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An Action Guideline to Deepen Humankind Development in Harmony with Nature

Submit Time:03-11-2017 | Zoom In | Zoom Out

Author:Huang Chengliang |


The 19th National Congress of the Community Party of China (CPC) convened grandly in Beijing on October 18, 2017. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a report to the congress, putting forth multiple new statements. He specified and highlighted the new background, basis of development, external conditions and political assurance for the socialist ecological progress in the new era, and introduced the overall theoretical and practical arrangements towards such progress. All of these constitute a political declaration and action guideline for us to consolidate and deepen a new modernization landscape where humankind and nature develop in harmony.  

1. New era: general basis, logics and background concerning the ecological progress introduced in the report to the 19th National Congress 

Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has entered a new era. This new era will be an era of building on past successes to further advance our cause, and of continuing in a new historical context to strive for the success of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It will be an era of securing a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and of moving on to all-out efforts to build a great modern socialist country. It will be an era for the Chinese people of all ethnic groups to work together and work hard to create a better life for themselves and ultimately achieve common prosperity for everyone. It will be an era for all of us, the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation, to strive with one heart to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. It will be an era that sees China moving closer to center stage and making greater contributions to mankind. All of these provide general basis, external conditions and planning for China’s efforts to achieve ecological progress in the current time.   

The principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved. What we now face is the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life. This is a major statement of strategic significance and it could inspire Chinese people how to address the principal contradiction facing the current drive towards ecological progress in a targeted way. One the one hand, with the introduction of the reform and opening-up policy, the rapidly-developing industrialization and urbanization drives become a growing source of health concerns to the Chinese people both physically and mentally. On the other hand, as the people keep raising their living standards and spending power, they are demonstrating increasingly desperate needs for premium ecological good and a sound ecology. The two sides mentioned above reveal an ever-emerging contradiction between the people’s yearning for good living conditions, claim for environmental rights and need for ecological products on the one hand and the shortage of carrying capacity in ecological resources, undersupply of ecological products and severe situation facing ecological protection. Furthermore, it is evolving into the principal contradiction or the principal aspect of a contradiction.  

A great struggle with many new historical features turns out to be a must. As indicated in the report, realizing our great dream demands a great struggle and a great project. Currently, the relative shortage of energy and other resources and the lack of carrying capacity in ecology has become a basic reality facing China. Old environmental problems haven’t been solved yet. New problems come one after another. Furthermore, in the wake of the international financial crisis in 2008, the entire world, especially the major Western developed nations, started to propose and practice “Green New Deal”, “green economy” and “green growth” as a means to stimulate the recovery of global economy, and rise to such challenges as climate change and crisis of resources including energy. At the same time, these efforts evolved into a new form of wrestle for international say. China’s drive towards ecological progress in the current era involves more aspects like politics, economy, people’s livelihood, international governance, and global game with each passing day. Besides, it may also serve as an important criterion for measuring whether the five-sphere great socialist undertaking with Chinese characteristics cover as many aspects as expected. While trying to figure out the meaning of such concepts as great dream, great struggle, great project and great cause and their internal connections, the vast theoretical workers engaged in ecological progress must bear firmly in mind the new characteristics of the current efforts to make ecological advancement at home and abroad. They need to stay true to their founding mission and create a new landscape of modernization where the humankind and nature co-exist in harmony.  

2. New statement: new scientific exposition and conclusion on the drive towards ecological progress made on the 19th National Congress 

We need to develop and practice the philosophy which holds that “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets.” This understanding is included into a national report for the first time at the 19th National Congress. Its significance goes beyond saying. By proposing that “we want not only lucid waters and lush mountains but also gold and silver mines,” we put our focus on the latter or development; by saying that “we would prefer lucid water and lush mountains over gold and silver mines,” we give our priority to the former or environmental protection; by mentioning “lucid waters and lush mountains prove as important as gold and silver mines,” we want to stress the significance of harmony and competitive survival, put green, circular and low-carbon development at the core, and develop the national economy in an eco-friendly manner with the help of the modern, green industry system, all of which marks the advent of Ecozoic Era. Therefore, we will take a strategic perspective and proceed from historical materialism and dialecticism to profoundly realize that the inclusion of the statement that “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets” into the report to the 19th National Congress will offer the values that we need to follow with a view to creating the dialectics of nature suitable for China’s commitment to ecological progress.  

The modernization is meant to pursue the harmonious co-existence between man and nature. As indicated in the report, “the modernization that we pursue is one characterized by harmonious coexistence between man and nature. In addition to creating more material and cultural wealth to meet people’s ever-increasing needs for a better life, we also need to provide more quality ecological goods to meet people’s ever-growing demands for a beautiful environment.” It is the first time for a national report to define the green nature of modernization in a way hitting the nail on the head. So it can be deemed as a major theoretical innovation and scientific conclusion. The core idea it holds is that we never should create more material wealth at the cost of ecology. The “alienated production” and “alienated consumption,” namely to address overproduction through stimulating consumption, is far away from the modernization that can create a sustained, sound ecology for the people. Therefore, only sticking to the scientific conclusion that “modernization is meant to pursue the harmonious co-existence between man and nature” can we better understand the logical consistency between the ecological progress and an array of key terms mentioned in the report including “new normal,” “new development philosophy,” and “modern economic system.”  

China will be built into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful. It is the first time for a Party report to list “building a beautiful country” as a major objective of the socialist modernization in the new era. Besides, the expression appears for many times in the report, which greatly highlights ecological progress, beautiful China and harmonious coexistence between man and nature as new expansions to the overall layout of the socialist undertaking with Chinese characteristics. At the same time, the newly-proposed objective serves as a necessary requirement for promoting the “five-sphere” integrated plan and the “four-pronged” strategy as a whole, revealing the goal and impetus the drive towards ecological progress should assume and provide during the realization of the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.  

China works as an important participant, contributor, and torchbearer in the global endeavor for ecological civilization. As noted in the report, China has become an important participant, contributor, and torchbearer in the global endeavor for ecological civilization. This exposition presents two highlights. One is “global endeavor for ecological civilization.” Coined as an expression unique to China initially, the endeavor for ecological progress now glows with ever-intensive vigor all over the world. The other is “China will lead the world in the endeavor for ecological advancement.” The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, stricken by the United Nations in 2015 and went into effect in 2016, are actually promoting the transformation from industrial civilization to ecological civilization. All of these signal that China is holding high the great banner of socialist endeavor for ecological civilization with its unique wisdom and approach in the world.  

(The author is affiliated with Theoretical Department of the CASS Thinktank for Eco-civilization Studies.)

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