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Qu Qingshan, Director of the Central Party History and Documentation Research Institute: A Powerful Ideological Weapon for Building a Strong Financial Nation


Qu Qingshan, one of China’s top Party theorists, argues that developing and modernizing the financial system is an integral component in the pursuit of modernization and “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” He emphasizes that for China to be a strong player in the global financial system, several structural risks in the domestic finance industry must be addressed. This piece appears in one of the leading Party newspapers and echoes Xi Jinping’s recent emphasis on strengthening the financial system, signaling policy priorities.

Key takeaways
  • Following Xi Jinping’s address at the Central Party School in January 2024, Qu Qingshan, the director of the Institute of Party History and Literature argues that developing and modernizing the financial system is integral in the pursuit of economic modernization and “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
  • The author highlights the potentially devastating impacts of financial sanctions imposed by foreign governments and other economic upheavals, and argues that creating a secure and stable finance industry is a prerequisite for China’s status as a strong and competitive great power in the international system.
  • Qu Qingshan suggests that strengthening China’s financial system will require efforts to eliminate or better manage structural risks—namely, local government debt, issues in the real estate sector, and financially uninformed or corrupt leaders.
  • To achieve a strong financial system and prevent financial risks, the author advises Chinese financial regulators to follow leadership of the Party Central Committee on questions of finance, to focus their work on serving the real economy and risk control, to continuously innovate and develop the financial system, and to balance financial openness and risk prevention.
  • Echoing calls of China’s top leadership, the author sets deadlines for the development of a strong financial system: overall framework will be set up in the next five years; the modern financial system will be in place by 2035, and a “strong financial nation” will be built by 2050.
  • The author outlines the steps his institute (Institute of Party History and Literature) will take toward the development of the finance industry —including publishing seminal Party works on the topic, conducting research, promotion and interpretation of Xi Jinping’s works on finance, and documenting Party achievements in this field.

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At the beginning of the new year, General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech at the opening ceremony of the seminar for provincial and ministerial-level leading cadres on promoting high-quality financial development, with the theme of advancing the high-quality development of finance, served as the first lesson for senior officials of the entire Party. This is a brilliant document of Marxist financial theory with strong political, ideological, targeted, and directive attributes, requiring repeated study, deep understanding, and comprehension.


Deepen the Understanding of the Important Position and Role of Financial Work in the Overall Party and State Affairs


Following the 2023 Central Financial Work Conference, General Secretary Xi Jinping once again elaborated on financial issues within just three months, fully demonstrating the high importance attached to financial work, containing profound political wisdom and strategic considerations in governance. The important status of finance as a “major affair of the country” can be understood from four aspects.


From the perspective of the central task of the Party in the new era and new journey, finance is crucial to the overall situation of Chinese-style modernization. The central task of the new era and new journey is to comprehensively advance the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation with Chinese-style modernization, a major decision made by the 20th Party Congress. After the 20th Party Congress, the Central Committee held a seminar for the new members and alternate members of the Central Committee and the main leading cadres at the provincial and ministerial level to study and implement the thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for the new era of Xi Jinping and the spirit of the 20th Party Congress. General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech at the opening ceremony focused on the theme of “Chinese-style modernization”. In this seminar, General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech focused on “financial issues in Chinese-style modernization.” Why talk about financial issues? Because finance is the core of the modern economy, the lifeblood of the national economy, and building a strong financial nation is a strategic task and inevitable requirement for building a modern socialist country. Without good financial work and high-quality financial development, there can be no high-quality development of the entire economy and society, and it will not be possible to smoothly achieve Chinese-style modernization. Only by steadfastly pursuing the path of financial development with Chinese characteristics and promoting high-quality financial development in our country can we provide strong financial support for achieving the central task of the Party in the new era and new journey.


From the perspective of the international situation of the great changes unseen in a century, finance is a critical battleground for great power competition. Finance is an important core competitiveness of a country, financial reform and development are important contents of national reform and development, and financial security is an important part of national security. Historically, the rise of great powers is inseparable from the key support of a strong financial system. In today’s world, the intensity and impact of financial wars even surpass armed conflicts and technological disputes. Moreover, financial sanctions play an important role behind armed conflicts and technological disputes. China has now become a large financial country but not yet a strong financial country. Only by accelerating the building of a strong financial nation and continuously improving our competitiveness and discourse in international finance can we take the initiative in the great power game.


From the perspective of the domestic economic situation, preventing and defusing financial risks remains a long way off. Finance is very important but also prone to risks. Currently and for some time to come, China’s financial sector is in a period prone to frequent risks. In the important speeches at the National Financial Work Conference in 2017, the Central Financial Work Conference in 2023, and this seminar, General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized the issue of preventing and defusing financial risks. Over the past 40 years of reform and opening up, China has not experienced a financial crisis, which is unique among the world’s major countries. However, this does not mean that everything is calm. In the 1990s, we experienced financial “chaos”, and several major banks were technically in trouble. Currently, risks in small and medium financial institutions, local government debt, financial risks in the real estate sector, and risks of illegal financial activities are particularly prominent, with risks continuing to worsen, stock risks not yet bottomed out, incremental risks still accumulating, and the concealment, suddenness, contagion, and destructiveness of financial risks being particularly strong, mishandling of which can easily trigger social and political risks, and must not be taken lightly. Only by enhancing the awareness of potential dangers, adhering to bottom-line thinking, extreme thinking, and resolutely resolving the contradictions and problems in the financial sector fundamentally, and firmly holding the bottom line of not having systemic financial risks, can national security and social stability be ensured.


From the perspective of the cadre team, improving financial work capability and strengthening financial supervision and management is extremely urgent. The financial sector is concentrated with power, capital, and resources, both a “major national tool” and a high-incidence area for corruption. Doing a good job in finance requires that leaders at all levels, especially the financial cadre team, must be politically strong, capable, and disciplined. Many problems and chaos in the financial field are caused by human factors. Many leaders know little about financial work, facing a relatively serious “capability panic”. Especially some people have distorted views of achievements, lack common sense about financial work, violate the laws of the financial market, make decisions impulsively, act recklessly, and leave irresponsibly, acting arbitrarily and causing irreparable major losses. Even worse, some people act recklessly, relying on finance to exploit it, colluding internally and externally, abusing power for personal gain, and being excessively greedy. It is evident that improving the capability of leaders to do financial work, and increasing anti-corruption efforts in the financial sector, is an urgent task in the current construction of the financial cadre team.


Deepen the Understanding of Our Party’s Exploration of the Path to Financial Development with Chinese Characteristics


Our Party has always attached great importance to financial work, continuously deepening its understanding of financial work and tirelessly exploring a path of financial development that conforms to China’s reality.


During the New Democratic Revolution period, Mao Zedong placed great importance on financial work, leading our Party to issue currency and establish a national bank as early as the Soviet era. During the Yan’an period, Mao Zedong explicitly included “adjusting financial relations” in the Shaan-Gan-Ning Border Region Government Program, and he emphasized that “understanding trade, finance, and fiscal policy are important links in organizing the entire economic life. Without them or adopting wrong policies towards them, the entire economic life will stagnate or be obstructed.” Our Party established an effective monetary and financial system in the anti-Japanese base areas and liberated areas, strongly supporting the construction of the base areas and armed struggle. However, during this period, our Party was mainly active in rural areas and was generally unfamiliar with urban financial work.


During the period of socialist revolution and construction, our Party won the “Silver Yuan Battle” and “Rice and Cotton Battle” shortly after the founding of New China, quickly stabilizing the economic order of New China. Subsequently, we successfully carried out currency reform, established a banking system that fit the economic system at the time, and saw great development in China’s financial industry. However, under the highly centralized planned economy system, the main function of the state bank was cashier and accounting, not yet a real bank, making it difficult for finance to play a real role in resource allocation and to fully utilize limited resources.


In the new period of reform and opening up and socialist modernization, our Party gained a deeper understanding of the importance of finance. Deng Xiaoping pointed out, “If finance is well-managed, one move will enliven the whole game,” and requested that “steps in financial reform should be bigger.” We initially established the central banking system and a financial system mainly consisting of banks, securities, and insurance, playing an important role in developing the socialist market economy. As reform and opening up deepened, China’s financial industry encountered significant opportunities but also faced new challenges. Under the new circumstances, our Party attaches great importance to advancing financial reform and development and ensuring financial security, and has conducted in-depth research on a series of major financial issues. We successfully withstood the impact of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, promoting sustained and healthy development of the national economy.


In the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics, since the 18th Party Congress, the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has combined Marxist financial theory with contemporary China’s specific reality and excellent traditional Chinese culture, continuously advancing practical innovation, theoretical innovation, and institutional innovation in China’s financial industry, and striving to explore the path to financial development with Chinese characteristics. Under the centralized and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee, we resolutely fought to prevent and defuse financial risks. The financial system has strongly supported the overall development of the economy and society, providing a source of vitality for promoting high-quality economic development in China, completing the building of a moderately prosperous society on schedule, effectively responding to sudden impacts such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and properly dealing with various counter-currents such as the “decoupling and chain-breaking” efforts by the US and Western countries, making significant contributions.


History and practice fully prove that the path to financial development with Chinese characteristics is an unprecedented path of pioneering and innovation, a path of confidence and self-reliance, a path of stable progress, a path of long-term governance and lasting peace. It did not fall from the sky, nor was it copied from books, but was created by our Party leading the people through long-term arduous exploration. This path has not come easily, and it is viable, stable, conforms to China’s national conditions, adapts to China’s reality, and follows the trend of the times.  It must be unswervingly followed.


Deepen the Understanding of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s Important Expositions on Financial Work


Since the 18th Party Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping has made a series of important expositions on financial work, systematically expounding the basic content of the path to financial development with Chinese characteristics. Studying General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech at the opening session of this workshop has further deepened our understanding of the core essence, spiritual substance, and main content of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important expositions on financial work.


Adhere to the centralized and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee over financial work. Strengthening the centralized and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee over financial work is the fundamental guarantee for doing financial work well. This is the primary issue for following the path of financial development with Chinese characteristics, as well as the most critical and core issue. To do financial work well, we must further deeply understand the decisive significance of “the two establishes” and resolutely achieve “the two safeguards.”


Adhere to people-centered value orientation. The nature and purpose of our Party and the nature and functions of state power determine that China’s financial business is for the people and benefits the people, fundamentally different from the essence of finance in the United States and other Western countries, which serves capital and a few wealthy people. To do financial work well, we must stand firm with the people, enhance the diversity, inclusiveness, and accessibility of services, and better protect the rights and interests of financial consumers.


Adhere to serving the real economy as the fundamental purpose of finance. Serving the real economy is the innate duty and purpose of finance, as well as the fundamental measure to prevent financial risks. To do financial work well, we must return to the source, insist on serving the real economy as the starting point and foothold, and achieve high-quality development of finance itself while supporting the real economy to become stronger, better, and larger.


Adhere to treating risk prevention and control as the eternal theme of financial work. Maintaining financial security is a strategic and fundamental matter related to the overall development of China’s economy and society; preventing and resolving financial risks is the fundamental task of financial work. To do financial work well, we must insist on treating risk prevention and control as the eternal theme of financial work and firmly guard against systemic financial risks.


Adhere to promoting financial innovation and development on the track of marketization and legalization. The security of finance relies on the system, vitality in the market, and order on the rule of law. To do financial work well, we must have a sound regulatory system, establish a complete legal and market rules system, have strict prohibitions and legal consequences, and ensure the healthy operation of the financial market.


Adhere to deepening financial supply-side structural reform. To implement the new development concept fully, accurately, and comprehensively, focusing on deepening financial supply-side structural reform as the main line, accelerate the construction of a modern financial system with Chinese characteristics. To do financial work well, we must focus on building modern financial regulatory, market, institutional, supervisory, product and service, and infrastructure systems, providing higher quality and more efficient financial services for the development of the real economy.


Adhere to coordinating financial openness and security. We must actively promote high-level financial openness and ensure national financial and economic security. To do financial work well, we must control the pace and intensity of openness, effectively enhance financial regulatory capability, and ensure higher-level financial openness with higher-level risk prevention and control.


Adhere to the general principle of seeking progress while maintaining stability. Adhere to the principle of seeking progress while maintaining stability, advance with stability, and break new ground after establishing a solid foundation. To do financial work well, we must prioritize stability in macro-control, financial development, financial reform, financial supervision, risk management, etc., ensuring policies are not implemented too abruptly to avoid significant fluctuations. At the same time, we must be proactive, quickly establish what needs to be established, and continuously solve problems and progress while stabilizing the situation and maintaining the overall stability.


The path to financial development with Chinese characteristics must aim to accelerate the building of a strong financial nation, with the theme of promoting high-quality financial development, fostering and promoting a financial culture with Chinese characteristics, and building a financial powerhouse. It anchors three goals: In the next five years, the overall framework of a modern financial system with Chinese characteristics will be basically established; by 2035, a modern financial system with Chinese characteristics will be essentially established; and by the middle of this century, a modernized strong financial nation will be built.


General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important expositions on financial work encompass both a worldview and a methodology; they not only deploy the task of “crossing the river” but also guide the resolution of the problems of “bridge or boat,” scientifically answering a series of major theoretical and practical questions on how to view and carry out financial work in the new era and new journey. This is a profound summary of the history and practical experience of our Party leading financial work, an enrichment and development of Marxist financial theory, and the financial chapter of Xi Jinping’s economic thought, elevating our Party’s understanding of the essential laws and developmental path of finance to an unprecedented new height, providing fundamental compliance and action guides for walking the path of financial development with Chinese characteristics and accelerating the building of a strong financial nation. We must learn, grasp, and implement it completely, accurately, and comprehensively without any compromise.


Deepen the Understanding of Standing by One’s Duty, Serving the Overall Financial Work of the Party


Doing financial work is not only the responsibility of the financial departments and the financial system but also the common responsibility of the entire Party and society. The Central Party History and Documentation Research Institute, as a specialized institution for the study of Party history and theory, will remember its responsibilities and mission, focus on its main responsibilities and business, find the combination and focal points for serving the overall financial work of the Party, and focus on three aspects of work.


Focus on the editing and publishing of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important works. To do financial work well, one must first study Xi Jinping’s economic thought, especially General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important expositions on financial work, which requires systematic and authoritative textbooks. Editing and publishing General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important works is the primary duty of the Central Party History and Documentation Research Institute. We will edit and publish well the works of General Secretary Xi Jinping on important expositions of financial work, providing authoritative textbooks for the entire Party and society.


Focus on the research, interpretation, and promotion of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important expositions on financial work. Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is an unfolding and open-ended system of thought, and General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important expositions on financial work will also continue to enrich and develop as practice deepens. We will keep pace with the Party’s theoretical innovation and practical innovation process, study, interpret, promote, and introduce well the important expositions of General Secretary Xi Jinping on financial work, making efforts to systematize and theorize the Party’s innovative theories, promote them to gain deeper public understanding, and better reach the world, playing the role of the Party Central Committee’s reliable documentation repository, think tank, and advisory group well.


Focus on the compilation and research work of the Party’s major achievements and historical experiences in leading financial work. We are editing the Selected Important Documents since the 20th National Congress (Volume I) and other important Party document collections, and are writing A History of the Communist Party of China Volume III and IV and The Chronological History of the Communist Party of China (New Democratic Revolution period) and other basic Party history works. We will reflect the study and research results in the writing of these works, providing authoritative readings for learning from the past, and understanding the historical process and experience of our Party leading financial work, especially the significant achievements of financial reform and development in the new era.


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Cite This Page

曲青山 (Qu Qingshan). "Qu Qingshan, Director of the Central Party History and Documentation Research Institute: A Powerful Ideological Weapon for Building a Strong Financial Nation [中央党史和文献研究院院长曲青山:建设金融强国的强大思想武器]". CSIS Interpret: China, original work published in Study Times [学习时报], January 31, 2024

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