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Century of CPC’s economic theoretical innovation

A light show to celebrate CPC’s 100th anniversary in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province Photo: CFP


The economic thoughts of the century-old CPC, formed in the process of comprehensively applying the principles of Marxist political economics to guide China’s practice, demonstrate theoretical innovation arising from a systematic summary of pertinent experience. Abundant economic thoughts have been developed during the century-long CPC journey. To sum up the CPC’s theoretical innovation, formulated through a series of economic development strategies and practices under different historical backgrounds, is of practical value to promote China’s modernization and of significant theoretical value to accelerate building socialist political economics with Chinese characteristics in a new era.

 
Theoretical developments
There are four dimensions to the foundation of the CPC’s theoretical innovation. First, its theoretical basis stems from adhering to Marxism as a guiding ideology. The CPC has combined basic principles of Marxist political economics with China’s specific national conditions, concrete practices, and realities of the times. Marxist theories on the building of socialist economic systems have been innovated and developed, forming a new democratic economic theory, and an economic theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Marxist theories on the nature of socialism have been innovated, releasing and developing productive forces, ultimately moving towards common prosperity. The innovation has led to basic socialist economic systems, clarifying misconceptions that equate the system with public ownership, or equate the socialist distribution system with distribution only according to labor, and regard mandatory planned economic systems as a typical socialist model. 
 
Particularly, since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialist Economy with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era was introduced. A series of theories on improving the modernization of China’s system and capacity for governance were put forward in the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee in 2019. Ownership systems, distribution modes, and the socialist market economic system were elevated to a new height. Those have all enriched connotations of the basic socialist economic system, which is a theoretical leap of organic integration of Marxist theories and China’s practice. 
 
Second, the political basis lies in the adherence to the Party’s leadership over economic work. As the leadership core coordinating all efforts, the Party has played a decisive role in system building, economic reform decision-making, and directing behaviors and concepts.  
 
The Party’s direct leadership over revolutionary base areas safeguarded military supplies during the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, leading to the new democratic revolution’s victory. After the founding of the PRC, Chairman Mao Zedong pointed out that the Party’s “political work is the lifeline of all economic work” in 1950s. The Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee in 1978 historically shifted the nation’s focus to economic development, implementing reform and opening up, pooling all resources to develop social productive forces. The initial period of reform and opening up laid a preliminary material foundation to launch socialist modernization with Chinese characteristics and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. With these interventions, China entered a new stage of development in the primary stage of socialism. Based on rational analysis of new economic development situations, the Party innovatively put forward the proposition of a “new normal in economic development,” proposing the new development concepts of “innovated, coordinated, green, open and shared development,” which accelerated the transformation of economic development modes. Solving the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever growing needs for a better life, is the focus of development in the new era.
 
Third, a people-centered philosophy of development has been upheld. The people-centered stance is the fundamental political stance of the CPC, as the Party’s original aspiration is to “seek happiness for the Chinese people,” ensuring that the Party’s work concerning economic construction and development is “people-centered.” This is the mass basis for the Party’s economic thoughts innovation. One important reason for the constant development of the Party’s economic thoughts lies in the Party’s standing together with the people, with “for the people” as the fundamental goal, “by the people” as the fundamental motivation, and “to the benefits of the people” as value pursuits, stepping towards the goal of common prosperity. 
 
Adhering to the “mass line,” upholding the primacy of the people, the Party exercises the principle of “from the people, to the people,” leveraging people’s pioneering spirit, collecting wisdom and strength from the people, allowing the Party’s theoretical innovation to enjoy enduring vitality. As demonstrated by historical practical experience, the CPC’s full grasp of people’s thinking and needs, and its close reliance on the people, promotes the new democratic revolution, socialist revolution, socialist construction, reform and opening up, and contributes Chinese wisdom to the innovation and development of Marxist political economics. 
 
Fourth, the practical basis lies in the adherence to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The key to the theoretical innovation of the Party’s economic thoughts is to find an economic development pathway in line with China’s national conditions. A comprehensive and reasonable grasp of China’s national conditions is the realistic basis for the Party’s innovation in economic thoughts. 
 
On the basis of a detailed analysis of China’s semi-colonial and semi-feudal society, the Party formed a new democratic economic theory in line with China’s national conditions, and created a path from New Democracy to socialism during the revolutionary war period. During the nearly 30 years before the reform and opening up, the Party adopted Marxism to China’s reality, continued along the path of socialist economic transformation and construction in line with China’s national conditions, and laid the institutional foundation for China’s development. After the reform and opening up, under the leadership of the Party, China has unswervingly followed the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, establishing and constantly improving the socialist market economic system, comprehensively promoting the transformation of the economic system from a traditional planned economic system to the modern system of market economy, with economic development patterns transforming from semi-open to a comprehensive opening up, and an economic growth model which transformed from extensive to intensive. Since the 21st century, the Party has further clarified the socialism’s essential requirement: the all-encompassing development of human beings. The 18th CPC National Congress put forward the “new era,” a new historical juncture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, which opened a new exploration course for socialism with Chinese characteristics at a higher basis, and promoted the shift of economic development modes from quantity to quality.
  
Disciplinary building 
Going forward, as we innovate the new paradigm of Marxist political economics with Chinese characteristics, economic theories are the concentrated embodiment of economic activities and an economic reality in the field of academic thought. Theoretical developments and paradigm changes represent distinct characteristics of the times, which are highly relevant to the practice of social and economic development. Today’s China has become the second largest economy globally, with its economic development entering a new stage.    
 
Hence, as requested by Xi Jinping,  general secretary of the CPC, new charcteristics and new patterns shall be grounded in China’s national conditions and development experience. “We must review and refine the achievements we have made in recognizing underlying laws through the process of economic development, and elevate our practical experience to the level of systematized economic theories. By doing so, we will constantly open up new frontiers for Marxist political economy in contemporary China, and contribute Chinese wisdom to the discipline’s innovation and development.” In this way,  the new paradigm of the Marxist political economics with Chinese characteristics shall be developed.
 
Based on Marx’s historical materialism and dialectical materialism, the evolution and progressive economic development stages can be harnessed in practice, with understanding of specific forms of economic laws in different stages of development and different historical periods, to inherit a historical view of political economy. Innovation of China’s economic theory can be expanded, with theoretical explanations of China’s stories and China’s development miracles enhanced, to offer Chinese wisdom globally to the development of Marxist political economics.   
 
Furthermore, it is also important to grasp the objective laws of China’s economic development and build socialist political economics with Chinese characteristics. Deeply understanding and respecting the objective laws of China’s economic development is a vital prerequisite for establishing development concepts and continuously improving the ability to coordinate economic development in practice. The CPC’s process of leading the Chinese people to develop a socialist path with Chinese characteristics and carry out socialist construction is also the process of understanding economic laws.
 
To improve the understanding and application of market economy laws, laws of nature and social development, and to enhance the ability to make scientific and democratic decisions, we must persist in seeking truth from facts and proceed from China’s reality. We should attach great importance to the theoretical summary of practical experience and provide theoretical guidance for China’s economic development in the new era on the basis of seeking truth from facts and scientific investigation and research.
 
We should keep pace with the times, base our theories on the new stage of development, implement the new development concepts, and build new development patterns. We should constantly promote theoretical innovation, fundamentally improve our abilities to solve basic and new problems with reform, opening up, and development in the new era, use the law of economic construction and development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and accelerate building socialist political economics with Chinese characteristics.
 
Ren Baoping is vice president of the Xi’an University of Finance and Economics.
 
 
 
Edited by MA YUHONG and ZHAO YUAN

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