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China’s search for common prosperity

Author  :  ZHAO YUAN     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2021-11-10

Jaya Josie is a visiting professor at ZIBS.

Common prosperity is one of the objectives of China’s modernization. Dr. Jaya Josie, a visiting professor at Zhejiang University International Business School (ZIBS), shared his insights into China’s common prosperity pursuit with CSST.

CSST: What’s the theoretical connotation of China’s pursuit of common prosperity?

Jaya Josie: The theory of common prosperity and socialism with Chinese characteristics follows in the traditions of Marxian debates on socialism. In his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program, Karl Marx argues that socialism is a stage towards communism. In an ideal communist society: “From each according to…ability, to each according to… needs” is the main principle. In the transition to this ideal is the stage of socialism. Socialism is characterized by the principle that all should contribute to society according to their contribution and get paid based on their work. China has recently declared that it has finally eradicated absolute poverty in the country and today the country has advanced infrastructure and made rapid progress in research and development.

CSST: Could you elaborate more on your understanding of common prosperity based on your personal experience?

Jaya Josie: Towards the end of 1993, I visited China for the first time as part of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) delegation. I was the economic advisor and researcher to the SACP in 1993. During our visit to Beijing and Guangzhou the delegation was warmly welcomed by the CPC. In 1993 most of the people in Beijing were riding bicycles to work. There were no modern shopping malls. When I returned to China in 2015, the country was a different place. I could see the signs of development, and both in the rural and urban areas people were living in modern accommodation and had access to an efficient transport system. There were signs of employment and common prosperity. Since 2015, I have visited and lived in China many times and I am now a visiting professor at ZIBS. I have also had the chance to research and study growth and development in China.

The search for common prosperity follows China’s acknowledgement of the elimination of absolute poverty in the country by 2020. As China has developed phenomenally over the past 70 years, it has shown how socialist China can foster innovation, research and development, technological advances, and peaceful coexistence at home and internationally. Common prosperity is not just about economic growth but also about bridging the income gap between the rich and the poor; overcoming regional disparities between the urban and rural districts; and addressing sustainable industrialization for a cleaner climate. Promoting common prosperity aims at the promotion of all-round social progress and all-round human development, social equity, and justice; and to ensure that the fruits of development benefit all the people in a more equitable way to enhance their sense of gain, happiness, and security.

CSST: How do you understand the relationship between the common prosperity drive and the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative?

Jaya Josie: The model that China presents is seen as a threat to capitalist world domination, and China and other socialist countries have become the target of a new cold war. Fortunately, the developing world and other emerging markets see through the smoke screen of the New Cold War. With the B&R initiative, China is showing the world that there is an alternative way to development. China’s People’s Democracy has allowed for some capitalist growth under socialism but it has prevented the wholesale development of monopoly capitalism with an effective system of state regulations to ensure common prosperity.

Although the focus of the new development agenda and common prosperity is national in nature, it is now apparent that the success of the country’s new growth path is inextricably linked to China’s role in the global economy and a multilateral approach to development and global governance. The new transformation agenda for China’s economic transformation and upgrading will focus on expanding domestic consumption, new types of industrialization, IT application, urbanization, and agricultural modernization while pursuing green growth and creating new opportunities for balanced development for common prosperity.

For developing and emerging economies, multilateralism in the form of cooperation and an expanded role for new forms of trade and investment is fast becoming an integral component of China’s new development model. Consequently, as China takes on more of a leadership role in the world, the multilateral element of its new approach is set to become the catalyst for promoting international investment and the interconnected economy that will promote common prosperity within the new policy captured in the B&R.

Editor: Yu Hui

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