How China’s reform and opening-up improved the lives of working people
(Xinhua) 07:55, July 09, 2018
A lot has changed in China over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, not least the working lives of ordinary people.
Farmer Xie Mingsheng, 53, from China’s Shanxi Province, can cut well over a hectare of wheat in one hour with the help of two harvesting machines. Forty years ago, the same task took his six member family almost two weeks.
The summer harvest used to be exactly the kind of drudgery Xie hated most. “The most frustrating thing was that I cut just the tiniest tract of wheat in an hour with only a sickle at my disposal,” he recalled.
In the late 1970s, China started contracting farmland to households. Xie’s family was allocated theirs in 1982. The first machinery did not arrive until 1992, when a tractor replaced the aging oxen for ploughing and transport. Now villagers have machines for sowing, weeding and harvesting. Drones spray their pesticides.
“Farming methods have completely changed,” Xie said, without much regret in his voice.
Better farming means more grain. From 1978 to 2017, grain output more than doubled to 618 million tons.
Fueling the Powerhouse
Higher output is not only seen in agriculture. In Xie’s province, coal production hit 98,000 tons per hour in 2017, nine times the amount mined in 1978.
Twenty-nine-year-old coal miner Zhao Zhaofeng was born into a mining family. His grandfather dug coal with a pick and shovel and carried it in a bamboo basket. Dynamite was used everyday. His father, a mining electrician, helped maintain conveyor belts and lamps. Coal was then transported by belts and carried out of shafts by carts.
Today, Zhao operates a coal cutter. The conveyor belt runs twice as fast as the one maintained by his father. Annual production of the mine is 12 million tons, 40 times the amount during his grandfather’s time.
Progress has been made in almost every sector of industry, bringing exponential increases in productivity. GDP skyrocketed to 82.7 trillion yuan ($12.5 trillion) in 2017, well over 200 times more than the pre-opening-up figure. In comparison, US GDP has increased a mere eight-fold over the same period.
Feeding the People
Seeing folks leave for cities and bring back fortunes, former farmer Han Yonghui left his rural home in Xiangfen county, Shanxi Province, in 1997 to start a shaobing business in Tianjin. Shaobing is a type of flat bread usually eaten for breakfast.
“I never thought a farmer like me could live in such a big city and own my own business,” said Han, who now runs a small restaurant in Miyun district of Beijing.
He sells dozens of shaobing an hour during the breakfast rush, making over 10,000 yuan a month.
When he first left his hometown, he had to walk for an hour to the nearest train station, wait in line overnight to buy a ticket, before boarding a packed slow train that took him to Tianjin in 18 sweltering hours.
All that changed in 2014 when high-speed trains reached Han’s hometown, cutting his travel time to six hours.
In 2008, China opened its first high-speed railway line, making the 150-kilometer trip between Beijing and Tianjin in half an hour.
Han’s siblings all work in cities, earning much more money than they ever did from farming. In 2011, Han bought a car and built a new house in his hometown for his parents.
Tens of millions of rural people like Han no longer consider themselves poor. China aims to eradicate the misery of absolute poverty by 2020. Since 2012, some 68 million population have escaped from the poverty trap, which works out at an average of 1,564 people every hour of every day.
Delivering the Goods
What an hour means in China is even more shocking when it comes to express delivery and e-commerce.
Postman Guo Xiaohong, 52, used to be the only connection between villagers in remote Lingchuan county and the outside world.
He had to trek dozens of miles to deliver mail, carrying several kilos of parcels. Villagers often turned to him to bring them small commodities that were not available in the village stores.
He walked around 5 kilometers every hour, delivering few letters each day. By contrast, today in the provincial capital of Taiyuan, the company he works for delivers 2,500 packages each hour, largely online purchases.
“Even my 80-year-old mother uses a smartphone now,” said Guo, adding that they video call each other every day.
Five years ago, an average of 650,000 packages were delivered each hour. The figure has jumped to over 4.5 million today, representing a lot of jobs and a lot of spending power.
In today’s China, every hour nearly 23 billion yuan is spent via smartphone, 3,300 vehicles are produced and goods worth 3.2 billion yuan cross the border. Reform and opening up may have taken 40 years to get this far, but with each passing hour the miracle continues.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up policy. Over the past four decades, Shenzhen has developed from a small fishing village to a metropolis. (Xinhua)
Bookwatch: China since Mao
Since Mao Zedong died in 1976, China has changed out of all recognition. Throughout the 1980s the Chinese economy grew at an average annual rate of over 10 percent–one of the highest growth rates anywhere in the world. Parts of the Chinese countryside, in particular the areas of Guangdong province close to Hong Kong, have experienced what amounts to a full scale industrial revolution. And a large part of this growth has been fuelled by China’s reintegration into the world market–China is now the eleventh biggest trading nation in the world.
Under Mao the economy had stagnated, and many of the gains that had been made since 1949 were wiped out, first in the Great Leap Forward of the late 1950s, and then in the Cultural Revolution. Far and away the best book to read on Mao’s economic strategy and why it necessarily failed is Nigel Harris’s The Mandate of Heaven,1 an excellent socialist analysis of the limitations of state capitalism. Most other books written on contemporary China in the 1960s and 1970s are marred either by uncritical repetition of state propaganda, or a simple inability to get any hard facts. The works of Simon Leys are some of the very few exceptions, giving a devastating account of the Cultural Revolution, and the intellectual and spiritual poverty of official culture in the 1970s.2
The new leadership that took over in 1978 shared Mao’s aim of building a strong industrial economy capable of competing with the rest of the world. They junked Mao’s economic strategy for the simple reason that it had failed to deliver the goods.
Their new strategy of the ‘four modernisations’, introduced by Deng Xiaoping in 1978, had essentially two strands: reducing direct state control over the economy in favour of ‘market socialism’, and taking China back into the world market to gain export markets and state of the art technology.
The Four Modernizations were goals first set forth by Deng Xiaoping to strengthen the fields of agriculture, industry, national defense, and science and technology in China. The Four Modernizations were adopted as a means of rejuvenating China’s economy in 1977, following the death of Mao Zedong, and later were among the defining features of Deng Xiaoping‘s tenure as head of the party.
. One core tenant was the rejection of the previously long-held concept known as “the iron rice bowl”; the new idea was that all workers should not be paid the same, but rather, paid according to their productivity. The thinking was that in order to be a consumer society, China would need to be a producing society. In December 1978 at the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee, Deng Xiaoping announced the official launch of the Four Modernizations, formally marking the beginning of the reform
China surpassed North America in attracting venture capital for the first time in the second quarter, helped by a record US$14 billion fundraising round by Alibaba Group Holding affiliate Ant Financial Services.
Start-ups in China accounted for 47 per cent of the world’s VC funding in the three months ended June, compared with a combined 35 per cent for the US and Canada, according to a report by Crunchbase, which tracks and compiles fundraising data.
In the villages the communal fields were broken up, and each family was given plots of land to plant as they saw fit. A certain proportion of the crop had to be sold to the state, and taxes paid in cash or crops–everything else they produced was theirs to consume or sell on the open market. In the cities day to day control of the factories was devolved to the managers and local officials. After meeting state quotas and paying taxes, they could sell the rest of their output on the free market.
The scale of this strategy’s early successes can be seen by the results of the sixth Five Year Plan (1981-1985). The plan called for average annual increases of 4 percent in both industrial and agricultural output–the actual growth was 12.6 percent in industry, and 8 percent in agriculture.3 This growth led to probably the largest changes in everyday life in China’s history. Living standards soared in the early 1980s–average incomes doubled in both the cities and the countryside, while there was a boom in both food consumption and the availability of consumer goods.
The new leaders also admitted that the Cultural Revolution had been a disaster and dismantled many of the state controls which had characterised life under Mao. In part this was a necessary part of the market reforms, but it was also done to win back a measure of popular support for the ruling class. The political liberalisation was substantial, and quickly created political problems for the ruling class that have plagued them ever since, as intellectuals in particular have tried to push back the new boundaries of what was permissable.
The first challenge to the new rules began as soon as Deng Xiaoping had won the leadership of the ruling class. Oppositionists began to put up posters on a wall in Beijing (quickly labelled ‘Democracy Wall’) and produce magazines to sell to the crowds who flocked there. The activists were mostly ex-Red Guards, who found a mass base among the youth who had been sent to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution.4
The movement’s dynamic eventually led it into open opposition to Deng Xiaoping, and it was finally destroyed in a law and order crackdown in 1983. The movement was important both because it showed very early the limitations of Deng’s reforms, and because it has remained the reference point for opposition since then. The best history of the movement, with substantial extracts from its writings, is David S G Goodman’s Beijing Street Voices. But Wild Lilies, Poisonous Weeds, edited by Gregor Benton, remains the best anthology of the movement’s writings. Andrew Nathan’s Chinese Democracy places the movement in the context of earlier protest movements, and gives an excellent account of its subsequent influence.5
Important as Democracy Wall was, it was undoubtedly a minority voice. The early success of the economic reforms made Deng Xiaoping’s government probably the most popular in China since Mao took power in 1949. But by 1985 the new economic strategy was running into substantial problems, as it became clearer that the market was failing to deliver what had been promised. By 1988 raging inflation, growing rural unemployment and rampant corruption among state officials and managers had created a powder keg which was to explode in the Tiananmen Square revolt of 1989.
Since 1989 the economy has recovered from the (state induced) recession of the late 1980s, but is once again wracked with inflation, unemployment and overheating. The last two years have seen a series of riots and attacks on local officials spread across the countryside, while strikes are becoming more and more common in the cities. With Deng Xiaoping due to take his place in the deepest circle of hell any time now, the Chinese ruling class has never faced a more uncertain future.
The evolution of China’s reforms since 1978 has been covered in depth in previous issues of International Socialism, and in my The Road to Tiananmen Square,6 but they have also been covered in a wealth of other works. These break down into three broad categories: Western journalism, Western academic studies and writings from within China. I intend to look at each of these categories in turn, before discussing the revolt of 1989 and the literature it has produced.
This is the shortest section, but the best place to start if you don’t know much about China. In the early years of the reforms much the best coverage of the changes in China came from journalistic works. Two early works that capture the scale of the changes and the expectations they aroused are Orville Schell’s To Get Rich is Glorious and Roger Garside’s Coming Alive: China After Mao.7
The two most important works, however, are Lynn Pan’s The New Chinese Revolution and John Gittings’s China Changes Face.8 Both books are comprehensive surveys of the changes in China’s economy and society during the 1980s, informed by a far deeper knowledge of China than most other writers, and both were written after the first bloom of naive enthusiasm for Deng Xiaoping had worn off, giving them critical insights into the contradictions that the economic reforms were beginning to produce.
Orville Schell’s Discos and Democracy9 focused on the growth of political opposition and the fragmentation of official ideology, in the student protest of 1985-86. In many ways that year was a turning point as inflation began to wipe out increased wages, official corruption became more and more blatant, and the logic of the market led the economy into the beginnings of crisis.
The two best general surveys of the reforms of the 1980s and their initial results are collections of essays–Reforming the Revolution: China in Transition and a two volume work Transforming China’s Economy in the Eighties.10 The second volume of this is especially useful as it focuses on industry and the cities, a major gap in most of the literature.
The more detailed surveys of the results of the reforms have tended to concentrate overwhelmingly on the countryside. The land reforms of the late 1970s were followed by an upsurge in industrialisation in many villages. By 1985 village industries employed some 70 million people and produced 19 percent of China’s total industrial output.11
Zhu Ling’s Rural Reform and Peasant Income in China is an excellent, if dense, survey of the changes in peasant income and the growth of inequality, based on a survey of three very different villages in the central province of Henan. China’s Peasants by Shulamith and Jack Potter, is a similar survey of a village in Guangdong, particularly useful for giving an account of change in the village since 1949. Both give a vivid picture of the hopes aroused by the economic reforms and the ways in which they have been frustrated.12
One of the few attempts to provide a national picture is State and Peasant in Contemporary China by Jean C Oi, though her reliance on interviews with refugees in Hong Kong means the study is skewed towards the southern coastal regions. The most critical account of the rural reforms is William Hinton’s The Great Reversal. Hinton is an unrepentant Maoist, who sees the reforms as a betrayal of socialism, but his deep knowledge of the Chinese countryside gives him a sharp eye for the reforms’ adverse effects.13
Margery Wolf’s Revolution Postponed14 is a sharply critical account of how women’s lives have changed for the worse since the reforms were introduced. She is particularly sharp on the coercion used to enforce the one child policy which began in 1979, and her insistence on talking to women workers in the cities makes this one of the best books on the changes in workers’ lives. There are good accounts of workers’ lives in two collections of essays, Chinese Society on the Eve of Tiananmen and State and Society in China,15 both of which document the rise in living standards in the early 1980s, and how that was wiped out by inflation after 1986. Significantly, both were written after 1989, when workers’ prominence in the Tiananmen rising brought them to the forefront of researchers’ interests.
One of the very few detailed studies of city life is Sex, Death and Hierarchy in a Chinese City by William Jankowiak,16 though because it’s set in the Inner Mongolian capital of Hohhot, hardly a typical Chinese city, it’s difficult to know how far one can generalise from his findings. The book is also useful for being one of the few to document the oppression of national minorities inside China–although there is a substantial literature on Tibet,17 little has so far been written on other minorities.
Lastly, the ability to do proper research inside China has produced some fascinating re-evaluations of Chinese history. Anne F Thurston’s Enemies of the People,18 for instance, is a comparative account of the Cultural Revolution drawn from interviews with some 200 intellectuals, which makes it one of the most interesting Western books on the period.
Most importantly, a number of important studies on workers’ lives and working class organisation in pre-revolutionary China have appeared, full of valuable insights into both everyday life and the activities of revolutionaries in the 1920s.19 These are contradictory works, whose perspective is a mixture of E P Thompson influenced ‘history from below’ and feminist theories which focus on divisions among the working classes. Despite a certain theoretical incoherence they contain a wealth of detail about workers’ organisation and the clashes in workers’ lives between tradition and the pressures of the modern world.
Throughout the 1960s and most of the 1970s Westerners knew about China only through Western writing. The Chinese writing that was translated was unbelievably dull and cliché ridden propaganda, which read as though it had been assembled by committee. From 1978 onwards that situation was transformed. Deng Xiaoping’s reforms, and particularly the open denunciation of the Cultural Revolution, released a pent up stream of poems, short stories, memoirs and other writings. Even after the suppression of the Democracy Wall, there was a far greater freedom to publish than before. Furthermore, firstly people with families abroad and then students were allowed to leave the country–most of the works translated into English have come from people who have left China and no longer have to worry about official retribution.
The most widely read book about the Cultural Revolution is undoubtedly Jung Chang’s Wild Swans. Although it’s well worth reading, both for its harrowing picture of the Cultural Revolution and (perhaps more importantly) for its insights into the loyalties of her parents’ generation to Mao, its runaway success is primarily a triumph of marketing, for there are many other equally compelling accounts of the Cultural Revolution in translation20–and even these represent only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the literature in Chinese.
Most contemporary translated Chinese fiction is simply personal memoirs written in novel form: useful for a sense of life during the Cultural Revolution, but with little literary merit. There are important exceptions to this. Lu Wenfu’s The Gourmet and Other Stories is a gently satirical collection of stories about everday city life, while Wang Anyi’s Baotown is a simply sketched slice of life in a remote village.21
Zhang Xianliang’s Half of Man is Woman, based on his years in a labour camp, is by contrast a violent, surrealistic and (by Chinese standards) sexually explicit novel. His style can be both dense and rambling at the same time, but it’s worth persevering. Mo Yan’s Red Sorghum (on which the film of the same name was based), is an even more violent and earthy story of the war against Japan. His is an important perspective because he was born into a peasant family, and only began to write while he was in the army. Most writing on rural China comes from intellectuals whose resentment at being sent to the villages is mixed with a disdain for peasant labour. Mo Yan, by contrast, understands the villages from inside, and can thus depict the vitality as well as the degradation of peasant life.22
For all the vitality of contemporary Chinese writing, it is important to remember that the voices of the vast majority of Chinese–the peasantry and the working class–are almost entirely absent. Two books do something to remedy this. He Liyi’s Mr China’s Son23 is a classic work about peasant life today. A teacher who was sent to a labour camp and returned to his village in 1962, he relearnt English from the radio and wrote his memoirs in English. Although he describes the labour camp, the bulk of the book is an inside view of everyday village life in the remote south west.
Chinese Lives24 was produced by two Chinese journalists, inspired by Studs Terkel’s ‘oral histories’, who simply talked to people on the streets about their everyday lives and wrote down what they said as they said it. This produced a fresh and lively mosaic of ordinary people’s immediate concerns and ambitions capturing, as few other books have done, both enthusiasm for the reforms and frustration at the pace of change.
Finally, although this is a review of books it is important to mention the renaissance of Chinese cinema over the last 10 years, beginning with Chen Kauge’s Yellow Earth, from Tian Zhuangzhuang’s bleak and savage Horse Thief to Zhang Yinou’s violent Red Sorghum. A reported new generation of film makers seems to have been stifled by post Tiananmen censorship.
Tiananmen and after
Tiananmen Square was the most important movement of opposition since 1949 for three linked reasons: it brought millions of people onto the streets in opposition to the ruling class as a whole, rather than in support of one faction against another; it produced independent working class organisations for the first time since 1927; and when Li Peng declared martial law, opposition became open rebellion as millions of workers manned barricades to keep the army out of Beijing. Although the explosion caught everyone by surprise, seeming to come out of nowhere, it was a product both of the economic reforms’ successes, and of the agitation of a minority of intellectuals over several years.
It was the growing gap between rich and poor that above all pulled millions of workers into the streets behind the students. But that student movement had been stirring for several years under the influence of a number of ‘unofficial’ intellectuals. Though often labelled ‘dissidents’ by the Western media, the term was inappropriate. Most were Communist Party members, and all saw themselves as working for reform from above.
All of them equally saw that the government would not listen unless it was made to, and thus pressed for action from below to bring about reform from above. It was that side of their ideas that above all attracted a mass student audience. For good accounts both of their ideas and of their influence, see Andrew Nathan’s Chinese Democracy, Orville Schell’s Discos and Democracy and Perry Link’s Evening Chats in Beijing. Fang Lizhi’s Breaking Down the Great Wall of China is a good representative account of their ideas in their own words.25
The two best general histories of the Tiananmen Square rebellion (although they only discuss events in Beijing) are Orville Schell’s Mandate of Heaven and Black Hands of Beijing by George Black and Robin Munro. The second of these is particularly interesting both for its account of the growing gap between the reformist intellectuals and the mood on the streets, and for one of the most detailed accounts of workers’ organisations and their activities. Cries for Democracy is a valuable collection of translations of the movement’s wall posters and leaflets.26
Li Lu’s Moving the Mountain and Shen Tong’s Almost a Revolution27 are two valuable memoirs from leaders of the students in Tiananmen Square, though they should be read more for their insights into what the students believed they were fighting for than as definitive histories. My ‘Tiananmen Square and After’ in International Socialism 44 contained invaluable eyewitness accounts of the rebellion, and in particular of the organisation of the barricades on the outskirts of Beijing.
Although the movement began in Beijing, and its dynamic was always determined by events in Beijing, it was far more widespread than any previous opposition movement. In this sense, there is as yet no good history of the movement. The Pro-Democracy Protests in China28 is, as far as I know, the only book to concentrate on what happened outside Beijing, though its account is limited by the accidents of where the various authors happened to be. It is, however, particularly sharp on the different aspirations of the intellectual leadership and the workers who were drawn into the struggle. It also illustrates something that went practically unreported in the West at the time–the sheer scale and anger of the protests across China after the 4 June massacre.
Although the movement had the potential to topple China’s rulers, the lack of any coherent leadership meant it was never able to realise that potential. But the massacre of 4 June demonstrated that the ruling class was unable to regain control except through brute force, and had nothing else to offer the Chinese people. That remains true today.
Their political crisis is rooted above all in the success of the economic reforms since 1978. The Chinese economy has expanded out of all recognition, but in the process the ruling class has lost control of both the pace and the direction of the economy. For the last ten years they have zigzagged from austerity packages to expansion and back again, depending on whether they faced overheating or recession. Yet each zigzag diminishes their power, as local officials and managers find new ways around the controls imposed from Beijing. What the experience of the reforms demonstrates is that, while the market can expand the economy, it cannot do so in a way that benefits the majority of the population.
While few academic works on China after Tiananmen will go so far, all reflect a sense of crisis for which there is no obvious solution. China in the Nineties is a useful collection of articles tracing the roots of the crisis, while a more recent collection, China Deconstructs, illustrates the growing inequalities between different regions of China, and the loss of control by Beijing over economic development in China’s provinces. Although it concludes (probably correctly) that the chances of China breaking up as a state are small, the fact that the question can be asked at all shows the depth of the problem.29
One key component of the crisis is the growing unwillingness of China’s population to passively accept its effects. The last few years have seen an enormous increase both in strikes among urban workers and in demonstrations, riots and attacks on state officials across the countryside. In 1989 the ruling class could at least take comfort from the fact that the countryside kept quiet–in any future upheaveal, they cannot take that for granted. Elizabeth Croll’s From Heaven to Earth,30 a detailed study of the gains and losses of the reforms in the countryside, shows how that growing peasant defiance is based on the antagonism between peasants and officials and the fragility of the gains that most peasants have made.
Academic and even journalistic publishing tends to lag two or three years behind events, which is why the listing of books since Tiananmen is so sparse. One exception to this is the excellent China Briefing31 series published annually, useful more as a snapshot of recent events than as in depth analysis, but the most up to date information you can get in book form. Otherwise, for the latest developments the Far Eastern Economic Review, Business Week and the Wall Street Journal all carry good reports of current events in China today. Precisely because these publications reflect Western capitalists’ fears for their investments and export prospects, they follow unrest among workers and peasants closely.
If the number of books I’ve listed seems daunting, it should be remembered that I’ve only skimmed the surface of a vast literature. Despite that a number of topics remain uncovered. There are as yet, for instance, no good books on corruption among officials and managers, or on the growth of the ‘floating population’ (illegal migrants and travelling traders) in China’s cities. Out of everything I’ve listed, I’d recommend four books to start with: Jung Chang’s Wild Swans, John Gittings’s China Changes Face, Margery Wolf’s Revolution Postponed and Li Lu’s Moving the Mountain.
But the first book that any socialist should read about China was written 40 years before any of these. Harold Isaacs’ The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution32 is one of the classics of socialist history, a passionate and inspiring account of how Chinese workers and peasants rose up against their oppressors between 1925 and 1927, and how that revolution was betrayed by Stalin. Mao’s victory was built on their defeat, yet the re-emergence of independent workers’ organisation in 1989 opened the way for the rediscovery of that revolutionary tradition and the rebirth of the power that can put an end forever to the poverty and inequality imposed by the market.
The best books on a subject aren’t always the ones that remain in print. For some reason this seems to be especially true of contemporary China. Books that are still in print are marked by *.
- N Harris, The Mandate of Heaven(Quartet, 1978).
- See for instance The Chairman’s New Clothes(Allison and Busby, 1977), one of the best histories of the Cultural Revolution, and Chinese Shadows (Penguin, 1978) and Broken Images (Allison and Busby, 1979). All are out of print, but they remain some of the most essential books on modern China.
- C MacKerras and A Yorke (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Contemporary China(Cambridge University Press, 1991), p156*. This is a very useful source of facts and figures up to the mid-1980s.
- In the late 1980s and early 1970s between 12 and 18 million young people were sent to the countryside from China’s towns and cities–that is up to 10 percent of the urban population. For powerful descriptions of the alienation and deprivation this caused, see Jung Changes Wild Swans(Flamingo, 1991)* or Chen Kaige’s film King of the Children.
- D S G Goodman (ed), Beijing Street Voices(Marion Boyars, 1981); G Benton (ed), Wild Lilies, Poisonous Weeds (Pluto, 1982); A Nathan, Chinese Democracy (I B Tauris, 1986).
- See G Gorton, ‘China since the Cultural Revolution’, International Socialism23; G Gorton, ‘China’s “Market Socialism”–Can it Work?’, International Socialism 34; C Hore, ‘China: Tiananmen Square and After’, International Socialism 44*; C Harman, ‘Where is Capitalism Going? (part 2)’, International Socialism 60*; C Hore, The Road to Tiananmen Square (Bookmarks, 1991).
- O Schell, To Get Rich is Glorious: China in the 1980s(Mentor, 1986); R Garside, Coming Alive: China after Mao (Mentor, 1982).
- L Pan, The New Chinese Revolution(Sphere, 1988); J Gittings, China Changes Face (Oxford University Press, 1989).
- O Schell, Discos and Democracy(Pantheon, 1988).
- R Benewick and P Wingrove (eds), Reforming the Revolution: China in Transition(Macmillan, 1988)*; 20) S Feuchtwang, A Hussain and T Pairault, Transforming China’s Economy in the 1980s (Zed, 1988).
- J Gittings, op cit, p140.
- Zhu Ling, Rural Reform and Peasant Income in China(Macmillan, 1991)*; S H and J M Potter, China‘s Peasants (Cambridge University Press, 1990)*.
- J C Oi, State and Peasant in Contemporary China(University of California Press, 1989)*; W Hinton, The Great Reversal, (Monthly Review, New York 1990)*.
- M Wolf, Revolution Postponed(Methuen, 1987).
- D Davis and E Vogel (eds), Chinese Society on the Eve of Tiananmen(Harvard University Press, 1990)*; A L Rosenbaum led), State and Society in China (Westview Press, 1992)*.
- W Jankowiak, Sex, Death and Hierarchy in a Chinese City(Columbia University Press, 1993)*.
- See for instance, A T Grunfeld, The Making of Modern Tibet(Zed, 1987).
- A F Thurston, Enemies of the People(Harvard University Press, 1988).
- See for instance G Hershatter, The Workers of Tianjin 1900-1949(Stanford University Press, 1986)*; E Honig, Sisters and Strangers (Stanford University Press, 1986)* about women textile workers in Shanghai; E Perry, Shanghai on Strike (Stanford University Press, 1993)*; J Stockard, Daughters of the Canton Delta (Stanford University Press, 1989)* about marriage patterns among women silk workers in Guangdong; D Strand, Rickshaw Beijing (University of California Press, 1989)*.
- See for instance Liang Heng and J Shapiro, Son of the Revolution(Fontana, 1983); Nien Cheng, Life and Death in Shanghai (Grafton, 1986; reissued by Harper Collins 1995)*; Luo Ziping, A Generation Lost (Avon Books, 1990); Gao Yuan, Born Red (Stanford University Press, 1987)*; Yue Daiyun and C Wakeman, To the Storm (University of California Press, 1987)*.
- Lu Wenfu, The Gourmet and Other Stories(Readers International, 1987); Wang Anyi, Baotown, (Viking, 1989)*.
- Zhang Xianliang, Half of Man is Woman(Viking, 1988); Mo Yan, Red Sorghum, (Minerva, 1994)*. He has also published a collection of equally vivid and earthy short stories, Explosions (Renditions, 1991)
- He Liyi, Mr China’s Son(Westview Press, 1993)*.
- Zhang Xinxin and Sang Ye (eds), Chinese Lives(Penguin, 1986).
- P Link, Evening Chats in Beijing(W W Norton, 1993)*; Fang Lizhi, Breaking Down the Great Wall of China (W W Norton, 1992).*
- O Schell, Mandate of Heaven(Little, Brown, 1995)*; G Black and R Munro, Black Hands of Beijing (John Wiley, 1993)*; Han Minzhu (ed), Cries for Democracy (Princeton University Press, 1990).*
- Li Lu, Moving the Mountain(Pan, 1990); Shen Tong, Almost a Revolution (Harper Perennial, 1991).
- J Unger (ed), The Pro-Democracy Protests in China(M E Sharpe, Armonk, 1991).*
- D S G Goodman and G Segal (eds), China in the Nineties(Oxford University Press, 1991); D S G Goodman and G Segal (eds), China Deconstructs (Routledge, 1994).*
- E Croll, From Heaven to Earth(Routledge, 1994).*
- The most recent is China Briefing 1994(Westview Press).*
- H Isaacs, The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution(Stanford University Press, 1961).*
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What does Beijing get right? It’s all about change, China watcher says
Author Hugh Peyman believes Deng Xiaoping’s approach will continue to serve the country well, and ‘as long as China keeps changing, it will find its way’
16 July, 2018, 11:30pm Zhou Xin Scmp
China’s economic boom over the past four decades has frequently drawn doomsday predictions about its growth machine running out of steam and the country ending up in Japanese-style stagnation, or worse – a Soviet-style collapse.
But the economy has continued to gallop ahead and defy those forecasts, at least up to now.
In his new book, veteran China watcher Hugh Peyman – who has spent the past 40 years in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai – explores the question of what China is getting right.
The answer, he says, is that China knows how to change.
“China ‘gets’ change, today’s West does not,” Peyman writes in China’s Change: the Greatest Show on Earth.
How China plans to push back against Donald Trump in ‘economic cold war’
Drawing on his personal observations of the Chinese economy and society, and borrowing from ancient Chinese classics such as The I Ching, or Book of Changes – which dates back more than 2,000 years – Peyman concludes former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping’s gradualist and pragmatic approach of “crossing the river by feeling the stones” will continue to serve the country well.
“As long as China keeps changing, then China will find its way,” the Oxford-educated author told the South China Morning Post.
Peyman, who has worked as a journalist for Reuters and the Far Eastern Economic Review, and as a researcher for Merrill Lynch, said those who questioned China’s model often misunderstood the complex realities facing the world’s second biggest economy, and overlooked its ability to adapt and capacity for “continual renewal”.
The founder of Research-Works, a China-focused investment strategy firm based in Shanghai, also brushed aside concerns about the sustainability of the country’s economy, from its mountain of debt to the murky world of shadow banking – major problems that President Xi Jinping has told the top cadres to bring under control.
In a remote corner of China, Beijing is trying to export its model by training foreign officials the Chinese way
Peyman gives the rapid growth of debt just 3½ pages in his book, concluding that it is not a problem because the debt ratio is still low.
“A rapid rise in the credit-to-GDP ratio is normal for any economy at China’s stage of development. It is a sign of progress,” he writes.
Similarly, he argues that fears of “ghost cities” – ambitious projects that are abandoned and lie empty – are overblown, based on his research and observations of two new districts, Pudong in Shanghai and Zhengdong in Zhengzhou. Both are successful examples of China’s “build them and they will come” approach.
Peyman draws attention to the bright side of the China story – its huge market of 1.3 billion consumers, a thriving private sector, investment in education and “new sources of growth” made possible by technological development.
On the trade war between Beijing and Washington, Peyman told the Post he believed it would not disrupt China’s economic rise, because exports are “not the only game in town” for growth.
He said Donald Trump’s interest in businesses like steel showed the US president’s thinking was still locked in the days when steel was a symbol of industrial power and jobs, which is not the case any more.
“I don’t think he [Trump] has a concept of change, whereas in China and many other places there’s a concept of change,” he said.
Don’t mention the trade war: what China doesn’t want people to know in its dispute with the US
In contrast, Peyman highlights in his book the Chinese leader’s tactics.
“Xi and his inner circle approached reform very methodically. Patiently building a solid foundation brick by brick, they garnered broad support without alienating too many people at once,” he writes.
“If he [Xi] intends to alert the power of state enterprises and even institutions while allowing the private sector’s expansion and individuals to have better lives, which would be considered a rightward turn, Xi has to be seen turning to the left first, even if that is not his ultimate destination.”
Chinese Dream to benefit entire world
By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-23
Ma Xuejing/China Daily
Editor’s note: On Nov 29, 2012, after being elected general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, Xi Jinping first talked about the “Chinese Dream” while delivering a speech at an exhibition at the National Museum of China, saying the greatest dream of the Chinese people today should be national rejuvenation. Four experts share their views with China Daily’s Zhang Zhouxiang on the significance of the Chinese Dream. Excerpts follow:
The dream of the Chinese people
Hu Angang, director of the Center for China Studies at Tsinghua University [Photo/China Daily]
Xi has said the Chinese Dream, in essence, is the dream of the Chinese people, because it comprises the Two Centenary Goals plus the goal of national rejuvenation of China, which are closely related to the people’s welfare.
Over the past five years, China has taken giant steps toward realizing the dream of the Chinese people. From 2013 to 2017, on average 14 million people were lifted out of poverty each year－and China has vowed to lift the rest of the impoverished population out of poverty by 2020. Which means China will achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 10 years ahead of schedule.
The past five years have also witnessed constant improvements in the social welfare system－for example, the minimum living standard security program now covers the entire country.
By 2020, more than 90 percent of Chinese citizens will have registered their social security cards, and overall, people will get a safety net that guarantees minimum living standards.
On the education front, the gross pre-school enrollment rate will rise from 77 percent to 85 percent in the next three years, which would be higher than the average of all Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development economies put together. And the gross enrollment rate for high school will rise from 87 percent to 90 percent, while that of higher education increase from 42.7 percent to 50 percent. It is thus fair to say that a lot more Chinese youths will have access to higher education.
While unemployment has always been a problem for many Western countries, in China, thanks to the positive employment policies, 50 million new jobs will be created to accommodate the growing labor force.
These data reflect that the Chinese Dream is indeed the dream of the people, and the Chinese leadership is on way to realizing that dream by improving people’s welfare.
Sustainable economy is the key to success
Xu Hongcai, an economist with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges [Photo/China Daily]
To realize the Two Centenary Goals and the national rejuvenation of China, which are part of the Chinese Dream, sustainable economic growth is necessary, which in turn requires improved productivity and higher living standards.
For the past five years, the Chinese leadership has been endeavoring to make economic development sustainable and develop a truly modern economic system. China has deepened supply-side structural reforms, accelerated economic restructuring, and promoted financial innovation to achieve the three goals. With the process gaining in strength, China will soon occupy a higher position in the global industrial chain and be in a better position to compete with developed economies.
China’s economy has entered the new normal of a medium-high growth rate and stronger economic structure. Which means China’s economic growth is now focused more on quality.
Besides, the service sector now accounts for a higher percentage of the national economy, while the contribution of consumption to the economy has been constantly rising. Also, employment remains high, while the consumer price index has been kept in check, which shows that China’s economic system has become more efficient.
In other words, a solid foundation for sustainable development has been laid, and China will further deepen the reforms, expedite the building of socialist market economy, and boost innovation so as to realize the Chinese Dream.
nti-graft fight means goals are attainable
Ji Naili, a professor of anti-corruption studies at Zhou Enlai School of Governance, Nankai University, Tianjin [Photo/China Daily]
Five years have passed since Xi first mentioned the Chinese Dream. The Chinese Dream has many aspects, and a key one is developing a cleaner political environment, because only by rooting out corruption can we make sure all the people benefit from development.
The top leadership has implemented some strict measures to curb corruption.
First, the Party leadership has been strengthened. As a result, various levels of the Party’s discipline inspection commissions have played the leading role in hunting down corrupt officials. And supervisory commissions transformed from Party discipline inspection commissions－a measure piloted in Beijing municipality, and Shanxi and Zhejiang provinces－have successfully monitored officials that are Party members as well as those that are not.
Second, the people have been mobilized to fight corruption. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC has conducted 12 rounds of inspections, and its inspection teams have covered all organizations at or beyond the provincial level and published their contact information to seek clues from the public about the inspected organizations. This is an example of the top leadership mobilizing the public to fight corruption.
And third, the corruption-fighting mechanism has been strengthened with the aim of eliminating corruption from the root so that it doesn’t raise its ugly head again. Moreover by casting a net of supervision, the central leadership had effectively shut power in the cage, which is a strong measure to curb corruption. And the resolve to fight corruption will pave the way for realizing the Chinese Dream.
Helping the world to solve its problems
Lyu Jia, an associate professor of Marxism studies at Tsinghua University [Photo/China Daily]
The Chinese Dream, in reality, is aimed at benefiting not only the Chinese people, but also the peoples across the world.
For the past five years, the Chinese economy has maintained a medium-high growth rate, and the Chinese people’s long pursued dream of leading a prosperous life is gradually coming true.
China’s prosperity also means opportunities for the rest of the world. The International Monetary Fund has forecast that China’s contribution to global economic growth this year will increase to 34.6 percent, higher than that of the United States, the eurozone and Japan combined. That’s why China is called the engine of the world economy.
Poverty is a major problem facing humankind. For developing countries, the problem is acute, because they are home to a large number of people living in poverty. It is a major problem for developed countries, too, because their sluggish economies and their development model make it difficult for them to help the poor. That’s why the Western model has been found wanting when it comes to reducing poverty, at least in the short term.
China has set a good example of poverty alleviation. Over the past five years, it has improved people’s welfare and lifted tens of millions of people out of poverty. This in more ways than one will make it possible for all the people to share the fruits of China’s development and realize the Chinese Dream. Also, it offers a potential development model for the developing economies to solve their development-related problems.
To realize national rejuvenation, China needs a peaceful external environment. And China’s peaceful rise will help maintain world peace and development, which in turn will help it to realize the Chinese Dream. This is how the Chinese Dream is set to benefit the Chinese people as well as the peoples in the rest of the world.
China Could Sell Trump the Brooklyn Bridge
By Thomas L. Friedman
• Nov. 14, 2017
Tere is a saying — “When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there” — and it perfectly sums up the contrast between China’s President Xi Jinping and President Trump.
Xi has been brilliant at playing Trump, plying him with flattery and short-term trade concessions and deflecting him from the real structural trade imbalances with China. All along, Xi keeps his eye on the long-term prize of making China great again. Trump, meanwhile, touts every minor victory as historic and proceeds down any road that will give him a quick sugar high.
Trump literally has no idea what he’s doing and has no integrated strategy — because, unlike Xi, Trump’s given no thought to the big questions every effective leader starts his day with: “What world am I living in? What are the biggest trends in this world? And how do I align my country so more of my citizens get the most out of these trends and cushion the worst?”
What world are we in? One in which we’re going through three “climate changes” at once.
We’re going through a change in the actual climate: Destructive weather events and the degradation of ecosystems are steadily accelerating.
We’re going through a change in the “climate” of globalization: from an interconnected world to an interdependent one; from a world of walls, where you build your wealth by hoarding resources, to a world of webs, where you thrive by connecting your citizens to the most flows of ideas, trade, innovation and education.
And, finally, we’re going through a change in the “climate” of technology and work: Machines are acquiring all five senses, and with big data and artificial intelligence, every company can now analyze, optimize, prophesize, customize, digitize and automatize more and more jobs, products and services. And those companies that don’t will wither.
So how’s China responding? To deal with the change in the climate, it’s massively investing in clean power and electric vehicles — because its own people won’t be able to breathe otherwise and because it knows that in a world that will add another one billion people by around 2030, clean power and transportation and energy efficiency will be the next great global industry, or nobody anywhere will breathe.
In response to a more interdependent world, China is deepening its trade ties to all the fast-growing Asian markets around it through its “One Belt, One Road” project and its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, while tightly controlling its own market. I call it “globalization for me but not for you.”
Because while China hails globalization, it imposes a 25 percent tariff on imported cars (while America imposes only 2.5 percent) and 50-50 joint ventures and technology transfers for big companies that want to gain access to China’s giant market. But China gets away with it.
In technology, China has embarked on a plan called “Made in China 2025” that’s plowing government funds and research into commercializing 10 strategic industries while creating regulations and swiping intellectual property from abroad to make them all grow faster. These industries include electric vehicles, new materials, artificial intelligence, integrated circuits, biopharmacy, quantum computing, 5G mobile communications, and robotics.
And Trump? On the change in the climate, he’s promoting coal over clean energy, like wind and solar, and has appointed climate-change deniers to all of his key environmental posts. While China is run by engineers, Trump doesn’t even have a science adviser. He’s refused to fill the White House Office of Science and Technology, which, as Newsweek reported, “has been without a boss for the longest stretch since its establishment in 1976.”
On globalization, Trump tore up the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, which would have put him at the helm of a 12-nation Pacific trading bloc (without China), built on U.S. interests and values, and would have eliminated as many as 18,000 tariffs on U.S. exports to countries that, together with the U.S., control 40 percent of global G.D.P. And then he went to China and praised Beijing for beating us at our own game! Well, Donald, when you unilaterally disarm, that tends to happen.
By the way, the 11 other TPP nations are now trying to create their own free-trade zone — without the U.S. So after decades of America trying to push all their markets open, they’re going to open without us. Nice going, Mr. President, China thanks you, because these countries will be much more vulnerable to Chinese economic pressure with our presence diminished.
On the change of the climate of technology, Trump is pushing a tax bill that is based on no analysis of emerging technologies and how we might reform our tax laws to incentivize more investment in them. Actually, the bill would eliminate the $7,500 tax credit for electric cars; shrink the tax credits vital for enabling wind projects; and impose a tax on the endowments of our wealthiest colleges — i.e., our science and engineering treasures — endowments that colleges use to fund research and extend scholarships for the neediest students.
“This will be wounding to one of America’s gems,” its institutions of higher education, Drew Faust, the president of Harvard, said to me. And it’s basically being done to cut taxes for the wealthy.
Moreover, at a time when China’s roads and rails increasingly look like the Jetsons’ and ours increasingly look like the Flintstones’, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials complained in a Nov. 9 letter to House leaders that their draft tax bill — in order to raise more money for corporate tax cuts — “makes significant changes to some of the federally supported financing mechanisms used for transportation” — specifically the “proposed termination of tax-exempt private activity bonds (PABs),” which serve “as an important infrastructure financing tool that attracts private sector investment to … large transportation projects across the country.”
So the Chinese are focused on the giant winds of change, and Trump is betting on his gut and a grab bag of tax cuts based on no take on the world, other than dubious trickle-down economics. No surprise. When you don’t know where you’re going any tax cut will get you there, any replacement for Obamacare will get you there, any wall will get you there, any trade concession will get you there.
Personally, I am not persuaded China’s top-down industrial policy will make China great in the end; it has created huge domestic debt challenges related to its state-owned industries and real estate bubbles. In fact, I’m certain our economic system is better than theirs — in theory.
But China, with its ability to focus, is getting 90 percent out of its inferior system, and it has brought China a long way fast. And we, with too little focus, are getting 50 percent out of our superior system. If that persists, it will impact the balance of power.
Now you know why the Chinese were so happy to throw a bash for Trump in Beijing.
The Times needs your voice. We welcome your on-topic commentary, criticism and expertise.
Correction: November 16, 2017
An earlier version of this column misidentified the bank China is using to extend its trade ties. It is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, not the Asian Development Bank.
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China makes significant global contribution since WTO accession in 2001
The author is an international affairs observer
By Ren Zhong (People’s Daily Online) 10:59, July 05, 2018
China has made a significant contribution to the world since it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, People’s Daily Overseas Edition commented on July 4.
The country’s determination to further open up is once again indicated by a white paper titled “China and the World Trade Organization” released by its State Council Information Office on June 28, 2018 .
17 years ago, China acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This was a milestone in China’s integration into economic globalization, marking a new historic stage of reform and opening-up.
Over the last 17 years, China has been a driving force for world
economic recovery and growth. The country’s entry to the WTO accelerated its own pace in reform and opening up as well as economic development, which in turn promoted the world economy in a powerful way.
In 2016, China totaled 14.8 percent of the world’s economy, 10.7 percent higher than in 2001. Since 2002, China’s average contribution rate to world economic growth has reached nearly 30 percent, making the country an important driving force in the recovery and growth of world economy.
In addition, China’s foreign trade development has brought benefits to the world since its entry to the WTO. Faced with unprecedented
ifficulties and challenges such as the global financial crisis, China took effective measures and managed to stabilize its foreign trade.
In 2017, China was the major trade partner of more than 120 countries and regions, and its import and export volumes respectively accounted for 10.2 percent and 12.8 percent of the world’s total.
The country’s import of services surged from $39.3 billion in 2001 to
$467.6 billion in 2017, with an average annual growth of 16.7 percent. The figure was equivalent to nearly 10 percent of the world’s total services import volume.
Furthermore, China has attracted a huge amount of foreign investment and development. It has ranked first among developing countries regarding inbound foreign direct investment (FDI) for 26 consecutive years.
China received $136.32 billion in FDI in 2017, up from $46.88 billion in 2001 when it first entered the WTO, growing 6.9 percent annually.
While foreign-invested enterprises have improved China’s economic quality and benefits, China have also rewarded them with profits through its own economic development.
In the meantime, China’s overseas investment and cooperation maintained sound development. It jumped into third place regarding global FDI flows in 2017, up from 26th place in 2001. Chinese capital and cooperation facilitated the technological advancement of investment destinations, improved local economy and created abundant jobs.
The public products China provides to the world are also a major achievement since the country entered the WTO. It proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, which will create opportunities and win-win results across the globe. It plays a significant role in the promotion of international and regional cooperation, and the protection and development of an open economy. It is also vital in making economic globalization open, inclusive, balanced, win-win and beneficial to all.
The first China International Import Expo (CIIE) is scheduled to open in November this year. Multiple international organizations and over 100 countries will participate in the event. The expo is believed to be an international public product that promotes the inclusive and mutually-beneficial development of the world.
It is estimated that China will import $24 trillion worth of goods in the next 15 years. The CIIE is expected to offer new opportunities for countries in exportation, build new platforms to share China’s development outcomes and inject new momentum to the global economy.
Facts prove that China pursues a mutually beneficial opening-up strategy, upholds the WTO’s principle of free trade and has lived up to its responsibilities as a major country in the process of opening-up. From its WTO accession in 2001 to the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, China has embraced the world with open arms and become a key driver for world economy.
(The author is an international affairs observe
What You Need to Know About China’s Biggest Political Shakeup In Years
Charlie Campbell / Beijing TIME MAGAZINE
Oct 15, 2017
In the dead of night, late last month, the enormous portrait of Communist China’s founder Mao Zedong that hangs over Beijing’s Forbidden City was replaced. A yellow crane stealthily swapped his towering visage with a near-identical, though fresher, replica. One could forgive the “Great Helmsman” for wanting to look his best at this time. Because, on Wednesday, just across the vast stone plain of Tiananmen Square upon which he gazes, China’s current “core leader,” President Xi Jinping, is poised to elevate himself to a standing not seen since Mao left the political stage.
While China doesn’t have democratic elections like those of the West, its ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has elaborate protocols for filling leadership positions, with the next five-yearly shake-up beginning Oct. 18. The 19th Congress of the CCP will see some 2,000 delegates gather in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, where they will select a 200-member Central Committee, as well as a roughly 25-member Politburo. But the key decision-making body is the apex Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), which typically numbers between five and nine of China’s most powerful figures.
Of course, most of the key decisions have been made in the shadows prior to this political gathering. Nevertheless, there will be various factions vying to advance their own agendas, and whichever one wins will have a huge effect on the health of the world’s second biggest economy over the next half-decade and beyond. Xi, of course, will be central to it all.
This is what you need to know:
What are we looking for?
There’s no doubt that Xi Jinping will be confirmed in his second five-year term as CCP General Secretary, and thus also as president. The real question is who will join him on the PSC. There are rumors that Xi may chose a smaller PSC of five stacked with loyalists, though that may cause resentment elsewhere in the party. Most expect Xi to continue with the current seven-member committee, but perhaps with a couple of ardent supporters to bolster his position. If he does go to five, says Kerry Brown, Professor of Chinese Studies at King’s College London, “Then we are looking into the eyes of a real autocrat.”
Isn’t this all scripted anyway?
Mostly, though there could be curveballs. Although the written rules governing the CCP’s distribution of power are loose, there are various conventions. One is that top officials aged 68 or older must retire. But Xi’s key ally, Wang Qishan, who heads the government’s sweeping anti-corruption purge, is 69. Xi might break with the age protocol to keep Wang on the PSC. But doing so would gnaw away at the institutionalization that staves off accusations of outright dictatorship, not to mention irk younger cadres who would see their own promotion chances shrink. There are rumors that Xi could even perform a double-whammy of replacing Premier Li Keqiang with Wang, who could help to push through his economic reform agenda. But what Xi wants to do, versus what he feels he can get away with, is tempered by political expedience of these moves, as well as external factors, such as suggestions that Wang’s health may be fading. “Xi Jinping has needed Wang Qishan up to this point to keep the party in line,” says Prof. Steve Tsang, Director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London. “If Xi Jinping does not feel confident enough to let him go, then breaking the retirement rule would be a price worth paying.”
Who are the cadres to watch?
According to the age-limit convention, five of the seven PSC members are due to be replaced. The most attention will be on any younger additions, as tradition dictates that at this “mid-term” Congress two or three candidates capable of remaining in the PSC for the next three Congress — so in their early-50s — are blooded. These include the heirs apparent, who will assume the General Secretary and Premier roles at the leadership changeover at the 20th Congress in 2023. (At the 17th Congress in 2007, Xi and Li were promoted to the PSC). The most common name touted is Hu Chunhua, party chief of Guangdong province, who was promoted to the Politburo in 2012. Sun Zhengcai, who served as the party secretary of the central megacity of Chongqing, was another top pick until his purge last month. His replacement in Chongqing is Chen Min’er, 56, formerly party chief of the southwestern province of Guizhou. Chen, a long-standing Xi confidante, was odds on to be named to the 25-strong Politburo, but due to Sun’s fall could move straight into the PSC. “Sun had not openly, publicly, strongly articulated his support for Xi,” says Tsang. “He just paid it lip service. And [his removal] sends a very clear signal for insiders: ‘you are with us, or you are against us.’”
What does it mean for China?
How the 19th Congress plays out will influence how far Xi can roll out his reform agenda. His first term was mostly occupied with political reform — the anti-corruption campaign, which the nation’s anti-graft watchdog says has punished 1.34 million lower-ranking officials — and foreign policy matters. These include expanding claims in the South China Sea and building up China’s global presence through his Belt and Road Initiative: a rekindling of the ancient Silk Road via a trade and infrastructure network across Eurasia and Africa. But further economic liberalization is needed to propel China forward and avoid the dreaded “middle-income trap” that oft blights newly developed economies. That means reducing the reliance on unwieldy state-owned enterprises, which suffer overcapacity and are the source of many of China’s environmental woes. However, such enterprises have proven a main instrument of growth over the last few decades, and helped China weather the worst ravages of the 2008 global economic crisis. As such, many key figures remain resistant, particularly those in the camp of Premier Li. “The fundamental policy issue is the role of the market,” says Brown. “The key thing to note when these new leaders walk out is whether they are supportive of marketization or against.”
What does it mean for the world?
So far, Xi has maintained a very strong role for the CCP and for state-owned companies in the economy. There’s been some progress for foreign investment, but investors would like to see state-dominated sectors opened to private business, the privatization of smaller state enterprises and the revamping how larger ones are run, plus more foreign competition particularly across the heavily protected service sector. “What’s interesting will be whether we see a definitive move in one direction or another,” says Nicholas Consonery, head of Asia geopolitical intelligence at FTI Consulting business advisory firm. Xi has also sought to shore up his personal position by appealing to nationalist domestic policies. However, these chafe against what he is trying to achieve internationally, especially building good will for his Belt and Road Initiative. It’s possible that a stronger Xi may throttle back on his administration’s nationalist excesses, allowing it to capitalize on geopolitical goals. Much will depend, though, on whether Xi is able to push through much-needed reforms of China’s bloated armed forces.
What about Xi personally?
In 2016, Xi won official recognition as the party’s “core” leader and “supreme commander” of the national armed forces, placing him on a level with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. The next rung would be the enshrining of his personal political philosophy in the national constitution, as “Xi Jinping thought.” Only Mao has previously had this honor bestowed. (“Deng Xiaoping ‘theory,’” considered a lesser nod, has been included, while Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao both had their trademark philosophies added but without their names attached at all.) What “Xi Jinping thought” actually means is its own huge question. However, the key takeaway is that the stronger Xi is personally the easier he can push through reforms necessary for the health of the nation and, by extension, the party as its fundamental organ of government. “There are so many administrative reforms needed to make this ‘China Dream’ happen for the middle class, where there’s going to be big discontent if these things are not delivered,” says Brown. “If the middle class walk then that’s not something [the CPP] can survive.”
What’s the wildcard scenario?
There are persistent rumors that Xi is angling to stay on past his ten-year term, and as such may not appoint any young “groomed” leaders to the PSC. This would be a massive departure from protocol, prompting accusations of a lurch toward outright dictatorship, and damage the CPP’s claims of institutionalization. Much depends on how Xi — and China — performs over the next five years. A series of crises amid a worsening economic outlook would render such a gambit impossible. But if Xi can implement reform and steady the ship then it might not be so farfetched. “Xi’s an ambitious man who sees great value in himself,” says Tsang. “He’s almost certainly planning to stay on past ten years, but the question is: How?”
New thought for the new era
By Han Qingxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-19 07:24
The Communist Party of China (CPC) opens the 19th CPC National Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Oct 18, 2017. [Photo by Edmond Tang/China Daily]
China has entered a new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the Communist Party of China Central Committee with General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core has developed new ideas, new thinking, and new strategies for governance that meet the needs of the times.
Although China is still at the initial stage of socialism, most Chinese people are no longer struggling just to meet their basic needs. The main contradiction now is people’s growing needs for a better life with the country’s unbalanced and insufficient development, as Xi pointed out in his report at the opening ceremony of the 19th CPC National Congress on Wednesday.
Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the Party led by Xi has remained committed to realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, and it has taken upon itself the great historical responsibility of attaining its “Two Centenary Goals” of building a moderately prosperous society by 2020, one year before the Party’s 100th anniversary in 2021, and developing China into a “great modern socialist nation” by the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 2049.
To accomplish these goals, the Party will adhere to the “Four Comprehensives” of comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, comprehensively deepening reform, comprehensively advancing the rule of law and comprehensively and strictly governing the Party, and it will advance the “Five Development Concepts” of innovation, coordination, green, openness and shared development.
Therefore, the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era reflects the governance philosophy of the CPC Central Committee with Xi as the core, and it is a systematic theoretical framework for realizing socialist modernization and national rejuvenation.
It stresses fairness and justice, as it seeks to narrow the wealth gap and enable more people to share the fruits of the country’s development, and the Party has been improving its governance, and deepening people-oriented reform.
Building a moderately well-off society offers the strategic foundation for China’s modernization and national rejuvenation. Comprehensively deepening reform offers strong impetus. The rule of law offers legal guarantee for good, modern governance. And comprehensively and strictly governing the Party ensures it can provide strong leadership.
As an emerging major power, China will influence the world order and may face opposition from established powers despite playing a vital role in improving global governance. China is approaching center stage in global affairs as it transforms from a major country to a major power. And Xi’s diplomatic philosophy has made it clear how China will deal with other countries in order to create a peaceful environment, which is crucial for realizing the dream of national rejuvenation.
Although China seeks to maintain peace and adopts a defensive policy, it needs a strong army to defend itself in the face of complicated challenges. That is why a strong military is a necessary part of the Chinese Dream.
The Chinese Dream is the dream of rejuvenation for all Chinese people including the people in the mainland, as well as compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. And the insistence on the “one country, two systems” and the 1992 Consensus are the guarantee for realizing the dream of all Chinese people.
Therefore, the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era has clear goals, and it is the means to realize the two centenary goals and the great dream of national rejuvenation. As for the means, the strategic layout of the “Four Comprehensives” reflects the profound thinking and top-level design of the Party’s central leadership toward socialist modernization and national rejuvenation.
Along with the legal guarantees and strong Party leadership, it constitutes a complete, effective people-oriented system for achieving China’s modernization and national rejuvenation that conforms to socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Therefore, the thought is people-oriented, highlighted by the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, and conforms to socialism with Chinese characteristics. The report raises the questions of “what kind of modernization and national rejuvenation China should have”, and explores ways to achieve the goals of modernization and national rejuvenation.
The author is a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
The Secrets to Successful Management in China: 2012-2017
By Ronnie Lins (People’s Daily Online) 17:04, October 30, 2017
The author is President of the China-Brazil Center: Research & Business
(Ronnie Lins, CEO of Center China & Brazil: Research and Business (CCB), told a BRICS governance seminar that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s governance model is a proven success, and it can serve as a basis for making the necessary adaptations to create a new model of global governance.
He said the Chinese government had developed a management model with well-defined objectives, based on solid premises and producing feasible results.
The Chinese model can not only provide good benchmarking for the BRICS, but also for other developing countries, especially as their main problems are usually the same everywhere. However, in using this model, it is essential to customize the objectives and actions to suit the characteristic of each country.
He said in conclusion that the ultimate goal of President Xi Jinping’s governance model was to provide a “prosperous and comfortable” life for all Chinese citizens, with the total eradication of poverty by 2050.)
After five years of intense work by President Xi Jinping and his staff, with the active support of the CCP, the question that arises is: how did they achieve this success?
During these five years, many internal and external events occurred, both with negative and positive influences. However, this all corroborated that it is essential to have adequate planning to face all kinds of adversities.
Externally, there were political, economic, and social issues that affected much of the world, either directly or indirectly. In working toward the goal of the “China Dream,” it was necessary to be united, determined, and competent.
Marriage is necessary for the success of any country. The government, the Party, the military, and the people must all be on the same page. In this way, it was possible to give all Chinese a “moderately prosperous life” and advance the goal of poverty eradication. Being close to the population and listening to their suggestions and complaints is fundamental to keeping the Party on the right course, and China has mastered this strategy.
Another critical variable was determination. Over the past few years, President Xi has emphasized and carried out essential steps toward deepening reforms.
This has been fundamental because besides from demanding political will, a great determination was necessary to change or alter wrong courses. The Chinese government has acted steadily, but other essential reforms remain for the next administration.
Finally, the last variable that contributed to the success was competence. We will now present the hypothetical Governance Model of President Xi Jinping, which we have consolidated into six main pillars. We will cite from recent political and economic achievements of the government.
The six pillars are: National Sovereignty, Deepening of Reforms and Rights, Educational and Cultural Development, Economic Development and Environment, Foreign Policy, and Creation and Monitoring of Institutional Norms.
In the last five years, I have highlighted the following about National Sovereignty.
For example, the implantation of the modernization of the armed forces, the fair recognition of the value of the military, the development of deterrent and informatization capacities, creation of strong ties through the concept of duality, where military and civilians began working partnerships to generate products with higher added value.
The firm position was maintained on the legitimacy of Chinese Sovereignty in the South China Sea and the start of the strategic “Grand Bay” project that integrates Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau.
Regarding the deepening of reforms and rights, we highlight several actions to combat poverty and carry out tax reforms, reforms in the financial market, and changes in judicial bodies.
Regarding health, China has increased housing for the needy and has taken actions such as hospital reforms and creating better financial conditions for doctors and other health professionals
Regarding educational and cultural development, we highlight the effort to adapt education to the new world technological context. And regarding culture, there was the more significant dissemination of Chinese culture, improvements in the maintenance of cultural heritage, and the encouragement of the population to carry out tourism within China.
Concerning economic development and the environment, we highlight macroeconomic policies to equalize economic growth under the conditions of the “New Normal,” policies to encourage the services sector, facilitation of foreign capital investments, and development of innovation within the new context of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” among other necessary measures.
About the environment, the government reinforced measures to improve the situation through the deactivation or restructuring of “zombie companies,” the creation of more environmentally friendly locations, such as “Ecological Buildings,” and a firm policy against environmental polluters.
In foreign policy, the government acted in several areas, depending on the characteristics of the other country. For example, we highlight discussions on the issues of nuclear arms control, counter-terrorism, combating social inequality and eradicating poverty, the development of the grand world-wide strategic plan for Belt and Road, and other critical related actions.
Finally, subjects on the creation and monitoring of institutional norms showed us two critical actions. First, the policy of the government-party-population approach, which as we said was of utmost importance to China’s success, and two, the government’s vigorous activity against waste and especially in the fight against corruption.
What challenges and measures can be discussed and determined at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party for the next administration?
This question is incredibly complex, because of the planning required for the next five years of a country as great and important as China.
I will outline some challenges and some guidelines, which in my opinion, may arise at this critical meeting.
””Innovation” will certainly be one of the most important issues over the next five years. That’s because, we know we’re going through the “Fourth Industrial
Revolution,” and its effects will be massive in most activities. Also, there are still enormous tasks for the Chinese government to look at and use their resolve to solve many challenges.
Regarding National Sovereignty, I believe that the insertion of “cyber-physical” systems will be intense in the processes of manufacturing equipment for national defense. Also, the Chinese government has determined that the development of military equipment, where possible, obey the principle of duality. This means that defense companies and private companies must work together more closely in the development of new equipment. In this context, “cybersecurity” should also have a special treatment, because its control will be fundamental to the sovereignty of any country.
I do not doubt that through “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” China will achieve its goal of building a moderately prosperous society, but it will be necessary to worry about some essential aspects.
For example, the process of deepening social reforms has very similar characteristics in any country in the world. First, improvements are more accessible to carry out, but once the process increases, the pace slows down, and more determined the government and Party will need to be to implement them.
An essential subject that must also be addressed will be how to prepare young people from their studies to their work.
In this new digital world, there isno way to follow old ways. The modernizations and demands of potential employers will have a very significant diversity and speed of change.
Therefore, I believestudents will need to be matched with the demand of companies. I only see one way. Educational institutions and companies must work together to create curriculum. With this, the number of unemployed young people will be reduced. The need for more vocational schools and startups in China also emerges.
In defining the growth of the economy for the next few years, not only should macroeconomic fundamentals be considered, but these technological and structural changes in productive modes should be predicted.
This is not an easy task, because every day new combinations of tools and sectors arise that focus on changing demands. However, I believe that among other areas of knowledge: nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and energy storage systems, among others, should be the new priority.
Lastly, we must speak of measures for the tireless fight against corruption, which is being improved every day.
The author is President of the China-Brazil Center: Research & Business
Seeing is believing – China’s amazing growth over 40 years
By Rajdeep Pakanati | chinadaily 2018-07-19
The author is an associate professor of O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India.
It is indeed amazing to see the growth and development of China since it opened up 40 years ago. I would like to share some of my experiences after visiting China for a few times now since 2017. One, the extraordinary development that defines China can be illustrated using one example. The United States used around 4.5 Gigatons of cement between 1900 and 2000 while China used almost 6.6 Gigatons of cement in 3 years between 2011-2013. What this measure shows is the grand vision, systematic planning and meticulous execution that was needed to utilise such a tremendous amount of construction material and promote development. This is evident in all walks of life in China today.
My experience traveling by high speed train recently was absolutely wonderful and it is unbelievable that there was no HSR before 2007 and that today it spans 25,000 kilometres. Similarly, the road network has surpassed that of all countries in the world today. It now boasts of 4.7 million kilometres which was only 1.7 million kilometres in 2001. Last year, China logged 1.1 billion passenger trips by air, among which 1.03 billion passengers were transported by domestic routes, revealing the dramatic improvements in the airport infrastructure. These passengers are served by 229 airports among which 228 have scheduled flights serving 224 cities. There is good economic evidence that investment in physical infrastructure will reap immense benefits to the people and China by focusing and achieving it has been able to respond to meet the demands of its people.
Two, the progress made by China is directly attributable to the utilisation of the far more important resource – human resources, as material development could not have been made possible without skilling the people to undertake what I believe could be the equivalent of building the Taj Mahal, the pyramids, the Inca temples, temples of Tamil Nadu, and all other monuments built in India and other countries over 2000 years, within 20 years. For example, I was awed by the public library in Shenzhen which is like a modern temple thronged by people from all walks of life and all age groups. The shared communal space reminded me of gatherings in Indian temples, but here the library was the temple.
This reveals that investment in the intangible infrastructure – i.e. on education and skilling of the people was also achieved at a gigantic scale. This suggests that investment in all levels and kinds of education in China was a top priority and done on a war footing. This could not have been possible without accountability at all levels for provision of quality education. One way we can assess the success is by looking at the number of students sitting for the National Higher Education Entrance Examination (gaokao) which was 9.75 million in June 2018.This shows how the government has worked to not only work towards universal literacy but also promote higher education and tertiary education. Apart from university education, according to the Educational Statistics of 2016, China has 8367 Secondary Vocational Schools which graduated 4.4 million students who acquire the necessary skills to contribute to nation building.It is estimated that close to 8 million students are graduating from universities and it is these graduates who are contributing to innovation and rapid development.This is more importantly marked by equal distribution among women and men which is reducing the gender difference in the market.
Three, the focus on investing in people also had another big spillover effect: it created a huge consumer class and a massive market for Chinese goods inside the country. While China has been known as the factory of the world today it is domestic consumption which is now fuelling the economic growth.Not only has consumption of goods and services increased, the Chinese are now well-informed and demand good quality goods and services in their daily life.There is a mis-impression in India that Chinese products are of poor quality, which was formed from the products sold earlier, but I can clearly see that various goods and services in China today meet the world standards and are even setting new standards which the rest of the world will follow soon. For example, the breakthroughs in 5G mobile technology by Chinese companies and being tested and implemented now will provide a new benchmark for the world.
There is an old Chinese proverb: “It is better to see something with your own eyes than to read it 100 times.” This is quite evident from the scale of development in China. I think that it would be a good idea for the rest of the world to visit China and understand its path of development so that we can learn from their experience and also strive to improve on any of the shortcomings that accompanied this development. Only then can we seek to develop further in a sustainable and inclusive manner.