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The Case Against Incrementalism
To the Editor:
The article “The World According to Xi Jinping,” by Kevin Rudd (November/December 2022), is based on a skin-deep understanding of China’s political system, development path, and governing philosophy, and contains a number of misinterpretations and distortions. The political system of socialism with Chinese characteristics is rooted in the soil of Chinese society. The country’s history makes clear that copying other countries’ political systems would not work and would even ruin China’s future. By integrating Marxism with China’s actual conditions and traditional Chinese culture, the Communist Party of China has united and led the Chinese people in achieving national independence and liberation; the country has finally found the right path to prosperity.
Under the party's leadership, the Chinese people have created rapid economic growth and long-term social stability. By 2021, more than 800 million people had been lifted out of poverty in the past four decades; today, China is a country of 1.4 billion people moving towards modernization.
Contrary to Rudd’s denigrating criticisms, the party's Central Committee, with General Secretary Xi Jinping at its core, has led the Chinese people in building a better life through hard work and has won the heartfelt support of the country’s people. In 2020, the Ash Center at the Harvard Kennedy School released the results of a massive survey, based on interviews with more than 32,000 Chinese citizens between 2003 and 2016. In the survey’s final year, 95.5 percent of respondents reported being either “relatively satisfied” or “highly satisfied” with the central government’s performance. “Trust among Chinese citizens in their government is a record 91 percent, the highest seen in a decade,” the consulting firm Edelman reported in early 2022, in its annual Trust Barometer.
Rudd expresses concerns about China’s development model, and others worry that China will export its ideology, which will pose a threat to other countries’ values. This fear is completely unnecessary and shows a lack of confidence in other systems. China has no history of preaching to or lecturing others and has no intention today to export its system or path.
Rudd also smears China by accusing it of “coercion,” complaining that China has acted in an “aggressive” manner, and dismissing its foreign policy as a manifestation of “Marxist nationalism.” But coercion and hegemony are not in the genes of the Chinese people. On the contrary, the Chinese believe in the ancient proverbs that “a hegemonic state is doomed to fail” and “a warlike state will eventually perish.” For more than 70 years, the People’s Republic of China has never provoked a conflict, occupied one inch of foreign soil, started a proxy war, or joined any military bloc. China has the best peace record among the world’s major countries and has made major contributions to global strategic stability.
Rudd argues that “greater party control” has led to “declining business confidence” in China. China has developed itself in the course of reform, opening up, and integration into the world. China will open its door wider. Just as China cannot develop in isolation from the world, the world needs China for its development. China has been paving the way for foreign investment and market access by, for example, removing caps on foreign ownership of passenger-car manufacturing companies and easing approval processes for stock issuance, mergers and acquisitions, and internet financial information services. By creating a more enabling business environment, China is providing its global partners with vast cooperation opportunities. And China would welcome greater success of U.S. businesses in the Chinese market.
China utilized 155.3 billion US dollars of foreign capital in the first nine months of 2022, a year-on-year increase of 18.9 percent. During that period, foreign investment in high-tech industries increased by 32.3 percent year-on-year. If multinational companies are not optimistic about the Chinese market in the long run or not fully confident in China’s opening up, why are they still investing in China? These facts are more telling than groundless speculation and guesswork.
In October, the party successfully held its 20th National Congress, which provided a clear plan for the next step of the country’s development and ensured a strong leadership core. As a major country that accounts for nearly one-fifth of the world’s population and more than 18 percent of the global economy, China’s political stability is good news for the world, especially given the volatile international situation.
— Liu Pengyu
LIU PENGYU is Minister Counselor and Spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in the United States.