A standout feature: Chinese modernization is the modernization of peaceful development

2023-10-16 15:11:32 | Author:Qu Qingshan

The emphasis General Secretary Xi Jinping places on this issue stems from a dedication to peaceful development—pursuing China’s development amidst a staunch safeguarding of world peace and development, and using its development to further support world peace and development, propelling the establishment of a human community with a shared future, which is a “standout feature” of Chinese modernization. Properly understanding and precisely managing this “standout feature” is vital for efficaciously advancing Chinese modernization in practical applications.

Navigating the path of peaceful development is deeply rooted in the DNA of Chinese civilization. The Chinese people have long treasured peace, and the nation itself is fundamentally peace-loving. Early in its history, China advanced the idea that “When the great way prevails, the world is shared by all.” It endorsed the ethics of “good neighborliness” and “harmony in relations with all other countries,” embodying the wisdom that “even a powerful nation will fall if it resorts to aggression.” Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty navigated the world’s largest fleet across seven voyages to the Western Oceans, stretching as far as the eastern coast of Africa, yet he disseminated Chinese silk, tea, and porcelain through economic and cultural exchanges, without seizing an inch of foreign land. This love for peace is a cultural gene that perpetuates through the Chinese people and nation.

Opting for the path of peaceful development is the astute strategic choice made by the Chinese people. In modern times, due to the encroachments of imperialism and the decay of feudal rulers, China became a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. The nation was dishonored, its people endured hardship, and its civilization was shrouded in dust, imposing an unprecedented disaster upon the Chinese nation. Thus, the Chinese people and nation empathize profoundly with countries and peoples worldwide who have experienced the scourges of war and oppression. The Chinese people’s yearning for peace is unparalleled, and the nation’s opposition to war is more steadfast than any other’s. After establishing the People’s Republic of China, we articulated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, advocating for equality among countries, regardless of their size, strength, or wealth. Following the reform and opening up policy, we acknowledged the paramountcy of “peace and development as the primary themes of the modern world.” We recalibrated relations among major countries and fortified unity and cooperation with numerous developing nations. Entering the New Era, the Party Central Committee, with General Secretary Xi Jinping at its core, upholds a major-country diplomacy imbued with Chinese characteristics, propounding the development of a new type of international relations and advocating peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom as universal values for humanity. We are executing high-level external opening, high-quality pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative, and fostering a human community with a shared future. Our Party has advocated “keeping to the path of peaceful development,” engraving it into the Constitution of the CPC, and, through the national legal process, embedding it into the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, a feat unparalleled globally. The Party Constitution serves as the fundamental charter for governing the affairs of the CPC and operates as the fundamental law within the Party. The national Constitution is the fundamental charter for the Party and the people to govern and safeguard the country; it is the foundational law of the nation, thereby instituting norms through the highest forms of Party and national laws and regulations. China is recalibrating its international image, amplifying its international influence, and progressively advancing toward the epicenter of the global stage.

Navigating a path of peaceful development is congruent with the currents of global advancement and is the right way forward. The destiny of the world should be determined by the people of all nations. The world today faces profound changes of a kind unseen in a century: the old colonial systems are disintegrating, the group conflicts from the Cold War era no longer exist, and numerous emerging market and developing countries are accelerating their development. The levels of interconnectedness and interdependence among all nations are deepening continuously. However, humanity still faces myriad problems and challenges, with regional conflicts emerging intermittently, traditional and non-traditional security threats interweaving, and deficits in peace, development, security, and governance perpetually increasing. In these turbulent times, what is happening to the world and how should we respond? General Secretary Xi Jinping has sequentially proposed initiatives on global development, global security, and global civilization. These offer three substantial pillars for building a human community with a shared future, contributing Chinese wisdom and power to the solution of universal issues faced by humankind.

Embarking on a path of peaceful development marks a critical distinction between Chinese modernization and its Western counterpart. The modernization achieved by some Western countries has been realized through war, colonization, and plundering, a path that is detrimental to others for one’s own benefit, saturated with atrocities and bringing about profound suffering to the people of numerous developing countries. The discovery of the New World in the Americas, where colonizers implemented policies of racial extermination, decimated the Indigenous population from over five million to 250,000. In near-modern global history, the horrifying slave trade persisted for three centuries, resulting in a reduction of nearly 100 million Black Africans. Over 300 years, beginning at the end of the 15th century, colonizers seized 2.5 million kilograms of gold and 100 million kilograms of silver from Central and South America. In 1840, Western aggressors initiated the Opium War against China, forcing open China’s closed doors with their ships and artillery. Over the ensuing 100-plus years, numerous imperialistic countries across the globe invaded China, imposing 745 unequal treaties upon it. Through the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Japan extracted 231 million taels of silver from China; via the Peace Treaty of 1901, nations like the UK, the USA, and France extracted 450 million taels of silver from China, mandating repayment over 39 years, resulting in a total payout, including principal and interest, of 980 million taels. All these instances record the inglorious history of Western modernization and also delineate the original sin of capitalism.

Embracing a pathway of peaceful development is a standout feature of modernization that compels us to steadfastly align with the correct side of history and the progression of human civilization. We must unwaveringly uphold the banners of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit, endeavoring to secure our own development while staunchly preserving global peace and advancement, and using our progression to further safeguard world peace and growth.

Our grand path are expansive and boundless. Especially since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and the inception of reform and opening up, we have traversed an industrialization journey in mere decades, a journey that took Western developed countries hundreds of years. We’ve crafted a marvel of swift economic growth and enduring social stability, paving a broad avenue toward the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Both history and present circumstances convincingly demonstrate that Chinese modernization is not only viable and stable but also signifies the sole correct path toward nation-building and national rejuvenation, presenting a broad and prosperous way forward. We must steadfastly adhere to an unchanging path and unswerving ambition, perpetually remaining adaptable and industrious, unfazed by any risks and undistracted by any interferences. We shall neither retrace our steps to the rigidity and isolation of the past, nor take the wrong turn by changing our nature and abandoning our system. We will unwaveringly follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. As long as we continually navigate this singularly correct path and broad and prosperous way, and in line with the strategic design set out by the Party’s 20th National Congress, employ Chinese modernization to thoroughly advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, we will assuredly, by the mid-point of this century—marking the centenary of the People’s Republic of China—triumphantly achieve the Second Centenary Goal, transforming our country into a wealthy, powerful, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful modern socialist country.

Qu Qingshan: President of the Institute of Party History and Literature of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China