Why is the socialist system so successful?
by Stephen Perry ｘ Sun Jisheng
J・people.cn 30 June 2021
Trans-script from the Move and Translation：
Komichi Ikeda （Environmental Reserch Institute）
Independent E-wave Tokyo July 7 2021
|Part1 Through the Lens of 'Mutually Assured Prosperity'|
|Part2 Why is the socialist system so successful?|
|Part3 The CPC is the ‘holistic interest party’of the people|
Click on the photos below to see the video
Perry × Sun Jisheng
Profile of Interlocutors
Stephen Perry, chairman of Britain's 48 Group Club. On Dec. 18, 2018, Perry was awarded with a China Reform Friendship Medal in Beijing during a conference marking the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up, honoring the dedication and effort made by both him and his father, founder of the London Export Corporation, to strengthening China-UK ties.
Sun Jisheng, the current vice-president of China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU). Her research mainly focuses on international relations theory, particularly the role of language in diplomatic relations, in addition to China’s foreign policy. The politics of discourse and culture, as well as the subject of American politics, have also been widely covered in her research.
What is it about the Communist Party of China that's made it a unique government in the world? The Communist Party of China, the people in the leadership of China, they were in the streets, they were in the fields. They were working alongside the people to rebuild China. They knew that if they stay close to the people, they would have the support of the people.
So, if you ask people about their tomorrow, most people would say, I'm sure my tomorrow it will be better than today. So, this is very important for a society to move forward. People are optimistic, people are confident.
It's hard to truly and fully understand a country without first understanding its political system and development approach. In this episode, we have Stephen Perry, chairman of Britain's 48 Group Club, the recipient of China Reform Friendship Medal in 2018 for his outstanding contribution to improving China-UK ties.
1921, 13 people formed the Communist Party of China. 28 years later, Chairman Mao stands up in Tian'anmen square to announce the People's Republic of China. 28 years. It's incredible. And yet in 28 years, Communist Party of China was able to lead the new People's Republic of China. Just think about that. When the United States and others got involved in the Korean War, I don't think they had any idea of the determination of China, the Chinese people and the Communist Party of China to transform from being the sick man of Asia, to be a modern country.
It's I think you need to combine these two things. One is the history of Chinese people. It's inherent in the Chinese people to work hard to prepare for the future, to look after your parents, to look after your children, your grandchildren, to look after your neighbors. It's inherent in the Chinese, it's inherent to be innovators and the forefront of science to study hard, to work hard.
Alongside those natural characteristics that are contained in Confucius and other great theorists of Chinese philosophy is the advent of Marxism. Marxism was something they realized they could use to the advantage of China. People say why uses a couple of Germans in the problems facing China? Well, they understood it. They read it and they understood it. And what they saw was that it was the mechanism by which they could use their ideas to transform China. And they use the mechanism of the party, the mechanism of transformation of the economy, the scientific method, very, very effective people.
On the one hand, people's perception towards China sometimes or quite often influenced by international media, for instance, Western media or books or novels. They often have a kind of very set narratives about China. On the other hand, in recent years, especially in the past four decades, China really has changed enormously. And quite often, people's perceptions towards China do not follow China's changes quite closely, especially, for instance, in some cases, some people even have a kind of Cold War mentality or zero sum game mentality.
The people don't understand the Communist Party of China. They see it as single party state. And a
single party state must necessarily be authoritarian, a dictatorial(state) and deny freedom of speech. But when you look at what they've achieved, you can't really apply those adjectives to it, can you? Because if they were like that, they would never have achieved the things they've achieved. They have 67% of the world's high speed railway. We (England) don't even have one yet. So, when you look at it, America has none virtually. It's an incredibly successful system. Deng Xiaoping said it's not a question of what kind of cat it is. He said it doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white. What matters is it catches mice, if that's what you have your cat for. And that is it with China. China is not ideological about the means by which they will advance their economy and their society. They are very practical.
With the raging Covid-19 pandemic dragging an increasing number of people across the world into poverty, China's poverty alleviation efforts are offering hope. China has eradicated extreme poverty completely creating a milestone in the history of the Chinese nation and the history of humankind.
The single largest class in China, 40 years ago, was peasants. Over 85% of the population of China was impoverished peasants. Today that's down to about 25%. And they're not impoverished anymore. Poverty has been eliminated. The population of the middle class in China is 400 million, which is 1/3 of the population from nowhere. The population of the middle class in China within 10 years will be over six hundred, 7 hundred million. It is already the largest class in China, it will be the largest class in China. Socialism in China means the poor getting wealthy, it doesn't mean the rich getting poor.
When people talk about socialism, quite often, they have a kind of sense of ideology, and they say you make rich people poorer, and then may be poor people, just as Perry has said, the poor people a little bit more than being poor. But for China's socialism, I think socialism is quite different. For instance, it's a kind of system that helps to improve the livelihood of all people. Of course, one very important thing is you have to make the poor people to get rich, to live a good life, But at the same time, you also make, for instance, middle class people, or even rich people, richer, or they also move up forward. But during this process, the government can use its own governance mechanism to balance.
When they're trying to work out how to deal with anything, it's probably being worked on. If it's not being worked on, then the leaders will ask people to work on it. A group will form from different strata of society and across society as well. And the job is to work out what it is that they're trying to deal with. What it is? That's the problem. One of the potential solutions, and then test them. Everything is tested before it's put into operation. And when it's put into operation, it's tested and tested again. And people are looking at it the whole time to decide if it works or doesn't work and, what to do about it. This constant preparedness to test and advance is why China is so successful.
For instance, China's poverty alleviation, so it's guided by the government. We know that, for instance, one rich province helps another poor province, may be city to city, or county to county. And the government even sends special personnel to poverty-stricken areas to help the local people to improve their living standards. So, through this process, very poor people can really get the help or necessary help for them to get out of poverty. So, I think this is a very important aspect of China's socialism.
It's inevitable that we talk about the different mechanisms that are invisibly working behind socialism and democracy. Different people might have different interpretations of these two words, and most of the misunderstandings might derive from that.
There are 92 million members of the Communist Party of China and all of them had to apply and go through a process to get admitted into the party. They're all very dedicated people. They have to prove that they're dedicated to the people that they're dedicated to the needs of the people of China.
And regarding democracy, and the political system, I think Perry is right. Because when we mention democracy, there's a kind of stereotyped thinking. People might say China is not a democratic country, so on and so forth and use other such labels. Regarding democracy, I think what Perry said is quite right. Different countries have different national conditions, different systems. For a political system, I think the most important thing is you have to find out the way that's suitable for your own history, national conditions, and your own needs. That's very important.
And if you ask the question, do the Chinese spend their time saying we're hedonistic, we're self-selfish, drink too much or anything like that? No, you never hear the Chinese talking about us. They don't want to run our lives, they don't want to run our countries, and they don't want to run us down. But in my experience, I don't sense on a day to day basis that it's authoritarian. That's just my experience of what I've seen. There are different aspects to the way China operate is democracy. It's democracy is different from ours.
For instance, in the past, especially after the 1911 Revolution (Xinhai Revolution辛亥革命)led by Doctor Sun Yat-sen, which overthrew the autocratic monarchy, China has also learned from Western countries or from other countries to try different systems, such as constitutional monarchy, parliamentarianism, presidential government and so on and so forth. However, none of them succeeded. If we review that part of history, that was a very chaotic period for China. But finally, China figured out a way to develop itself. Especially after 1978, when China began its reform and opening up, we can see China has embarked on a very new way to develop itself, to transform itself. Now it seems that the gap between China and the rest of the world is becoming narrower and narrower.
They have long term visions, medium term visions and they have short term plans. And it's all building towards a concept of what China should be into the next century. We have a problem with 6 month plans. We have a problem with one year plan. We don't do 3 year plans or 5 years plans. They build in advance of need. They anticipated and they deal with it in advance. That's what happens when you have a 92-million-people communist party of China. The people from the top, the people from the middle and the people from the lower levels are constantly checking whether they are building a China fit for the 22nd century. That's how far ahead they're looking. They are doing this thinking all along. That's the scientific method. That's what they took from Marxism.
So this is a very important reason for people to think that this political system is suitable to China. So the connotation or the meaning of democracy and the ways for different countries to practice it is also different. Perry has mentioned that democracy in the West is more about voting for parties. But I think in China, democracy means that we hear the opinion from all the people. And then we figure out a very appropriate plan or opinion to reflect the needs of all the people.