This Blog Essay site devotes every February to a series of integrated but short essays on a single theme. For 2015 this site introduces a new theme: On a Constitutional Theory for China--From the General Program of the Chinese Communist Party to Political Theory.
This Post includes Part 22, Socialist Ethnic Relations. It considers Paragraph 20 of the General Program.
Table of Contents
Part 22, Paragraph 20 of the General Program--Socialist Ethnic Relations.
We have been reviewing the initial paragraphs of the CCP Constitution's General Program. The first two paragraphs of the General Program set out the outer framework of two critical aspects of Chinese constitutional theory. The five theories identified in paragraph 2 are the elaborated in paragraphs 3-7. Each, in turn, represents the “crystallization of the collective wisdom of the Communist Party of China” at each successive stage on the road toward communism. And the path itself makes clear that the process of successive crystallization is far from complete. Paragraph 3 elaborated on the place of classical Marxism-Leninism as the first stage of the path of socialism and serves as the foundation for Chinese political and constitutional theory. If the foundations of Chinese political and constitutional theory is built on European and received wisdom--the classical philosophy of Marxism-Leninism—the foundations of classical Chinese political and constitutional theory is built on Mai Zedong Thought.
Paragraph 4 considered Mao Zedong Thought as a necessary bridge between European theory and its transposition within the Chinese context, one that brings Marxism-Leninism forward from out of Europe into Asia, and places that forward evolution within the historical constraints of its time.It expressed the Leninist foundations of Chinese constitutional theory within notions of collective development and its role in establishing the socialist path toward which Mao Zedong Thought points, but which it does not in itself constitute. Paragraph 5 introduces the next stage in the development of Chinese constitutional and political Theory--Deng Xiaoping Theory. If Mao Zedong Thought provided a bridge from revolutionary to governing vanguard party, Deng Xiaoping theory provides the principles through which socialist modernization can be realized. Paragraph 6 introduces the succeeding layer of development of Chinese constitutional and political theory--the Important thought of Three Represents (Sange Daibiao). Paragraph 7 introduces the last of the current layers of theoretical development of Chinese political and constitutional theory--the scientific outlook on development. Paragraph 8 serves to sum up the initial paragraphs and as a bridge to the elaboration of the basic CCP line and working style in the paragraphs that follow. It is directed specifically to cadres and provides an easy conceptual framework within which they can understand their role in socialist modernization. Paragraph 9 the General Program moves from theory to action infused by theory. It considers the first of the three fundamental tasks of the CCP derived from its theory, that is the first operational element of the CCP line.
With Paragraph 10 we come to the first full expression of the CCP's basic line in the context of the current stage of development of China. The subsequent paragraphs amplify the basic line. Paragraph 11, the General Program begins the elaboration of the CCP's basic line, starting with economic development as the central task. Paragraph 12, we come to the second amplification of the CCP basic line--the four cardinal principles. Paragraph 13 we consider reform and opening up as an aspect of the CCP's basic line. These four paragraphs are meant to provide a declaration of the CCP's basic line--the product of the more general statements of principle and historical context of Paragraphs 1-9. provide guidance--and a more detailed elaboration of its more important elements.
The CCP's basic line goes to the substantive objectives of the party in fulfilling its role as the party in power. What what is the CCP's working style? How is it expected to act? Working style can be divided along two distinct but related lines. The first goes to the working style of CCP cadres, from the most junior to cadres to those serving in the most senior roles. Working style in this sense has been the subject of both the foundational paragraphs (¶¶ 1-8) and those establishing the CCP's line (¶¶ 9-13). In its second sense, working style goes to the working style of the CCP in its institutional manifestation; that is, it goes to the working style of a vanguard Leninist party within the context and subject to the constraints of its objectives (socialist modernization) and normative principles, its guidebook (¶ 2).
The foundation of the CCP's grounding working style is leadership. Paragraphs 14-19 elaborate the character and practice of the nature and practice of leadership by the CCP as an institutional actor. Paragraphs 14-19 construct the CCP's leadership obligations key specific general areas of activity; ¶ 14 (socialist market economy); ¶ 15 (socialist democracy); ¶ 16 (socialist culture); ¶ 17(harmonious socialist society); ¶ 18(socialist ecological progress); and ¶ 19 (People's Liberation Army). We considered each in turn.
With Paragraph 20 the General Program moves into new, though related, territory--socialist ethnic relations. These, in turn, are part of a larger project that frames party building, the organization framework and working style of the CCP itself taken up in ¶¶ 23-27. Between Paragraphs 20 and ¶23, ¶ 21 focuses on political and territorial unification--the United Front and national unification, and ¶ 22 focuses on foreign relations and communist internationalism. The General Program ends with ¶ 28's treatment of the meaning and practice of leadership.
Paragraph 20 lays out the basic CCP line relating to inter-ethnic relations:
The Communist Party of China upholds and promotes socialist ethnic relations based on equality, solidarity, mutual assistance and harmony, actively trains and promotes cadres from among ethnic minorities, helps ethnic minorities and ethnic autonomous areas with their economic, cultural and social development, and ensures that all ethnic groups work together for common prosperity and development. The Party strives to fully implement its basic principle for its work related to religious affairs, and rallies religious believers in making contributions to economic and social development.
Socialist ethnic relations can be understood as a refinement of an implication at the heart of the CCP's leadership responsibilities to build socialist democracy, economic development, culture and harmonious society. Socialist ethnic relations can be understood as a cluster of related goals touching on the societal, cultural, political and economic relations among ethnic groups in China -- equality, solidarity, and mutual assistance and harmony. Each of these policy goals can be understood and applied quite specifically in terms of economic development (more efficient development of productive forces), democracy (defining socialist political civilization), culture (developing a national socialist culture), and harmonious society (resolving the contradictions of class/ethnic divisions).
There are three intertwined strands that make up the CCP's leadership line relating to ethnic minorities. The CCP "uphold" and "promotes"
The first is the CCP's own internal approach to the issues of ethnic relations inside the CCP apparatus. That is tied to the primary objective of achieving internal democracy and good order within the structures of the CCP. And indeed that is essential for the CCP in its vanguard role. The CCP must lead by example. It reflects both the current stage of development of China and its movement toward its aspiraitonal goals. A CCP that is itself mired in inter-ethnic conflict, or that privileges certain ethnic groups over other--in form or effect--will not be acting in accordance with its fundamental obligations as a vanguard (¶ 1). The CCp's principal technique is recruitment and training that focuses on integration of ethnic groups within its ranks ("actively trains and promotes cadres from among ethnic minorities"). The object of internal recruiting and training, ensuring "that all ethnic groups work together for common prosperity and development" applied with equal strength to inner CCP organization. That objective refines the working style of the CCP in its inward manifestation. It also serves as a structure which the CCP can also push outward in its leadership roles advancing socialist economic development, democracy, culture, ecological progress and harmonious society. This internal obligation is especially important in the context of the leadership of the military forces of the nation--like the CCP, the military must reflect both the multicultural but unified character of the basic societal institutions of governance. To do otherwise is to invite contradiction at a fundamental level of theory and the operative principles that vest the vanguard party with legitimacy.
The second is the CCP's approach to ethnic relations outside of its institutional structures. The CCP's external leadership on matters of ethnic relations must mirror its internal approaches. That obligation serves the same ends: "that all ethnic groups work together for common prosperity and development." However the means are slightly different: "helps ethnic minorities and ethnic autonomous areas with their economic, cultural and social development." The CCP's ethnic relations line then, has substantial ramifications for state policy. It suggests the principled basis for the "Go West" and Manchuria development projects, as well as others targeting economic development in more backwards areas. It also suggests an ethnic minorities based program of equalizing the availability of economic development. But it also suggests the assimilation nature of that project--ethnic groups may retain their culture, but only within the principles of socialist economic development, democracy, culture, harmonious social ordering, and ecological progress. This suggests the outer constraints within which ethnic relations are understood and applied as policy. There are some important consequences. The first is that ethnic relations to require a substantial amount of deviation from the application of the CCP line, manifested as policy, will not be tolerated. The second is that ethnic relations are driven by socialist modernization and bent to the immediate tasks of common prosperity and development. That suggests that disparities among ethnic groups may be tolerated as long as all groups in the aggregate are moving toward prosperity and development. The timeline for advancement may differ significantly among ethnic groups. Third, a significant focus are the autonomous areas. The policy does not speak to the preservation of ethnic autonomy in any respect, but instead its opposite, that notwithstanding ethnic differences, all groups must work toward the commonalities of socialist economic development, democracy, culture, harmonious society, ecological development, etc. The autonomous areas may not preserve their character, way of life or status quo; instead ethnic communities may continue to exist and practice their ways of life to the extent consonant with these greater principles.
The third is the relationship between CCP, the state organs, religion and religious minorities. Religion is singled out fopr special treatment in¶ 20. That in part touches on religion as a principal distinguishing mark among certain ethnic groups. It also suggests the special, and sometimes contentious, relationship between religion and the CCP's vanguard role. The CCP is instructed to fully implement (全面贯彻) its basic line with respect to religion. The masses of believers (信教群众) must participate in socialist modernization under the leadership of the CCP. That requires in the first instance a need to contribute (作贡献) to economic and social development (为经济社会发展). This produces quite specific contours to the relationship between CCP, state, and religious communities. The first is that religious communities necessarily subordinate religious practice to the greater objectives of socialist modernization--in the same way that ethnic minorities are expected to the the same with respect to customs and social practices. The second is that belief systems and practice systems may be separated and treated differently. The third is that the oppositional nature of resistance on religious grounds will be characterized as political objection--either as error to be corrected or as evidence of the enemy character of the practice or the religion behind it (consonant with ¶ 17). All of this suggests the possibility of accommodation, but within fairly strictly demarcated boundaries for religious expression. The approach is substantially distinct from that in the West or in theocratic states. There is no "opt out" on the basis of religions for the work of socialist modernization and the building of a socialist civilization. Religion may accommodate itsefl to these tasks, andthe CCP will tolerate distinct expressions, but opposition, in the last analysis is understood in political terms, rather than in terms of conscience.