On the sinicization of Marxism – a Cuban perspective

China Environment Net from time to time republishes important articles on Marxism and eco-socialism. We are pleased to share the following detailed and insightful article by Carlos Miguel Pereira Hernández, Cuba’s ambassador to China.

Pereira delves into the meaning of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, carefully noting that it should be understood on its own terms, rather than being compared against a one-size-fits-all model: “There is no unique definition of socialism, and any analysis on the issue must start by accepting that visions of it are diverse.”

Pereira analyses the trajectory of sinicized Marxism-Leninism, noting that this begins not with the Reform and Opening Up period from 1978 but with the early development of the Chinese Revolution, and traces this back to a speech by Mao Zedong in 1956 in which Mao rejected the “mechanistic copying of foreign models” of socialism.

Pereira does not shy away from the contradictions of modern Chinese socialism, yet the author notes that in the key policy areas political criteria are weighted above market mechanisms and this highlights the reality that the capitalist class is not the ruling class in China. As CEN has said often, this emphasis on advancing social needsin a integrated, wholistic manner has been key to China’s outstanding progress in ecological restoration and green development in past 2 decades.

This article was published Friends of Socialist China, after first being published in Spanish – La sinización del marxismo, las ciencias sociales y la cuestión del modelo propio – in the Cuban journal Política Internacional. The English translation is provided to us by the author.

Carlos Miguel Pereira Hernández is currently Cuba’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, and has worked as a diplomat with the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1990. From 2006 to 2011, he was Cuban ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, and in 2016 he became Cuban ambassador to Japan. In 2019 he commenced a second term as Cuban ambassador to China.

His Excellency graduated from the Raul Roa Garcia Advanced Institute of International Relations in Havana, and later studied at Beijing Language and Culture University, and then at the Department of International Politics of Peking University, where he obtained a Master’s degree in International Political Relations.


The full article follows:

ABSTRACT

The present analysis begins with a call for attention to the discussion about the existence or not of a “Chinese Marxism”, that is, the sinicization of Marxism, an officially coined formulation within the Chinese narrative and understood as the adaptation of the Marxism to the conditions and particularities of China and which comes to life in the notion of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The above-mentioned element is key to understand, and even to clarify, how both nature and the national peculiarities of each country affect – or might affect – and if that gives rise to the existence of their own models of socialist construction.

The analysis focuses on the period from 1978 to the present, which coincides with the beginning and development of the reform process, considered by Chinese sources as a “driving force” for the improvement and development of the socialist system within the Chinese conditions. For this, it has been considered essential to provide criteria that allow establishing, without any doubt, that the current model in the Asian country –which includes the corrections introduced at each stage– remains on the road to socialism; also to verify how the political narrative produced and reproduced by Western theoretical development has been contrasted with another Chinese-own narrative, based on the concepts that are analyzed in this work and that reflect the important role of social sciences and theoretical and academic debate as an important regularity of the Chinese socialist process.

Keywords: China/Reform/Socialism/Marxism/Social science

INTRODUCTION

For obvious reasons, China has become an unavoidable case study both for liberal theorists, who consider it a paradox, and for Marxist theorists, who identify it as the center of the current debate on the validity of Marxism and socialism. Studying and debating on what has happened in China during the last 40 years have become a dialogue between contenders located at the opposite sides, and in which it is not easy to find an objective or unbiased analysis framed in the molds of traditional Political Theory.

The raised controversy is related both to the way in which socialism has been conceived (or interpreted) since its origins, and to the limitations of Western-origin political science, whose conceptualizations are insufficient and contradictory to try to explain what happened in China in the last four decades.

Due to its vast size and the level of development reached, the Asian giant has come to the forefront of the analysis of the global transition to socialism, and it has therefore received an objectively critical look. It is that, for this very reason and on its own merit, China has become the fundamental force that drives the establishment of a multipolar system of international relations and a new international economic order, while at the same time, consolidates itself as a world leader in the fight against the pandemic and for preventing climate breakdown. It is for the above-mentioned elements that the consolidation of Chinese socialism becomes crucial not only for China, but for all of humankind.

The reformist praxis of these more than four last decades reflects both the complex trajectory that some authors appreciate as a result of the peculiar orientation of the Chinese political leadership, and those ones who consider it incomprehensible and contradictory and “without a defined course” (Gilley, 2003).

The academic discussion on the aforementioned issues has focused, mainly, both on the reasons and objectives of the Chinese political leadership to get involved in those changes and on the real effect that the reforms have had and still have on national political life; also on whether or not there is confusion between the “means” and the “ends” and, of course, on the features that should exist to formulate a valid hypothesis on the legitimacy of the developing socialist model.

Although we do not intend to carry out an exhaustive assessment on the turns occurred within Chinese theory and social sciences during these years, we can state, from the beginning, that since there is no monolithic thought or, at least, a totally consensual thought regarding those issues, the theoretical and academic debate became an important regularity of the process, which together with the historical practice, executed by its political leadership, of synthesizing and learning from mistakes and failures, of exploring, experimenting and then gradually generalizing those experiences which are most successful or fit for initially-expected purposes, gave the Chinese process a peculiar combination of legitimacy, credibility and predictability.

Starting from the aforementioned premises, the performed analysis was developed in two fundamental directions:

The first one is to verify whether and how, within the evolution of contemporary China, it get intertwined diverse aspects such as the intensive use of market levers, the development of new and several forms of management and ownership, and the processes related to the transition to socialism which, due to their very nature, have been and continue to be a source of profound and various controversies over time.

The second is to assess the importance and contextualize the theories, currents of thought and policies that, arising against the grain of Western hegemonic attempts and with roots within the Chinese culture and tradition, could be considered contributions to the cause of socialism and the practical implementation of Marxist ideas in specific contexts and realities.[1]

ARGUMENT

In the course of its development as a social economic formation, Socialism has experienced mistakes made in more than one attempt –it must be included here the universalized Soviet model since its inception as a unique socialist economic model– to modify the economy and society inherited from Capitalism.

Fernando Martínez Heredia refers to the above-mentioned element when he expresses: “the profound differences between the Socialism built in regions of the developed world and that one built in the world that was overwhelmed by the global expansion of capitalism have led to great theoretical and political mistakes during the 20th century and no less serious practical misunderstandings”. These same circumstances have determined that the concept of Socialism has been charged with meaning from a wide range of ideological and political orientations over more than a century and a half, which has made difficult to work with it from a social science perspective (Heredia, 2014).

It must be added to the previous statement that, in a retrospective look to the theory of the construction of socialism, the founders of Marxism did not intend to design a scheme of society; therefore, we only find, in their works, the fundamental theses of the model that would necessarily replace the still-developing capitalism. That is why there is no mistake when, coinciding with Che, it is stated that “some of the affirmations made by Marx and Engels were never sanctioned by the practice, especially because the period foreseen for the great transformation of society turned to be short” (Guevara, 2006).

In his reflections rooted within the manuscripts of the classics, Che theorizes on the peculiarities of the transition period and its significance for the history of Marxism and its evolution, and reaches very sharp conclusions regarding the damage inflicted by dogmatism; the monopoly of theories and the lack of specific analyzes to assume Socialism.

In particular, he warned about something that is relevant to the topic we address: to avoid the absence of creativity in the theory since this would cause instability and lead to a useless apology of the existing one and to the postponement of questioning and discussions on fundamental problems to be debated in the development of the new society, and even to face the new tasks with pre-established indications.

Lenin had pointed to the same direction when he warned so many times about the importance of defending Marxism, its essence of revolutionary teaching, of liberating its revolutionary side, of transcending its revolutionary side as a doctrine and its revolutionary soul; when instead of suggesting dogmas, he showed us that Marxism reveals to us the scientific nature of its analysis and its political function as a “guide to action.”

Also by his theory of unequal development and the one of the “weakest link”, he made sure of ratifying the bases that the classic founders had defined on socialism and enriched their study, not only in the theoretical order but also in the practical one. It is not idle to remember that it was Lenin who first referred to the “transition period or period of construction of socialist society”, and also to the existence of socioeconomic heterogeneity and the existence of monetary-commercial relations during that period.

The persistent attempts of the Soviet leaders to attach an exclusive character to the model implanted in the USSR, to the point of trying to impose it as the “socialist model” par excellence, distorted from the beginning the discussions on the alternatives of functioning of socialism. Already after the death of Lenin, the controversy unleashed between the constituted leadership of the Bolshevik Party and the so-called left opposition, contributed to the emergence of different theories about the model that should rule the Socialism and, consequently, the parameters to assess it.[2] 

The well-known warning about the existence of  two economic-social formations during the transition period and, therefore, the question of “who beats whom”, is essential for the study of the problems related to current Socialism and to understand how, decades later, Deng Xiaoping strongly returns to that issue and points out that the superiority of Socialism could not remain in theory, but it had to be demonstrated through its ability to promote the development of the productive forces at a higher speed and with a qualitatively superior quality.

Before continuing, it is necessary to make some clarifications. Firstly, and since there is not a unique definition of socialism, any analysis on the issue must start by accepting that the visions of it are diverse and that, in some cases, they may even be opposed. It should also be added here that, in the Chinese political narrative, there has been no attempt to assume Socialism as a specific concept or a finished fact, hence the very formulation of Socialism with Chinese characteristics is considered a theory under construction, reflecting in turn the incessant search for its own path of development and, in frank opposition to the “Soviet model”. In other words, it is an own vision, a Chinese vision; it is a breaking with conventions, based on a new practice, exploration and renewal of Marxism.[3]

Secondly, that the socialist construction in China has had, since its inception, its own peculiarities that distinguish it from other processes. Instead of proclaiming the “dictatorship of the proletariat” as the USSR and later other Eastern European countries had done before, its historical leadership opted for the construction of a sui generis democratic system based on the alliance among peasants, workers, petite bourgeoisie and nationalist bourgeoisie with the CPC, which was called by Mao: “a dictatorship against the enemies of the Revolution and the national and foreign reactionaries…” (Mao, 1969, 430 and 432).[4] It was maintained in the system, with a decisive influence, the small and medium-sized mercantile production, since private businesses were never suppressed, but their permanence and development were encouraged within certain limits, preserving at the same time the absolute control of the State over key sectors such as banking, foreign trade and wholesale trade.

Thus, at the end of the initial stage of socialist construction, China had a mixed economy made up of the State-owned sector (socialist), the cooperative sector (with State participation), the private and individual sector (artisans) and the peasant sector (small farmers), that prioritized the development of State-owned branches.

Thirdly, under the imprint of its historical leader Mao Zedong , the CPC called for a careful observation of the national situation, its own characteristics, the degree of economic, social, cultural and political development and the phase of the construction of socialism, which in its case it was defined, early on, as the “primary stage of socialism”[5]. Therefore, the model of socialism with Chinese characteristics is considered an ongoing process within its long route towards the materialization of socialist construction.[6]

The sinicization of Marxism

“Marxism is the fundamental guiding thought which our Party and our country are based on, and which invigorates the first one and strengthens the second one. Since it is not a dogma, but a guide for action, Marxist theory must be developed along with practical assessment, and its rooting in our country and in people’s consciousness is only possible through its sinicization and adaptation to our situation”, states the “Resolution of the Central Committeeof the CPC on the significant successes and historical experiences of the Party in its centenary struggle”, announced at the end of 2021.[7]

While describing the process of historical symbiosis, it is important to highlight as an important starting point the early claim made by Mao to adapt Marxism-Leninism to concrete Chinese reality. The term “sinicization” of Marxism was coined for the first time in 1938, when, on the reissue of the “Selected Works of Mao Zedong”, he changed the original phrase of “concretion of Marxism in China” by that other formulation.

In this regard, the renowned scholar Li Shenming, former vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and director of the World Socialism Research Center, states that, by this change, the founder of the Chinese Revolution made clear the historical mission of the CPC to integrate “the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism and the concrete situation in China”. From his point of view, the term “sinicization” would be the most correct, since the basic principles of Marxism, or the universal truth that it embodies, belong to the world, not only to China, as they are universal truths. In this regard, he considers that the reference to “Chinese Marxism” often implies the misunderstanding that the current theoretical guide of the CPC has nothing to do with its “old ancestor” (Marxism-Leninism).[8] 

The question of the own model acquired the dimension of official policy after 1956, when in his historic speech on the “10 Relationships”, Mao publicly criticized the mechanistic copying of foreign models and settle down the foundations for new efforts that would lead to the formulation of the own model. He then made clear that Socialism with Chinese characteristics should be the result of a practical experience that sought the truth within the facts.

The historical investment raised by Lenin regarding the role of plural subjects in the transformation of the new society and, in particular, of the peasantry as a historical revolutionary subject, together with other practical experiences such as the New Economic Policy (NEP, for its acronym in Russian), are considered by Chinese scholars as reference assumptions and starting points for the conceptualizations that have given theoretical support to the process of socialism construction in China.[9]

The state of the art confirms that the way of assessing Socialism with Chinese characteristics varies according to the understanding of different authors regarding socialism itself and the transition process that leads to its constitution. There are Marxists who affirm that the process which initiated in 1978 has irreversibly altered the foundations of Chinese socialism after assuming that many of the adopted measures have broken the limits of the system and have strengthened the forces of the market and the capitalist social relations of production that are inherent to it, suggesting that a process of gradual return to capitalism is underway (Petras, 2005 and Díaz, 2013).

Other more liberal authors, attached to “bourgeois rationalism”, accept as valid the thesis that the Asian giant and its political leadership opted for a capitalist model, although in their politicized narrative, they assert that the measures adopted are not sufficient for the purpose of reimplanting capitalism in the country, and seem to be anxious about what they consider a supposed lack of democracy or growing authoritarianism (Shambaugh, 2008; Ríos, 2012 and Villafañe, 2012).

All of them converge in the idea that in the Chinese case, controversial historical, political and cultural concepts and conditions concur, according to the theses already exposed, hence they label it as “capitalism”, while they cover up in their reflections the intention of granting the successes of the Chinese model to the implemented “capitalist” actions and not precisely to the new socialist experiment carried out during the last 40 years.

Martin Hat-Landsberg and Paul Burkett state, for example, in the introduction of their book “China and Socialism” that “China’s market reforms have not led to a socialist renewal but rather to a full-fledged capitalist renewal.” (Hart-Landsberg and Burkett, 2004), while Thomas I. Palley asserts that China is “a non-market economy, with significant State control, a large public sector, and a private sector subject to a significant State intervention and control” (Palley, 2012).

Marshall Meyer, for his part, warns that “having taken over Western capitalism and mirroring many of its superficial characteristics, China today poses a profound and unprecedented challenge to that kind of capitalism, which scholars and government policymakers are only just beginning to grasp” (Meyer, 2011). For Lin Wenli and Curtis J. Milhaupt, China “seems to show us a new variety of capitalism, frequently described as “State capitalism” which has, as the most characteristic feature, the crucial role played in its economy by around 100 large State-owned companies controlled by government agencies in strategic sectors (Li and Milhaupt, 2013).

For his part, in his well-known paper Chinese Communists?, the Spanish author Xulio Ríos questions the Chinese leaders’ insistence on maintaining the Party’s label as communist, which in his opinion is a simple political alibi to perpetuate their monopoly on power. However, in an interesting way, he accepts that, even if it wanted to, China could not deviate from its socialist path, nor sacrifice the political hegemony of the CPC, since both factors are decisive in prolonging “the legitimacy of a project that today wanders its antipodes”. For this author, by reiterating their commitment to socialism and Marxism, Chinese leaders have also claimed the right to adapt them to their national conditions, making prevail a criterion of utility that is also present in contemporary political science.[10]

Homar Garcés, in his analysis “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics: Market Socialism or Capitalist Restoration?”, states that “Chinese market socialism” does not appear to contravene the fundamental principles of Marxism, but there is evidence of growing degrees of exploitation, surplus value and social inequality that equate it with capitalist neoliberalism”. He also adds that “the emergence of a privileged class, composed by the high bureaucracy of the State and the CPC, in the light of the classic theorists of socialism, would constitute a deviation from the traditional revolutionary parameters” (Garcés, 2019).

In a recent interview made by Studies on Marxism, the journal of the Chinese Academy of Marxism, to Robert Lawrence Kuhn, considered by the source as “one of the few people outside of China who really understands it”, he refers to 11 principles that in his opinion explain the “miracle” of the Chinese development, including the importance the CPC attaches to opinions inside and outside the Party, to public opinion in general, to its ability to admit and correct mistakes, and to its system of central leadership combined with hierarchical management of provinces , cities, cantons, townships and villages, as well as the priority given to education, training, supervision and evaluation of talents, and the organizational skills of the CPC, its ability to generate development plans with a long-term vision, medium-term goals and short-term policies, in addition to specific long-term policies for those issues that require more time to be resolved or to mature.[11]

Once we get to this point, it can already be affirmed that socialism with Chinese characteristics stands out and distances itself from the vision of socialism applied in the disappeared Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe. It can also be stated that the development of the productive forces in the conditions of socialism with Chinese characteristics, while it promotes the very possibility of socialism, also generated a capitalist class that is committed to the prevalence, preservation and defense of capitalism and, therefore, provokes the inevitable emergence of antagonistic contradictions within Chinese society.

Thus, the reforms have made Chinese society much more complex, heterogeneous and volatile, while moves from a monolithic, rigid and egalitarian structure to a highly dynamic and contradictory one where there is evidence of a significant deepening of social differences, the fracturing of society into social classes and the advance of social strata of an anti-systemic nature. Aspects such as the growing economic and social polarization and the legitimation of material interest as the supreme value inherent to mercantile relations turn into powerful and increasingly complex challenges for the current Chinese leadership.

However, the reforms adopted in the field of the economy, which were considered by many people a prediction of the expansion of neoliberal capitalism in the immense Chinese territory by providing advantageous and more lucrative conditions to the companies that worked there, did not lead to such results by maintaining the Chinese State control over key economic elements.

In turn, the central role assumed by the CPC along the entire line and at all levels extended, to unprecedented degrees, the consensus within and outside the Party, which managed to build bridges and avoid major divisions between the different currents or political tendencies, between the coastal and inland regions, between the economic sectors and the social sectors.

The recent handling of the pandemic unleashed by Covid-19, when political criteria were weighted above the usual market mechanisms, revealed the careful handling that the political leadership did on this issue, reflecting in turn the process of gradual strengthening of the reforms, particularly their political and social components, which has made possible to guide strategic issues such as the gradual transformation of the current development model, the redistribution of wealth, the reduction of the gap regarding incomes and regional development, the fight against poverty and the promotion of new concepts such as scientific development, the harmonious socialist society, the moderately prosperous society, the social economy and common prosperity, among others, aimed towards new paths.

China: the debate on Chinese socialism and economic determinism

For Francisco Fernández Buey, “those who reduce his works to economic determinism are reading Marx backwards”. In his analysis “Marx without isms”, this author considers that one of the great contributions to the understanding of social processes was to identify the influence exerted by economic factors and modes of production in the structures assumed by each society. According to this author, it was not Marx who extolled the essential role of economics in the modern world, since he barely limited himself to taking note of what was happening in front of his eyes in the XIX-century capitalism, and called for rebelling against the determinations of the economic (Fernandez Buey, 1999).

Strictly speaking, Marxism has not been exempt from distortions in the interpretation of the original idea, sometimes confusing “conditioning” with “completely determining”, which explains that the variant that most strongly assumed an economic determinism, mainly of Soviet influence, put the focus on the ownership of the means of production as the only and definitive explanation to identify the characteristics of a society.

We receive a similar warning from Eric Hobsbawm, who in his work Marx and history, points out that “historical materialism is not economic determinism and that not all non-economic phenomena of history can be derived from specific economic phenomena” (Hobsbawm, 1986 , pp.73-81).

One of the most notable consequences of the burden posed by economic determinism is the lack of analytical elements to understand and explain other cultural, ideological and symbolic phenomena that equally influence on social structures and the exercise of power. Hence, several Marxist thinkers have tried to settle this debt from different theoretical approaches, highlighting among them the concepts of “civil society” and “hegemony” of the Italian Antonio Gramsci.

One of the aspects that most tends to confuse Western analysts about China is the existence of blurred borders between the State and “civil society”, between the collective and the individual, which are issues that acquire special lucidity in Gramsci’s theory, while managing to avoid the trap of separations, concluding that the construction of power (hegemony) goes through both the State and the relationships established in society (religion, school, traditions, value systems, family, etcetera).

Applied to the Chinese case, especially during the reforms, the analysis of social relations, value systems, symbols, education and cultural productions, in conjunction with the resources of the State, offers us important clues about the consolidation of the national project of the Asian giant and the strengthening of the leadership of the CPC.

To the question regarding the criteria that could allow determining whether or not a specific model remains on the path to socialism, Barry Naughton proposes a set of characteristics that should exist in a socialist economy, among which he mentions the sufficient “socialized control” over resources by the State (which starts from recognizing the important role of public property, socialized property, the regulatory capacity of the State and its capacity to redistribute the incomes); adherence to a policy that seeks results different from those generated by a market without any intervention (one where the market laws do not blindly prevail); an adequate development of the productive forces that benefits the population and improves their quality of life, in conditions of environmental sustainability; as well as the central participation of the population in economic decision-making processes at both the macro and micro levels, that is, a democracy with a strong role for the population (Naughton, 2017).

Samir Amin, for example, considers that, in the period of transition towards socialism, it should prevail the support for collective ownership of the land; the construction of a modern industrial system; the maintenance of State ownership over key sectors of the economy and, above all, over the financial-credit sector; the preservation of planning criteria together with the use of commercial relations; as well as a way of integrating into the world market, in which economic sovereignty is preserved, technology transfer is taken advantage of and an important part of the surplus is retained (Amin, 2013).

Of course, in the analysis of the socialist economic functioning model, there is no lack of half-truths or truisms, such as when, for example, the different types of property are mentioned without specifying them, or the management, although without proposals on how to perform it, or the organization, without any proposal, and even the distribution of wealth without explaining how to produce it… to conclude that the best model will be the one that creates the optimal conditions to achieve the transition to a higher stage of society from the starting conditions. (Fernández Estrada, 2011).

Of course, there are elements that are also present in capitalist models, such as the weight of forms of property, regulation mechanisms, and sources of distribution of wealth, insofar as the principles that govern the capitalist and socialist systems are different. For this reason, the social relations of production, although essentially responding to property relations, have been set limits in China, which has prevented the spontaneity of their operation, which, consequently, has not prevented socialist construction.

The examination of the assumptions, as well as their limitations and challenges, acquires greater relevance when the achievements reflect an important awareness and continues to generate important consensus in the Chinese leadership regarding the need to reorient the reforms towards new directions when this has been necessary. In this sense, it should be noted that the clash between extreme visions on the type of socialism to be built in the country, far from having been overcome, has been replicated in a wide universe of social and even ideological contradictions that underlie within current Chinese society and within its own political superstructure.

Despite that, it has been proved that the Chinese political leadership has not only known how to draw the appropriate lessons and experiences from its setbacks -which has been decisive when conceptualizing its own model of socialism- but it has also reinforced the certainty that the socialist potential cannot be materialized without adequate economic policies and operating mechanisms that propitiate, at the required and adequate level, the elevation of efficiency and scientific-technical progress.

The abovementioned has established guidelines regarding the recomposition of the complex framework of beliefs and practices associated with socialist construction on the basis, at each stage, of open and consistent debate on its postulates, which has allowed the development of novel and unique proposals. Thus, although the reforms have affected equally the economic system and the political system, the CPC has managed to preserve its leading role and has ensured, at the same time, the political orientation of those reforms.

The successes achieved in the recent battles against the pandemic and for overcoming poverty clearly show important parallels, and the results reflect, in both cases, the common key: the leadership, organizational skills, and mobilizing capacity of the CPC. It is essentially that, in the exercise of power, the Party has demonstrated that its vitality depends on its own capacity for adaptation,                            self-regulation and strict management, to which is added the systematic emphasis, during Xi Jinping’s mandate, on the the need to constantly deepen the “self-revolution” within the CPC, while not forgetting its original intention, its historical mission, the strengthening of its standardized rules and procedures, the constant supervision of the people, the ability to adapt itself and to focus on solving practical problems to make true the goals that have been set.[12]

Strictly speaking, the objective analysis on the effects of the reforms on Chinese society shows that they have transformed core aspects of the country’s economic, political and institutional functioning, such as property relations, the role of the market and its relationship with the government, and of the latter with the decision-making in economic matters; the treatment of foreign investment; the transformation of government functions (including the delimitation of Party-Government and Government-Business functions); the deepening of the reforms in the agricultural, business, tax and financial fields; the central government-local government relations; the country-city relations; the improvement and expansion of socialist democracy, the promotion of the rule of law and the principle of governing in accordance with the law; the supervision and control mechanisms; the defense of culture and the increase of cultural soft power; the channeling of the demands and concerns of the population; environmental protection; the fight against corruption and the improvement of the CPC work system according to its role of a ruling political force.

The practice of formulating strategic and Five-year plans articulated in all directions, top-down and bottom-up, has allowed CPC to combine the different dimensions of structural changes in the economic, political, institutional, social and environmental orders, turning them into guides for the fulfillment of its vision as a nation. This has allowed the Party to conveniently lead the orientation of development and even resolve structural and institutional imbalances with a strategic and consensual vision for the medium and long term, to guide development towards the fulfillment of the Vision of the Nation (socialist, modern, prosperous, democratic, civilized, harmonious and beautiful), to define and to use the strategic axes as pillars and driving forces of the development strategy and to promote the development of strategic sectors and local development, as well as to use industrial planning and State capital to obtain economies of scale and competitive advantages.

It cannot be ignored that the term “democracy” in the Chinese case acquires a broader and different meaning than the one attaches to it in the Western macro world. It is about democracy throughout the process and not just electoral: the design, conception and operation of the system of political consultations and multi-Party cooperation led by the CPC shows that its democracy is stronger and more concrete than the one of many Western countries who introduce themselves as their paladin. The CPC not only demonstrates that represents the vast majority of the people, but for that very reason it feels responsible for being advised and consulted by the best and brightest of Chinese society, whether or not they are members of the CPC.

Understanding how Chinese democracy works presupposes as an essential element to delve into the functioning of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which has been consolidating itself over time in the exercise of inter-Party cooperation and political consultations under the leading of the CPC. Its members are mostly top-level experts in their respective fields, who are listened to while their research and proposals are taken into account.

The timely readjustment of the Popular Assemblies system and its growing role in defense and promotion of the rule of law and institutionalism, the improvement of the system of consultations and democratic supervision, the expansion of the channels of expression of the people’s opinion and the improvement of multiparty cooperation, administrative decentralization processes, the granting of greater rights of autonomy in favor of regions and localities, the execution of specific experiments for the development of democracy at the local level, the recognition of private property and the joining of private entrepreneurs to the CPC as a way to broaden its social base,[13] are expressions of the gradual and systematic process of institutionalization which is considered decisive for China’s aspiration to become a modern socialist country.[14]

The leadership capacity of the CPC is evidenced when, after taking the decision to merge the political leadership (of the CPC) with the administrative leadership at some localities and institutions of the country and at the most important State-owned companies, which was first applied experimentally with the clear purpose of reinforcing the leadership of the Party as the leading force in society and ensuring a more homogeneous implementation of the reforms, this same decision was later revised to once again separate the highest Party and administrative positions, under the policy of reducing the government and Party apparatuses at regional level; however, it remained in force at Government institutions and large business groups, where the top manager or administrative head is, at the same time, Secretary of the local or grassroots committee of the CPC. Strictly speaking, such methods and ways of doing things have made the Party not only the leader but also the manager of socialist work at all levels.

In political terms, the CPC has demonstrated the ability to quickly and successfully implement key policies and sound strategies that require long-term commitment. In the “new era”, as Chinese sources often refer to the period which began in 2012, the Party has successfully continued to face major and new challenges such as continuing to promote reforms, transforming the economic system, guiding development and social transformation, improving transparency and establishing new self-correction mechanisms.

The previous element is important and worth to be emphasized because it is often tried to reduce democracy and politics to the action of parliamentary fractions, parties, and the written and unwritten press and, in general, to any action that is carried out in the frameworks of “representative” democracy. Gramsci calls our attention to this issue by reminding us that politics is “the art of governing men, of procuring their permanent consensus and therefore the art of founding the great States” (Acanda, 2002).

Thus, the concept of civil society from bourgeois liberal thought is demystified, which essentially assumes it as something independent and opposed to the State, abandoning a very useful analytical tool for understanding how the supposedly private spaces of the individual are actually a battlefield for the construction of hegemony, the creation of consensus and the consolidation of power. That in the so-called West the interrelationships appear to be less clear, that the lightening of the bourgeois State in its neoliberal stage has transferred functions to civil society and that the deification of the individual and the rejection of the collective have become the official religion, does not mean that their schools, cultural productions and media function as something different from sounding boards of the power and domination.

A similar analysis deserves the question of the legitimacy of the political system, which in the Chinese context does not appear to be associated with the electoral game, but with other important historical, institutional, political and economic factors. The elections in China would not be more legitimizing than the reforms that, subjecting the Chinese political system to a constant scrutiny, add a system of institutionalized popular consultations, in which it is identified and unified the popular will, as well as the professionalism of the State, further guaranteed by the meritocratic system that selects the most capable and prepared persons.

It also influences and determines the Chinese democracy the ability of the CPC to channel, from its position of power, the legacy of 5,000 years of civilization and culture in favor of a national project of liberation, rejuvenation and development, which in turn becomes one of the keys that explain its success in leading the reforms, its resilience to cushion the social unrest caused by certain measures and its effectiveness in maintaining hegemony and majority support in leading the country’s destinies.

The analysis indicates that it is possible to establish, therefore, that the Chinese political system, under the leadership of the CPC, has managed to incorporate an effective feedback mechanism, which in addition to promoting innovation, encourages improvement and real-time monitoring of results and helps identify errors and correct them in a timely manner. The presence of various complementary Parties and the several counterbalance mechanisms in force as part of the multi-Party cooperation system function as a permanent evaluation of the functioning of the ruling CPC and as a resource for capturing “suggestions” for decision-making through very diverse proposals. In fact, this kind of platform operates as a consultative resource, collective leadership and access for the membership of other Parties or non-Party-affiliation people to various leadership positions, regardless of whether there is a professional representative of the CPC in State and private institutions.

Also, it is extensively used, as part of the democratic process, scientific surveys to capture and understand what ordinary people think and care about. Thus, without the need for Western-type elections, it is ensured the manipulated feedback that is typical of “Western” societies.

It cannot be ignored that, as part of the appointment processes for public officials and Party cadres, they are obliged to listen to and consider the comments and recommendations of their colleagues, subordinates and superiors. Nor that when a new policy is formulated, scientific surveys evaluate and probe the opinions and attitudes of the population that it will affect, that is, the capacity to assimilate it.

To the above-mentioned element, it should be added that it is not risky to incorporate the idea that the current Chinese leadership seems increasingly determined to accept what some authors call “significant economic damage” in order to achieve non-economic objectives, which in the Chinese media are highlighted as necessary steps to stop “antisocial tendencies” and curb “capitalist excesses”. It is obvious that the country has gained a lot in terms of development and economic growth, but also it has lost a lot in terms of philosophy and values. Consumerism, for example, has become, as in Western societies, an important part of its modus operandi, and with it, the cult of money, of individualism, of a frivolous, apathetic and disinterested mentality.

According to the Mexican researcher Flora Botton, the so-called Chinese “middle class” has assumed habits similar to those of the middle class of any other country with an emerging economy, that is, they are ostentatious, competitive, send their children to private schools, acquire luxury real estate, frequently travels abroad, and above all, is highly consumerist (Botton, 2008).

Far from trying to hide the aforementioned adverse realities, the CPC government has been increasingly aware of and determined to face them in order to maintain its legitimacy and, with it, the reins of political power. It must be considered that in China there is strong resistance to the thrust of these factors, especially in the universities where even an important sector of its youth has been forcing the government to introduce important adjustments, moving the educational model further and further away from the deeply competitive models of Western education, and trying to recover their own models.

Regarding the features of the Chinese own model, Cheng Enfu, former president of the China Academy of Marxism and honorary member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Ding Xiaoqin, director of the Center for Political Economy with Chinese Characteristics, present a paper entitled “A Theory of China’s Miracle” that is relevant for the present analysis as it summarizes what socialism should represent.

For the authors, socialism requires as a basic element a level of material and technological development capable of promoting the protection of the environment and the promotion of society, of improving the level of satisfaction of the needs of the population, of advancing in the distribution of wealth by fighting exploitation and polarization and closing the income gap, continuing productive growth and productivity; guaranteeing the priority of public property in the existing property system; reinforcing the principle of the State-led market; ensuring rapid development with high performance and balance; and guaranteeing openness to the outside world with ever greater economic sovereignty.

As additional data, it should be added that China has been a pioneer in the development of small and micro-enterprises, the popularization of education, the relocation of entire villages, the ecological compensation[15] and social security, all of which has been carried out transversally, although according to the characteristics and needs of each area or region of the country, in an affirmative top-down strategy.

The Chinese culture has never been based on absolute truths or immutable principles. Even the very concept of preserving harmony, according to the Chinese conception, does not imply having to discern between what is good or bad, but rather between what is convenient and what is necessary for the greater good, whose decision has always fallen on the government institutions, which on the past was represented in its government of scholars. Surely, for this reason, knowledge is a notion that belongs to everyone and people must share it without the need to be given prizes or be rewarded for it.

China’s achievements in these areas show indisputable progress, but also important goals yet to be achieved. In terms of poverty reduction, the great results achieved are well known when the total eradication of extreme poverty was proclaimed last year, even 10 years earlier than planned in the Sustainable Development Agenda. Also the improvement of its location in the Human Development Index, moving from a low level to a high level between 1988 and 2015. However, in terms of income distribution, the inequalities remained, although registering lower levels year after year. In 2016, the GINI coefficient was 0.465, lower than the 0.491 registered in 2008 (Naughton, 2017:14-19)[16].

At the end of 2021, according to WTO figures, the dependency rate of its foreign trade (particularly its exports) was reduced from 64% to 31.5%, a trend that should be consolidated in the coming years to the same extent continue to increase the middle income segment of its population. According to estimates for 2035, the so-called Chinese middle class will add 800 million, which will allow the rate to continue falling to 25%.

For the abovementioned, it will be necessary to continue generating conditions that are more inclusive so that people might obtain a better education and improve their development capacities; also set up a development environment that provides opportunities for more people to improve their standard of living. In other words, to continue emphasizing essential priorities such as promoting high-quality development, raising the incomes of urban and rural residents, reducing the income distribution gap, and preventing the polarization of wealth beyond certain limits.

The theories and thoughts that pay tribute to Socialism with Chinese characteristics, including the most recent ones aimed at the culmination of socialist modernization and the great revitalization of the Chinese nation in the new historical conditions, on the basis of the comprehensive construction of the “moderately prosperous society” and the reinforcement of the institutionalism, the legality and the socialist rule of law, reflect at least a critical path for the final conversion of China into a modern, prosperous, democratic, civilized and harmonious socialist country, by the middle of this century.

The important role of social sciences in Chinese socialist construction

The very evolution of the process of socialist construction in China under the leadership of the CPC, particularly during the reformist period, has been accompanied by a strong push for the development of Marxism and Social Sciences in general, as a basic premise for the construction of an own model of socialism adjusted to the peculiarities and national conditions.

The capacity for theoretical elaboration developed by the CPC and the role given to the social sciences has been one of the distinctive features of the Chinese process. Each political generation has made its own contribution to what has been called the “theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics”, which has made possible to synthesize the main experiences of each stage of the process, with special emphasis on new concepts and theories arisen in the heat of the reforms, without excluding the preceding doctrines, integrating them into a single body with the strategic objective of adapting the theoretical thinking of the CPC to the new realities and adequately handling the contradictions and problems that arise at every period, while preserving the continuity and the socialist orientation of the process.

It is particularly important to know, in this regard, the assessment made by Li Cheng, director of the John L. Thornton Center for Chinese Studies of the Brookings Institution, on the “four integralities” that characterize the process of socialist construction in its current stage, those that arise right in the time when China pays more attention to improving governance after consummating the “economic miracle” and social justice becomes an important goal and the “rule of law” becomes relevant. For Li, the “moderately prosperous society is a shared dream for the great majority, while the deepening of economic reform is the aspiration of Chinese businessmen, mainly of private businessmen”.

Under Xi Jinping, the traditional Marxist definition of the fundamental contradiction of the socialist system regarding the satisfaction of the growing needs of the population was reformulated as the contradiction between the growing demand for a better life of the people and the unbalanced and insufficient development (Jinping, 2017). In this sense, the current orientation of development and the emphasis in favor of common prosperity seem aimed at resolving this fundamental contradiction. By emphasizing “common prosperity”, a recent comment published in an important Chinese digital media, China.org, called not to confuse this term with that of egalitarianism. It pointed out that in China’s conditions it implies an “abundance shared by all”, both in material and cultural terms, but does not mean egalitarianism.[17] 

When establishing the theory of Deng Xiaoping as a theoretical guide at the XV Congress of the CPC in 1997, in conjunction with the Marxism-Leninism and the thought of Mao Zedong, it was presented as a new development of Marxism in the conditions of China on the basis of four basic arguments: first, because it embodied the principles of “emancipating the thought” and “seeking truth in facts”; second, because it reflected the theory and practice of scientific socialism and exposed its essence; third, because it managed to explain correctly and from a Marxist perspective the international situation as a whole, that is, the success or failure of other socialist countries, the gains or losses of the poorest countries in the search for ways to develop themselves, the development trends, as well as the contradictions between developed countries; and fourth, for constituting a new guiding scientific theory for the construction of Chinese socialism in new historical conditions, that is, with peace and development as prevailing global trends, the process of reforms and opening in full swing, and the synthesis of historical experiences of socialism in China and in other countries of the world.

In this sense, Chinese theorists have not only tried to settle in the Marxist dialectic, and especially in the Leninist dialectic, but they have also sought to extend it axiologically to the field of politics, on the basis of assembling thought and practical action into new and highly innovative ideas, proposals and behaviour. As the reforms deepened and expanded to new areas, the priority was given to the creation and improvement of the political, economic, social, mass, state and legal institutions of society, with the aim of expanding the active participation of all citizens in political life and incorporate, in turn, new mechanisms for debate, political consultation and consensus-building, which would end up granting greater rigor and legitimacy to the decision-making process, reducing its opacity and improving the control of the CPC over the functioning of society as a whole.

The most significant readjustments focus fundamentally on the economic, institutional, normative and functional aspects, since at the ideological level, the transformations implemented have been aimed at reinforcing the political-ideological limits of the system, in particular, the preservation of the leading position of the CPC as the framework for the realization of political and economic changes, endorsed by the Constitution and other laws of the country, making it an immovable premise. In this process, however, it has not been spared in adapting Western institutions and concepts to the peculiar Chinese historical and cultural reality.

Starting from this political philosophy, both the political leadership and theoreticians and scholars have tried to grasp reality on the basis of general theoretical principles referring to the human being and the social dynamics established by social classes and political institutions, advocating a specific way of explaining the development of society and politics, especially from what is desirable or what should be, through the development of their own conceptualizations and categories, adjusted to their historical and national peculiarities, which explains that many of the policies implemented over time, particularly during the reformist period, have not been explicitly stated from the beginning, but have been reached as a result of the readjustments introduced, with a deep sense of pragmatism, experimentation and calculated risk.[18]

Concepts such as opening-up and modernization suggest by themselves the self-perception they had of themselves. In the Chinese case, for example, the Rule of Law (Fa zhi) has been focused on the search for transparency, political control and legislative regulation of the government and the public administration in general and only over the years, it began to emphasize its socialist character and its differences from the traditional capitalist referent

From the very beginning of the reform, Chinese scholars and researchers have had a decisive participation in this process of designing the new policies, their proposals for adjustments, as well as their theoretical postulates, from more than a hundred important academic research centers, universities or specialized press media, which cover more than 260 disciplines and sub-disciplines, in which multidisciplinary, transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches prevail today. These institutions have been becoming true think tanks associated with the decision-making of the CPC and the Government. Some have even served or serve as advisers and members of governmental or Party work groups and commissions, contributing their experiences, appreciations and conceptualizations to the processes of designing and implementing new policies. In this sense, their role have been decisive in achieving a national consensus regarding the need for reforms and changes, and mainly, to accommodate the different interests that have arisen in the country due to the reforms.

An important step in the previously described efforts was the decision to unify, on March 2018, the CPC Central School and the Academy of Governance, in the context of the institutional reform of the CPC and the State and as a result of the XIX Congress of the CPC held in 2017. Its objective is none other than to materialize the consolidation of the leadership of the CPC, defined in the statutes of the CPC and in the preamble of the Constitution since 2018, as an essential feature that defines socialism with Chinese characteristics[19]

However, even though what has been achieved so far represents an important awareness of the need to continue promoting the independent development of the Social Sciences as an essential theoretical support to continue reorienting the reform towards new directions, at the same time it also opens a moment of pause regarding the scope and content of the academic debate in which, in addition to the most consistent Marxist exponents, the supporters of neoliberalism, social democracy, and the reduction of the role of the State have also made their way, advocating to redirect the reformist effort towards the dismantling of socialism and its most consistent institutions.

Within the academic debate itself, the clashes between both currents of opinion constitute also an immediate reflection of the social and even ideological contradictions that underlie within current Chinese society and its own political superstructure.

Likewise, the significant interest in avoiding the obvious impact that the socio-economic transformations have had and still have on the improvement and updating of the current political system has led some authors not to recognize the country’s advances as a result of the reforms because these changes are gradual and difficult to be tracked down, and not spectacular and abrupt transformations or aimed at altering the foundations of the political system, but at strengthening the system and not replacing it.

CONCLUSIONS:

At this point, it is possible to affirm that the factors State, Economy and Society in the case study that concerns us are in differentiated states within the socialist transition, and they are constituted by: a State governed by a Communist Party, a Society with a socialist character and an Economy emerged, defined and conceptualized in a concept which arose from Chinese political and economic theory.

By accepting as a valid fact that the model that a socialist country decides to adopt at a specific historical moment is not immovable in time and that it can be subject to revisions and undergo the changes that circumstances impose and advise within the limits of the current political system, and that revisions-reforms have become the “driving force” for the development of Socialism with Chinese characteristics , any analysis from an economic or political perspective should also take into account the evaluation of the effectiveness of the implemented model to satisfy the set objectives and not so much, nor only, its criticism from pre-established “molds” on the nature of socialism or in its comparison with capitalist models that do not constitute neither the purpose nor the objective of them.

The criteria provided in this analysis make possible to establish that the current model in China, including the corrections introduced at each stage, remains on the path to socialism. It is important to note how, in the face of the political narrative produced and reproduced by Western theoretical development, another own Chinese narrative has been contrasted, based on the concepts that are analyzed in the present paper and that reflect the important role of the social sciences and the theoretical and academic debate as an important regularity of the Chinese socialist process.

Based on the above-mentioned, it is possible to affirm that this theoretical work has been of an axiological type, it has not sought Western-style theoretical elaborations, that is, with the purported purpose of imposing its universality, but rather of reflecting its own specificity. This allows to state that the reforms in China have been inspired by an axiology rather than by a theory, in which a philosophical and political conception expressed in various forms and modes has prevailed, but whose main objective has been to elaborate its own concepts, definitions and ways of doing on the essence of politics to project their actions as a political subject.

The emphasis made in recent years on the need to transform the development model, which has become the basic premise of the last two Five-year Plans (XIII and XIV Plans), confirms the important role that the construction of consensus continues to play within the entire society, as well as the country in general.[20] In political terms, the emergence of a certain balance in the implementation of the reforms has become, therefore, a kind of essential thermometer to measure which way the results are leaning.

The change of political orientation of the reforms with a substantial social character, assumed as a central strategy from the mandate of Xi Jinping although its genesis took place in the preceding years under the Fourth Generation of leaders headed by Hu Jintao -who contributed keys approaches and concepts such as the “scientific outlook on development” and the “construction of a harmonious society”-, supposed a more favorable scenario for the forces in favor of socialism in China, even though it ratifies at the same time the complexity and the new challenges that lie ahead. Hence the importance of closely following up its evolution.

The adjustment process has taken time and has had to overcome many difficulties. The leading role gained by the supporters of the current leadership coexists in turn with the concerns of those ones who fear that the new measures aimed at stopping corruption, redistributing wealth and achieving a more harmonious and balanced development, end up by slowing down, beyond certain limits, the economic growth which would put an end to the reformist impetus. The period that remains until the celebration of the next CPC Congress in the second half of this year is crucial to define the leadership’s current capacity to consolidate this line and guarantee its validity.

Contemporary studies on China immerse us in deep debates about the principles that define the legitimacy of Chinese socialism or compel us to try to misread the will of the Chinese leadership, as well as to try to predict, in a more detailed way, the future of the CPC and the socialism with Chinese characteristics. However, we consider, as important as that, the possibility of contributing to a critical review of concepts and theories associated with core issues of Chinese socialist construction and its possible universal nature for the analysis and its contrast with heterodox or controversial realities linked to the political South.

The analysis made here provides criteria and data that make possible to establish that the model of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, including the corrections introduced at each stage, remains on the road to socialism and that, beyond counterproposals, the process of adaptation of Marxism to the national conditions of China has not only given rise to new concepts, content, methods and measurement criteria, but also to a new Chinese political narrative, which domestic sources call “sinicization” of Marxism or Marxism with Chinese characteristics.

From the methodological and operational point of view, many of the analyzed concepts and categories, which have their own epistemological basis, need to be contextualized and assessed taking into account the specificities of the Chinese case, but also, need to consider their relevance beyond China. Such is a pending task for contemporary Marxism.

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[1]In late 2012, in an attempt to challenge Western theory, Study Times magazine, associated with the Central School of the Chinese Communist Party, published an article claiming that both “the miracle of China, the fall of China, and the most neutral model of China, reflect the changes in the appreciation that the West has of China”. The term “Chinese model” as such is attributed to the North American economist Joshua Cooper Reno, who in a study published in May 2004 by the Center for Foreign Policy Studies of the United Kingdom, entitled “The Beijing Consensus”, assured that China had found, independently and on their own account and practice, a development model appropriate to their own reality, which unleashed a strong controversy around the “confrontation of models”. More on the subject can be found in: Fanjul, E., 2011, The “Beijing Consensus”: Universality and Particularity of the Chinese Model, The New Geography of Internationalization, 47(859), March-April 2011.

[2]The application of the concept of economic model to socialist economies took off in countries such as Poland and others in Eastern Europe from the debates on the functioning of the socialist economy in the decade 1950-1960 which, together with the various reforming attempts at that time, unleashed bitter controversy while its promoters were execrated and accused of trying to restore capitalism in the then popular democracies of Eastern Europe. Referring to their results, Julio A. Díaz Vázquez states that neither the “classical socialist model” developed in the USSR, nor the variants implemented in Central and Eastern Europe, including the Yugoslav experiences of self-management, turned out to be effective in self-correcting from within, hence its collapse and disappearance (Vázquez, 2002).

[3]The abovementioned elements explain the own and highly pragmatic course of Chinese socialism and the active incorporation into its theoretical-practical work of concepts and concrete experiences developed in both socialist and capitalist countries, including the developed countries and the so-called Asian Tigers.

[4] In the theory, the difference between Marx and Lenin on the conception of the socialist revolution regarding the leading class, Marx only considered a revolution led by workers, while on the other hand, Lenin approached the subject from the Peasants-Workers Alliance, therefore, with no doubts, when Mao formulates the theory it leans more toward the Lenin’s principle, despite de differences that later arose with Stalin and his successors.

[5]In other words, a specific phase that a country as China necessarily had to go through, where the construction of socialism was carried out in conditions of a relatively backward level of its productive forces and an underdeveloped mercantile economy. This formulation, as is known, differs from the so-called “transit period”, when the Socialist economic base has not yet been established, and from the stage that begins once Socialist modernization has been achieved.

[6]According to Chinese sources, this has two basic meanings: first, that China is already a socialist society that must persist and in no way depart from socialism; second, that the country is in an underdeveloped stage, where it must concentrate all its efforts on achieving a consistent development of its productive forces based on industrialization, the promotion of mercantile relations, the socialization and modernization of its economy. In short, a stage that will last as long as the country needs to achieve the goals of its program for socialist modernization.

[7]Available at: http://ve.chineseeembassy.org/esp/sgxx/202111/tx20211118.10449676.html

[8]Summary of Li Shenming’s presentation at the XII World Socialism Forum, held online on December 22, 2021. In his speech, Li defended the validity of Marxism in China and globally as a guide not only in the area of ideology but also in the economic sphere. He insisted on the certainty of the process of “sinicization” of Marxism based on combining the universal truths of Marxism with the concrete reality of China, so that it is not a question of a “Chinese Marxism” that is different or divorced from real Marxism.

[9]In his book “Deng Xiaoping and the transformation of China”, Ezra Vogel underlines that during his stay in the USSR for a little over a year, Deng became closely acquainted with the efforts being carried out in the first socialist country to achieve modernization, especially the NEP implemented by Lenin and “the idea of developing a market economy under the leadership of the Communist Party”, an experience that he tried to apply first between 1949 and 1952, when he was in charge of the Regional Committee of the CPC in Southeastern China and then, from 1978, as part of “reform and opening to the outside” process.

[10] See also, by Romer Cornejo (1987), “On the limits of political reform in China”, published in the Revista Estudios de Asia y África, XXII (3), May 13, 1987.

[11] It refers to the article “Century Achievements and Historical Experience of the CPC”, published in the journal Studies on Marxism, a result of an interview with Robert Lawrence Kuhn, a well-known American sinologist, author of the biography of Jiang Zemin entitled “The Man who changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin”, published in 2005, the first of a living Chinese leader published inside China. See “Century Achievements and Historical Experience of the CPC” in Studies on Marxism , Academy of Marxism, attached to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 2021/11 (010-55604027) , pp.5-13 (Available in Chinese, translated by the Author)

[12]This has been important when demonstrating that the CPC has spared no efforts or options to legitimize its role, although without imposing the conduct to be followed or rule over the State structure, which would reduce its support base and could even place it on the sidelines of the process itself.

[13] It was considered, at the time, as the most radical measure of political reform. According to data obtained in exchanges with Chinese partisan officials, 40% of private business owners and 30% of the so-called new rich or millionaires are members of the CPC. However, even though this sector, which already exceeds half a million, with fortunes in excess of a million dollars, is connected in one way or another with the State and its institutions, it neither exercises control over it nor does it have real access to political decision-making process.

[14] At most central and local departments, it is in operation some public online systems at multiple levels to request general comments and specific suggestions from the population on their work, and public officials are also required to pay attention to them.

[15] In the case, its adherence to the path toward the intensive industrialization brought as results high levels of pollution.

[16] The source referred here is the World Bank, available at https://datos.bancomundial.org/indicator/SI.POV.GINI?locations=CN

[17] According to Han Wenxiu, an official of the Central Commission for Financial and Economic Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, quoted in the China.org article, it is an arduous, complicated and long-term task, which should be promoted gradually and progressively. That is, “build a bigger cake so it can be shared more fairly.”

[18] Unlike what happened in the then USSR and Eastern Europe, the CPC has been the main inspirer and executor of the program of reforms and changes, opportunely setting the political frameworks that economic transformations must not exceed. It has managed to maintain and consolidate its status as manager and leader of the adopted strategy while setting as a goal the construction of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.

[19] The unification of both institutions was aimed at forming well-trained cadres from the theoretical-conceptual and political-ideological point of view, but also in matters of governance, management and administration, capable of assuming the increasingly complex and diverse Party tasks, according to the Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era. Likewise, it materialized the CPC’s interest in consolidating its presence at all levels, based on the principle that nothing is alien to the CPC, as well as updating and raising the scientific level within the policy for promotion and training of cadres for the leadership.

[20] In the Chinese case, the consensus should not be confused with the definitive victory of a certain tendency over another, but rather with a rearrangement of them in accordance to a certain situation.

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