In 2015, The Little Red Book made the headlines in the UK. The then Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell sparked a storm after using the Quotations of Chairman Mao—or The Little Red Book—to criticize then Chancellor George Osborne’s attempt to sell off state assets to China.
The daily ritual of making “morning requests, evening reports” has long gone in China. But why is there still a fuss over The Little Red Book?
The sad fact is that decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, the West still views the Communist Party—and thus the Communist Party-led China—as an alien. Even in the 21st century, Western countries, despite their close economic ties, insist on aversion and hostility against countries ruled by the communist parties. Reading out The Little Red Book in parliament seemed an easy but effective way to embarrass Osborne, though much of the criticism was ultimately directed at McDonnell himself.
China’s efforts within the international community cannot be denied. But the Western pursuit of global dominance determines that China, as an influential non-Western civilization, is an “alien.”
With totally different political systems, China, since the 19th century, has been a target of countries seeking to spread Western values across the world. The country’s successful resistance against Western aggression in the era of imperialism has further angered those who arrogate to themselves the right to determine the destiny of humankind.
This is the context of today’s West-China ideological fight.
Western politicians and media outlets demonize China and the Communist Party of China (CPC) on all fronts, even by seeking to split the CPC from the Chinese people. But this does not make the CPC a monster in the eyes of the Chinese people.
A few years ago, China Against the Tides: Restructuring through Revolution, Radicalism and Reform was a bestselling college textbook on Chinese political history. Interestingly, the author Marc Blecher depicts China in a way that contradicts the book’s title: The CPC-led socialist state has never attempted to be an alien to the rest of the world. It is not a challenger to the current model of international relations.
Yes, China is led by communists. But this is not against the wishes and interests of Chinese people nor is it opposed to modern ideas.
China is led by communists. But this is not against the wishes and interests of the Chinese people nor is it opposed to modern ideas.
Since the 19th century, several ideas—such as market mechanisms in economics, representative systems in politics, mutual respect as sovereign states in international relations and scientific thinking—have spread across the world. If these are the tides of modernization, CPC-led China is conforming to these tides, not opposing them.
Which is why the People’s Republic of China was officially recognized by the UN in 1971, it was permitted the membership of the World Trade Organization in 2001 and became the world’s second largest economy.
China’s development path
It has come this far because a CPC-led China blazed a development path that suits the country’s national conditions.
First, it is a path based on China’s realities. Refusing to blindly follow others’ footsteps, China has adapted to the changing times, drawing on the wisdom of its civilization and lessons from other countries.
Second, it is a path that puts people’s interests first. Following a people-oriented development philosophy, the CPC is committed to improving people’s livelihood. It insists that the government should be of the people, by the people and for the people. Ensuring that people are at the top priority has been the key to the CPC’s success in revolution, construction and reform.
Third, it is a path that pursues innovation with scientific thinking. Challenges are common in China’s way forward. But under CPC leadership, the country has actively sought innovative solutions, while reforming the ways of both thinking and acting. Following the principles of science, CPC-led China has unleashed tremendous social vitality, accelerating its development.
China’s vision of a community with a shared future for mankind features extensive consultation, joint contributions, and shared benefits in global governance.
China is on a path to building an open economy. China opposes trade protectionism and has been adhering to democratic and rules-based principles in trade with other countries. In doing so, it has become an important participant and contributor to global economic governance.
China’s endeavors in these regards flow with, not against the tide. This explains China’s developmental miracle.
China has also contributed to global governance. Despite Western biases against communism and communist parties, the CPC has sought common interests among different countries. China’s vision of a community with a shared future for mankind features extensive consultation, joint contributions, and shared benefits in global governance. These are what are required in our times.
Looking forward, China, under CPC leadership, will continue to coordinate its domestic policies with global rules and work to safeguard fairness and justice on the international stage.
If China is still seen as against the tide just because it is led by a communist party, it is time to question the premises that lead to such a conclusion.
Ideology cannot be the grounds to convict a country as an evil state.
Xia Lu is an Associate Professor at the School of Marxism Studies at Renmin University of China.