Preparing to move to a moderately peaceful, healthy and prosperous (xiaokang) society

Word in the CPC for a while has been that preparations are under way for a major transition in China. Until now, China has been in the first or preliminary stage of socialism. But if you study Xi Jinping’s first volume of writings, The Governance of China, you will already find the terminology of ‘socialist modernisation [shehuizhuyi xiandaihu]’, and a ‘moderately well-off society [xiaokang shehui]’. Xiaokang is an old Confucian term that had made its way into Chinese Marxist terminology. It is not the Datong, the ‘Great Harmony’, but a more realistic situation in which the vast majority can feel secure (anquangan) about food, shelter, clothing and well-being.

When will this take place? The target is the period of the Two Centenaries. The first centenary is 100 years since the founding of the Communist Party of China, in 2021, and the second is the founding of the People’s Republic in 2049.

All this is now becoming even more explicit, in preparations for the 19th Congress of the CPC in November this year. These congresses take place every five years, so preparations are under way. Already we find a number of key statements.

First, Xi has declared that socialism with Chinese characteristics is entering a ‘new development stage‘, if not a ‘new historical starting point’. Thus far, Chinese socialism has enabled the transitions from ‘standing-up to becoming better-off to getting stronger’, but now ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics has expanded the pathway to modernization for developing countries, thus providing Chinese wisdom and Chinese solutions to problems facing mankind’.

So what does all this mean in concrete terms? To begin with, a xiaokang society has lifted as many people out of poverty as possible. In the last 40 years, 750 million people lifted out of poverty (one of the greatest human rights achievements of all time), with more than 55 million since 2012. And Xi has made the continuance of this program a cornerstone of his presidency. A shade over 43 million remain in poverty in rural areas, with about 12 million a year making it out of poverty.

It also includes continual overhauling of the medical system, education, fostering supply-side structural reform, reducing overcapacity, dealing with the income gap, and – crucially – clean governance.

If these aims are indeed achieved between 2021 and 2049, then the xiaokang society will indeed have been attained.



15 thoughts on “Preparing to move to a moderately peaceful, healthy and prosperous (xiaokang) society

  1. Any insight into China’s decision to support the latest round of sanctions against the DPRK, including the full ban of coal and iron exports? It seems like it flies in the face of anti-imperialist solidarity, and I am given to understand such is rather important at this stage of history.

    1. I must admit I do not understand this move (by both China and Russia), except the reality that the DPRK will have nuclear ICBMs in the near future (and someone must certainly be helping), so the sanctions are of little effect. Further, given the decline in US clout, sanctions become a form of self-harm – look at the China-Russia relations, if not the EU drifting away from the USA.

  2. So the next stage of socialism for china is just “…continual overhauling of the medical system, education, fostering supply-side structural reform, reducing overcapacity, dealing with the income gap, and – crucially – clean governance.” What happened to the straight forward goal of abolishing privation? Is that not what Stalin meant by second stage of socialism?

    1. I suggest you look at my various posts on the poverty alleviation campaign. The lifting of 750-850 million (depending on estimates – the World Bank uses the higher figure) out of poverty during the Marxism program of the Reform and Opening Up has been described as one of the greatest human rights achievements in human history.

  3. Not here to minimize the amazing feats performed over the last several decades, only seeking answers to my question about secondary stage. Former Premier Wen Jiabo said in 2007 that China will remain in the primary stage for another hundred years. What is secondary stage? I can’t really find any writing on this when I search (including Stalin’s writing from the late ’30s which you mentioned in the article). Do you know if it does or does not imply the elimination of privation?

  4. When I was exploring material for my article on Xi Jinping’s first volume of ‘The Governance of China’ I spoke often with CPC members, who mentioned to me that the word about was a shift to a new stage. What we have now, after the 19th congress is an interesting situation: on the one hand, we have a clearly articulated ‘new stage’ of socialism with Chinese characteristics; on the other hand, Xi Jinping made it perfectly clear that China would be in the primary stage of socialism for a very long time. Add to this the ‘xiaokang society’ by 2020 and a ‘strong modern socialist country’ by 2050. The keys include the elimination of poverty, reducing gap between rich and poor, environment and clean governance. I would add the maturation of a socialist market economy.

    As for Stalin, the key material is in the important Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the Eighteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.) (Delivered March 10, 1939), pages 411-26 in volume 14 of Works.

  5. further understanding socialism with chinese characteristics, are you familiar with chenshan tian’s “chinese dialectics: from yijing to mao”? if so, would you recommend?

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