Charting China’s Future: The Third Plenum and the Central Economic Work Conference

These meetings will endorse the New Chinese economy based on Socialism with Chinese characteristics. China is currently laying the foundations of a new economic structure that will transform China again over the next 7 years, and its relationship with the world.

As in 1978, most commentators do not understand the politics, or the history and focus on testing China’s statements against Western models.

Socialism with Chinese characteristics and the Chinese Dream are nothing like any Western model, and come from a deep sense of Chinese history, a deep need for economic development to enable 1.4 billion people to thrive, and a deep sense of how socialism or social justice should look in the context of Chinese values and ways.

I do not think that it is worthwhile trying to evaluate a communiqué and the output of the next significant meeting – the Central Economic Work Conference in December in a rush.

I am comfortable that President Xi reflects a Party that has spent 10 years preparing and experimenting for this New China which was originally contemplated back in 1964, given real impetus in 1978, and for which the preconditions of a modern manufacturing and financial basis have been developed over the last 30 years.

What they are about to create over the next 7 years and flesh out and develop nationally over the next 35 years is a vast project which a short article could not do justice to.

It is about a market economy with powerful regulators and politically reliable strategic shareholders, with 80 per cent of the population, or thereabouts, urbanised and agriculture transformed to large scale and food focused. The leading role of the Party will not change and I doubt the Government will change greatly.

The battle against corruption, and the battle for the good soul of China, will have to be at the core of their work, or China will become too greedy and selfish.

This requires not a political change but a complete change of approach including reducing provincial power to focus on delivery of services, and the powers of planning and authorisations to be subject to proper transparent procedures that have the confidence of the people.

Rule of law in the day to day running of China will develop as the base for that develops, and accountability of officials will be widened beyond Party discipline to a more normal law based process.

China will develop into a major Asian nation, more so than now, based on being a good and supportive neighbour to its 14 neighbours, seeking Asia to be mainly about the Asians, but supporting Western involvement in the Asian economy, but not controlling Asia, which should be for the Asians.

Openness to the West is part of a two way process that will lead to greater market access in both directions in major but gradual ways.

China will be a major opportunity for global business as a market and as a partner for Asian and global business. The West and China must work to find compatible models of multi-national companies and behaviour.

Western political and business leaders who have deep experience and understanding of China will be those who benefit from China most. They will get China and know how to prosper with China.

China is not going to adopt our Western ways and trying to force social development on China will just not work. They do not think our societies look so brilliant, but, more importantly; they are following traditional Chinese paths to their destiny, and want us to accept that. They think our companies are too focused on the short term and not linked adequately to overall social development and justice.

They do value our experience and we have a lot to share and that will lead to a more common set of global values, but there is no chance they will base their future on our Western values.

There is no contradiction inherent in that. It is just like accepting that men and women are different but equal.

Categories: China growth, Economic policy, Foreign policy, Leaders, Policy, Politics, Uncategorized

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