Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 the Communist Party of China has been the guiding force in the development of China’s economy and in the social and political affairs of the country. The CPC has managed to meet these challenges as they have arisen, and has achieved tremendous progress in improving the lives of the people. Life expectancy has risen dramatically, while infant mortality has been just as dramatically reduced. Housing, education, public health, and other social services and basic needs have been improved. Poverty has been reduced, and absolute poverty eliminated from the country.
The leadership of the CPC has been demonstrated in many ways, but a few examples can serve to highlight the key role the Party has played. The process of economic development has been a complex interplay of public and private interests. Using the mechanisms of markets to develop the productive economy has yielded great accomplishments in the improvement of the material standards of living for the 1.4 billion Chinese people.
There have also been problems associated with that process, including corruption, environmental stress, and issues of inequality. These contradictions arising in the course of development have been recognized by the CPC, and major policy programs have been undertaken to address them. The Party has worked to ensure that the benefits of economic development will be shared by the people who produce social wealth.
China is still in the initial phase of building a socialist future, and much work remains to be done, but the work of the CPC in using the core social functions of the socialist system to help tens of millions of workers survive the disruptions of the 2008 global financial crisis, and most recently in the latest mobilization of state, Party, and social human resources to contain and combat the coronavirus, treating public health as a human right rather than as a commodity for corporate profit-seeking, show the vital central role the CPC plays in China.
China’s successes have also been inspirational to people around the world. China has not sought to impose its system on other countries, but the impressive improvements in the lives of the Chinese people give hope to working people in many countries that they may be able to follow a similar path to a more prosperous future.
In my opinion the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a remarkable effort which should be respected and supported. It is in stark contrast with the predatory actions of the American-centered financial system, which seek to impose capitalist norms and practices on poor countries to expand the global reach of Western corporations.
The BRI has been developing new infrastructure within many countries, and transportation and communication between countries, to facilitate economic growth and technological advancement. This is an undertaking which will both allow China to continue to pursue its course of socialist development with Chinese characteristics, and will advance economic resources and integrated networks of trade and exchange, promoting a shared future of humanity. The BRI can be seen as one component in an overall effort to bring people together to seek a common future and build a better world that is more just and equitable as well as more prosperous in material terms.
The BRI is not a philanthropic project, nor a matter of China simply giving away resources. It is a project which will be of mutual benefit to China and to the many countries taking part around the world. But it is focused on shared goals of material progress, and can be a part of global efforts at addressing deeper issues like climate change, promoting clearer energy and green development. It is a long term enterprise, and the eventual results will not become clear for many years. But it is a worthwhile endeavor to create new global relationships serving the needs of ordinary people around the planet.
My own view is that in many countries, including my own, the United States, we need to work to build mass-based political parties which will be devoted to the interests of the working class. In America today both the “major” parties serve the purpose of supporting and protecting the wealth and power of a small elite. Through their control of mass media they are able to strongly shape the public debates about politics and economic questions. Elections here are warped by the influence of money, with ordinary working people being excluded from public office because of the high costs of political campaigns.
Kenneth Hammond is a history professor at New Mexico State University.