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Xu Guangchun:Adapting Marxism to the Chinese Context over the 70 Years Following the Founding of the People’s Republic of China

Submit Time:29-11-2019 | Zoom In | Zoom Out

Author:Xu Guangchun | Source:English Edition of Qiushi Journal July-September 2019|Vol.11,No.3,Issue No.40

Abstract:

The adaption of Marxism to the Chinese context represents the efforts of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to create new theories, open up new horizons, and guide new practices by integrating the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s revolution, economic development, and reform. Over the course of 70 years following the founding of the PRC in 1949, the CPC has constantly advanced the adaption of Marxism to the Chinese context and guided China in creating a development miracle that has caught the attention of the world.

I. The adaption of Marxism to the Chinese context has caused tremendous change in Chinese society.

The great proposition to adapt Marxism to the Chinese context was introduced by Mao Zedong at the Sixth Plenary Session of the Sixth CPC Central Committee in Yan’an in 1938. Since then, this great endeavor has represented the theoretical innovation of the CPC in upholding and developing Marxism by integrating the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s realities to create new theories, open up new horizons, and guide new practices, and has long been pursued throughout the periods of revolution, economic development, and reform led by the CPC.

The People’s Republic of China was founded on October 1, 1949. Following this, the question of where China’s development was headed was placed in front of the CPC and the Chinese people. How to establish a new socialist system by undertaking socialist revolution after the victory of the New Democratic Revolution? How to develop socialism in China, which was economically and educationally underdeveloped? Chinese Communists, with Mao Zedong as their chief representative, were not frightened by these questions and resolutely continued to adapt Marxism to the Chinese context. After the founding of the PRC, the CPC led the people in rapidly healing the wounds of war and revitalizing the national economy. On this basis, it seized the opportunity to introduce the general guideline for the transitional period and creatively complete the transition from the New Democratic Revolution to the socialist revolution, thus transforming China, home to a quarter of the world’s people, into a socialist society and successfully achieving the most profound and important social change in Chinese history. After setting up the basic socialist system, the CPC faced the new issue of how to further establish socialism in China. Mao Zedong searched tirelessly for a path of socialist development suited to China’s conditions. Drawing lessons from the experiences of the Soviet Union, he proposed that we create new theories, write new works, and integrate the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism with China’s realities for a second time so as to discover the correct approach to socialist revolution and development in China and formulate strategic thinking for developing China into a strong socialist country. Throughout this process of exploration and despite serious setbacks, the CPC achieved innovative theoretical results and tremendous success in socialist revolution and economic development, which provided valuable experience, theoretical preparation, and a material foundation for developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new historical era.

II. The adaption of Marxism to the Chinese context has helped forge a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

By the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), China was poised at a historical turning point. Where China’s socialism was going was a question faced by the Party and the Chinese people. After deep reflection on the experiences and lessons of the past, the Chinese Communists with Deng Xiaoping as their chief representative stated that we should discard longstanding rigid notions, continue to free our minds, seek truth from facts, and pave a new path of building socialism. How to walk this new path? As Deng Xiaoping said, “We must integrate the universal truth of Marxism with the concrete realities of China, follow our own path, and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics.” This requires us to continue adapting Marxism to the Chinese situation and guiding innovative practice with innovative theories so as to pioneer a new path of building socialism.

Mao Zedong delivers a report at the 6th Plenary Session of the 6th CPC Central Committee held in September 1938. He stressed the need for the Party as a whole to earnestly fulfill its duty of leading resistance against Japanese invasion. He also pointed out that, “we can put Marxism into practice only when it is integrated with the specific characteristics of our country and acquires a definite national form.” XINHUA

Deng Xiaoping speaks at the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee. Held in Beijing December 18-22, 1978, this was a landmark meeting in the history of the CPC and had far-reaching implications. XINHUA (FILE PHOTO)

Uniting and guiding the CPC and all Chinese people, the generation of Chinese Communists with Deng Xiaoping as their chief representative established Deng Xiaoping Theory by weighing up both positive and negative experiences in the development of socialism and drawing lessons from experiences of socialism around the world. They made a historic decision to shift the focus of the Party and the nation to economic development and initiate a policy of reform and opening up, and they powerfully revealed the essence of socialism and set the basic guideline for the primary stage of socialism. They clearly stated that we would follow our own path and develop Chinese socialism, provided scientific answers to a series of basic questions concerning the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and formulated a three-step development strategy to basically achieve socialist modernization by the middle of the 21st century, thus successfully establishing socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Uniting and guiding the CPC and all Chinese people, the generation of Chinese Communists with Jiang Zemin as their chief representative upheld the Party’s basic theories and basic principles, and deepened their understanding of what socialism is and how it should be developed, and what kind of Party we should build and how it should be done. They amassed valuable experience in Party and national governance and developed the Theory of the Three Represents. In the face of complex international and domestic situations and serious difficulties being experienced by socialism around the world, they safeguarded Chinese socialism, defined the goal and basic framework of our socialist market economic system reforms, established the basic economic and distribution systems for the primary stage of socialism, opened up new prospects for reform and opening up across all fronts, and advanced the great new project of Party building, thus successfully launching socialism with Chinese characteristics into the 21st century.

Uniting and guiding the CPC and all Chinese people, the generation of Chinese Communists with Hu Jintao as their chief representative continued to uphold Deng Xiaoping Theory and the Theory of the Three Represents. In light of new development requirements, they comprehensively understood and answered major questions on what kind of development should be pursued under the new circumstances and how it needed to be done, and thus established the Scientific Outlook on Development. Taking advantage of an important period of strategic opportunity, they carried out practical, theoretical, and institutional innovations during the process of building a moderately prosperous society across all fronts. Emphasizing people-centered, comprehensive, balanced, and sustainable development, they formulated an overarching plan for the cause of Chinese socialism, which aimed at safeguarding and improving public wellbeing, promoting social fairness and justice, building a harmonious world, and strengthening the governance capacity and pioneering nature of the CPC, and through these efforts they successfully upheld and developed socialism with Chinese characteristics from a new historic point of departure.

III. The adaption of Marxism to the Chinese context has helped guide socialism with Chinese characteristics into a new era.

Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, Chinese Communists with Xi Jinping as their chief representative have adhered to contemporary development trends in integrating theory with practice to systematically address the major questions of our times, which involve what kind of socialism with Chinese characteristics should be upheld and developed in the new era and how we should go about doing this, thereby giving shape to Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. Under the guidance of this Thought, the CPC has solved many tough problems that were long on the agenda but never got resolved, accomplished many tasks that were pursued but never completed, and witnessed historic achievements and changes in the undertakings of the Party and the country, thus securing developments for Chinese socialism unprecedented in scale. For this reason, the CPC earnestly declared at its 19th National Congress in 2017 that socialism with Chinese characteristics had entered a new era and established Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as the Party’s essential long-term guiding philosophy.

As the latest achievement in adapting Marxism to the Chinese reality, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era possesses distinct contemporaneity, originality, and practicality. Its contemporaneity is mainly embodied by Xi Jinping’s important determination that Chinese socialism has entered a new era, in his revelation of the significance of this development, in his statements on the implications of the new era of Chinese socialism, and in his comprehensive elaboration of the CPC’s historical mission in the new era. Its originality is demonstrated in a clear “Eight-Point Statement of Purpose” and the 14 basic principles defined in the report to the 19th National Congress of the CPC. This statement and these principles both constitute important parts of this Thought. Among them, statements on the evolution of the principal challenge facing Chinese society, the defining feature of Chinese socialism and the greatest strength of the Chinese socialist system, the people-centered notion of development, the great social revolution and self-reform of the CPC, and the building of a global community with a shared future are all original. From the perspective of the new era and new journey and keeping in mind the basic tenets of the CPC, the great renewal of the Chinese nation, and the development, change, and adjustment of the world, this Thought has also resulted in a series of creative plans and decisions on upholding and developing Chinese socialism in the new era as well as several original ideas and opinions. The practicality of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is reflected in the fact that this Thought is shaped during the process of practicing Chinese socialism in the new era, and the questions it responds to are those of the times, the people, and our practical experience. At the same time, this Thought represents a scientific theory and action plan to guide the practice and development of Chinese socialism in the new era, and promotes the constant innovation and development of Chinese socialism. Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, new prospects are ceaselessly forming for the cause of Chinese socialism.

Xi Jinping delivers an important address at a ceremony commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 4, 2018. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER JU PENG

IV. The adaption of Marxism to the Chinese context in the past seven decades has distinct features.

Over the 70 years following the founding of the PRC, continuous efforts have been made to adapt Marxism to the Chinese context in an innovative manner. Looking back on the glorious 70-year development of this effort, we can clearly see some distinct features.

1. Upholding and developing Marxism in an integrated manner

Marxism represents the essence of the CPC as a Marxist political party, and has always been the fundamental guiding thought upon which our Party and country are founded. Since the founding of the PRC, our Party has continued to carry forward the fine traditions of the revolutionary war years, not only upholding Marxism but also paying attention to China’s national conditions in finely integrating the realities of different historical periods and innovating and developing Marxism, thus endowing Marxism with greater vitality.

2. Integrating the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s conditions

The essence of adapting Marxism to the Chinese context is to apply tenets of Marxism to observe, analyze, study, and resolve major theoretical and practical issues in China’s revolution, economic development, and reform, thus producing new philosophical and theoretical achievements based on different historical conditions and practices. Since the founding of the PRC 70 years ago, generation after generation of Chinese Communists have persistently striven to integrate the basic tenets of Marxism with the specific realities of different historical periods and carried out theoretical analysis and practical exploration, and have thereby developed Chinese Marxism with distinct contemporary features and rich implications.

3. Integrating theoretical and practical innovation

Integrating practice and theory represents a fundamental approach and basic method for using theory to guide practice and is an embodiment and application of Marxist epistemology and practice. The purpose of adapting Marxism to the Chinese context is to use evolving Marxist theories to guide China’s revolution, economic development, and reform, and we must integrate theoretical innovation with practical innovation. Over the past seven decades, Chinese Communists have promoted practical innovation based on theoretical innovation and vice versa, and in this way have secured a number of theoretical and practical achievements.

4. Integrating addressing major contemporary issues with responding to people’s major concerns

The mission and task of adapting Marxism to the Chinese context is to address major issues of different historical periods, and it is during the process of addressing major contemporary issues that the CPC has achieved theoretical breakthroughs in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context. The people are the creators of history; their major concerns are a detailed reflection of the voice, theme, and major issues of the times. Since the founding of the PRC, Chinese Communists have fully exerted the principal role of the people and made great efforts to promote the adaption of Marxism to the Chinese context and constantly create new prospects for socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Xu Guangchun is Director of the Consulting Committee for the CPC Central Committee’s Project for the Study and Development of Marxist Theory.

(Originally appeared in People’s Daily, July 17, 2019)


From:English Edition of Qiushi Journal July-September 2019|Vol.11,No.3,Issue No.40


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