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China Daily Global / 2021-06 / 01 / Page013

Key determinant

By PENG BO and LI XING | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-06-01 00:00

The CPC's leadership has been pivotal to China's development achievements

Ensuring China's existence as a prosperous and strong nation and political entity has been a key concern in China's modern history. Earlier attempts at different periods by conservatives and reformers were frustrated by the scope of the challenge and the pressures from internal and external forces. The birth of the Communist Party of China in 1921 set China's historical course in the right direction.

Today the CPC is the largest political organization in the world with more than 90 million members, and the world is astonished by a completely new China. Today, China is the world's largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity, the world's second-largest economy in terms of GDP, the world's largest contributor to global economic growth for many decades, the world's largest manufacturer and importer of energy and resources, the biggest trading partner of more than 130 countries, the world's largest foreign currency holder (about $3.33 trillion), the world's largest recipient of foreign direct investment, and one of the world's biggest cross-border investors. It also has caught up in many leading high-tech areas.

What are the factors that have transformed China from being one of the poorest countries in the world to an economic powerhouse and enabled it to lift millions of people out of abject poverty within four decades? There are many, but it is believed that the most important one is the effective leadership of the CPC.

Discussing issues such as political legitimacy and political representation and consent is always controversial for any political system all over the world. In the past decades, fascination or irritation with the CPC has always influenced Western scholarship and journalism, which often produces sentiments that range from glowing appraisal and unqualified optimism to unjustified revulsion and deep pessimism.

The CPC's resilience refers to the CPC's profound adaptability and its ability to effectively combine social, political and economic changes with China's historically and culturally shaped structures. China's economic success is achieved precisely by the CPC's embedded accommodation and integration of changing state-market-society relations. Three key interrelated aspects of the CPC's adaptiveness and resilience are: persistence, adaptation and transformability.

The CPC's history has been embedded with the uninterrupted process of accommodating and absorbing non-Chinese ideas and practices within the Chinese political-cultural framework. It entails a spontaneous process of absorbing foreign ideas and practices while integrating them with Chinese native value systems and applications. China's historical and internal transformations correlate with its responses to external challenges.

The close nexus between the Chinese cultural-political tradition of meritocracy and performance legitimacy explains why the CPC has achieved overwhelming domestic recognition and approval. Last year Harvard University's Ash Center published a report indicating that the Chinese people's satisfaction with the government has increased virtually across the board. This satisfaction is largely based on the improvement that the government has made in three key areas: improved social security, anti-corruption, and a healthier environment. In past years, data of the across-country poll by the Ipsos Public Affairs Survey show that the Chinese population is, in comparison to others, most optimistic about both the future of their country and the future of the world. The Edelman Trust Barometer's data for recent years show that across international comparisons, the Chinese central government is the national government that has enjoyed the highest trust of the people. Recent research published by York University in Canada in May 2021 shows that the novel coronavirus outbreak has further boosted Chinese citizens' trust in their government: 93 percent at the county level, 94 percent at the city level and 95 percent at the provincial level.

The road to realize the CPC's founding objective, coined by President Xi Jinping as the "Chinese Dream"-the great historical rejuvenation of the Chinese nation-remains long. But the CPC's persistent effort to pursue it, and to pursue it in its own way, should be understood and honored.

China's CPC-led political system is historically shaped and culturally unique. Although the success of China's CPC-led development model may not be universally acclaimed or applicable, it does demonstrate that alternative non-Western paths to development and prosperity exist. The Chinese model is therefore inspirational and influential for the developing world.


Peng Bo is an assistant research fellow of the Institute of World Politics and Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Li Xing is a professor of the Department of Politics and Society at Aalborg University, Denmark.

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