J・people.cn 30 June 2021
The CPC is the ‘holistic interest party’
of the people
Martin Jacques x Zhang Weiwei
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
UNDERSTAND CHINA: The CPC is the ‘holistic interest party’ of the people
Profile of Interlocutors
Zhang Weiwei 張維為（復旦大学中国研究院の張維為院長）
I think the ideological bias and cultural bias in the West is deeply rooted. That is why I said for decades, you forecasts, your predictions about China turn out to be miserably wrong. Very poor record. I said o BBC reporter, I said, if I have to rate your magazine, rate your political judgement on China, rate your political comments on Chinese affairs, I will give a rating of C minus.
Martin Jacques (Senior Fellow of Cambridge University, British scholar and political commentator)
It is difficult to understand China if you’re not curious or if you’re judgmental. And by large, Westerners, not all of them, are judgmental and don’t know anything about China. So if someone starts a policy, the political reader starts bad-mouthing China, criticizing China and so on. And then it will have an effect, a negative thing. People are gullible because they don’t know anything about it.
In this episode, Zhang Weiwei, director of the China Institute of Fudan University in Shanghai, along with British scholar and political commentator Martin Jacques, share their personal insights on political and cultural issues concerning China and the Western world, and look to bridge the gap and erase misunderstandings resulting from cultural and historical differences.
Zhang Weiwei 張維為
The key difference between the Chinese Communist Party and the typical Western political party like Labour or the Conservative party in the UK is that they are what I call partial interest parties, which means that this particular party represents part of their society. And they compete with each other and then hold the election, and 51% will win. The Chinese tradition is very different. The CPC tradition is a tradition of what I call holistic interest party. Let’s use the term created by Abraham Lincoln, the American President. The government of the people, by the people, for the people. For the people, China is doing much, much better. This pandemic control is a good example. In China it’s safe. People’s life is protected, but not in case of most western countries, especially United State, and UK. They are not doing well.
A classic example was during the pandemic. And by large, Chinese reaction was the close relationship between state and society. It was in the social interest to act together. If we have to do this, we have to do that, we must do that. Well, the party is so large, you know 90 million people. And it is clearly the backbone of the country. It is essentially a kind of leader and mentor of the people.
Zhang Weiwei 張維為
China is the country that invented the civil servant examination system. That was in the Sui Dynasty over 1000 years ago. We have been practicing this in different forms, but basically you need to have a selection for the competent leaders for the country. So the Chinese practice is what I call selection plus election. Selection plus election is better than election only. I called them (Western countries) “lazy guys” in the philosophy. They just label something authoritarian and democratic, then you dismiss other models. I think it’s very stupid and stupid to the extreme. The Chinese approach is that we study very carefully and thoroughly different models to see whether it’s good or bad, even if it’s a bad model, whether there are elements which can be positive for China.
The use of the term ‘authoritarianism’ to describe China is, in a sense, also to distract from the situation that’s taking place in West. Because no longer can you be sure? The West can’t be sure of the future of its type of democracy. Meanwhile, the term ‘authoritarian’ does not really describe China, because China is reduced to a sort of despotic hierarchy, if you like. And in reality, the reason
Why China has been transformed and the people, if you look at all the opinion polls and so on, are very satisfied, much more satisfied than the people are with their government in the West, is because the Chinese Communist Party has succeeded in its transformative strategy for China, which has utterly changed China in a very beneficial way for the people and in a very profound way. And it has been the architect of China’s transformation ever since 1949 and very, very successfully since 1978.
Zhang Weiwei 張維為
So, I had a debate 10 years ago with professor Fukuyama, the author of the End of History. He said at that time that China may experience and Arab Spring, because it was occurring at that time. I said, no. China will not go through an Arab Spring. And I predicted that the Arab Spring will become an Arab Winter. It turned out to be an Arab Winter. And then he said that China needs to have political reform, a multi-party system and one person one vote. I said both China and United States need political reforms, and United States may need more urgent political reform than China, because the US political system is a product of the pre-industrial era.
They argue the idea that essentially the China is not a consensual system. I think it’s nonsense. I t enjoys the support of the people. You don’t have to have a Western democratic system to represent the people, or to be democratic in the sense that you represent the interest of the people. You can have a democratic system, and it doesn’t represent the people in any real sense. It doesn’t advance the interest of the people. This is a very common phenomenon in the world if you go to Latin American democracies. And so, by large, they get elected, but they don’t really work. And the same problem in the West is increasing, that they don’t really work in the way that they did. They worked for a period. But they worked from 1945 until, let say, 1980 or even later than that. They worked in the sense that people were pretty happy about it, and economic growth was strong. It is patently true that the West was the leader of the world during that period, but that’s not the case anymore.
Zhang Weiwei 張維為
Indeed, you know, socialism has long been associated, especially in the Western mainstream media, or even textbooks, with poverty. It’s called “equal but poor.” So, when Deng Xiaoping came to power, his very first and most important remark was that “Socialism is not poverty. Socialism must be prosperity.” So, we have succeeded in producing the socialism with prosperity. As I said, China created the world’s largest middle class. We eradicated extreme poverty in China last year. Full stop. So this is remarkable. I always counsel my Western friends to the important message from China’s success. One is the emancipation of the mind. In other words, you should have the courage to embrace different models, different experience, different ideas, and to see whether they can work for you or not. For instance, when China is doing so well fighting the pandemic, yet, very few Western media have the courage to report honestly how Chinese feel about their fight against the pandemic.
Basically, the Chinese are not boastful. They don’t brag about their achievements. They are humble. Their reaction – not scholars because maybe they know more – to American is puzzlement. Why do you have to do this? It’s exactly the opposite of the American reaction (to China).
Zhang Weiwei 張維為
I joked with reporters from The Economist. I said, now we can almost read your political comments in a reversed way. When you say Chinese is not good this way, that way, which means it’s very good this way, that way. So, that’s a problem with the West. The same problem with. I remember in the year 2012, just before the 18th CPC Congress. I was given an interview with BBC. The host asked me, “Do you think the CPC will have the 19th party congress?” Which means their presumption was that in five years the party will be over. So I said my goodness, that you have to understand China better. Virtually all your political forecasts about China over the past two or three decades turned out to be miserably wrong.
And as a result of a great deal of consultation with all the key sections of society, because no one has that kind of intelligence, wherever they are, whoever they are, it has to be a big, huge nationwide process to get that right. Otherwise you’re going to get it wrong. But the Five Year Plan, yes, it has been extremely important. But the state has always been important in Chinese society. It’s not just since 1949. I mean, one of the key characteristics of China and China’s existence for millennia has been the importance of centralized government, in a way that is different from probably any country in the world actually.
Zhang Weiwei 張維為
So the West has to amend its the way of understanding China, and try to be objective, try to be impartial, get rid of this ideological stuff, your system democracy is a wonderful system. Chinese system ia bad system, awful system. No. Yours is in deep trouble.