The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China opened on Oct 16 in Beijing, with General Secretary Xi Jinping presenting his much-anticipated epic report that lays out a five-year road map toward the nation’s second-centenary goal of building China into a modern socialist country by the time we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 2049. Meanwhile, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-Chiu delivered his first Policy Address on Oct 19, focusing on seizing the great opportunity to kick-start Hong Kong’s post-chaos drive for inno-tech-powered healthy growth with an eye on further integrating the city’s own development into the nation’s development strategy.
General Secretary Xi recounted in his report three milestone events in the past 10 years (2012-2021) of great current significance as well as profound historical undertones: the CPC celebrated its first centenary; the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics entered a new stage; and the nation achieved its first-centenary goal of becoming a moderately prosperous society after eradicating abject poverty. He also gave us a look forward at what we will achieve in the next 10 years and beyond, concentrating on complete socialist modernization of the country on our way to achieving the second-centennial goal, the Chinese-style modernization and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
I take great pride in the country’s achievements, especially achieving the first-centennial goal, and have summed up three precious takeaways crucial to the pursuit of the next centennial goal.
First, the CPC’s commitment to self-reform will ensure its lasting youthful vitality.
The CPC’s leadership role in building China into a socialist modern country and advancing the nation’s great rejuvenation is absolutely crucial. At 101 already, the CPC is constantly reminded it must stay strong, popular and capable as the governing Party going forward, knowing it can and should break out of the historical cycle of human civilization in terms of political evolution, but how? Chairman Mao Zedong gave the answer more than 70 years ago: “People should be allowed to supervise the government.” Today, General Secretary Xi has added another point to it: self-reform.
The spirit of pursuing self-reform has been critical to the CPC’s lasting youthful vitality and conviction. The reason for the CPC being able to stay focused and committed to its cause for so long is simple: Be forever truthful and critical of any mistake or question so as to remain clear-headed through self-correction, aka self-reform. That means steadfast commitment to constant scrutiny of its internal governance with a complete set of mechanisms designed to purify, improve and revolutionize the CPC from inside out. It’s the only way for the Party to keep its true nature, color and character unchanged. And this is why our country succeeded in eradicating abject poverty and achieving the first-centennial goal of becoming a moderately prosperous society. Although our unique socialist modernization is not meant to be copied, the CPC’s lasting youthful strengths and self-reform process do offer other governing parties or wannabes an excellent example in governance. Take the ongoing political crisis in the UK for instance, with three prime ministers within three years and the last one being in office for only 44 days before announcing her resignation, which makes an irrefutable case for China to have self-confidence in the path it has taken. Looking ahead, the CPC has every reason to stay committed to reforming itself whenever necessary, because that is how it will lead the Chinese nation toward great rejuvenation and reunification.
Second, China must continue with its path of pursuing socialism with Chinese characteristics and adapting Marxism to Chinese conditions.
The essence of Marxism is dialectic materialism and historical materialism. Ours is a socialist country exercising people’s democracy, led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants, with all State powers belonging to the people. CPC members have come to the conclusion that only by adapting the basic theories of Marxism to the real practice in China organically and in tune with the Chinese traditional culture can the Party answer critical questions as they emerge while retaining its strong vitality and effectiveness.
Traditional Chinese thinking sees inequality more worrisome than shortages, which is why we work so hard to advance common prosperity that is the essential demand of socialism and a perpetual pursuit of Chinese traditional thinking. Socialism with Chinese characteristics aims to advance common prosperity, always trying to “make the cake bigger” and divide it in a fair way through sound institutional arrangements, benefiting all people.
Chinese-style modernization … has both the common traits of modern civilizations of other countries and Chinese characteristics based on the country’s unique national conditions. The essential requirements of Chinese modernization are to uphold the leadership of the CPC and socialism with Chinese characteristics, pursue high-quality development, and develop the whole-process people’s democracy
Therefore, we must stay committed to optimizing income distribution, with “distribution based on contribution” as the mainstay among multiple forms of distribution. Now that China has developed into a moderately prosperous society, it will continue to build on its success to make the cake bigger and divide the cake in a better way. If the process goes smoothly, the wealth gap will gradually narrow, and it will insure the country against the pitfall of income polarization that commonly occurs in the West.
The innovative “one country, two systems” framework under Chinese socialism, moreover, embodies the adaption of Marxist dialectical materialism and historical materialism to Chinese conditions. It serves the purposes of safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests while keeping Hong Kong’s entrenched capitalist system intact. It’s the best institutional arrangement that ensures the implementation of the central government’s overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong and “patriots administering Hong Kong” to maintain the city’s long-term stability and prosperity. In realizing national modernization, the central government will provide the necessary support for Hong Kong to advance its economic development, raise the living standard of its residents, resolve its deep-seated socioeconomic problems, and play a bigger role in national development by integrating its own development with national development.
Third, the CPC’s leadership is crucial to Chinese-style modernization.
Chinese-style modernization is socialist modernization led by the CPC, which has both the common traits of modern civilizations of other countries and Chinese characteristics based on the country’s unique national conditions. The essential requirements of Chinese modernization are to uphold the leadership of the CPC and socialism with Chinese characteristics, pursue high-quality development, and develop the whole-process people’s democracy.
In other words, the CPC and the state are the unity of two distinctive entities, with the Party taking on the great responsibility of uniting and leading people of all ethnic groups in China to realize Chinese-style modernization. The country is its people; the people are the country. Working for the people’s well-being is an essential part of the Party’s commitment to serving the public good. Chinese-style modernization must ensure and improve the people’s well-being in the course of pursuing development, and encourage every stakeholder to work hard together to realize the common aspiration for a better life.
Therefore, high-quality development is essential to the realization of Chinese-style modernization. Development is the Party’s top-priority task in governance. To achieve high-quality development, we must accelerate development under the “dual circulation” model, as General Secretary Xi pointed out in his report to the Party Congress.
It is hoped that I have correctly summarized the experience of the Party and the country in achieving the nation’s first-centennial goal, which I hope is of value to the Party and the country in pursuing the nation’s second-centennial goal.
Policy Address envisions inno-tech-driven prosperity
I fully endorse Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu’s maiden Policy Address, which has not only responded to the “four musts” and “four proposals” raised by President Xi at the assembly marking the 25th anniversary of HKSAR but also proposed a slew of practical and results-oriented policies and over 100 key performance indicators for governance, which set clear goals and points out the direction for Hong Kong to write a new chapter in socioeconomic development.
The Policy Address has responded to President Xi’s call for boosting the momentum for Hong Kong’s socioeconomic development by coming up with measures to promote high-quality economic development, including efforts to advance innovation and technology, build an I&T center, and allocate HK$30 billion ($3.8 billion) for the settingup of a Co-Investment Fund to attract businesses, as well as the launch of the Top Talent Pass Scheme to entice global talents, full-steam development of the Northern Metropolis, and the construction of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park to achieve reindustrialization. The Policy Address, in effect, has set off a Chinese-style modernization process in Hong Kong, and provided a pragmatic blueprint for the city to regain prosperity after the restoration of order.
I support and applaud the Policy Address for its measures to improve residents’ livelihoods, notably the trailblazing proposal to build 30,000 new Light Public Housing units in the next five years, which will increase the total number of public housing units under construction by about 50 percent and drastically reduce the waiting time for families in need. With a shortened waiting time and a decent living area of at least 26 square meters, the measure effectively addresses people’s livelihood problems and conforms to President Xi’s hope to see Hong Kong residents lead a better life with more decent housing.
The Policy Address has put forward some well-thought-out policies for advancing Hong Kong’s socioeconomic development. What makes it extraordinary is the fact that each policy is accompanied by a concrete road map with specific key performance indicators to monitor the progress and performance. The real challenge lies in how the special administrative region government will meet these targets in timely manner. Take the goal of attracting strategic enterprises as an example: The SAR government plans to attract no fewer than 100 high-potential or representative I&T enterprises to set up or expand their businesses in Hong Kong in the next five years, including at least 20 top-notch I&T enterprises. This will be a daunting task as it involves uncertainty such as competition, development potential of enterprises, and whether talents are willing to settle in Hong Kong.
The author is a member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.