How ‘President for Life’ Xi Jinping proposes to push frontiers with innovation, disruptive tech, applied research and supply-side economics

“China is a socialist country of people’s democratic dictatorship under the leadership of the working class based on an alliance […]


“China is a socialist country of people’s democratic dictatorship under the leadership of the working class based on an alliance of workers and farmers; it is a country where all power of the state belongs to the people. China’s socialist democracy is the broadest, most genuine and most effective democracy to safeguard the fundamental interest of the people.”

Guess whose words are these. This was what Xi Jinping, the newly minted, potentially “life-long”, president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), who had made this statement in the last November during the the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) Congress.

Thus, from the last reference to President Xi, if you feel there is a hiatus between the “Chinese people” having “all the power of the state” – as he had described the Chinese governance system – and his own belief in the centralised power, you won’t be too far wrong. This is a historic confusion about Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ description of scientific communism following their tenets of a state system.

That meant that Marx had extolled the Paris Commune to have been closest to a regime that he could approve of also as a form of government. In his pamphlet “Civil War in France”, Marx had stated that though this was just one city that was in upsurge, he was pleased to note that “the whole initiative hitherto exercised by the state was laid into the hands of the Commune”.

The current Chinese example is, however, antediluvian to say the least. However, the fact of life remains that the people of the PRC would have to live with the Xi regime for an indeterminate period of time. And the key to their obeisance to the regime would be “economic emancipation” that Marxians invariably search for. Thus, it is important to note the economic issues – including industrial policy measures – that President Xi Jinping has flagged in his report of the 18th CPC Congress to the 19th CPC Congress.

A section of this report is titled “Applying a New Vision of Development and Developing a Modernized Economy”. It has six action points for the Party-State to work on. The second most important item in that hierarchical order is making the country innovation-driven economy that would strive for “basic research in applied sciences, launch major national science and technology projects and prioritize innovation in key generic technologies, cutting-edge frontier technologies, modern engineering technologies and disruptive technologies”.

While this sounds more like Jospeh Schumpeter than Karl Marx, it still remains the primary focus of “Socialism with Chinese Character in the New Era”. It is also being dubbed as the “Xi Jinping Thought” on the lines of the “Mao Zedong Thought”, but one would have to watch for another Yang Shangkun and Lin Biao to emerge to tom-tom the Maoist desire for establishing oneself in the annals of communism. Whether they would also face the same fate as their “illustrious predecessors”, a death-watch would keep that record.

Considering that modern Chinese are hungry for access to goods and services which are separate from what the Party-State provides, Xi has advocated “supply side economics” – it could well be a take-off on Ronald Reaganomics that was really the beginning of historic debt levels of the USA. Understandably, he is not willing to meet the same fate as that of the leaders of the former Soviet Union. Xi puts emphases on “strengthening infrastructure networks for water conservancy, railways, highways, waterways, aviation, pipelines, power grids, information and linguistics”. That is, the Chinese would require to put huge resources into the exercise that can take them to the target of being a middle-income country by 2020.

Finally, for the socialism of the new era, Xi promises to be rules based, thus “improving property rights systems and ensuring market-based allocation of factors of production, so that property rights act as effective incentives. We would ensure free flows of factors [of production], flexible prices, fair and orderly competition and that business survival is determined by competition”.

An important element of the Marx’s reading of capitalist understanding is based on the production relations of the factors of production. But, the present-day PRC does not allow independent trade unions. In the absence if the factor of labour is priced solely by non-market rules which are fixed by the Party-State (that is accomodative of “princelings” and their “guanxi”), the production relation can radicalise the population – especially migrant labour already tortured by the “houkou” system. Whether that would take the shape of the “Beijing Commune” will have to be like “danger foretold” – and is the subject of the growing cadre of Sinologists.

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