Skip to content

Guangming Daily: Understand and Evaluate the China Model Correctly

[Editor’s Note: A recent article published on the website of Guangming Daily, the government newspaper oriented toward Chinese intellectuals, discussed “essential features” and “contemporary values” of the “China Model,” which has been under heated debate both inside and outside of China. The article hails the China Model as providing “great encouragement and support to socialist countries,” and “a challenge to the developed capitalist countries of the West.” The following is a translation of excerpts from the article.] [1]

Since China adopted the “reform and opening up” policy more than 30 years ago, international society has been paying attention to China’s rapid and steady economic growth. In May 2004, when the senior editor of the U.S. based Time magazine, Joshua Cooper Ramo, was writing an article for London’s Financial Times, he referred to China’s development path as the “Beijing Consensus” for the first time. Since then, intensive domestic and overseas debates have taken place about the China Model. This article discusses several major issues related to the China Model.

Essential Features of the China Model

The China Model, established through a transition process of learning from historic experiences, has the following essential features. In the area of economics, public ownership is the dominant form, coexisting with the communal development of other forms of ownership.  Public ownership is no longer in absolute opposition to the private economy. There are multiple formats for income distribution, with the main mode being distribution according to work performed. Factors of production including labor, capital, technology, and management receive returns according to their contribution. Some people and people in some regions are encouraged to become wealthy first. They, in turn, lead the entire society to become affluent. The economic system is about establishing and perfecting the socialist market economic system. The market plays the fundamental role in the allocation of resources. This is a major breakthrough in Marxist economic theory and a great innovation in human history. The path of development adheres to the general advancement of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, realizing the strategic target of a wealthy, democratic, civilized, and harmonious modern socialist country. Politically, the state system is the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, which means that the political regime has the characteristics of both a democracy and a dictatorship. The form of government, the People’s Congress system, was created in the revolutionary war period and conforms to China’s national condition. The political party system is multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership the Communist Party. The developmental strategy adheres to the path of the political progress of socialism with Chinese characteristics, where the Party is the leader and the people are the masters of their own affairs, managing state affairs according to the rule of law. It is about the buildup of socialist political civilization with the assurance of human rights, the development of democracy, and the transition from the rule of man to the rule of law. With regard to culture, the ideology conforms to Marxism as the guiding ideology, coexisting with multiple other systems. Ideological education focuses on patriotism, socialism, and collectivism, and also cares about personal interests, so as to bring initiative and creativity into full play. In the academic field, the policy of “letting a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend,” prevails, as opposed to the authoritative intervention of academia to forbid a specific style or school of thought. The cultural strategy is one that insists on the dominance of Marxism and the Party’s mainstream culture as forged in the periods of revolution, development, and reform. It inherits and promotes the essence of Chinese traditional culture, while absorbing outstanding achievements in world culture. The cultural work carries out the exchange and dialog between different cultures and promotes cultural development and prosperity. On foreign relations, we insist on an independent foreign policy, steadfastly maintaining our national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and core interests. Based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, we have developed a friendly, cooperative relationship with the rest of the world. [2]

The Contemporary Values of the China Model

From a historical perspective, the Chinese Model is of high value in today’s world, mainly in the following areas:

First, it enhances our confidence that we are going in the right direction. The independent exploration before the “reform and opening up” policy, although costly, had immeasurable significance. Since the Third Plenary Session of the 11th National CCP Congress, under the guidance of the Deng Xiaoping Theory, the economy has been growing rapidly. China was thus able to weather the socialist crisis caused by the disintegration of former Soviet Union and the dramatic changes in Eastern European countries that occurred at the end of the last century. Twenty years later, China has created a world miracle. Stephen Roach, Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, said, “China’s economy, which has worked well over the past 30 years, has proved that its development model is effective.”

Second, it is a great encouragement and support to socialist countries. Drastic changes in the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries were a major setback to world socialism. Only five out of 15 socialist countries survived. In an atmosphere of “dark clouds crushing the city,” [3] China withstood the pressure and countercurrent, and stemmed the raging tide. Deng Xiaoping, in the firm language of a proletarian revolutionist, declared to the world, “China’s socialism will not change. China will surely follow the socialist path of its choice to the end. Nobody will crush us. As long as China does not collapse, one-fifth of the world’s population will adhere to socialism. We are fully confident in the future of socialism.” When socialism was in crisis, China was a rock, not only holding its own ground, but also stabilizing the situation in several other socialist countries. After 20 years, Chinese socialism has not only failed to stagnate or retreat, it has become the backbone and hope of world socialism. Russian scholar A. Yakovlev said, “In the present situation, socialism with Chinese characteristics injects socialism with vitality.”

Third, it is a challenge to developed capitalist countries in the West. After the drastic changes in the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries, the old guards of capitalism, temporarily dazzled by their victory, declared the “historic termination” of socialism. That is not, however, the case. The drastic changes in the former Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries signaled the failure of the Soviet model, rather than of all socialism. As people were touting the “Washington consensus” and the U.S. model,” the global financial crisis, triggered by the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis, began. China, although very much affected by this crisis, maintained an annual growth rate above 8%, thanks to the effective measures that the Party and the government adopted, significantly contributing to the world’s economic recovery. In many people’s eyes, the U.S. model has been on the decline while the China model is emerging.

Fourth, it provides a reference for developing countries. Through different forms of struggle, most developing countries became liberated after World War II. For these countries, because they are economically and culturally backward, their primary task is to develop. Recently, the economic globalization led by the Western countries has widened the North-South gap, prompting these countries to seek a good development model and path. Many developing countries have said that the China model is an inspiration.

Deng Xiaoping pointed out that adhering to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and basically realizing modernization by the middle of the next century is “not only establishing a path for the Third World and for three-quarters of the world’s population, but also shows humankind that socialism is inevitable and that socialism is superior to capitalism.” These are the contemporary values of the China Model.

Beijing’s Research Center for Theories of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics

[1] Guangming Daily, January 10, 2011
[2] China first put forth The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence at the start of negotiations that took place in Delhi from December 1953 to April 1954 between the Delegation of the PRC Government and the Delegation of the Indian Government on the relations between the two countries with respect to disputed territory. Later, the Five Principles were formally written into the preface to the “Agreement between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of India on Trade and Co-operation between the PRC and India.”  The Five Principles are: 1. Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, 2. Mutual non-aggression against anyone, 3. Mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, 4. Equality and mutual benefit, and 5. Peaceful co-existence.
[3] 黑云压城城欲摧, “dark clouds crushing the city” is from a Tang dynasty poem and is meant to describe a very intense situation brought about by huge external pressure.