These three concepts now define normative framework of the overarching guidance of the Chinese Communist Party through which society is organized and the political organs of the state operate. The official English description of Three Represents, circulated under the auspices of the State Council Information Office provides: "Three Represents" refers to what the Communist Party of China currently stands for. . . . It represents the development trends of advanced productive forces. It represents the orientations of an advanced culture. It represents the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people of China. It was put forward by Jiang Zemin, former Chinese president, in 2000." What Is "Three Represents" CPC Theory? China Through a Lens (nd).
The resolution on Harmonious Society, “Resolution on Major Issues Regarding the Building of a Harmonious Socialist Society, . . . .was adopted at the conclusion of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on October 11.” China Publishes ‘Harmonious Society’ Resolution, Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2006
“The resolution highlights the importance, guidelines, goals and principles of building a socialist harmonious society; coordinated development; social equity and justice; cultural harmony and the ideological and ethical foundations of social harmony; and the need to improve public administration to build a vigorous and orderly society. It says social harmony is the intrinsic element of socialism with Chinese characteristics and an important guarantee of the country's prosperity, the nation's rejuvenation and the people's happiness. The resolution stresses the harmonious socialist society is to be built and shared by all Chinese along the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics and under the leadership of the CPC.” The resolution highlights the importance, guidelines, goals and principles of building a socialist harmonious society; coordinated development; social equity and justice; cultural harmony and the ideological and ethical foundations of social harmony; and the need to improve public administration to build a vigorous and orderly society.” Id.
It builds on Three Represents, especially in its inclusive elements: “The resolution stresses the harmonious socialist society is to be built and shared by all Chinese along the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics and under the leadership of the CPC.” No longer privileging workers and peasants, Harmonious Society embraces all elements of society—the price is political loyalty.
Closely tied to Harmonious Society concept is the principle of Scientific Development. It was unveiled in the West by Hu Jintao in a speech in the United States in 2006, to “realize [the] goals [of Harmonious Society], China has adopted a new concept of development in line with its national conditions and the requirement of the times," Hu told Yale University students in New Haven, Connecticut.” China Embraces New Scientific Development Concept: Hu, People’s Daily Online, April 22, 2006. Scientific development suggested methodology. “China will ‘pursue a scientific outlook on development that makes economic and social development people-oriented, comprehensive, balanced and sustainable,’ Hu said. ‘We will work to strike a proper balance between urban and rural development, development among regions, economic and social development, development of man and nature, and domestic development and opening wider to the outside world,’ said Hu.” Id.
Jason has nicely suggested what appears to be a majority consensus view. This consensus is grounded in a sociological view of politics in China, one grounded in the personal politics of Party leadership within the cultural context of Chinese society and the normative rhetorical framework of Chinese Marxist Leninism: the CCP Party line has shifted to meet the needs of the current generation of leadership, and thus, to some extent is personal to them. Within this analytical structure, the symbolic representation of the four generations of Chinese leadership becomes critical to the analysis of the evolving “Party Line”. Mao, for example, was the peasant revolutionary who came to hate his roots, Deng was humble and Jiang was a Shanghai elitist, Hu and Wen, the 4th generation leaders, have different perspectives. They were in quite insular posts. Hu spent 14-years in extremely poor Gansu Province (China’s poorest), 3 in Guizhou and 4 in Tibet. Wen spent 14 years in Gansu himself. While the demands of Hu’s office don’t let him go to the field so much, Wen was at every accident and disaster scene in China within hours during my time there (blizzards, Earthquakes and the like).
When Jiang passed the reigns over to Hu, he did not do so completely. He maintained the military portfolio until 2004, and members of his Shanghai Clique remain a key constituency within the CCP to this day. Hu, quite astutely, decided not to challenge this powerful group head-on. Rather, he broadcast new initiatives which no one could really disagree with, then co-opted as many of the Shanghai’ers into promoting them as he could. Notably, he promoted his “Harmonious Society” concept as being a continuation of the Three Represents. He shifts focus from the first prong – representing the advanced productive forces of society (and by doing so turning the CCP, like so many other Asian ruling parties, into an elitist organization) – to the third – representing the interests of the majority of the people. This was done because Hu better sensed the widening Gini gap across China and growing resentment owing to it. Hu and Wen have turned attention and rhetoric away from Jiang’s coastal constituency to the interior hinterland where they spent so much time. While presumptively building upon Jiang, Hu’s focus on a “socialist harmonious society” is a clear difference from Jiang’s ideal “well-off society.”
Hu first explained his concept at the Central Party School in 2005, calling it, “The socialist harmonious society we want to build should be a society featuring democracy, the rule of law, fairness, justice, sincerity, trustworthiness, amity, full vitality, stability, orderliness and harmony between mankind and nature.” Basically, it’s not well defined at all. Rather, it was designed by Hu and the Central Party School to be an umbrella concept, more like a political platform than any particular policy or set of policies. Shanbaugh notes that it is nonetheless a positive vision, rooted in both socialist and traditional Confucian norms. The 11th Five-Year Program, submitted in 2005 and ratified in 2006, included things like:
- Doubling the 2000 GDP by 2010
- Improving energy efficiency by 20%
- Developing a number of companies into internationally competitive brands
- Achieving a basic equilibrium in balance of international payments
- Universalizing 9 years of public education and developing a sound social security system
- Keeping overall prices stable while increasing the quality of life for all
- Increasing production safety…etc.
In short, there is a shift away from the “GROWTH, GROWTH, GROWTH” of the Jiang era to a more humanist platform.
The central element of the Harmonious Society is the Scientific Development concept which has two elements: “taking people as the basis,” and “comprehensive development.” A key part of this is the personnel system, meant to weed out corruption and improve the CCP’s governing capacity. There was a good, old fashioned “rectification” campaign in three phases over 2005 which weeded out about 45,000 party members. More anti-corruption mechanisms are in place. Also, there has been a revitalization of the party apparatus at the local level.
When put together, the movement from Three Represents to Harmonious Society and Scientific Development marked the outer manifestation of the transfer of power from the Jiang Shanghai faction of the Party, with its intellectual and elitist base, to the Hu faction. The anti Corruption campaigns served to weed out weak elements in the Party, to strengthen the institutional cohesion of the Party apparatus and its effective connection with the administrative branches of the government, and to weaken the hold of the remaining Jiang loyalists at the local and regional levels. It also served, perhaps to discipline Party cadres within the large economic sector controlled by the State and now incorporated into the Party through the mechanism of the Three Represents.
Very interesting as political sociology. But I would add an institutionalist and legal perspective. I would reject the power-based assumptions of disjunction between Three Represents and Harmonious Society, but embrace the idea scientific development is the key concept, the glue that joins Jiang’s great opening of the Party and its position above the state apparatus, and Hu’s great opening of the objectives of this Party dominance in terms of its obligations to produce social good. Scientific development provides a dynamic basis for change while appearing to stay true to tradition--harmonious society, and all within the political framework of three represents.
So for me it works more like this: The three concepts are building blocks in the institutionalization of a self disciplining rule of law system with political citizenship vested through Party membership. See Larry Catá Backer, The Party as Polity, the Communist Party, and the Chinese Constitutional State: A Theory of State-Party Constitutionalism, Journal of Chinese and Comparative Law, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2009; Penn State Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-2009.
In that construction, the three concepts rest against each other for their effectiveness in defining the parameters of a collective political organization of political power above the state in the following way.
1. Three represents--defining the position of the party and the social, economic and political order. Institutionalizing and bureaucratizing effect is key to the concept. Three Represents is an organizer of political space within the Party apparatus, rather than in an individual or in the apparatus of state government (for example through the National People’s Congress system). But within this space was added a key theoretical element of openness (though clearly limited). Political power rests ultimately in the Party, and Party membership is now more open to all elements of society, including merchants. For a more detailed discussion, see Larry Catá Backer, The Rule of Law, the Chinese Communist Party, and Ideological Campaigns: Sange Daibiao (the 'Three Represents'), Socialist Rule of Law, and Modern Chinese Constitutionalism. Journal of Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2006.
2. Harmonious society--defining the key elements of the obligations of state and party to society. If Three Represents established the framework, then harmonious society established the context of the obligations of the Party and state apparatus to the people and the general framework of the social order. Indeed, in the explanation of the Resolution on Harmonious Society, the Party “stresses that the CPC's role as the core leadership is critical for building a harmonious socialist society. The principle that the Party is organized for the people and exercises power on behalf of the people must be adhered to.” China Publishes ‘Harmonious Society’ Resolution, Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2006. Thus, it is clear that Harmonious Society was meant to sit atop Three Represents, at least as a matter of theory. The Party represents the social body of the State and its people, Harmonious Society is the broad statement of the obligations of leadership of that Party. Those goals could also be quite specific by Chinese standards:
Goals for 2020 include "further improvement of the socialist democratic and legal system; implementation of the fundamental principle of administering the country according to law; guaranteeing respect for people's rights and interests; narrowing the gap between urban and rural development and between different regions; favoring the emergence of a reasonable and orderly income distribution pattern; increase of household wealth and enabling people to lead more affluent lives". Further 2020 goals include "a relatively high employment rate and the establishment of a social security system covering both urban and rural residents; further improvements to the basic public service system and significant improvements to government administrative and service levels; enhanced ideological and moral qualities, scientific and cultural qualities and health status of the whole nation; further progress in fostering a sound moral atmosphere and harmonious interpersonal relationships; enhanced creativity of society as a whole and the development of an innovation-based nation," it said. Id.3. Scientific development--the institutionalization of a certain flexibility. Scientific Development might be understood as effectively providing a legitimate basis for organic growth of Chinese political theory, and its institutionalization, from Mao to Hu through Deng Xiao Ping and Jiang. It is also the basis on which the mechanics of institutionalization of the structure of political organization (three represents) and social objectives (harmonious society) may be elaborated--with enough cushion to permit mistakes, and backtracking, without appearing to effect the legitimacy of the regime itself. This is a “breathing space” doctrine—it eliminates the direct connection between specific policies and actions of the Party or the state apparatus, and the legitimacy of either. Policy can go wrong, or be discarded when no longer effective, and these changes no longer go to the legitimacy of the regime. This separation of policy (action) from institutional legitimacy is critical for the survival of the organization of the Chinese political system. Indeed, the anti corruption campaign in its current form would be impossible without scientific development. In the absence of this structure corruption itself would be evidence of the fundamental illegitimacy of the system. Reduced to the traditional “rectification campaigns,” such activity would be more likely understood as personal and political, rather than normative and bureaucratic. Instead, now institutionalized, corruption can be reconstituted as the acts of bad people rather than a bad system. And indeed, the system itself now serves as the basis for disciplining conduct on the basis of loyalty to its norms, rather than to individuals. The effect appears ot be consistent with the old fashioned rectification campaigns, but the basis for the action is substantially distinct, at least at the level of theory.
QED--the Chinese arrive at an institutionally cohesive self disciplining system, ironically enough like those of mature Western democracies in effect (though still substantially more limited in the distribution of political as opposed to social citizenship rights), at least in its theoretical construction, but with a very different (and incompatible) framework!