Friday, September 18, 2015

Part 15 (CCP Basic Line-Reform and Opening Up)--On a Constitutional Theory for China--From the General Program of the Chinese Communist Party to Political Theory


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer)

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 15, CCP Basic Line-Reform and Opening Up. It considers Paragraph 13 of the General Program.

Table of Contents

Part 15, Paragraph 13 of the General Program--CCP Basic Line-Reform and Opening Up.

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.

With Paragraph 13 we consider reform and opening up as an aspect of the CCP's basic line.
[13] Reform and opening up are the path to a stronger China. Only reform and opening up can enable China, socialism and Marxism to develop themselves. The Party must carry out fundamental reform of the economic structure that hampers the development of the productive forces, and keep to and improve the socialist market economy; it must also carry out corresponding political restructuring and reform in other fields. The Party must adhere to the basic state policy of opening up and assimilate and exploit the achievements of all other cultures. It must be bold in making explorations and breaking new ground in reform and opening up, make its reform decisions more scientific, better coordinate its reform measures and blaze new trails in practice.
[13] 坚持改革开放,是我们的强国之路。要从根本上改革束缚生产力发展的经济体制,坚持和完善社会主义市场经济体制;与此相适应,要进行 政治体制改革和其他领域的改革。要坚持对外开放的基本国策,吸收和借鉴人类社会创造的一切文明成果。改革开放应当大胆探索,勇于开拓,提高改革决策的科学 性,增强改革措施的协调性,在实践中开创新路。
Reform and opening up, like economic development, have been the twin key pillars of socialist modernization after 1979. It represents the principle that China must engage with the world if it is to most efficiently develop its productive forces.  More importantly, perhaps, it is through engagement that China might best advance its productive forces where indigenous talent is less well developed. But reform and opening up is not undertaken for its own sake, or for the sake of making solidarity with those places to which China opens.  That is, reform and opening up are techniques utilized for the objective of economic development, and economic development is a key sector of socialist modernization. Thus the CCP's basic line with respect to opening up is geared toward absorbing and learning from other societies and civilizations (吸收和借鉴人类社会创造的一切文明成果), not to mimic but to transpose learning into the Chinese context.  The essence of opening up, then, is to import and transform knowledge, to attach Chinese characteristics to knowledge and expertise in the service of the fundamental objectives of the vanguard party for social development as a whole. And that enterprise, in turn, is tied to the great fundamental principles of Chinese political ideology.
Since 1978, when the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee was convened, the CPC, with great political courage, has firmly promoted reforms in the country's economic, political, cultural, social and ecological systems, as well as in the system of Party building. China's opening up has also been continuously promoted. . . . Facts have proved that reform and opening up is a critical choice that has determined the destiny of contemporary China, and also an important instrument for the undertakings of the CPC and the Chinese people to catch up with the times in great strides. There will never be an end to practice, to emancipation of the mind, and to reform and opening up. (Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Some Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening the Reform, Jan. 16, 2014)

That set of fundamental relationships between reform and opening up, economic development and socialist modernization sets the framework within which the CCP's line is applied to China's engagement with the world, and the shape of the reforms necessary to effectuate that advantageous engagement (坚持改革开放,是我们的强国之路). None of this, of course, is understood as criticism.  Rather it suggests that key foreign economic policy is necessarily intimately tied to the ideological structures from out of which must emerge Chinese policy. Indeed, the last sentence of ¶ 13 resonates with the admonition of ¶ 5 against rigidity and textualism.  It appears as an application of the principle of emancipating the mind through the emphasis of boldness and innovation(改革开放应当大胆探索,勇于开拓,提高改革决策的科学 性,增强改革措施的协调性,在实践中开创新路). The objectives of regulatory coherence and coordination (增强改革措施的协调性), and assessment to the basic line (决策的科学 性).  To avoid sloganeering, the move toward reform and opening up must be undertaken in a way that may be assessed, analyzed and replicated throughout the economy.

Opening up is essential to reform, to ensure the appropriate development of the socialist market economic system (社会主义市场经济体制).  That development is not to produce a capitalist system (recall the constraints of the four cardinal principles), but rather to deploy those techniques that produce wealth for capitalist systems, but to bend them to socialist objectives.  The distinction here between technique and objective is quite essential.  It is confusion and more often conflation, of the two quite autonomous aspects that produce sloppy analysis. Socialist market economic systems may deploy the same set fo techniques as capitalist systems, but they are bound to be directed toward different ends, and their overall direction is set by the CCP constrained by the principles of the General Program and its quite objectives based understanding of the place of this development within the umbrella of socialist modernization. It is in this sense that one can understand the connection between opening up, reform of the socialist market economic system, economic development, and reform of the political system (要进行 政治体制改革和其他领域的改革).

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