“On the rejuvenation of the nation”
It is rather appropriate to term the 100th founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) as the rejuvenation of the nation. The term used by President Xi Jinping is to describe the occasion to include the strides it has achieved.
American professor Graham Tillett Allison, Jr., author of the book “Thucydides Trap” concurs that “China’s rejuvenation” is the re-emergence of its economic power, much that for five thousand years, it has been a great power, and was only eclipsed at the turn of the 18th century when the West imposed unequal trade until it ended in 1949.
President Xi Jinping’s description of China as one of great rejuvenation of China is accurate because China once traded in the ancient world, has influenced the propagation of culture and invented products of great value like gunpowder, paper and compass. China has a long history of civilization. This explains why the Middle Kingdom, as it was then called, imposed an isolationist policy since it has all the resources it needs.
The CPC remains humble but proud of its achievements. China also calls the anniversary as the end to an era of humiliation. When somebody in the incoming Truman administration then whispered that the defeat of the Nazis did not mean the US would emerge as a monolithic power, President Truman could not believe it.
Professor Joseph Nye of Harvard later applied the win-win formula in international relations to avoid the ghastly destruction of World War II. He wanted to avoid the US and China ending up in what Allison termed as the “Thucydides Trap.” In fact, ahead was George C. Marshall who came out with a novel idea similar to the present Marshall Plan. Many say it is a carbon copy of today’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China. The Marshall Plan extended economic assistance to the war-ravaged countries of Europe, including the drastic reform in the monetary system.
Surprisingly, the Plan excluded countries in Eastern Europe. For this, the US transferred over $13 billion to economically rehabilitate Europe and to prevent it from being overrun by the Soviet Union. The plan included Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and then West Germany.
As stated, many countries observed, the BRI of China was lifted from the Marshall Plan. Others disagree. First, the Marshall Plan selected the countries to receive the economic rehabilitation given by the US while the BRI was open to all, provided they apply for membership. Second, the BRI is beneficial to countries as it is intended to develop both the public and the private sectors of the economy. Third, the Marshall Plan had ideological undertones of promoting free enterprise. Fourth, unlike the Marshall Plan, the BRI is one that can generate its own income, and is not dependent on funding from China. Fifth, the overall ledger of the BRI is the accelerated development of the member states. In effect, the BRI can use it to measure the country’s economic development as it provides the basic infrastructure like the opening of arterial roads and ports and the creation of commercial centers to promote trade and enhance the income of the people and economy.
The BRI is estimated to cost around $4 trillion to 8 trillion involving 60 countries. China and the participating states are not counting on the cost, for as said, the project is self-sustaining. They will reap the income as soon as it is completed. Unlike the Western-sponsored developmental projects, the problem of paying the cost is left to the host country which is often subject to political blackmail by the lending countries which reason why many debtor-states are mired in debt or abandoned the project for lack of funds.
Strictly speaking, the CPC has already attained its objective of capturing political power, understood as the success of the revolution. From the Marxist point of view, the revolution involves changes in the social and economic system. In China’s case, the shift to socialism with Chinese characteristics did not end there. It continues to improve and better serve the people well.
The CPC went beyond the stage of promising liberation to their people. That was the first revolution. And it is now committed to constantly finding solutions to problems confronting their society. This is an important task necessary to avoid the Party from stagnating to irrelevancy.
The Party has to offer something novel to put tangible meaning to their liberation. The ascendancy of Deng Xiaoping saw the re-structuring of China’s economy towards modernization. This was the second revolution that kept the party relevant and vibrant. Deng stunned the world when he said: “To get rich is glorious.” This was his way of promoting a free market economy in an erstwhile egalitarian society. It was this shift to socialism with a Chinese characteristic that today is threatening to crumble the very foundation of US free enterprise. It was this shift that made China the most economically powerful country in the world today.
The third revolution undertaken by the CPC was the promise to eradicate poverty. Although this revolution was ahead of the majestic Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the policy was intended to uplift the people in rural China. Unless achieved, the revolution will remain shaky. People will always find excuses to change their government and poverty is the external manifestation of social and economic inequality. This breeds corruption and the reason why nations are deeply divided and wracked in civil war.
The eradication of poverty by President Xi Jinping proved to be correct and timely. As China was slowly industrializing and the people enjoying the fruits of a moderately prosperous economy, the China’s National People Congress redirected the thrust of development to supplying the needs of the people better suited to their standard of living. China has to attend to the needs of its internal market by supplying the emerging market with goods to cushion their economy which is why it was able to avoid the cyclical economic shocks experienced in the West. China today has the biggest population of the middle class in the world.
China knows about the cycle in the capitalist system of economy, and the lifting of the more 600 million Chinese from poverty would necessitate the consumption of new products attuned to the lifestyle of what they described as a moderately prosperous society. The progress in China affected the needs of the internal market of rural China, and the emergence of the middle class gave buoyancy to its economy. It was as what the Chinese would say a win-win formula.
The fourth revolution was the launching of the BRI. The gargantuan economic project was a declaration that the world has a community of shared future. China cannot remain isolated while the rest of mankind wallows in poverty, disease, employment, and wrapped in ignorance. Maybe this is the final revolution.
The People’s Republic of China is true to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence enunciated by its late Premier Zhou Enlai. It continues to avoid the entanglement of the Cold War they know could lead China and the rest of mankind to the Thucydides Trap. China has repeatedly said that it will not start a conflict but will never shy away if attacked. The BRI is China’s universalization of the win-win formula in international relations or should we say the application that we truly have a “community of shared future.”