Xi Jinping

China’s Path to Socialist Modernization

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The Communist Party of China (CPC) held its 20th National Congress from October 16 to October 22, 2022. Every five years, the delegates of the CPC’s 96 million members meet to elect its top leaders and to set the future direction for the party. One of the main themes of the congress this year was “rejuvenation” of the country through “a Chinese path to modernization.” In his report to the congress, Xi Jinping, the CPC’s general secretary, sketched out the way forward to build China “into a modern socialist country.”

Most of the Western media commentary about the congress ignored the actual words that were said in Beijing, opting instead to make wild speculations about the deliberations in the party (including about the sudden departure of former Chinese President Hu Jintao from the Great Hall of the People during the closing session of the congress, who left because he was feeling ill). Much could have been gained from listening to what people said during the National Congress instead of putting words in their mouths.

Socialist Modernization

When the Communist Party took power in China in 1949, the country was the 11th poorest country in the world. For the first time since the “century of humiliation” that began with the British wars on China from 1839 onward, China has developed into a major power with the social situation of the Chinese people having greatly improved from their condition in 1949. A short walk away from the Great Hall of the People, where the congress was held, is the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, which reminds people of the immense achievement of the Chinese Revolution of 1949 and its impact on Chinese society.

Xi Jinping became the general secretary of the CPC at the 18th National Congress in 2012 and was elected president of the People’s Republic of China in March 2013. Since then, the country has gone through significant changes. Economically, China’s GDP has almost doubled to become the world’s second-largest economy, growing from 58.8 trillion yuan in 2013 to 114.37 trillion yuan in 2021, and its GDP expanded at a rate of 6.6 percent per year during the same period. Meanwhile, the country’s per capita GDP almost doubled between 2013 and 2021, with China approaching the high-income country bracket. In terms of the world economy, China’s GDP was 18.5 percent of the global total in 2021, and the country was responsible for 30 percent of world economic growth from 2013 to 2021. China also manufactured 30 percent of the world’s goods in 2021, up from more than 20 percent in 2012. This adds to the decades of historically unprecedented growth rate of 9.8 percent per year from 1978 to 2014 since the launching of economic reform in China in 1978. These economic achievements are historic and did not come without their set of challenges and consequences.

While delivering the report at the opening of this congress, Xi spoke about the situation that the Chinese people faced a decade ago: “Great achievements had been secured in reform, opening up, and socialist modernization… At the same time, however, a number of prominent issues and problems—some of which had been building for years and others which were just emerging—demanded urgent action.” He went on to talk about the “slide toward weak, hollow, and watered-down party leadership,” pointing out that “money worship, hedonism, egocentricity, and historical nihilism” were the deep-seated problems in a development process that was “imbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable.” These are significant self-criticisms made by the man who has led the country for the past decade.

Corruption

A decade ago, in his speech at the 18th CPC National Congress, outgoing Secretary General Hu Jintao mentioned the word “corruption” several times. “If we fail to handle this issue well,” he warned, “it could prove fatal to the party, and even cause the collapse of the party and the fall of the state.” Xi Jinping’s first task after taking over as general secretary of the CPC was to tackle this issue. In his inaugural speech as the party head in 2013, Xi said he was committed to “the fighting of tigers and flies at the same time,” referring to the corruption that had spread from the high echelons down to the grassroots level within the party and the government. The party launched “eight-point” rules for its members in December 2012, to limit practices such as inconsequential meetings and extravagant receptions for official visits, and advocated “diligence and thrift.”

Meanwhile, a year after the launch of the “mass line campaign” by Xi’s administration in June 2013, official meetings were reduced by 25 percent in comparison to the period before the campaign, 160,000 “phantom staff” were removed from the government payroll, and 2,580 “unnecessary” official building projects were stopped. Over the past decade, from November 2012 to April 2022, nearly 4.4 million cases involving 4.7 million officials were investigated in the fight against corruption. Party members have been investigated. In the first half of this year alone, 24 senior officials were investigated for corruption, and former ministers, provincial governors, and presidents of the biggest state-owned banks have been expelled from the party and given harsh sentences, including life imprisonment.

Hu Jintao’s comments and Xi Jinping’s actions reflected concerns that during the period of high growth after 1978, CPC members grew increasingly detached from the people. During the first months of his presidency, Xi launched the “mass line campaign” to bring the party closer to the grassroots. As part of the “targeted poverty alleviation” campaign launched in 2014, 800,000 party cadres were sent to survey and visit 128,000 villages as part of this project. In 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, China successfully eradicated extreme poverty, contributing to 76 percent of the global reduction in poverty till October 2015.

Beyond the party’s self-correction, Xi’s strong words and actions against the corrupt “flies and tigers” contributed to the Chinese people’s confidence in the government. According to a 2020 research paper by Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the overall satisfaction with the government’s performance was 93.1 percent in 2016, seeing the most significant growth in the more underdeveloped regions in the countryside. This rise of confidence in rural areas resulted from increased social services, trust in local officials, and the campaign against poverty.

Right Side of History

At the 20th Congress, Xi Jinping reflected on the history of colonialism—including China’s “century of humiliation”—and the implications this would have for China going forward. “In pursuing modernization,” Xi said, “China will not tread the old path of war, colonization, and plunder taken by some countries. That brutal and blood-stained path of enrichment at the expense of others caused great suffering for the people of developing countries. We will stand firmly on the right side of history and on the side of human progress.”

Chinese officials routinely tell us that their country is not interested in seeking dominance in the world. What China would like to do is to collaborate with other countries to try and solve humanity’s dilemmas. The Belt and Road Initiative, for instance, was launched in 2013 with the purpose of “win-win” cooperation and development and has thus far built much-needed infrastructure with investment and construction contracts totaling $1 trillion in almost 150 countries. China’s interest in tackling the climate catastrophe is evidenced by its planting of a quarter of the world’s new forests over the past decade and in becoming a world leader in renewable energy investment and electric vehicle production. On the public health side, China adopted a COVID-19 policy that prioritizes lives over profit, donated 325 million doses of vaccines, and saved millions of lives as a result of this. As a result of its initiatives in the public health sector, the average life expectancy of Chinese people was 77.93 years in 2020 and reached 78.2 years in 2021, and for the first time, surpassed life expectancy in the United States—77 years in 2020 and 76.1 in 2021—making this drop “the biggest two-year decline in life expectancy since 1921-1923.”

China’s communists do not see these events without putting them in the context of the long process undertaken by the government toward achieving and ensuring their social development. In 27 years, China will celebrate the centenary of its revolution. In 1997, then-President of China Jiang Zemin spoke about the two centenary goals—the 100-year markers following the founding of the Communist Party (1921) and the Chinese Revolution (1949)—that “underwrite all China’s long-term economic planning programs and contemporary macroeconomic policy agendas.” At that time, the focus was on growth rates. In 2017, Xi Jinping shifted the emphasis of these goals to the “three tough battles”: to defuse major financial risks, to eradicate poverty, and to control pollution. This new congress has gone beyond those “tough battles” to protect Chinese sovereignty and to expand the dignity of the Chinese people.

This article was produced by Globetrotter.

China: Xi’s third term – Challenges as Opportunities

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Even as Xi Jinping was promising China’s Communist Party’s national congress that China would “resolutely win the battle” in key areas of technology, employees of technology companies in China and elsewhere were being told to down tools. Dozens of the hundreds of executives and engineers with US citizenship or green cards who work in or with China’s semiconductor sector, many of them born in China, have been told by their employers – whether those are foreign or Chinese companies – to stop work while their employers seek clarification of a new US rule that bars US citizens and residents from supporting China’s advanced chip-making industry without a licence.

It is now crystal clear that the US, enabled by a bipartisan consensus in Washington, is determined to stop China upgrading technologically.  This has massive implications for Beijing’s ambitions in areas such as artificial intelligence and autonomous driving.  The new Chips Act introduced by the Biden administration is accompanied by a 139-page report released by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.   

The report targets not only US companies’ involvement in selling tech products to China but also US persons (i.e. anyone with a US passport or green card). This puts the many founders of Chinese tech companies who were educated in the US, and acquired a US passport on the way, in a seemingly difficult position. It will also make it much harder for Chinese tech companies to attract talent. Similarly, R&D laboratories set up by some Chinese companies in the US now look vulnerable. Alibaba has research labs in Seattle and Silicon Valley while Tencent also has a research lab in Seattle. And US pressure will be brought to bear to stop Holland’s ASML and Japanese companies from supplying China.

All of the above makes it clear the extent to which China is now treated as “an enemy” of the US.  This goes far beyond what used to be called “containment”. It also raises the issue of how long Beijing continues to turn the other cheek since, so far, it has done nothing to make life difficult for American companies operating in China, save for its Covid restrictions, on the view that it wants to keep encouraging foreign direct investment.

The US move on chips also has big implications for TSMC and other Taiwan companies given the amount of semiconductors Taiwan exports to the mainland. Taiwan’s chip (integrated circuits) exports to China totaled $155bn in 2021 and $105bn in the first eight months of 2022, and accounted for 36% and 38%, respectively, of total Chinese chip imports.  Indeed, the most interesting aspect of Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan trip in early August was her meeting with TSMC founder Morris Chang and chairman Mark Liu, most particularly in the context of legislation on semiconductors passed by Congress in late July which will provide $52.7bn in subsidies to encourage chip manufacturers to build factories in America.

TSMC is already building a fab in Arizona. Construction of the factory started in June 2021 and its main facility is now reportedly completed, while production is scheduled to begin in 2024. Under the chips legislation TSMC will be required to transfer its technology to the US.

Unlike previous attempts by the Trump and Biden administrations to target specific Chinese companies from accessing advanced technologies (the ban of Huawei was the classic example), the new rules effectively cover every Chinese entity. They, or their US or foreign suppliers, will have to apply for a licence to gain or provide access to advanced chip technologies.

If the US strategy does prove effective – and the response of a wide range of non-Chinese companies operating in the sector in freezing dealings with China suggests it could be – it would cut China off from the critical building blocks of most 21st century technologies.

Why is the US applying these drastic measures against China’s trade and technology?  It’s the fear that China could become not just a manufacturing and import source for US consumers, but a rival in every area to US hegemony over the world economy.

What particularly triggered this new policy on China by the US was the global financial crash and the Great Recession.  Under its state-controlled model, China survived and expanded while Western capitalism collapsed. China was fast becoming not just a cheap labour manufacturing and export economy, but a high technology, urbanised society with ambitions to extend its political and economic influence, even beyond East Asia.  That was too much for the increasingly weak imperialist economies.  

The US and other G7 nations have lost ground to China in manufacturing, and their reliance on Chinese inputs for their own manufacturing has risen, while China’s reliance on G7 inputs has fallen.

According to a recent report by Goldman Sachs, China’s digital economy is already large, accounting for almost 40% of GDP and fast growing, contributing more than 60% of GDP growth in recent years. “And there is ample room for China to further digitalize its traditional sectors”.  China’s IT share of GDP climbed from 2.1% in 2011Q1 to 3.8% in 2021Q1. Although China still lags the US, Europe, Japan and South Korea in its IT share of GDP, the gap has been narrowing over time. No wonder, the US and other capitalist powers are intensifying their efforts to contain China’s technological expansion.

China has spent more than $100 bn to fast-track the development of a domestic chip-making industry.  It is a critical component of its “Made in China 2025 program,” which set out China’s plans to dominate artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, next-gen information technology, telecommunications, advanced robotics and aerospace, among other technology-related sectors by 2049.

So the US strategy changed.  If China was not going to play ball with imperialism and open up its economy completely to foreign investment and continue to expand its technology base to compete with the US, then it had to be stopped.  The recently deceased Jude Woodward wrote an excellent book describing this strategy of containment that began even before Trump launched his trade tariff war with China on taking the US presidency in 2016.  Trump’s policy, at first regarded as reckless by other governments, is now being adopted across the board, after the failure of the imperialist countries to protect lives during the pandemic.

The aim is to weaken China’s economy and destroy its influence and perhaps achieve ‘regime change’.  Blocking trade with tariffs; blocking technology access for China and their exports; applying sanctions on Chinese companies; and turning debtors against China; this may all be costly to imperialist economies.  But the cost may be worth it, if China can be broken and US hegemony secured.

The CPC congress emphasized China’s response.  “We must adhere to science and technology as the number-one productive force, talent as the number-one resource, [and] innovation as the number-one driving force.”.  SoBeijing sees the decision to try to freeze Chinese domestic manufacturing above a defined level of technological advancement as deeply provocative. Forcing China to rely on foreign production for the latest and greatest chips plays exactly into Xi’s fear of “technological vassaldom.”  So China is moving towards a more self-reliant growth model.

That is the basis of what the Xi leadership calls a ‘dual circulation’ development mode, where trade and investment abroad is combined with production for the huge domestic market. 

The dual circulation model was first formally announced at a Politburo meeting in May 2020 and sets out a rebalancing of the Chinese economy away from “international circulation” (the first kind of circulation on which China has relied, namely, reliance on external demand as a stimulus to growth) towards “domestic circulation,” or increasing self-dependence.

The political hot spot for intense conflict between the US and China is Taiwan.  Taiwan (Formosa) was taken over by fleeing Nationalist forces in China after the Chinese communists won the civil war and took control in 1949.  From the beginning, the Chinese Communist government and the United Nations recognised Taiwan as part of China.  But from the beginning, the Nationalists were backed by the US with funds and arms, first with the aim of overthrowing the Communists on the mainland and later, when that became impossible, to maintain the island’s autonomy from China.  And since the rise of the Chinese economy, the US and the rest of the imperialist bloc has encouraged moves by the Taiwanese to build and confirm total independence.  Taiwan could then become a permanent thorn in China’s side and also the launchpad for military operations against Beijing in the future.

The Russia invasion of Ukraine has given the US and NATO the excuse to intensify the economic, political and military encirclement of China with Taiwan as its hub.  By the broadest definition of military intervention, the US has engaged in nearly 400 military interventions between 1776 and 2019, with half of these operations occurring since 1950 and over 25% occurring in the post-Cold War period. these interventions have revolved around economy, territory, social protection, regime change, protection of US citizens and diplomats, policy change, empire, and regime building.  The US backed by an extended NATO, no longer confined to the Atlantic seaboard, sees China as the next area for ‘intervention’ down the road.

The Western media helps by continually talking of China’s so-called ‘aggressive behaviour’ and its crimes against human rights.  Whatever the truth in those charges, they are easily matched by the crimes of imperialism in the last century alone: the occupation and massacre of millions of Chinese by Japanese imperialism in 1937; the continual gruesome wars post-1945 conducted by imperialism against the Vietnamese people, Latin America and the proxy wars in Africa and Syria, as well as the more recent invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and the appalling nightmare in Yemen by the disgusting US-backed regime in Saudi Arabia etc.  And don’t forget the horrific poverty and inequality that weighs for billions under the imperialist mode of production.

But the economic and political conflict between China and the US is the major geopolitical issue of the 21st century – much larger than the Russia-Ukraine war.  US National Security advisor Jake Sullivan summed it up recently.  “This is a decisive decade… in which the terms of our competition with the People’s Republic of China will be set.”He continued: “The PRC’s assertiveness at home and abroad is advancing an illiberal vision across economic, political, security, and technological realms in competition with the west,”  China must be stopped because “It is the only competitor (to the US) with the intent to reshape the international order and the growing capacity to do it.

China is at a crossroads in its development. Its capitalist sector has deepening problems with profitability and debt.  But the current leadership has pledged to continue with its state-directed economic model and autocratic political control.  And it seems determined to resist the new policy of ‘containment’ emanating from the so-called ‘liberal democracies’. The trade, technology and political ‘cold war’ is set to heat up over the rest of this decade, while the planet heats up too.

Views expressed are personal. Click here to read the author’s personal blog, where this piece as a part of a series was originally published

China: Xi Unvails the Balance-Sheet

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The Communist Party of China (CPC) has secured historic achievements and seen historic changes in the cause of the Party and the country over the past decade, Xi Jinping said Sunday.

The CPC has taken China on a new journey toward building a modern socialist country in all respects, Xi said in a report at the opening session of the 20th CPC National Congress.

Under the leadership of the Party Central Committee, the entire Party, the military, and the Chinese people were brought together to carry out a great struggle with many new features of the times, he said.

— We have established the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and achieved a new breakthrough in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of our times.

— We have strengthened Party leadership in all respects. Now, our Marxist party of over 96 million members enjoys greater unity and solidarity than ever.

— We have achieved moderate prosperity, the millennia-old dream of the Chinese nation, through persistent hard work. We have, once and for all, resolved the problem of absolute poverty in China, making significant contributions to the cause of global poverty reduction.

— We have put forward the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and made constant progress in enriching and developing a new form of human advancement.

— We have put forward and applied a new development philosophy, worked hard to promote high-quality development, and pushed to foster a new pattern of development. We have brought about a historic rise in China’s economic strength. China has joined the ranks of the world’s innovators.

— We have comprehensively deepened reform with tremendous political courage. The system of socialism with Chinese characteristics has become more mature and well-defined, and China’s system and capacity for governance has been further modernized.

— We have pursued a more proactive strategy of opening up. As a collaborative endeavor, the Belt and Road Initiative has been welcomed by the international community both as a public good and a cooperation platform. China has become a major trading partner for more than 140 countries and regions, it leads the world in total volume of trade in goods, and it is a major destination for global investment and a leading country in outbound investment.

— We have kept to the path of socialist political advancement with Chinese characteristics. We have comprehensively developed whole-process people’s democracy, and made all-around progress in improving the institutions, standards, and procedures of our socialist democracy. A comprehensive framework for law-based governance has taken shape.

— We have established and upheld a foundational system for ensuring the guiding role of Marxism in the ideological domain. There have been overarching and fundamental changes in the ideological landscape.

— We have implemented a people-centered philosophy of development. We have built the largest education, social security, and healthcare systems in the world. We have made further progress in achieving common prosperity for all.

— We have acted on the idea that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets. There have been historic, transformative, and comprehensive changes in ecological and environmental protection.

— We have resolutely safeguarded China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests. National security has thus been strengthened on all fronts. The Peaceful China Initiative has entered a new stage.

— We have set the Party’s goal of building a strong military in the new era and upheld absolute Party leadership over the people’s armed forces. With new systems, a new structure, a new configuration, and a new look, the people’s armed forces have become a much more modern and capable fighting force.

— We have fully and faithfully implemented the policy of One Country, Two Systems. We have upheld the policy of One Country, Two Systems, under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong and the people of Macao administer Macao, both with a high degree of autonomy. We have helped Hong Kong enter a new stage in which it has restored order and is set to thrive, and we have seen both Hong Kong and Macao maintain good momentum for long-term stable development. We have put forward an overall policy framework for resolving the Taiwan question in the new era and facilitated cross-Strait exchanges and cooperation. We have resolutely opposed separatist activities aimed at “Taiwan independence” and foreign interference. We have thus maintained the initiative and the ability to steer in cross-Strait relations.

— We have pursued major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics on all fronts. We have promoted the development of a human community with a shared future. China’s international influence, appeal, and power to shape have risen markedly.

— We have made significant advances in exercising full and rigorous Party self-governance. Unhealthy tendencies that had long gone unchecked have been reversed, and deep-seated problems that had plagued us for years have been remedied. We have waged a battle against corruption on a scale unprecedented in our history. We have achieved an overwhelming victory and fully consolidated the gains in our fight against corruption. All this has helped remove serious hidden dangers inside the Party, the country, and the military. The Party has found a second answer to the question of how to escape the historical cycle of rise and fall. The answer is self-reform. We have ensured that the Party will never change its nature, its conviction, or its character.

This story was first published in Xinhua. Click here to read the original post

XI Jinping and Putin are now the villains of peace

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There seem to be a number of things in common between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Putin. 

Whatever may be the electoral practice in  China and Russia, Xi Jinping and Putin have declared themselves as life President of their respective countries.  Both of them are presidents of countries which have enormous landscapes and huge mineral deposits and agricultural production.  Above all, both of them have huge greed for territorial expansion of their countries by fair or foul means and do not hesitate to use force and aggression to realise their greed. Further, it has now become obvious that both of them are merciless leaders and do not mind slaughtering innocent people in comparatively weak countries if such forceful actions would enable them to achieve their greed and ambitions.

China forcefully entered Tibet and slaughtered innocent and peace-loving Tibetans and is now ruling  Tibet by suppressing freedom China has imposed an iron curtain over Tibet.    China has entered into war with India more than once and is now occupying thousands of kilometres of Indian territory and is claiming that Arunachal Pradesh, a province in India should be part of China. China is threatening to invade Taiwan, while it is suppressing the demand for freedom in Hong Kong with a heavy hand. China’s atrocities in suppressing the Uighurs in China have been widely reported and condemned all over the world.  Not only this, China is having disputes with Japan over Senkaku island and with other southeastern countries with regard to the South China Sea. Cleverly, it has brought several developing countries under it’s control by extending loans which they cannot repay.

Xi Jinping-led China is now seen as villain of peace by several affected countries and discerning observers all over the world and they seem to feel helpless.

Putin launched aggression against Ukraine, saying that it has to do this to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO which, according to Putin, would be a threat to  Russia’s territorial integrity. However, the fact is that NATO has not taken any decision to admit Ukraine as a member in NATO  and Putin’s stand that Ukraine would be a NATO member is a figment of his imagination. Obviously, Putin wants to occupy Ukraine as part of his territorial expansion scheme. In the last several months of the war, several thousands of Ukraine citizens have lost their lives, many of them have left Ukraine as refugees and infrastructure facilities in Ukraine have been extensively destroyed.

Putin-led Russia is now seen as villain of peace by several countries and discerning observers all over the world and they do not know how Russia’s aggression can be stopped.

What is noteworthy here is that both Xi Jinping and Putin do not care about world opinion and have no commitment to world peace. They are totally unconcerned about the sufferings of others due to their greed for territorial expansion and aggressive military actions.

In recent memory, the only person who can be compared to Xi Jinping and Putin is Hitler and there seem to be a lot of things in common between Hitler, Xi Jinping and Putin.

Tibet and Ukraine seem to be in the same boat now, as both these countries have become the victims of greed and merciless offence by Xi Jinping in the case of Tibet and Putin in the case of Ukraine.

 However, the difference between Tibet and Ukraine is that Ukraine is getting strong support from NATO countries and USA  to defend itself and sympathy from several other countries, whereas Tibet was left high and dry by every country and leaving Tibet at the mercy of merciless China.

One is not sure whether Tibetans now living in Tibet know about the developments in Ukraine at all, as no one from other countries in the world  is allowed to enter Tibet and Tibetans living in Tibet may not know about the world happenings at all.  However, Tibetans who are now living in several countries around the world can clearly compare the sufferings of the Tibetans at the hands of Xi Jinping-led China and the sufferings of citizens of Ukraine at the hands of Putin-led Russia.

Certainly, world peace is going for a toss now with Xi Jinping-led China and Putin-led Russia are using force to realise their greed and territorial expansion plans they do not care as to what many members of UNO say and many people in the world think about them.

It appears that the peace in the entire world is now at the mercy of Xi Jinping and Putin, who have emerged as the villains of peace.

Ensuring liberation of Tibet from Xi Jinping led China’s control and ensuring territorial integrity of Ukraine by stopping Russia’s aggression are the two most desirable expectations and hopes of peace-loving citizens all over the world.

Views expressed are personal