. Ignorance, to be understood as a lack of knowledge or information, and also by not recognizing all the vicissitudes of the composition of its economic, political and cultural order.
Regarding China, it is very easy to say that it is another great “capitalist” country, because that is the story promoted in the countries of the capitalist world, thus omitting the vocation of the Chinese to build what they call a “socialism with Chinese characteristics” originated from a sustained process of “sinization of Marxism”.
About China, it is very easy to affirm that it is a country that has reached a great prosperity only because of its process of “Great Turning” and opening, as if this was a liberal process to the extreme inside of the country and as if this was not built on the objective and subjective realities carved before Deng Xiaoping.
On its 100th anniversary, the CCP has proudly declared the development of an evolutionary cycle of national life. It is no wonder. In the late 1970s, the Chinese Communists understood the thrust of globalization as an enveloping and consistent gravitational force, and that it would establish the fundamental rules in international relations and in the development of the life of countries and their economies at home.
With such a sense of interpretation and foresight, China made its way to the outsourcing model, assumed itself within the industrial and financial fabric on an international scale, under the declaration of not renouncing its principles, which they call “market socialism”. They have even beaten the West in this same race.
Such an effort to promote a socialism from their particularities and from the place they assumed in the World System, placed China in a political interpretative terrain alien to the Manichean and ideological traps of their time, and that in some way are still in force, those of strict neoliberal capitalism and those of “real socialism” or modeled according to the Soviet influence, which was imposed as a model of global franchise.
Hence, for capitalists and orthodox communists, China is difficult to assimilate and interpret. For the usual lucubrations that arise from the ideological, polarizing and paralyzing parsism of yesterday and today, Deng Xiaoping had an answer decades ago, which was both taken from Mao Zedong and was also original from the culture of the Chinese government since the Han Dynasty: “Seek the truth in facts, not in dogmas”.
To disregard China is to assume the Chinese to be incongruous. The question we should ask ourselves is whether “incongruent” or “undefined” people can design and fulfill their development plans in a disciplined and strategic manner, achieving feats unthinkable in any country of the liberal capitalist world and simultaneously insert themselves with astonishing efficiency in international relations in the way the Chinese have done. Definitely not. It would be absurd to even assume that the Chinese are wandering in ideology.
THE 100-YEAR REVIEW AND ITS STRATEGIC DESIGN
With its consolidated advances, China has established with its version of the facts that socialism, according to its singularities, works. And this is one of the most distinctive elements in its dispute for the epic narrative, both before itself and the world: declaring that there are real alternatives to neoliberalism on the basis of the development of a mixed economy system.
Xi Jinping’s speech on the 100th anniversary of the CPC placed enormous emphasis on the deepening of governance mechanisms, the pre-eminence of the CPC in the coming cycle, strengthening the links of the State in the life of the country and deepening the inward management of the great national aspirations.
“We have fulfilled the goal of struggle set for the first centennial, culminating the comprehensive construction of a modestly well-off society in the vast Chinese territory, with the issue of absolute poverty historically resolved, and we are moving forward with overflowing vigor toward the goal of struggle set for the second century: culminating the comprehensive construction of a powerful modern socialist country,” he said.
In other words, with a staggering corollary of achievements under its belt, China is still aiming for more, for another 100 years, the president said. Therein lies the congruence of its model, which is free market, competitive and anti-protectionist on the outside, but with planned governance (albeit dynamic and flexible), concentrated in the CPC and placing the people “as masters of the country” at the center of decision-making.
China’s assertion of its internal vision not only overcomes confusion, but additionally, more than 30 years after the fall of the Soviet Bloc, it has no pretensions or appearances to create. What is for them, is. In his speech, which was a summary of the log of these 100 years, Xi Jinping emphasized the country’s navigation chart and in it there is no concealment, as he exclaimed on July 1st:
The opening of the future with history as a mirror demands the continuous momentum of the chinization of Marxism. This is the fundamental guiding thought to maintain our Party and our country, and it is the soul and banner of the organization. Persisting in the fundamentals of Marxism and the pursuit of truth in facts, starting from Chinese reality, observing with clear vision the general trend of the times and mastering the historical initiative, the CPC has made arduous explorations to ceaselessly promote the chinization of Marxism and its adaptation to our times, and has led the Chinese people to the continuous momentum of the great social revolution. Why is the CPC competent? Why is socialism with Chinese peculiarities good? Because, in the final analysis, Marxism is valid.
The Chinese model, for their own purposes, does not contradict at all their vision of their relations with the world. China’s strategic approach is to agree on a global order based on the notions of peace, development and shared profits, which they call “the structuring of the community of destiny of mankind”. In effect, this is the Belt and Road Initiative, the most ambitious international economic integration project that has existed in recent decades and which could reshape the world economy as we know it today.
The vehemence of the Chinese is aimed at sustaining constructive multilateralism, as a response to the “Global Redesign Initiative” that has emerged from the West in recent times. Cooperation as a vehicle for linkages between countries is clearly opposed to the “multi-stakeholder” model that has been fabricated in Davos as a proposal for global political and economic governance, with clear intentions of displacing governments and imposing corporate interest to take on global problems. This is why China has been the target of attacks at the last G7 meeting with the United States at the forefront.
Hence, the challenges for the Chinese in their new bicentennial aspiration will come with all the vicissitudes of their model in collision with the unbridled hostile synergies and forces of political gravity that naturally oppose them. In essence, the dispute over the narrative and execution of global governance for the Chinese is also the vehicle for political action by the countries of the Global South that have set out to subvert the planetary order. The need for China’s success out of doors goes beyond them, and that nearly ¼ of the world’s population. It concerns the future of humanity.
THE LESSON OF THE FACT-BASED MODEL
The Chinese have long demonstrated that they are far from the premise of politics as an exercise in illusions. For them, the exercise of politics is the development and outcome of aspirations and their clash with events in the realm of reality, which is at the same time an unfinished process. This explains their transversal pragmatism and their discipline, since the former demands the latter.
The processes of globalization that have contributed enormously to China’s own development and its incorporation as a major player in the fabric of the world have also brought great uncertainties. Thus, our time is one of collapsing narratives and the end of certainties, so that the exhaustion of the Western model is clearly evident, and it is being confronted by problems that liberal capitalism is incapable of resolving.
In this world of uncertainties, China found itself, from its own voice, from its own experience. In this process, China has insisted on placing itself at the center of its political gravity, understanding that in the face of the magnitude and the shattering of events, daring and creativity are invaluable assets. But these assets have not arisen from chimeras, but from the very forcefulness of reality.
On the search for models, Xi Jinping made a lapidary statement in his aforementioned speech:
We learn and take as our reference all beneficial achievements of human civilization dynamically and welcome all helpful proposals and all criticisms made in good faith, but we absolutely do not accept imperious sermons such as those dictated by “master lords”! With bold strides, and with our heads held high, the CPC and the Chinese people will march along the path chosen by ourselves while firmly holding the destiny of China’s development and progress in our own hands!
The Asian giant has established a premise in its becoming and construction of its own reality. Its model does not consist of a commodity ready for packaging and shipment, and this is a novelty, given the many things that are made and exported from China. The uniqueness of China’s model of political and social organization lies in its non-transferable character, since it is formulated from China’s own realities, which are and will be unrepeatable in other contexts.
This factor is a key denominator of this country, if we compare it with the hegemonic tendencies of the United States, which imposed its model (in many cases through blood and fire) so that the countries of the world would mediate reality from it, resulting in a painful transition and in the historical trauma of identity theft and imposition.
The affirmation of the uniqueness and exclusivity of the Chinese and their model, endorsed by the facts, by default dismantles any claim that China may be building a new totalizing hegemony for the world.
However, this does not imply that China’s experience is not exemplary for unleashing the search processes in the countries of the Global South, in order to overcome the current time of uncertainties. Even more so now, in times of pandemic and post-pandemic, where several countries of the Atlantic axis intend to submerge us in walled cities, where a new Cold War is being proclaimed and governance is being promoted from states of exception with perpetual scope. In the face of these enormous threats and the foreseeable collapse of the Western world model, there is no search that is overdue but rather urgent.
Just as it was and continues to be the case for China, so it is today for many of our countries; the lesson of the fact-based model, when it is successful, is that dogmatism is weight on the wings and makes it difficult for us to fly. That there is also everything to question, everything to learn. This search is in essence our only possibility in the face of the collapse and vulnerability that will lead to the demolition of our nations.
Understanding our countries as political subjects requires the recognition of our emergence, the recognition of our situation in the face of reality and, consequently, our position before the crossroads.
A hundred years ago, China faced its crossroads and took its own path. Time and its undeniable epic have proved it to be right.
Translation by Internationalist 360°