China embraces new ‘principle’ when embarking on new journey

Mr  Jinping

Mr Jinping

Everyone who followed Xi Jinping’s speech at the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) got the message loud and clear: A new era has begun.

 

Central to Xi’s declaration that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, was his statement that the “principal contradiction” facing Chinese society, a maxim that has stood for 36 years, has changed.

 

It is a shift that “affects the whole landscape.”

 

The “principal contradiction” is a term most Chinese are familiar with from grade school, but only a tiny number of foreigners, experts in sanitised Marxism will know this seemingly obscure piece of political jargon.

 

Marxists interpret the world through dialectical materialism. Contradictions — or “dynamic opposing forces” — are omnipresent in society and drive social change.

 

The “principal contradiction” is what defines a society. By identifying and solving it, society develops peacefully.

 

Left unsolved, it can lead to chaos and eventually, as Marx predicted, to revolution.

 

Since coming to power in 1949, the CPC has identified the principal contradiction, and, as the times changed and contradictions changed, crafted new policies in response.

 

Soon after 1949, it was “the people versus imperialism, feudalism and the remnants Kuomintang forces” which evolved into “proletariat versus bourgeoisie,” a mentality which led to prolonged social turmoil across the country.

 

In 1981, the CPC changed its assessment of the principal contradiction to “the ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people versus backward social production,” a historic policy shift at the heart of reform and opening up.

 

Developing the economy, mainly through growth, was thus endorsed by the CPC as the “central task”.

 

Market economic reforms, seen at the time as a magic bullet to transform production, were unleashed on an unprecedented scale.

 

The rest is a history we all know well.

 

The Chinese economy grew to the second largest in the world, expanding by about 10 per cent each year for more than three decades.

 

China became the world’s factory floor. Consumer goods, which were hardly ever seen in the country in 1981, are now abundant.

 

The Made-in-China list today grows ever longer, its products more sophisticated.

 

From finger nail-sized computer chips to jumbo jets and high-speed trains, the world’s factory is now the world’s laboratory and marketplace.

 

Giant Internet companies have emerged, with booming consumer demand satisfied through the most advanced mobile technology.

 

The era of “backward social production” is well and truly over. -Xinhua

 

 

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