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A New Vision for Global Challenges

2020-09-30 05:26:00 Source:China Today Author:WILLIAM JONES
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VOLUME III of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China was published this year, with the release of new reports and speeches made by Chinese President Xi Jinping on numerous topics regarding China and the world from October 2017 to January 2020.

While the social and health impact of COVID-19 was not foreseen during the period covered by Volume III, the hardening atmosphere in U.S.-China relations, which escalated in the wake of the pandemic outbreak, could already be detected, and in several speeches from 2018 and 2019, Xi warns the Party, the government, and the people that there will be major difficulties, “unforeseen in a century,” that may be met along the way. But the goal of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is very clear and is unlikely to be forestalled by the temporary headwinds now facing the country.

            

Tesla’s phase-II factory buildings seal their roofs atop the major frames on August 8, 2020, and form a gigantic industrial zone together with its already operating phase-I plants in Shanghai Lingang Industrial Area.

The volume deals with, among other things, questions of policy, motivation, and morality, and these issues are dealt with by a leader and a thinker, who is intent on mobilizing his people to greater heights and to a higher standard. Some of it may appear strange to a Western reader, accustomed to reading the usual feel-good jargon of political leaders. Only in rare cases, such as the speeches of a Franklin Roosevelt or a John Kennedy, or a Charles de Gaulle, can you experience this type of elevated political exposition as in the “Governance.” But not often do you find such depth of thought and feeling in political essays or speeches. While Xi is no doubt a good politician himself, he is also a statesman of the highest caliber, strongly committed to his party, his country, his people, and yes, to humanity as a whole. In many respects, he has already made his reputation as one of the most important leaders in the history of the People’s Republic of China.

Xi Jinping became general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and China’s President precisely when China’s 30 plus years of reform and opening-up were thrusting it into the role of the second most powerful economy in the world. And this was the point in time when the world was asking, where does China intend to go and what policy will it pursue as it becomes a major player in the international arena? Some of the answers were obvious: China would proceed to become a fully modern economy and would proceed to take its rightful place on the international stage. Some of the other answers came gradually. Namely, China was not going to play the “geopolitical game” of winner-takes-all. Nor was it going to attempt to replace the role of any other country in “leading” the world. It would, however, work to utilize traditional Chinese values to make the world more just and harmonious. And it was prepared to use its new-found economic prowess to help other countries develop.

All of this is found in Xi Jinping: The Governance of China (III). Here Xi deals also with the Party and its role. China, as a socialist country, is ruled by the CPC, with other Chinese parties as participants of the administration. In this situation, the quality of the Party cadre is of the utmost importance. The CPC retains its support and popularity to the extent that it meets the needs of the Chinese people. And this fact is underlined numerous times by Xi in his speeches. This places a greater responsibility on the Party cadre. They must be rigorously focused on the needs of the people. They must adhere to a higher standard than an ordinary political activist in a Western sense. But this is what has provided the strength of the Chinese system, which has allowed it to overcome numerous, sometimes overwhelming, difficulties during their 70-year history, and, most recently, during the COVID-19 crisis.

There is also much discussion in the volume with regard to economic policy. And while new factors may have arisen in the COVID-19 era, the direction outlined is still quite clear. The reform and opening-up policy, initiated by Deng Xiaoping, will continue, and will expand. The path laid out in 1978 has achieved a great deal. And poverty elimination, slated to be accomplished by the end of this year, will set a new landmark in the country’s development history. The total commitment of Xi to this mission, of transforming China into a modern nation, radiates on every page.

A preliminary picture of what that will mean for the world can clearly be seen in the Belt and Road Initiative, and one section in the book is also devoted to this initiative, which is now advancing to introduce high-quality development to the countries involved. The commitment to share in China’s development achievements, particularly with the developing world, has been a long tradition in the PRC since the Bandung Conference (1955) and the first projects in Africa. And this was at a time when China was still grappling with its own development needs. In its present condition, China can not only give a helping hand to these nations, but really assist them in raising the standard of living.

With the growing influence of China, it has also had to stake out its own diplomatic philosophy and thought. Xi has been instrumental in this, particularly with his concept of making the world a “community of shared future” or “shared interest.” In speech after speech, one clearly sees that old “geopolitical” dogmas that have too often characterized the notion of “national interest” have been replaced by a broader understanding of what constitutes one nation’s interest – an understanding that involves “the good of the other.”

And it is this understanding which is the most exciting element in his thought, and which permeates his thinking. It is a visionary perspective but also very practical. For if we could view matters from the perspective of the community of shared future, we would more easily overcome the numerous problems that inevitably occur in dealing with matters from the viewpoint of limited self-interest. While Xi presents his own vision of what China will become by the time of the centennial of the founding of the PRC in 2049, he also has a clear vision of what the world will become by that time, a world much different than the squabbling multitude of nations each trying to make its own way, as we see now, or, worse, a world again divided into blocs as some people in the West are pushing for.

While Xi relies heavily on Marxism for his analysis, it is of an undogmatic sort in which he also incorporates the broader perspective of the philosophical tradition of China which goes back more than 5,000 years. And the mixture of the two has served to greatly enrich Xi’s thinking on humanity and society. Whether we can achieve the goals set by Xi is yet to be seen. But it is clear that it is only on the basis of that broader view laid out by the Chinese president, that the many problems still facing humankind – poverty, disease, oppression, conflict, and war – can ultimately be resolved.  

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WILLIAM JONES is the Washington Bureau Chief of the U.S. publication Executive Intelligence Review.

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