At the recently concluded important Party Plenum, the main output was a very strong position taken by President Xi on corruption.
I think some foreign commentators were expecting an easing back on this and typified the approach as somewhat sensing a force at the heart of the Party. The implication being that it was some sort of political battle.
Of course that may be the case as Chinese politics is never very clear until sometime later. But it is possible to see the approach in the context of China transitioning through the market economy towards a more socialist form by 2049.
I have noticed the long debate in Marxist circles as to whether socialism in one country is possible and if it can be achieved without going through capitalism.
To some extent that is quite a refined theoretical debate but its conclusions are the background to the importance of this Plenum and the high stress laid on a corrupt free administration of China.
Clearly the 1976 arrest of the Gang of Four was the end of “politics in command” and the real beginning of economic development as the priority, with Socialism with Chinese characteristics as the goal.
So 1978 laid down the initial plans and the goals out to 2049, and China has largely followed those plans for economic development with excellent results.
Clearly to meet the needs for technological parity with the west, to match the West and emancipate China from technological dependence, China decided to go through what I call “managed capitalism”.
This is the prerequisite for achieving the innovation that was heralded in the Three Represents.
So the private sector has been built and developed by the Party – the first manufactured and planned private sector in the world. That does not mean the private sector companies are state owned or state controlled. But they are more test tube than natural. The task of both SOE and Private Sector is to take China to technological parity by 2030 or so ( the date is my guess).
To achieve this requires a non-dogmatic state, innovative and progressive, yet conservative when needed, that manages this phase of managed capitalism and enables its successor of Socialism with Chinese characteristics to emerge.
To do that the State, and the Party at the core of the State, must be free of corruption and dogma, and committed to the economic outputs that are required. Corruption must be driven out or the result will be pockets, or more, of reserved wealth and power under individual or group control, which is contrary to the concepts of Socialism with Chinese characteristics.
There will be no relenting on the movement to reverse thirty years of growing corruption which really became bad after about 1993/4. I know I have seen it at first hand and still do.
You cannot have managed capitalism, or indeed any effective capitalism if the core is corrupted. It was Adam Smith who saw and said this. It was not Marx.
Hong Kong’s great success after 1972 was due to the opening up of the USA and China and the crushing of corruption. The crushing of corruption in China will take another 20 years and the unfolding civil balancing to manage corruption openly will take as long to emerge.
A Managed Market Economy – and Democracy with Chinese characteristics will be what is revealed in the decade ahead and why the Party needs the leadership of Xi.
Expect more on this theme not less.
And as China builds a modern economy based on need, not want, based on sustainable development, not debt, China will increasingly share its prosperity and help other Silk Road nations and those in other South- South areas. It is an unfolding world of two systems which can work together to create growth and sustainable development.
Whatever happens I doubt the China model is for turning, although some, inside and outside China, will try and some in the Party may fear the outside pressures and want to accede to subjugation.
There is no quick victory route for China, and there is no possibility of subjugation. China and the West can coexist and make win-win a reality. Just needs innovative thinking.
Stephen and friends