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Common Prosperity Is an Important Feature of Chinese-Style Modernization


A leading Marxist theorist at the Central Party School attempts to locate the new Common Prosperity concept within the larger arc of China’s path of development and modernization.

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General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed at the tenth meeting of the Central Financial and Economic Committee: “Common prosperity is the essential requirement of socialism and an important feature of Chinese-style modernization.” A deep understanding of common prosperity is an important feature of Chinese-style modernization, which is helpful to reveal the “historical regulations” of Chinese-style of modernization in the development process, better understand what is new in the Chinese-style modernization, and recognize the major difference between the path of the new Chinese-style modernization and Western modernization, which is of great significance for the overall construction of a modern socialist country. 


The pursuit of common prosperity runs through the historical process of the formation and expansion of the new path of Chinese-style modernization. The new path of Chinese-style modernization originated from the great creation of the Chinese Communist Party and was pioneered by the unity of the Party and led the people to explore. The leadership of the Party is the unique political advantage of the new path of Chinese-style modernization. “As soon as it was born, the Communist Party of China established its original mission to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” Achieving common prosperity in the historical pursuit of modernization is a reflection of the unchanging original mission of the Chinese Communist Party. Our Party unites and leads the people in exploring the path of modernization and advancing toward the goal of common prosperity. In the early days of the founding of the New China, Comrade Mao Zedong pointed out: “Now we are implementing such a system and such a plan, which we can become richer and stronger year after year, and we can see that we become richer and stronger year after year. This wealth is the common prosperity, this strength is a common strength, everyone has a share of it.” After the reform and opening up, Comrade Deng Xiaoping pointed out: “The essence of socialism is to liberate productive forces, develop productivity, eliminate exploitation, eliminate polarization, and eventually achieve common prosperity . . . One dominant public ownership and one common prosperity are the fundamental principles of socialism that we must adhere to.” Socialism with Chinese characteristics entered a new era, General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed: “The development that we pursue is the development that benefits the people, and the prosperity we seek is the common prosperity of all people . . . We must attach greater importance to promoting the common prosperity of all people . . . We must make more substantial progress in promoting all-round human development and common prosperity for all. Generations of Chinese communists have continued to carry out their original mission, pursuing common prosperity through the historical process of forming and expansion of the new path of Chinese modernization.


The pursuit of common prosperity is embodied in the goal of continuous enrichment and development of Chinese-style modernization. In the process of opening up and expanding the new path of Chinese-style modernization, Chinese communists continue to explore practical paths to achieve common prosperity and strive for common prosperity in a moderately prosperous society and modernization drive. In the new era of reform and opening up, the unity of our Party has led the people not to the old path of isolation and rigidity, nor to the misguided path of abandoning the banner of socialism, but to unswervingly follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Proceeding from the specific national conditions of the primary stage of socialism in China, we have achieved a moderately prosperous society in an all-around way as the first centennial goal, and we insist on continuously safeguarding and improving the people’s livelihood in the course of development. Today, after the continuous struggle of the entire Party and the people of all ethnic groups, we have achieved the first century-old goal, fully built a moderately prosperous society on the land of China, and historically solved the problem of absolute poverty. This means that we have taken a solid step on the path to common prosperity. The report of the Party’s 19th National Congress suggested that by 2035, “all people will make a solid step towards common prosperity” and that by the middle of this century, “the common prosperity of all people is achieved, and the people of our country will enjoy a happier and healthier life.” The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party set out a more specific demand, proposing that by 2035, “per capita gross domestic product (GDP) will reach the level of moderately developed countries, the middle-income groups will be significantly expanded, basic public services will be equalized, and the development gap between urban and rural areas and the gap in living standards of residents will be significantly narrowed.” People’s lives will be better and the all-round development of people and the common prosperity of all people will have made more obvious substantive progress. These important decisions and deployments point the way forward toward achieving common prosperity and map out an ambitious blueprint for achieving common prosperity. 


The pursuit of common prosperity clarifies the inevitable requirements for taking the new path of Chinese-style modernization. The new path of Chinese-style modernization is a great creation combining the basic principles of Marxism with the specific realities of China. Marxist science reveals the laws of human historical and socialist development and provides us with a scientific global outlook and methodology for understanding and transforming the world. Specifically, Marxism reveals historical trends in the development of capitalist societies, clearly stating that “the movement of the proletariat is an independent movement of the overwhelming majority of people, and for the benefit of the vast majority.” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels envisaged that in the future society, “production will be aimed at the prosperity of all people be for all” and “all people will enjoy the benefits created by everyone.” General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that we should insist on promoting people’s welfare, promoting all-round development of people, and making steady progress toward common prosperity as the starting point and landing point of economic development. The 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party suggested that the main contradiction in our country’s society has been transformed into a contradiction between the people’s growing need for a better life and the unbalanced and inadequate development. To focus on resolving the main social contradictions in the new era, we must constantly create a better life and gradually achieve common prosperity for all people. Our Party takes the promotion of common prosperity of all people as the focal point of the people’s happiness and is committed to better meeting the people’s growing need for a better life. It is also for this reason that the new path of Chinese-style modernization has been sincerely embraced by most people. 


The pursuit of common prosperity highlights the profound cultural heritage of the new path of Chinese modernization. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that excellent traditional culture is fundamental to the inheritance and development of a country and a nation. If it is lost, it will cut off the spiritual lifeline. The new path of Chinese-style modernization carries forward the values and ideal pursuits of Chinese excellent traditional culture and has a profound historical and cultural heritage. The excellent Chinese traditional culture contains a wealth of ideas about a moderately prosperous, harmonious, and greatly united society. There is a record of “moderate prosperity” in the Book of SongsBook of Rites, Li Yun described the ideals of a harmonious society as reflected in the description of “all roads are common.” Confucius spoke of “do not suffer from poverty but inequality. Do not suffer from poverty but insecurity.” As Guan Zhong said, “When granaries are solid, etiquette is known; when food and clothing are sufficient, honor and disgrace are known.” This illustrates the relationship between the material foundation and civilization progress. From Zuo Zhuan, “people’s livelihood in diligent, diligent, not want” explains the importance of hard work; Sun Yat-sen proposed that “people’s livelihood should be the focus of social evolution” and expressed the requirement of improving people’s livelihood. However, due to the lack of institutional foundation and material conditions, these ideologies remain in the vision of a better society. Only with the creation of the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the opening of a new path of Chinese-style modernization can we lay down solid conditions for productivity and social development for the realization of common prosperity so that the ideal of common prosperity can gradually become a reality in the land of China. 


The historical logic, practical logic, theoretical logic, and cultural logic of the new path of Chinese-style modernization together determine that common prosperity must be its important feature. Whether or not to adhere to common prosperity has become an important symbol for distinguishing the new path of Chinese-style modernization from that of Western modernization. 


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张占斌 (Zhang Zhanbin). "Common Prosperity Is an Important Feature of Chinese-Style Modernization [共同富裕是中国式现代化的重要特征]". CSIS Interpret: China, original work published in People's Daily [人民日报], October 12, 2021

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