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Systematic dialectics needed in contemporary China

Author  :  ZHOU KE     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2020-12-30

As important part of dialectical materialism and historical materialism, systematic dialectics reflects Marxist worldview and methodology which are scientific. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), in systematically planning, coordinating, and advancing causes of the Party and the country, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping has reiterated the need to adopt a systematic view to analyze and solve problems. Chinese examples that insist on—and apply—systematic dialectics include the five-sphere integrated plan (to promote coordinated economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological advancement) and the fourpronged comprehensive strategy (to make comprehensive moves to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, deepen reform, advance law-based governance, and strengthen Party self-governance). It can be seen that systematic views, thinking, and methodology are the extension and application of Marxist systematic dialectics in contemporary China.

The need to tackle challenges

Internationally, the world is undergoing increasingly great changes unseen in a century. This accurate summary and profound revelation of the current international pattern and the global development situation is helpful for us to get a clear understanding of the international environment affecting China. On the whole, today’s world is in a period of great development, great change, and great adjustment, and peace and development remain the themes of the times. At the same time, the world faces great uncertainty and instability. In addition, the comparative relationship between international forces has altered, and the international pattern faces major adjustment. Since the 21st century, a large number of emerging markets and developing countries have grown rapidly, and the world multi-polarization has accelerated.

In this context, the world economic center transfers from the North Atlantic region to the Pacific region and the world power shifts and spreads from the Western world to the non-Western world. Catalyzed by the game between major countries, the international system’s reform has accelerated. In addition, the internet era’s technological transformation has affected the living habits, financial operations, economic rules, social governance, and political movements of each country in a way that is unprecedented.

Moreover, now that the current COVID-19 pandemic expedites the evolution of the international pattern, China faces greater pressure and challenges under the unfavorable external environment.

Domestically, great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered a critical period. China has reached the phase of high-quality development, but the problem of unbalanced and inadequate development is still prominent, which cannot fully meet people’s ever-growing needs for a better life. Despite the fact that China has become the world’s second largest economy only second to the US, which represents a new miracle in human’s economic development history, the imbalance within the economic structure, between economic development and other societal areas, and between economic development and resource and environmental protection still exists. People’s needs for democracy, rule of law, fairness, justice, security and a healthy environment have also increasingly grown in the more than 40 years since the reform and opening up.

The need for a blueprint

In the proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 (simplified as Proposals hereafter), “abiding by systematic dialectics” was clearly made as one of the five principles that Chinese economic and social development must follow during the 14th Five-Year Plan period.

The Proposals’ sub-sections are mainly themed at high-quality development as a strategic system that attempts to crystallize the new development concepts. In each section, the key tasks of economic and social development as well as reform and opening up during the 14th Five-Year Plan period are respectively elaborated. There are altogether 12 sub-sections, in which the new development concepts can be found everywhere: innovation, coordination, green development, opening up, and sharing. These concepts are closely correlated with each other. Together, they advance the realization of new development concepts.

In sub-sections of the Proposals, requirements from systematic perspectives can be seen. Different links within the holistic system are specified in detail, and coordination among the links is emphasized. For example, it is stated that to improve macroeconomic governance, we should ensure close coordination among policies about employment, industry, investment, consumption, environmental protection, and regional development; to establish a high-standard market system, we should boost marketoriented reform concerning land, labor, capital, technology, data, and other elements; to strengthen and innovate social governance, we should realize benign interaction among government management, social regulation and residents’ self-governance.

To sum up, in accordance with the strategic arrangement made by the 19th CPC National Congress for the realization of the two centenary goals, systematic planning on Chinese economic and social development during the 14th FiveYear Plan period should be made to advance the construction of socialist modernization in a deeper and more comprehensive way.


Zhou Ke is an associate professor from the School of Philosophy at Wuhan University.

Editor: Yu Hui

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