About the 19th National Congress of the CPC




THE national congresses of the Communist Party of China (CPC) always polarize global attention, but the 19th National Congress plays a particularly important role in the history of the CPC. Expected to form a new milestone on the successful path to socialism with Chinese characteristics, this assembly is of immense importance to China’s growing international weight.


China’s policies, steadily implemented by the CPC over decades, will be permanently enhanced.


A freight train leaves for Duisburg port of Germany from Weihai port in East China’s Shandong Province on September 15, 2017.


The report submitted to the 18th National Congress of the CPC put forward that, “Improvements to the material and cultural life of the Chinese people constitute the basic goal of our reform and opening-up and socialist modernization.”


This goal is a task that is socialist in nature. No party governing a capitalist country has formulated a central objective comparable to that of the CPC. In the five years since the 18th National Congress, this task has been the focus of CPC policies, and its fulfillment has brought visible results.


I witnessed during my trip to China in October 2016 the great changes that had taken place, both in China’s cities and countryside. In the bigger cities, ramshackle dwellings have given way to modern residential buildings, and in the countryside space has been cleared on which to build large areas of affordable housing. New roads have also been built throughout the country to meet the growing demands of passenger and freight transportation. In just a few decades, China has successfully built the world’s largest motorway and high-speed railway networks.


Fast Becoming a Leading Economic Power


Today, China achieves top performances in many industrial sectors. The country has successfully caught up to global technological advances, and also begun to lead global technological progress in many fields.


People’s living standards and incomes have significantly risen, and educational opportunities and medical services have considerably improved.


The launch of the sixth Happy Ice and Snow Carnival at the National Stadium, better known as the Bird’s Nest, on January 24, 2015.


Governmental management, democratic participation, and social order and stability have also been enhanced. And the fight against corruption has made substantial progress.


The country’s domestic stability has been consolidated, and any attempts at destabilization have been successfully prevented.


Achievement of the aim to create moderate prosperity throughout the country by the year 2021, which marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC, looks certain. Its fulfillment also includes the task of lifting China’s remaining 70 million poor people out of poverty. This is a crucial challenge for China as it advances towards the goal of building a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious. The date set for completion of this a goal is 2049 – the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.


The development of socialism with Chinese characteristics has now entered a new phase, evident in the daily practical work of the CPC and its concrete results. Socialism is no longer a vision for the future; it has now become a concrete reality for the Chinese people.


One wonders, however, why it is that certain people in the West consider modern living and transportation, and higher living standards to be features of capitalism. Better living conditions for all are by no means necessarily the fruits of a capitalist system. On the contrary, they are only possible under socialist circumstances. A better life for all is clearly the aim of socialism.


China constitutes the paradigm for a new social order in the 21st century. While in the highly developed countries of the Western world the question of overcoming the capitalist system remains unsolved, the development of a socialist system that has arisen from semi-colonial and semi-feudal social conditions has, in principle, been achieved.


New Model of Socialism     


China is creating a new model of socialism, one based on the new situation in the field of science and technology, and the country’s successful development since its founding, 68 years ago.


Although the traditional system of socialism no longer meets the requirements of the current situation, the basic principles of scientific socialism are nevertheless still valid. They moreover correspond with the principles of socialism with Chinese characteristics.


Locals purchase vegetables in a market in Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province on July 10, 2016.


General Secretary Xi Jinping, the core of China’s leadership, quite rightly stated: “Socialism with Chinese characteristics is socialism and no other-ism.” Whoever looks back on such a long history and keeps it alive, as China has done, indeed looks ahead to a great future.


However, certain people still seem unable to comprehend the demise of traditional socialism in the former U.S.S.R. and several other European countries. Considered as a whole, this defeat was not just a counter-revolution initiated from the outside, but also a result of internal strategic mistakes, and hence made possible by the ruling parties of these countries.


The historical advance whereby capitalism is superseded by a higher form of social order, namely socialism, is now taking place in a different way from that sometimes assumed.


Socialism in China and other countries of the world that have chosen the socialist way will look different from that in countries where socialism faced defeat in the past.


Socialism in the 21st century will draw upon the principles of scientific socialism, on the concrete circumstances of each particular country, and on the given international situation.


China’s Solutions for the World


The 19th CPC National Congress revealed further elements of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The example China has set by its successful ongoing shaping of socialism will become ever more important to the international community as a whole.


General Secretary Xi Jinping recently stated: “Members of the CPC and the Chinese people are highly confident of their ability to provide for humankind through Chinese solutions during the search for a better social order.”


One program that offers multiple possibilities for further social development to all participating countries but without forcing them to become embroiled in the complicated trappings of a capitalist social order or deal with difficult inner conflicts is China’s Belt and Road Initiative.


Bearing in mind the knotty, tense and hazardous international status quo, China contributes immensely to maintaining peace and international security. China carries out a policy of international multi-polarity, promotes peaceful solutions to international problems, and avoids conflicts and confrontations. China advocates equitable international cooperation, mutual respect, and mutual benefits, and the international support for this strategy is continuously growing.


What China’s critics do not take into consideration, however, is that although it participates in economic globalization, the country clearly rejects political globalization, because this would result in Western world dominance. Solving the disputes that surround this question will require much strength in the future.


Growing International Influence


Meanwhile, China’s international influence is visibly growing. The BRICS mechanism, for example, is an organization that plays an ever greater role in international affairs, and supersedes older modes of political and military alliances.


In 2015, the BRICS states contributed 54.7 percent to the world’s production. A meeting of BRICS leaders took place at this year’s G20 Summit in Hamburg, during which the BRICS leaders agreed to renew efforts to promote an open world economy.


Furthermore, the international importance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is also growing. This is evidenced by the recent admission into the organization of India and Pakistan.


New financial institutions also complement the functions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, for example, stands at 70 member states, many of whom are European countries.


The Belt and Road Initiative is of particular importance. So far over 100 states and international and regional organizations have joined in this platform. Through this initiative, China is paving the way for many less developed countries to catch up with and achieve modern economics and science and technology.


The Belt and Road Initiative is a multi-billion dollar development program that covers half of the globe. As a natural consequence, this policy will further strengthen China’s global reputation. It marks the beginning of brand new international relations that reach beyond the capitalist mode of production.


In this way, traditional international forms of organization receive new stimuli for their renewal. One that demonstrates this trend is the G20. But it also holds true for the future of the G7. The international influence of China as archetype of a new social order and a new type of international relations will assuredly expand in the future.


That the developing countries choose an anti-capitalist development path with a socialist perspective is both possible and likely. But a main precondition, of course, is the maintenance of peace.


In October 2016, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences organized the Seventh World Socialism Forum in Beijing. I was among its attendees. Themed “Marxism in the 21st Century,” the event was a valuable experience for all concerned, not just by virtue of learning from China’s experience during its process of implementing its socialist way, but also about the struggle of many other countries to find their socialist path.


Thus, the forum clearly strengthened the common belief that the world’s future lies in socialism, to which the decisions made at the 19th National Congress will undoubtedly make an important contribution.


ROLF BERTHOLD was ambassador of the German Democratic Republic to the People’s Republic of China from 1982 to 1990.