Xi Jinping’s ‘principal contradiction’ to define China’s road-map

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

President Xi has underscored that the principle contradiction was now “between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life"

Delegates participating in the twice-a-decade conference of the Communist Party of China (CPC) are pouring over President Xi Jinping’s marathon opening address on Wednesday, especially his emphasis on the “principal contradiction” facing China.

An explainer published by the Xinhua, the state news agency has tried to decode the hidden meaning behind the “principal contradiction,” purposefully highlighted by President Xi. “Principal contradiction” is not an “obscure piece of political jargon,” but a central part of the “dialectical materialism” through which Marxists interpret the world, the commentary observes.

It adds: “Contradictions — or ‘dynamic opposing forces’ — are omnipresent in society and drive social change. The ‘principal contradiction’ is what defines a society. By identifying and solving it, society develops peacefully. Left unsolved, it can lead to chaos and eventually, as Marx predicted, to revolution.”

An inaccurate reading of the “principal contradiction” can lead to disastrous consequences.

China faced “prolonged social turmoil” after the party wrongly diagnosed “proletariat versus bourgeoisie” or an irreconcilable class war between the working people and the affluent as the “principal contradiction” during the late Mao-era. But in 1981, the CPC changed its assessment of the “principal contradiction,” which led to structural market economic reforms, leading to near 10 per cent expansion of the Chinese economy for the next 30 years.

A new era

The situation has changed yet again. Pointing to the dawn of a “new era,” President Xi has underscored that the principal contradiction was now “between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life". The commentary explains that aspirations among many Chinese have spiraled. Many Chinese are now seeking an education at Oxford or Cambridge, a vacation in California, or a villa in Sydney. “This demand for a better life overseas is derived from an inability to satisfy these desires at home. The very highest level of education s not available or in acute short supply. There are long waiting lists in the very best hospitals. Tourist sites are crowded and services there have hardly advanced at the same pace as people's expectations.”

Chinese regions have also developed unevenly. Besides, the gap in personal wealth is a major concern. “The country's three richest men — two Internet gurus and one property magnate — are each worth more than 30 billion dollars. Meanwhile, millions of people struggle to get by on less than a dollar a day,” the report observes. The fulfillment of aspirations for equitable growth, a cleaner environment, a richer cultural life, and a secure external environment identified by the current “principal contradiction,” will guide policy formulation in the coming decades.

During his address, President Xi pointed to the twin centenary goals — making China a moderately prosperous country by 2021, leading to the emergence of an advanced socialist nation by 2049 when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established. “His (President Xi’s) two-stage development strategy spans 30 years, with the objective of making China a "great modern socialist country," the commentary observed.

Ning Jizhe, a Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reforms Commission (NDRC) — China’s top planning body pointed to a mammoth Greater Bay Area plan that would help achieve the “centenary goals”. The project rivaling the Tokyo Bay Area and the San Francisco Bay area will cover Hong Kong, Macao and nine cities in the China’s Guangdong province including the power-houses of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, he said during a media conference on Saturday. Mr. Ning pointed out that nearly 68 million people in the area will benefit which will have a collective economy of $ 1.4 trillion.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 4:41:56 PM |

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