Understanding China III: Responsibility
December 12 2008 by Robert Lawrence Kuhn
The worldwide financial crisis, the most far-reaching economic dislocation since the Great Depression, has thrust
There was rich historical irony when in late 2008, the leaders of 43 Asian and European nations, virtually all of them capitalist, came to Beijing, the capital of China, a socialist nation, to address the global financial crisis. What’s more, they met in the Great Hall of the People, Mao Zedong’s paean to the Communist Revolution, and listened to
In fact, the irony was less than met the eye.
Chinese President Hu Jintao was both cautious and confident: “The fundamentals of the Chinese economy have not changed. However, the global financial crisis has noticeably increased the uncertainties and factors for instability in
Publicly, Chinese leaders have indeed pledged cooperation, but privately they caution that they have serious domestic problems of their own, such as severe social imbalances between urban and rural areas. In this third of a four-part series on understanding
Responding to the tragic earthquake that hit
Strategies for Growth
In his report to the most recent National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in October 2007, Hu Jintao referenced “responsibility” in the context of energy conservation, reduced emissions, government systems, economics, Party building and reducing corruption. As for
- Enhance capacity for independent innovation and make
an innovative country. China
- Accelerate economic transformation through science and technology; upgrade industrial structure and boost domestic demand.
- Enhance the countryside and balance urban and rural development.
- Improve energy, resources, ecological and environmental conservation, and enhance
‘s capacity for sustainable development. China
- Promote balanced development among regions and improve the pattern of land development.
- Improve the modern market system- institute rule of law equally for public and non-public sectors.
- Deepen fiscal, taxation and financial restructuring and improve macroeconomic regulation.
- Continue opening
to foreign firms and encourage Chinese firms to go global. China
When I met Xi Jinping in 2006, he was Party secretary (the top leader) of
What Xi said, and how he thinks, has become especially relevant because he is now
Xi Jinping enumerated the most important guiding principles to be understood, internalized and followed in the “theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping’s iconic phrase. Xi said:
- Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth, echoing Deng’s affirmation that catalyzed the start of reform. It calls for seeking truth from facts and proceeding from reality in work.
- The Three Represents, coined by former President Jiang Zemin- advanced productive forces, advanced culture and the people’s interests.
- Development is of overriding importance. “As a nation of 1.3 billion people, our first priority is economic development, and we must stick to it unswervingly,” Xi said. However, Xi continued, “our required emphasis on economic growth must not overshadow the importance of all-round development. We must underline the guiding role of the Scientific Perspective on Development.” What is the Scientific Perspective on Development, President Hu Jintao’s overarching theory of governance? In this context, Xi explained, it means to put people first, do work in accord with the laws of economic development, to pursue growth based on national conditions and to coexist with nature. To achieve this requires balancing economic, social, political and environmental objectives.
- The people-oriented philosophy. “People, not material, are what we focus on,” Xi stressed.
- The driving force of
‘s development is science and technology. “In order to derive competitiveness from science and technology,” Xi said, “we must attach great importance to innovation, which must relate, of course, to core competencies.” China
- The construction of New Socialist Countryside. For
, the development of the countryside will lead to a wealthier society. A recent policy change now enables farmers to sell, transfer or lease their land, a major reform that will stimulate domestic demand and encourage development of larger agricultural enterprises. China
Central guidelines must be implemented in terms of local realities, Xi said, adding that “before we introduce new policies for large scale utilization, we always test them thoroughly at the grassroots level, gain experiences and subject them to theoretical analysis.”
“But we are not all day long discussing these [theoretical] matters without making any decisions,” Xi said. “The responsibility of leadership is to be decisive and action oriented, to make good things happen.”
Robert Lawrence Kuhn, an international investment banker and public intellectual, is senior advisor to Citigroup and author of the forthcoming “The Inside Story of 30 Years of Reform: How China’s Leaders Think and What It Means for the Future. His public television series, Closer to Truth, presents the meaning and implications of frontier science- www.closertotruth.com.