Full Episode: 19th CPC National Congress: The New Principal Contradiction
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the CPC, was a milestone in both Party politics and the development of the country. Two highlights were the enshrinement into the Party Constitution of “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”, and the specification of China’s two centenary goals - a moderately prosperous society by 2020 (2021 being the 100th anniversary of the CPC), and a great, modern, socialist country by 2050 (2049 being the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China). In a subtle but significant refinement, the path to mid-century is now set in two stages. In the first stage, from 2020 to 2035, the CPC states it will build on the foundation of the moderately prosperous society so that, after “15 years of hard work”, the country will basically realize “socialist modernization”. In the second stage, from 2035 to 2050, the CPC states it will “work hard for a further 15 years” and “develop China into a country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful.” The CPC’s analysis of how to achieve this grand goal centers around what is deemed a “New Principal ‘Contradiction’ in Chinese society”. The concept of ‘Contradiction’ is important and we need to understand why. “Contradiction” is a Marxist term expressing a kind of political analysis – “dialectical materialism” - which identifies “dynamic opposing forces” in society, and seeks to resolve tensions by applying ‘correct’ political theories. Now, even as China is about to achieve its first centenary goal of becoming a ‘moderately prosperous society’ by 2020, successfully fulfilling material needs through economic growth, there is growing dissatisfaction with social conditions. New goals are needed. So, what is this New Principal Contradiction for China’s New Era that will set China’s new goals and drive government policy?
China Central Television Tower
China Central Television Tower
China’s New Primary Contradiction is a turning point from high-speed, growth-prioritized development to high-quality, satisfaction-targeted development. Here’s the background. In Deng Xiaoping’s Era, the Principal Contradiction was "the ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people versus backward social production”. It was a welcome change from the prior contradiction during Mao Zedong’s Era of "proletariat versus bourgeoisie", which catalyzed severe, widespread and prolonged chaos during the political mass movements, especially the ruinous Cultural Revolution. Now, in Xi Jinping’s “New Era”, the Principal Contradiction is “between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life." As Xi said, "The needs to be met for the people to live a better life are increasingly broad. Not only have their material and cultural needs grown; their demands for democracy, rule of law, fairness and justice, security, and a better environment are increasing.” This “New-Era Principal Contradiction” replaces quantitative GDP growth with qualitative, quality-of-life improvement, and it is what will, from now on, drive policy. For example, it is not that people cannot afford medical care, it’s that they must wait for hours at over-crowded hospitals - and, even then, they get only 5 minutes with a doctor. It’s not that people do not have good homes; it’s that they cannot breathe clean air. Improving quality of life is no longer simply a matter of rapid growth. After more than three decades of rapid growth. China's economy is transitioning to slower but higher-quality growth. Success in achieving China’s new goals will be measured more by the satisfaction of the people than by the growth rates of the economy. Will ‘satisfaction’ be harder to judge? Chinese people are not shy. They take us…. Closer To China.