This post provides a more detailed summary of the genesis and current framework for the Go West Policy, prepared by one of my research assistants. It serves as a template for the others and is worth considering for its efforts to make coherent economic, political and social policy toward the long term goal of building a moderately wealth society and ultimately a communist one.
Socialist modernization aims to produce a moderately well off and harmonious society. It is focused on scientifically developing a legal and normative system that is compatible with global norms but which have distinctive Chinese characteristics. “Modernization is a comprehensive and systematic process that includes all aspects of economic and social development.” (Liu Yunshan, Working Out a Path of A Socialist Modernization with Chinese Characteristics, Quishi Journal (English edition) Vol. 3(2) April 1, 2011). Harmonious society suggests an objective of modernization. “Chinese President Hu Jintao has instructed the country's leading officials and Party cadres to place "building a harmonious society" at the top of their agenda. . . . What are the main characteristics of a harmonious society? It will put people first and make all social activities beneficial to people's subsistence, enjoyment and development. In a harmonious society, the political environment is stable, the economy is prosperous, people live in peace and work in comfort and social welfare improves.” (Harmonious Society, The 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, September 29, 2007).
Harmonious society has become an important element of socialist modernization, one that is operationalized "scientifically" by developing political theory to fit within the context of Chinese realities. “The idea behind the scientific development concept—but not the term itself—was endorsed by the Third Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee, which convened in Beijing on October 11–14, 2003. The plenum decision did say that it was necessary to “take people as the main thing [yiren weiben], establish a concept of comprehensive, coordinated, sustainable development, and promote comprehensive economic, social, and human development.” This sentence has since been invoked by Chinese media as the locus classicus of the idea of scientific development.” (Joseph Fewsmith, Promoting the Scientific Development Concept, China Leadership Monitor, No. 11 (Summer 2004), pp. 1-2). Thus, Hu Jingtao stateds that “We have strived to ensure and improve the people's wellbeing, promoted social fairness and justice, worked to build a harmonious world, and strengthened the Party's governance capacity and advanced nature. We have thus upheld and developed socialism with Chinese characteristics from a new historical starting point.” (Hu Jingtao, Report to the 18th National COngerss of the Communist Party of China, Nov. 8, 2012, at II).
What is socialism and what is Marxism? We were not quite clear about this in the past. Marxism attaches utmost importance to developing the productive forces. We have said that socialism is the primary stage of communism and that at the advanced stage the principle of from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs will be applied. This calls for highly developed productive forces and an overwhelming abundance of material wealth. Therefore, the fundamental task for the socialist stage is to develop the productive forces. The superiority of the socialist system is demonstrated, in the final analysis, by faster and greater development of those forces than under the capitalist system. As they develop, the people's material and cultural life will constantly improve. One of our shortcomings after the founding of the People's Republic was that we didn't pay enough attention to developing the productive forces. Socialism means eliminating poverty. Pauperism is not socialism, still less communism. (Deng Xiaoping, Build Socialism With Chinese Characteristics (June 30, 1984).).
The implications are clear. The political objective of the CCP is to build ultimately a communist society. That project requires the development of socialism. But socialism is understood not in its static and European sense, but as a dynamic process characterized by economic development that is meant to distribute the fruits of rising prosperity to all sectors of the Chinese population. Indeed, socialism is understood as the process through which so much wealth is produced and available that the Communist ideal is then achievable (in the future). Given this foundation, it follows that the primary objective of the CCP and thus of state policy, is economic prosperity and development. The principal objective, then, of all of the social, institutions, public and private, must be bent toward the great project of creating prosperity. Everything else assumes a secondary role. Unless an objective or policy can be tied to this long-term project of socialism—the elimination of poverty for everyone—it does not support socialist modernization. It follows that such objectives would be of lesser interests to officials in enterprises, especially officials in state owned enterprises.
These foundational ideological premises find modern expression in the notion of China's dream. (Backer, Larry Catá and Wang, Keren, 'What is China's Dream?' Hu Angang Imagines China in 2020 as the First Internationally Embedded Superpower (February 23, 2013). Consortium for Peace & Ethics Working Paper No. 2013-2). Hu’s Angang's most recent book, China in 2020: A New Type of Superpower (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2011) nicely frames the new expression of socialist modernization in the near term.
First, Hu argues that China should establish a people-centered scientific development approach. Instead of solely focusing on economic growth, this new approach would seek a more balanced development framework that emphasizes the general well-being of the people and the protection of basic human rights—which include the right to democratic elections, the right to freedom, the right to employment, the right to education, and the right to social security. Hu notes that all these rights are enumerated in China’s constitution (Hu, China in 2020, supra, 141).
Second, Hu emphasizes the need to continue to build a modern socialist society with Chinese characteristics (Ibid., 141-142). He defines a modern socialist society with Chinese characteristics as having the following key attributes. One, the elements of modernity will steadily increase; major progress will be made in modernization, giving priority to education, science and technology, and information development. Hu explains that China will soon reach mid-level in terms of modernization. Two, the factors of socialism will steadily intensify, where major progress will be made in building a socialist society commensurate with the midlevel of modernization. And three, distinctively Chinese elements will be tapped, innovations which will exert unparalleled influence on world peace, development, and cooperation. (Ibid., 141-142). . . .
Third, HU argues that China should pursue to build a well-off and harmonious socialist
society as explicated by the Sixteenth Party Congress. In addition, China should also pursue the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) put forward by the international community (Ibid., 142). Ultimately, Hu contends that the building of a well-off, harmonious socialistic society amount to the Chinese version of the MDGs (Ibid., 143). Hu argues that the development of international consensus, like the MDGs, are compatible with internal Chinese development goals and that “[d]omestic goals and international goals are also integrated and complementary.” (Ibid., 143). . . .
Fourth, China must ensure that the above goal design fully embodies detailed views,
strategies, and policies for long-term development. For HU, the most important of these goals is to close the income gap and regional development disparities, and strive for a more evenly developed society (Ibid., 143-144). Here again HU emphasizes the seamlessness of Chinese internal and external policy. In that seamlessness lies Hu’s great insight about the foundational character of Chinese superpower status, as well as the distinguishing features of the framework within which the exercise of such superpower status must be exercised. China will not distinguish between internal and external policy or norm application—there is no division between the superpower metropolis and the periphery on which the superpower exports behavior. . . .
It is no surprise, then, that Hu’s emphasis is on the state of socialist modernization for 2020 (Ibid., 144-152), where the developing line of the CPC is emphasized and expanded. The focus is on economic growth and structural goals—full employment, industrialization, urbanization and the consolidation of what Hu calls a socialist market system. (Ibid., 144). The socialist market system echoes the great work of European unification—grounded in the advancement of free movement of goods, people, enterprises and capital, “so as to create a pattern of regional cooperation and common development.” (Ibid., 144-45). . . . (Backer, Larry Catá and Wang, Keren, 'What is China's Dream?' Hu Angang Imagines China in 2020 as the First Internationally Embedded Superpower , supra, pp. 9-10).
It is a short step from the grounding policy of socialist modernization to the specifics of the regional development policies of Go West, Northeast Revitalization and Rise of Central China.
An Introduction of China’s “Go West” PolicyI. The Necessary Reasons for "Go West" PolicyThere are three typical characteristics determining the necessity of developing the western region. First, the lag of the western region's economic constraints the sustainable development of the entire national economy; Second, ethnic diversity, religious diversity, and special geographic attributes in the western region has special requirements for building a good environment for the development of socio-economic; Third, the fundamentality and vulnerability of ecological environment in the western region impact on the entire ecosystem. These features characterize the starting point for developing the western region, but also determine the fate of the western development that is changing these features mentioned above. Simply, the motivation of western development is to promote economic development by constructing a sustainable and beneficial interaction system among economic, society and nature in the western region. II. The Governing Body and Its ResponsibilitiesIn January 2000, the State Council formed the Western Region Development Leading Group headed by Premier Zhu Rongji, deputy headed by Vice Premier Wen Jiabao and attended by 19 directors from the State Council and relevant ministries. The main responsibilities of this Leading Group are that: study and put forward to the suggestions about the strategy of developing the western region, development planning, major issues and relevant policies and regulations; promote sustained, rapid and healthy development of the economy in the western region; study and propose suggestions about rural economic development, basic infrastructure construction, ecological protection and construction, structural adjustment, resource development as well as the recommendations of major projects; organize and coordinate the implementation and implementation of returning farmland to forest (grass) plan; study and propose the suggestions about deepening reform, expanding and opening up, as well as the introduction of domestic and foreign capital , technology and personnel; coordinate economic development and the overall development of science, education and culture; undertake other tasks assigned by the Leading Group.III. The Regions Applying "Go West" Policy.The regions applying "Go West" policy include 11 provinces and one municipality: Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Gansu, Xinjiang, Qinghai, Tibet, Chongqing, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangxi. In addition, Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture and Hubei Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture also enjoy the "Go West" policy.IV. State Council’s Important Policies and Plannings for the "Go West"
Main Contents In September 1999, “The CCP Central Committee Decision on Major Issues Concerning the Reform and Development of State-owned Enterprises” was approved at the Forth Plenary Session of the 15th Central Committee of CCP. This is the first time that the western development has been put forward. In November 1999, the strategic decisions were made at the Central Economic Work Conference. It was proposed to seize the opportunity to implement the western development strategy at the conference. It is directly related to the expansion of domestic demand, economic growth, national unity, social stability, consolidating border defense, the coordinated development between the east and the west, and achievement of common prosperity. Western development should be an important strategic task of the party and the country. From January 19, 2000 to January 22, the regional development conference was held in Beijing by the Western Region Development Leading Group in order to study the basic ideas and strategic tasks to accelerate the development of the western region. Accelerating infrastructure construction; strengthening ecological protection and construction; actively adjusting the industrial structure; developing science and education and speeding up the training of personnel; increasing the intensity of reform and opening up. In October 2000, “Suggestions of CCP Central Committee On National Economic And Social Development Tenth Five-Year Plan” was issued. That carrying out western development and promoting regional coordinated development is one part of this report. In October 2000, “Circular of the State Council Concerning Several Policies on Carrying out the Development of China’s Vast Western Regions” was issued.
For the present and the years to come, the key tasks of carrying out the development of China's vast western regions are: speeding up the construction of infrastructure facilities; improving the protection and development of environment; consolidating the basic status of agriculture, adjusting the structure of industry, and developing characteristic tourism; developing undertakings of science and technology, education, culture and sanitation. To work hard for the breakthrough progress in the construction of infrastructure facilities and environment of the western regions and to make a good beginning of the development of the western regions in 5 to 10 years. In March 2001, “The Tenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China” was approved at the Forth Session of 9th National People’s Congress. That carrying out the strategy for western-region development to accelerate the development of the central and western regions is a major step taken to achieve the strategic goals of the third stage of the country's modernization drive. During the Tenth Five-Year Plan period, it needs to place emphasis on key projects for a good beginning of the program. Construction of infrastructure and protection of the ecological environment should take priority, and it should strive for major breakthroughs within five to ten years. At the same time, developing science, technology, and education considerably will be very important.It should be focused on a number of major projects of strategic significance, such as the transmission of natural gas and electricity from western to eastern regions and the planned Qinghai-Tibet Railway. It needs to give priority to protecting, economizing and exploiting water resources through careful planning and rational allocation in order to ensure better utilization of water. It needs to steadily proceed with major projects for protecting natural forests in light of local conditions, returning cultivated land to forests or pastures, preventing and controlling desertification, and protecting grassland. Great attention should be paid to the ecological self-regeneration capacity. It should connect these projects to form an ecological green belt in the western region. It needs to vigorously improve education to train professionals and workers much needed in various fields. It needs to increase investment in scientific and technological development. Localities should cultivate individualized local economies by adjusting and optimizing their industrial system, and by strengthening agriculture and by accelerating the transformation of resource advantages into economic advantages. In developing the western region, it needs to begin work at places along major transportation routes, such as the Eurasian Continental Bridge, the Yangtze River, and the routes in the southwestern part of the country leading to the sea. Major cities connected by such lines should serve as economic centers and play leading roles in the development of their adjacent areas. It should particularly foster the economic zones along the Tongguan-Lanzhou-Urumqi line, the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, and the Nanning-Guiyang-Kunming line to promote development of the surrounding areas.The State Council has already promulgated a number of policies and measures to support the development of the western region. The state will invest more in the west and increase transfer payments from the national budget to local budgets there. However, people in the western region should rely primarily on their own efforts and hard work over the long haul. It needs to accelerate reform and opening up and create a sound investment environment to attract more funds, technology and human resources from home and abroad to the western region. It also needs to increase the exchange of cadres.The central region should make use of its regional advantages and its comprehensive advantages of resources to accelerate its pace of economic growth. It should focus on areas with main water and land transportation lines, make full use of the role of major cities and actively foster new loci of economic growth and new economic belts. It should consolidate and develop agriculture and continue to strengthen construction of infrastructural facilities and ecological projects. It should step up efforts to upgrade traditional industries with high, new and advanced technologies and raise its technological level and competitiveness.The western development master plan can be divided into three stages in 50 years, including the stage of foundation, the stage of accelerate development and the stage of comprehensive promotion of modernization. In September 2001, State Council forwarded the “Implementation Opinions about Circular of the State Council Concerning Several Policies on Carrying out the Development of China’s Vast Western Regions”. “Implementation Opinions about Circular of the State Council Concerning Several Policies on Carrying out the Development of China’s Vast Western Regions” defined the scope of western development and specific policy measures. There are 70 provisions in the document.
In July 2002, “The Tenth Five-Year Overall Plan for Western Region Development” was issued. The guidelines and strategic objectives of western development; The main task of the tenth five-year overall plan; The key areas of western development; The policy measures of western development. In March 2004, “Opinions of the State Council on promoting the further development of the western region” was issued.
It was proposed to improve policies and measures to focus on the key work.1. It needs to push forward ecological construction and environmental protection to improve ecological environment and farmers' income.2. It needs to continue the infrastructure construction of key projects and lay the foundation for accelerating the development of the western region.3. It needs to further strengthen agricultural and rural infrastructure and accelerate the improvement of farmers' production and living conditions.4. It needs to adjust the industrial structure and actively develop industries with local advantages.5. It needs to actively promote the development of key areas and accelerate the development of regional economic growth.6. It needs to vigorously strengthen science and technology, education, health, culture as well as other social undertakings, and promote coordinated economic and social development.7. It needs to deepen economic reform and create a favorable environment for the development of the western region.8. It needs to broaden funding sources to provide financial security for the western development.9. It needs to strengthen of qualified personnel in the western region to provide strong security personnel for the western development.10. It needs to accelerate the pace of legal construction and strengthen the organization and leadership of the western development. In March 2005, Premier Wen Jiabao published an important article entitled “Keep Innovation and hard work to constantly create new situation of the western development”  1. The significant progress has been made in the last five years.2. It needs to unswervingly continue implementing the western development strategy.3. It needs to further clarify the guidelines and priorities of western development.4. It needs to strengthen leadership and make efforts to improve the quality level of work. In March 2006, “Report on the Outline of the Eleventh Five-year Plan for National Economic and Social Development” was approved at the Forth Session of the Tenth National People’s Congress That “promote the western development” was proposed in the section one chapter 19. It should accelerate the pace of reform an opening up and enhance self-development by national support, its own efforts and regional cooperation in the western region.1. It needs to develop relying on central cities and transportation routes. Strengthen infrastructure construction, build intentional and interstate railway and new channel for west-east coal transportation, build “five vertical and seven horizontal” western sections and eight inter-provincial highways, and construct power base and west-east power transmission.2. It needs to consolidate and develop the achievement of forestation program, continue to promote natural forest protection and other ecological projects, strengthen the protection of vegetation, increase desertification and rocky governance, and strengthen the control and prevention of water pollution in some areas. It needs to strengthen the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau ecological protection.3. It needs to transfer resource advantages into industrial advantages by developing industries with local character, clean energy, mineral exploitation and processing, advanced manufacturing, high-tech industry and other industries with advantages.4. It needs to improve public services, develop compulsory education and vocational education, improve health conditions in rural areas, and promote talent development and technological innovation.5. It needs to construct and perfect border-crossing facilities, strengthen economic and technical cooperation with neighboring countries and promote border trade. I6. It needs to implement and deepen the go west policy, intensify support measures and financial transfer and establish long-term and stable funding channels for the western development. In March 2007, “The Eleventh Five-Year Plan for Western Region Development” was issued. 1. It needs to push forward the socialist new countryside construction, such as improving agricultural production capacity, improving production and living conditions in rural areas, doing everything possible to increase farmers' income and making more efforts for poverty alleviation2. It needs to continue to strengthen infrastructure, such as improving integrated transport network, strengthening water conservancy facilities construction and speeding up the construction of information infrastructure3. It needs to vigorously develop industries with local advantages, including optimizing the development of the energy and chemical industries, developing mining and processing of mineral resources, developing specialty farm products processing industry, revitalizing equipment manufacturing industry, actively developing high-tech industry and accelerating the development of the tourism industry.4 It needs to guide the key areas to accelerate the development. To promote some key areas to develop first, encourage metropolitan agglomeration development, guide intensive development for the regions with rich resource, promote the leaps and bounds for the border areas, and support the development of minority areas.5. It needs to adhere to grasp the ecological protection and construction , environmental protection and resource conservation. To consolidate the achievement of ecological protection and construction, strengthen resource conservation and comprehensive utilization, and promote the builing of areas with main functions.6. It needs to make efforts to improve basic public services, such as giving priority to education, strengthen public health system, enhancing scientific and technological support capabilities, actively developing cultural and sports undertakings, and improving people's living guarantee.7. It needs to strengthen the development of qualified personnel. To perfect the system of talent resources, increase high-level personnel, develop and strengthen rural and community personnel construction, encourage and support the rational flow of talent exchange, and enhance all types of training.8 . It needs to actively expand the opening up. It needs to promote regional coordination and interaction between the west and the east, guide the right direction for foreign investment, build a new platform to participate in international and regional economic cooperation, make full use of international financial organizations and foreign government loans, and transfer the growth mode.9. It needs to establish sound mechanisms to safeguard the western development, such as mechanism for national policy support, mechanism for financial service and support, mechanism for business development incentive, mechanism for rational development of resources, mechanism for government service and coordination, and mechanism for effective planning and implementation. Top of Form On February 13, 2012, the State Council officially approved the "12th Five-Year Plan for the Large-Scale Development of the Western Regions" (the "Plan") whose preparation is organized by the National Development and Reform Commission. The Plan puts forward the goals of the large-scale development of the western regions during the Twelfth Five-Year, mainly including: regional economic growth rate and income growth rate of urban and rural residents "double-higher" than national average level, urbanization rate over 45%, etc.The Plan deploys the large-scale development of the western regions during the Twelfth Five-Year in full, stipulating clearly the key tasks and major projects. We shall continue to put the infrastructure construction as priority, accelerate building moderate advanced, functional and supporting, safe and efficient modern infrastructure system with the emphasis of transportation and water conservation projects. We shall accelerate establishing ecological compensation mechanism; implement the market-oriented transforming strategy of advantageous resources deeply; adhere to the new industrialization road, undertake actively the industrial transfer to form with great efforts the new pattern of coordinated development with traditional advantageous industries, strategic emerging industries and modern service industries.V. The Problems Occurred during the Western Development1. Regional development gap is wideningThere are three kinds of gaps in the development of western region, namely the gap between the eastern part and western part, between urban centers and remote areas, between high-income people and poor people. And also the three gaps are not narrowing but show a tendency to expand.2. Infrastructure is still lagging behindIn addition to the western provincial capital city, other urban infrastructure is seriously lagging behind. Transportation is very inconvenient between provincial cities. There is a lack of good sewage and garbage disposal systems. Some infrastructure construction of prefecture-level cities in Tibet, Qinghai and Xinjiang shares the same with level with the eastern.3. Self-development mechanism has not yet formed
Western industrial base is very weak. There is a certain self-development capacity for the western region after ten years of development. But this capacity is still very weak. Because economic growth rely on direct government investment too much while the role of foreign direct investment and domestic private capital investment is not strong.4. The problem of poverty has not been fundamentally resolvedThere are nearly 80 percent of the national poverty counties and the vast majority of poor people in the western region. Guizhou, Yunnan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Xinjiang seven provinces with only 13.4% of the population accounted for the poor more than 35%.5. The western region is in the most low-end chainThe strategic positioning of western region is the base of national energy and raw material resources. Therefore, the division of labor pattern that “developing resources in the western while manufacturing in the eastern" is gradually formed. The West-East natural gas transmission project, The West-East electricity transmission project, pipeline, transportation routes and other major projects are embodies of this strategic positioning and industrial division pattern. This strategic positioning and development division promoted the common development of the east and west, but this development model of "output" also caused that the western is always in the most low-end of interests of the industry chain and distribution pattern.Taking the State's major projects in the western region as example, that almost all of the large projects are developed by the large state-owned enterprises, 75% of the tax are paid to corporate headquarters and the country, developed resources are mainly exported to eastern to be processed, utilized and manufactured, and that the main development equipment, R & D, technology and special materials are procured and obtained from the east. The west only made a direct role in boosting the growth rate of GDP, a small amount of the tax component, sales of some raw materials and subsistence, production and processing of primary products with low value-added and labor income brought by labor employment opportunities. This pattern is not conducive to further large-scale development for the west.6. There is a lack of financial supportIn the western area, bank funds and private capital outflows is widespread. According to estimates, bank credit funds less than 20% of the country has been used to the development of the west in recent years, while the funds lost such as funds deposit, net capital split out, corporate loans to the east and some other channels is more than 10% for western banks. In addition, the western folk capital loss is also very serious. By the case study of Yulin, Chamber of Commerce data show that its private capital is more than 2000 billion at present. But most of the capital is outside and the investment reaches more than 300 billion Yuan just in Beijing.7. It is an arduous task to build the ecological environmentThe ecological environment in the western region is very fragile. With the economy expanding, the problem of insufficient of energy, fresh water, land, minerals and other strategic resources become increasing acute. The development mode with high input, high pollution, low output and low efficiency was formed in a long term and has not been fundamentally changed. Economic development caused serious pollution of water, air and soil.8. There are serious challenges of qualified personnelThe number of professional and technical personnel is low and the ability of innovation is not strong. Higher education is underdeveloped and there is a lack of high-level personnel training platform. Scientific and technological personnel's contribution to economic growth rate is relatively low and the overall quality of personnel needs to be raised. There is a serious brain drain and there is an accelerated decreasing trend in poor and backward areas.9. There is arduous social construction taskThe task of social construction in western society is still arduous, such equalization of basic public service mechanisms needs to be improved; production safety and food and drug safety management needs to be strengthened; vital interests of the people involved in education, employment, affordable housing , rural health care, income distribution, social security and other issues has not been fundamentally alleviated.
刘忠，牛文涛，聊冰玲：我国“西部大开发战略”研究综述及反思，《经济学动态》2012年第6期，第77页(Liu Zhong, Niu Wentao & Liao Bingling, An General Research and Thought about China’s Go West Policy, Trends of Economics, 2012(06), P77.)国务院关于成立国务院西部地区开发领导小组的决定 国发〔2000〕3号(State Council’s Decision about Setting Up Western Region Development Leading Group) http://www.gov.cn/gongbao/content/2001/content_60854.htm http://www.gov.cn/gongbao/content/2005/content_63349.htm