What ideology guides the star of rising Chinese power? General Secretary Xi Jinping’s answer to this question is unequivocal: “Socialism with Chinese characteristics is socialism, not any other ‘ism.’” Xi is adamant that his Party adheres to what he calls the “lofty ideals of communism.” But what exactly do those ideals mean in 21st century China? What does Marx have to do with Zhongnanhai?
Of late, this question has much vexed the Communist Party of China. Over the last year we have witnessed a string of campaigns, slogans, speeches, and study sessions meant to reinforce the importance of the Party’s Marxist heritage. It is clear that continuity ranks among the highest priorities of the Party. Its leadership is wary of the impacts which growing wealth and an increasing Chinese diaspora might have on its political foundations.
The speech translated below is part of this effort. It was originally given shortly after Xi Jinping became General Secretary, on January 5th, 2013, to the Party’s then-newly elected Central Committee. An extremely abbreviated version of it was published in Xi Jinping’s first book, The Governance of China. Two months ago the Party’s premier ideological journal, Qiushi, published a much larger version. This is the version that has been translated below. The original speech was given behind closed doors; we do not know what changes have been made to its text between then and now. This is what we can be certain of: the version published here is seen by Party leadership to be particularly relevant to the challenges China faces at the current moment.
One of the most striking aspects of this speech is the language Xi Jinping invokes: party members must have “faith” (xìnyǎng) in the eventual victory of socialism; proper communists must be “devout” (qiánchéng) in their work; and Party members must be prepared to “sacrifice” (xīshēng) everything, up to their own blood, for revolutionary “ideals that reach higher than heaven” (gémìng lǐxiǎng gāo yú tiān).
Behind this religiously charged language is a man deeply worried that the cadres of his generation are not prepared to make the sort of sacrifices their parents and grandparents did for China’s revolutionary cause. Xi’s verdict is that such people do not have enough faith in the “eventual demise of capitalism and the ultimate victory of socialism.” Their “views lack a firm grounding in historical materialism,” leading them to doubt that “socialism is bound to win.” This has practical consequences. The cadre without communist convictions will act “hedonistically” and “self-interestedly.” Worst of all, he might begin to believe “false arguments that we should abandon socialism” altogether.
For Xi, this would be a grave betrayal of the Party’s heritage. The Communist Party of China is tasked with “building a socialism that is superior to capitalism” whose economic and technological prowess will give it “the dominant position” in world affairs. And though Xi asserts that this is inevitable, “the road will be tortuous.” Party members must fiercely fend off ideological attacks on socialism with Chinese characteristics. The most pressing ideological problems identified in this speech are two ‘false arguments:’ First, that the mass death, cruelty, and poverty of Maoist China undermines the credibility of the Party leadership today, and second, that socialism with Chinese characteristics is not really socialism at all.
However, readers should note that Xi offers very little in the way of classical Marxist exegesis to justify his claim that “an economic system in which publicly owned enterprises are the principle part” and the “political system of the National People’s Congress” are the natural extension of Marxist theory to current world conditions. The claim is asserted more than proven; one suspects he would rather not have the readers of Qiushi thinking too hard about the details of classical Marxist texts.
More significant than Xi’s use of Marxist theory to justify any particular policy is his conviction that he leads an ideological-political system distinct from that of the capitalist world. Threats to this system are not framed in military or economic terms, but ideological ones. The Soviet Union fell, he declares, “because ideological competition is fierce.” If the faith of its cadres remains fervent, Xi believes his Party will succeed where the Soviet Union could not.
The footnotes below detail the context and sources behind some of the language Xi uses in his speech. They vary from Chinese historical texts to work by Deng Xiaoping and the CCP, as well as Marx himself.
It's no mystery why they're pissed off. The Chinese government agreed to a legal paradigm called 'One country, two systems' and now they're reneging on that and trying to run HK under exactly the same ultra-authoritarian lines they run the rest of the country.apparently someone got shot in hong kong today. seems to be taking the whole thing to another level.
can someone explain me tho. is hong kong a city with a history of civil obedience? do they have autonomist or anarchist groups? they seem to be so extremely well organized yet i have never heard of unrest like this before in hong kong?
It's abundantly clear that that will always be their priority, but for some reason it's still kind of shocking to see it so blatantly in action.instead of western businesses influencing china, it's the other way around. corporations couldn't give two shits about freedom of expression, it's all about the $$$.