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The Peaceful Development Path: A Breakthrough in Models

On November 9, 2009, Study Times published an article on the topic of China’s peaceful development path [1]. The article stated that, in the 60 years since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took power, China has grown into one of today’s emerging world powers from once having been an outsider, and an alien to the international system. The relationship between China and the world has changed, China’s international role has changed, and the CCP’s international strategy has changed dramatically. All these changes are the result of the Communist Party’s policy of adopting a peaceful development path. The essence of the CCP’s peaceful development path is to “obtain nutrition from the ‘body of capitalism’ by opening China to the world, to strengthen the power of socialism in China, and to advance socialism with Chinese characteristics through seeking cooperation with the entire capitalist system.” This is also the core of the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The following is a summary of the contents of the article.

The peaceful development path is a breakthrough in the traditional socialist path, a breakthrough from developing socialism behind closed doors, and a breakthrough in the world revolution path. In the late 1980s, socialism in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and other countries suffered a setback. The reason that the traditional socialism path suffered a setback is largely related to trying to develop a socialist planned economy on its own by following the so called “Stalin model.” The “Stalin model” was a product of the special conditions during the era of war and revolution in Russia. It was for a large yet economically weak country to survive and develop, although surrounded by capitalism, to increase economic power and to strengthen its national defense at all costs through the implementation of a comprehensive collectivization of its system, and to establish a mandatory and highly centralized planned economy in the political system.

The core feature of this model is that a socialist country isolates itself from the capitalist world, and tries to develop socialism on its own, in order to lay a foundation for world revolution. Although this model has the advantage of conceiving a big picture under a concentration of power, there are many profound defects in following this model, such as causing institutional rigidities, resource constraints, and a lack of vitality . . . . The failure of socialism in the world since the 1980s is not the failure of the socialist path itself, but the failure of the “Stalin model.” 

In contrast, the reason that socialism with Chinese characteristics was able to revive and become more vital since the 1980s is because the CCP has established and followed a peaceful development path ever since it adopted the reform and opening up policy, which was after the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee took place. Through the reform and opening up, the room for the development of China’s socialism has widened, so that it can take advantage of the strategic opportunities brought about by globalization and the new technological revolution, thus adding strong impetus to China’s development. The peaceful development path is not only a breakthrough in the traditional socialist path, but also a breakthrough in the traditional capitalist path. It is the external realization of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Thirty years experience of adopting the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics has proven that China’s development is inseparable from the rest of the world. As a less developed country, to build socialism we must anchor together with the capitalist world, adhere to an open, peaceful development path, seek cooperation through an open policy, develop through cooperation, and achieve mutual benefit and development based on common interests with the other countries of the world. Only in this way…can we advance the magnificent undertaking of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Therefore, to strengthen socialism in China by extensively participating in the labor division in the international arena, to obtain nutrition from “the body of capitalism” by opening up to the world, and to advance socialism with Chinese characteristics through cooperation with the entire capitalist system, are the essence of China’s peaceful development path, the core of the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. 

The peaceful development path is not only a breakthrough in the isolated and revolutionary traditional socialist path, but also a breakthrough in the traditional capitalist path that is based on expanding outwards and shifting crises. It is not a path of seeking hegemony, nor is it a path of waging war. Rather it is a path to promote world peace and world harmony. China’s adhering to the peaceful development path is determined by the characteristic of globalization, China’s own internal development needs, and the goals and tasks of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Since the 15th century, none of the development paths of the world’s major capitalist powers were peaceful paths, but rather paths full of overseas colonization, external plundering, expansion and even military invasion.  However, since the 1980s, along with the development of globalization, international competition has been switching to competition of overall national power and creation of a peaceful international environment. The competition is centered on competing resources of technology, talent, raw materials and other factors of production, rather than a debate about social system and ideology. In the race between socialism and capitalism, the core competitiveness of socialism with Chinese characteristics comes from self-development via seeking a peaceful international environment, providing needed markets, capital, technology, talent, raw materials, and other important factors for China’s development, and the enhancement of society’s recognition of the national identity. It also comes from China’s active participation in establishing and improving the new international rules and standards, safeguarding the new, just, peaceful and stable international order, establishing a harmonized world of long lasting peace and prosperity with other countries, and increasing China’s influence and appeal to the international community.  Therefore, the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is very different from the modernization path that the world’s major capitalist powers have walked through.

China’s choice of the peaceful development path is also the only choice of globalization. The development of globalization has tied China closely to the rest of the world. China’s development is inseparable from the world. Dependencies on international trade, international investment, and other aspects of social life are all on the rise; the cost would be extraordinarily high for China to elect a non-peaceful development path. Therefore, China cannot follow the footprint of Germany and Japan to accumulate resources at any cost by expanding externally and starting a war, because in the globalization era, the damage a country creates to the world development environment will also negatively impact the country itself, and even lead to the retrogression of the country’s comprehensive national power and its social development. In the era of globalization, the relationship between the socialist countries and the capitalist countries is no longer “who wins and who looses; who lives and who dies,” but rather the co-existent relationship of “you have me, I have you,” and a relationship of “cooperation when there is competition, and competition when there is cooperation.”  Therefore, the main task of socialism with Chinese characteristics is not to eradicate or replace capitalism, but to effectively use capitalism to serve the development of socialism.

In fact, what the international community worries about most is not China showing its military power in the future, because the combined Western powers are sufficient to meet a challenge from China alone. What they are concerned about most is that China expedites the implementation of the socialist modernization goals through its unremitting efforts. Once the goals and ideals become a reality, China’s practice will prove incontrovertibly that capitalism is not the only choice of human history. Any country will be able to learn from the experience of the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, choose the socialist path that fits its own characteristics, and ultimately implement its own historic mission of achieving national prosperity and national rejuvenation. In this way, the prediction of “the end of history” will be declared to be a complete failure and the balance of international power will change to be more favorable to socialist development. This is the most lethal weapon for the capitalist world and definitely what the Capitalist countries do not want to see.

The peaceful development path is the only way that socialism with Chinese characteristics needs to take.  This is determined by China’s basic national condition of remaining at the primary stage of socialism for a long time. China is a socialist country. Practice has proved that only socialism can make China develop, and only socialism can solve the fundamental problem of 1.2 billion people reaching prosperity. However, China’s socialism is not as Marxism envisaged, that socialism grows out of the most developed Capitalist society. Instead, it is established through revolution in the most backward semi-feudal and semi-colonial society. Building socialism in China cannot avoid a fundamental situation. That is, China will remain at socialism’s primary stage for a long time. As for development, China faces greater pressure and more severe challenges than any other country. It cannot avoid pressure because of relatively limited resources, and a relatively large population. Thus, for a fairly long period of time, developing socialism in China must focus on the development of productivity. Development is the top priority for the CCP to govern and rejuvenate the nation. . . . We need to be able to endure loneliness. No matter how the international situation changes and no matter how other countries comment, always adhering to the peaceful development path is the inherent requirement of socialism with Chinese characteristics.   

From the worldwide perspective, the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is constrained by the international system that has long been dominated by capitalism, making the fight for a peaceful international environment the primary task of socialism with Chinese characteristics. In particular, since the late 1980s, the socialist movement in the world went into valleys. In contrast, capitalism has shown considerably strong development vitality, with the globalization wave, the rapid technological revolution, an information network-based “knowledge economy,” and the creation of more efficient social productivity. The power between capitalism and socialism in the world is out of balance.

In front of such an imbalanced situation, there is no way for China alone to challenge the entire capitalist world. The vitality of China’s socialism depends entirely on China’s own development, and depends on China’s economic strength and social improvements. Only when we use any opportunities that we can possibly use to boost domestic development, to develop China, and to target reaching a higher level every few years, can we have a voice in international affairs, and prove the superiority of Socialism. . . . Thus, the competition between socialism with Chinese characteristics and capitalism is not on the war battlefield, but on its strength in the development path and its stamina in the future. China does not need to pursue winning over the opponent with the military. There is no need to seek hegemony, or to be overly concerned about so-called world influence. As long as China can fully take advantage of the “strategic period” of the peaceful international environment to grow itself, the superiority of socialism with Chinese characteristics will naturally be shown. In recent years, the international community’s heated discussion on “China’s rise,” the praise of the “China model,” and the attention paid to China’s strength, are the result of China’s 30 years of continuous, rapid and peaceful development. Recognizing this point is very important to understanding the significance of China’s peaceful development path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
The peaceful development path has set the basic road map for socialism with Chinese characteristics: overseas, seeking cooperation as much as possible with the developed capitalist countries at all levels in order to win time, resources and opportunities for the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics; domestically, actively expediting the process of the market economy, developing various forms of the non-public economy, and maximizing the productivity of the capitalist market economy, to provide a solid foundation for the development and growth of socialism. Therefore, China’s peaceful development path is the external form of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The nature of socialism with Chinese characteristics is essentially peaceful development. These two are different forms of the same path. In practice, they are the outside and inside of the same thing, supporting each other, and serving the magnificent undertaking of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.