At the G7 summit in June 2021, the US launched a global infrastructure development plan trying to unite its allies to compete with the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) (一带一路 yīdài yīlù). In addition to the G7 pressure on China, there is a need for high quality cooperation among BRI members to address risks and challenges, such as the pandemic. Despite this situation, BRI construction has not stalled, according to a report released by Wang Wen and his research team. First, BRI has continued to expand, and as of July 2021, China has signed 206 cooperation documents with 140 countries and 32 international organizations. The initiatives, such as the Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation, have also received the support of the United Nations. Second, many landmark projects were successfully completed during the pandemic, such as the opening of the Vientiane-Boten Expressway at the end of 2020 and the China-Laos Railway at the end of 2021, which contributed to connectivity and thus economic recovery along the Belt and Road. In response to the pandemic, the China-Europe Railway Express transported 9.39 million pieces, or 76,000 tons, of medical supplies, providing essential medical aid to BRI countries. Third, new infrastructure is contributing to the digitalization of countries along the Belt and Road. In May 2020, China Mobile, in cooperation with Telecom Egypt and South Africa Telecom, etc., began constructing 2Africa, a submarine fibre optic cable connecting the Middle East and Africa. To date, China has completed a cross-border terrestrial cable system with twelve neighboring countries and four international submarine cables, and supported Nigeria's "Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages Project"( 万村通 wàn cūn tōng), a Chinese-supported satellite TV project that helps connect African villages to the world. Furthermore, as of the end of 2020, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral financial institution, expanded its membership to 103 countries and facilitated cooperation among BRI countries. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, AIIB has established an emergency fund to provide financial support for the public health needs of member countries, which has benefited 19 countries, including Vietnam, Georgia, Pakistan, Turkey, and Kazakhstan.
China's economy expanded 8.1 percent in 2021, much faster than its 2021 target of 6+ percent, despite challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. Economists everywhere are trying to understand why the Chinese economy has been so resilient. Huang Zongzhi explains, from the perspective of socialism with Chinese characteristics, how one important factor contributes to this resilience. He states that, unlike in Western countries, land capitalization has been the major source of capital accumulation leading China's growth. The country's continuous growth over the last forty years has benefited from an outsourcing-contracting governance model in which the central government outsources lands to local governments; the local governments are then able to get financing by the assignment of land use rights(土地使用权出让 tǔdì shǐyòng quán chūràng) to real estate developers; and then they invest this capital into infrastructure. Due to the massive benefits created in this process of land capitalization, the win-win cooperation among the central government and local governments (measured by GDP growth), and developers (measured by increased profit) becomes the key to the successful and stable model. The outsourcing-contracting governance model, however, also led to local governments being less willing to improve public services like social welfare, education, public health, and environmental protection. Since 2018, China has shifted from the pursuit of "letting some people get rich first" to the goal of common prosperity, a more socialist transformation. Specifically, in 2021, China successfully lifted nearly 100 million people out of extreme poverty and launched a rural revitalization campaign. Now China is committed to accomplishing the modernization of rural areas by 2050. Another example is that the Chinese government has also urged state-owned companies to transfer 10 percent of their financial stake into the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), thus providing all Chinese more welfare benefits. The author asserts that, compared to the West, China can do more in the socialization of capital as state-owned capital represents a greater part of China's economy. Huang concludes that China's economic developmental practice – the capitalization of land and the socialization of capital – is a new path with Chinese characteristics combined with Chinese and Western methods.
The Chinese government's strong regulation of the disorderly capital expansion(资本无序扩张 zīběn wú xù kuòzhāng) in 2021 has sparked both domestic and international concerns. From the standpoint of developing socialism with Chinese characteristics, Jiang Yu explains the reasons for this regulation. He argues that unregulated capital expansion will eventually lead to economic crises, pointing out that the 2008 international financial crisis is an excellent example of unregulated capital expansion, the root cause of which traces back to the neoliberal reforms led by the US and UK in the 1980s. Since China's reform and opening up, especially since the 18th CPC Congress, the government has gradually developed an approach that enables capital to play a positive role, but also limits its negative effects; capital investment must function within the scope of supporting the leadership of the CPC to develop socialism with Chinese characteristics. Jiang Yu stresses the importance of recognizing the fact that since the reform and opening up, unregulated capital expansion has emerged in some Chinese industries, resulting in negative consequences. For example, the unregulated expansion of certain financial and real estate enterprises has created large economic risks in China's economy. Some internet platforms' monopolistic behavior and algorithm abuses have impinged on consumers' interests and suppressed the innovation of small and medium-sized enterprises. Some companies have even indirectly influenced government operations by bribing officials and forming inappropriate alliances. In the cultural field, unregulated private capital has made huge profits by shaping "fandom" culture, which has distorted some young people's values, created social tension, and undermined social solidarity. Capital's unregulated expansion into public service fields has also led to a heavier burden on common people in health care, education, and housing. The author believes that the Chinese government can play a unique institutional role in managing private capital's expansion through following CPC's leadership, building a close yet transparent government-business relationship that supports economic growth but eliminates corruption, adhering to the leading role of public capital, improving laws and regulations, etc.
With the rapid development of the digital economy, the number of delivery workers in China has increased rapidly, becoming the new industrial workers in this digital era. Sun Jie analyzes the current situation and problems of the labor rights of delivery workers based on a study conducted in May 2021 by the Social and Legal Affairs Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body. In 2020, China had 3.35 million traditional express delivery workers and about 8 million delivery workers（including 7.7 million food delivery workers）working for on-demand internet platforms. Most of these workers are between 20-45 years-old, male migrant workers, whose educational level is below high school. In large and medium-sized cities, delivery workers earn, on average, US $944 (6, 000 yuan) or more per month. However, the workers face multiple problems, such as insufficient social security, no insurance for work-related injuries, heavy workloads, and long working hours. Sun believes that one of the reasons for the lack of protection is the high level of marketization of the industry, with 90 percent of all players being private or foreign enterprises. Without the requirement of signing labor contracts with workers, many platforms adopt labor dispatch or labor outsourcing as their means to hire workers; yet, in order to improve delivery efficiency and compete for orders, the platforms use stringent big data algorithms to control workers, thus increasing their workloads, traffic violations, and accidents. In the event that a consumer complains about the workers, or the deliveries are late, the workers' income is reduced. In recent years, however, the Chinese government has paid great attention to the industry's development and methodically introduced a series of regulations and policies. For example, the State Council issued a guideline in 2015 to promote the development of the express delivery industry. In 2018, it passed the Interim Regulation on Express Delivery. In 2020, China added "delivery workers for on-demand internet platforms" (网约配送员wǎng yuē pèi sòng yuán) to its national occupation list. Last July, in order to protect the rights and interests of workers, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security also released a guideline that provides clear requirements for workers' income, rest, social insurance, and work safety.
How Marxism found its footing in China is the fundamental question of the Sinicization of Marxism. Jin Minqing elaborates on how, in the early years of the founding of the Communist Party of China, this possibility was transformed into reality with the combination of Marxism and Chinese conditions, both theoretically and practically. From a theoretical point of view, the practical, developmental, and universal nature of Marxism can be continuously combined with the history, culture, and characteristics of each nation, with the goal of transforming the world. As Mao Zedong pointed out, "The great power of Marxism-Leninism lies in the fact that it is linked to the concrete revolutionary practice of each country." In reality, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Chinese nation, confronted with an existential crisis, was in urgent need of advanced theoretical guidance. After the Opium Wars (1839-42, 1856-60), the invasion and plunder of imperialist powers and the feudal autocratic system were broken overnight by the 1911 Xinhai Revolution that saw the end to monarchic rule in China. However, the restoration of the imperial system and the warring between warlords that followed deepened the country's semi-colonial and semi-feudal reality. The early advanced intellectuals realized that Chinese society had to be completely transformed, but there was no clear choice in terms of which path would suit the Chinese reality. The victory of Russia's October Revolution in 1917 helped transform the Sinicization of Marxism from possibility to reality. Li Dazhao, Mao Zedong, and other early advanced Chinese intellectuals realized that with the leadership of the Party, a guiding ideology (Marxism), a theoretically-trained Party membership, and the support of the workers and peasants, the October Revolution had succeeded, and that these conditions were also needed for a complete revolutionary transformation China. The May Fourth Movement of 1919 laid the initial foundation for the development of the Sinicization of Marxism. Chinese intellectuals began to translate a large number of classical works, propagate Marxist theories, set up communist groups, publish magazines, and inspire the class consciousness amongst workers. During this period, a group of theoreticians represented by Li Dazhao, Chen Duxiu, Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and Qu Quibai came to the fore, and Marxism rose from a general social theory into mainstream thought. With the founding of the CPC in 1921, the Sinicization of Marxism was brought to a practical level. The early Chinese communists began to use Marxism to analyze and guide the concrete reality of the Chinese revolution, developing their initial analysis on class society, proletarian leadership, and peasant and land issues, marking the beginning of the journey of the Sinicization of Marxism.
( Chinese Voices will continue to interpret the historical context and developmental logic of Marxism's Sinicization. )
Subscribe to Chinese Voices. The digest is published every Sunday in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.Download the PDF of the complete articles (automatically translated) of this issue. The opinions of the articles are not necessarily shared by Dongsheng editorial collective.
Follow our social media channels: