eg Chinese Voices
No. 33 | 20.02.2022
Argentine President Alberto Fernández visits Chairman Mao Memorial Hall on February 5, 2022. [Casa Rosada]
China-Latin America Belt and Road Initiative cooperation: Achievements and challenges
Cao Ting
Cao Ting (曹廷) is an associate researcher at the Institute of Latin American Studies, China Institute of Modern International Relations

Context

On February 6, Argentina and China signed a series of cooperation agreements, including a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly promote the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Against the backdrop of the deterioration of China-US relations and the return of the Monroe Doctrine, the US has increased its intervention in Latin American countries, and the relationship between China and some Latin American countries has grown closer. Cao Ting's article analyzes the results of the increasing cooperation between China and Latin America through the BRI since Xi Jingping has become the top leader in 2012 and what has been driving this trend.

Key points

  • Since 2012, 21 Latin American countries have signed MoUs with China on BRI cooperation.
  • China's investment in Latin America has been shifting from reliance on energy resources to increasing industrial cooperation to promote diversified production, expanding into emerging areas such as smart manufacturing, power, and communications. As of August 2021, Latin American and Caribbean countries have established 34,633 enterprises and invested US$ 237.05 billion in China.
  • China continues to accelerate cooperation in Latin American countries, especially in the field of transportation, energy, and IT. For example, Huawei has nine data centers in the region: two each in Brazil, Chile, Peru, and Mexico, and one in Argentina. This is more than any other public cloud provider.
  • Financial cooperation between China and Latin America continues to deepen. China has set up RMB clearing banks in Argentina and Chile, and seven countries such as Brazil, Argentina, and Chile have joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
  • From China's perspective, Chinese-Latin American cooperation can help the country's economic transformation and further development. For Latin America, one of the benefits is that BRI has increased the free flow of goods, capital, services, and labor in the region through infrastructure construction, which has accelerated Latin American integration.

Summary

According to Cao Ting, cooperation between China and Latin American countries is also facing challenges, such as China's lack of knowledge of Latin American national conditions and systems. The differences between Latin American countries and Chinese standards in taxation, labor, environmental protection, and legal norms have created difficulties in cooperation. Chinese-Latin American cooperation, however, has a solid foundation and huge room for growth. China and Latin American countries should cultivate high quality cooperation; an example of which is building a "green silk road" to create a number of model cooperation projects that promote local economic development, protect the local environment, and benefit the local people. Aiming to tap into common economic growth drivers, Chinese-Latin American cooperation could be a good model for fostering sustainable development in developing countries.

How did COVID-19 increase the Chinese people’s trust in the government
You Yu
You Yu (游宇) is an associate professor at the School of Public Affairs, Xiamen University
Ma Deyong
Ma Deyong (马得勇) is a professor at the Department of Political Science, School of International Relations, Renmin University of China
Chen Chao
Chen Chao (陈超) is an associate professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, Shanghai Jiaotong University

Context

The COVID-19 outbreak has become a litmus test of the viability of governments to protect their citizens and thus the level of their people's trust in their governments. Since the spread of the pandemic, many governments, around the world, have been plunged into a crisis of confidence, and people have taken to the streets to oppose governmental policies. In China, by contrast, after initial public distrust in the government in the early months of the outbreak, public confidence increased as control over the outbreak became more effective. Based on data from three rounds of "netizen social consciousness surveys", pre- and post-pandemic, You Yu, Ma Dayong, and Chen Chao look at the mechanisms behind the dynamic evolution of public trust in the Chinese government during the COVID-19 crisis.

Key Points

  • At the beginning of the outbreak, local governments failed to respond, leading to a significant decline in the level of trust in the government.
  • Compared with the central government, local governments experienced a significantly greater loss of trust after the outbreak.
  • After improvements in the prevention and control measures of the pandemic, the trust level of both the central and local governments markedly increased and even surpassed the pre-outbreak levels.
  • The shift in public trust is closely related to the people's evaluation of the government's response to the pandemic and media coverage; a lower level of government response correlates with a relatively lower level of public trust.
  • The public's information channels also have a significant effect on their level of political trust. Those who access information and follow politics on Chinese TV stations have higher trust in the government at all levels, while those who frequently browse international media are less trusting of the government.

Summary

According to the article, unlike the 2003 SARS crisis, the COVID-19 outbreak is taking place at a time when rapid development of China's high-speed rail network has increased people's mobility and migration. Widespread use of online media has increased public participation in news production, creating new challenges for responding to online public opinion and instilling public trust. The Chinese government has shown that it can overcome crises and turn them into successes, controlling the spread of the pandemic through effective prevention and restrictive measures, while gaining popular support.

How can China improve its distribution system to achieve common prosperity?
Wang Shaoguang
Wang Shaoguang (王绍光) is the Emeritus Professor of the Department of Government and Public Administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

Context:

China has pledged to achieve common prosperity by 2050. According to Wang Shaoguang, “common” involves distribution and redistribution, and “prosperity” involves production and reproduction. Therefore, when talking about equality, we must take into account the specific stage of the current productivity deficit, and ensure that an efficient distribution system does not hold back the development of the means of production. Wang proposes a concept of "pre-primary distribution"(零次分配 líng cì fēnpèi), an historic type of distribution to reduce inequality before primary distribution. The article is the first part of a two-part series.

Key Points:

  • China's ethical-based society is, in fact, founded upon the idea of "pre-primary distribution", in which community members adhere to "the shared assets doctrine"(共财之义 gòng cái zhī yì) for supporting their community's standard of living. The distributor is not the government, but family members, siblings, relatives, and friends.
  • "Pre-primary distribution" plays a big role in China. For example, between 1996 to 2006, a wave of unemployment (70 million lost jobs), caused by the reform of state-owned enterprises, did not lead to a social crisis, mainly because these workers and their families were protected by family caregiving support, a legal obligation in China.
  • According to Marx, primary distribution (初次分配 chūcì fēnpèi) is not simply regulated by the market. It is closely related to the mode of production, the relations of production, and the ownership of the means of production. It is also influenced by factors such as major historical events, mainstream ideologies, and cultural traditions.
  • After the founding of the New China, the land reform and socialist transformation benefited hundreds of millions of people; the level of inequality in New China dropped significantly, with the Gini coefficient falling from over 0.56 in 1949 to about 0.27 before 1978. This is precisely due to the primary distribution.
  • Secondary distribution (二次分配 èr cì fēnpèi) can reduce the income gap to some extent. However, its efficiency varies among countries. At the same time, it cannot contain the widening trend of this income gap.

Summary

Wang suggests that the government should encourage "pre-primary distribution" in various policies such as taxation, housing, and the promotion of rural collective economic development. Compared to secondary distribution, primary distribution plays a greater role in reducing inequality. Under the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, primary distribution must adhere to "the more effort more gain" (多劳多得 duō láo duō dé)principle, focusing on protecting earned income and increasing labour's share, especially the front-line workers' share of national income.

To what extent would young Chinese be willing to join the Party?
Shi Yiwen
Shi Yiwen (时怡雯) is a lecturer at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. She studies social work for young people

Context

How does China's younger generation view CPC and how has its desire to join the Party changed during the pandemic? Having conducted three surveys (May, October 2019 and December 2020) with 4,026 undergraduate students in 16 universities in Shanghai, Shi Yiwen analyzes students' willingness to join the Party and what influenced their decision.

Key points

  • The surveys found that students' willingness to join CPC has gradually increased since the 70th anniversary of the PRC's founding and its success in fighting against the pandemic. The proportion of those who are "very eager" to join the Party increased from 19.4 to 30.7 percent.
  • Female students are more willing to join the Party than male students; those born after 2000 have a higher degree of recognition of and support for the Party. Student leaders and students with higher test scores have a stronger desire to join the Party.
  • Students in general universities are more willing to join the Party than those in top universities, as well as students majoring in science, agriculture, and medicine as opposed to those majoring in humanitites and social sciences.
  • Rural students have a stronger desire to join the Party than urban students. Since the social and economic status of rural students is relatively weaker, Party membership, as an important symbol of personal ability and political status, is seen as an advantage in assessing students' performance and finding jobs.
  • Familiarity with Party history increases the desire to join the Party, as it enhances the students' understanding of and the agreement with the foundational and ruling concepts of the Party, and the spirit of serving the people.

Summary

Shi points out that there is a utilitarian tendency in students' motivation to join the Party. However, students, particularly those born after 2000, maintain a high degree of identification with CPC and are eager to join the Party. She believes that university students, as a highly educated group, will make rational choices on whether to join the Party. Through studying political courses at university, students will have a more comprehensive understanding of the process and history of the CPC's development, thus enhancing their identification with and loyalty to the Party.

How did the 1929 Gutian Conference influence the first leap of the Sinicization of Marxism?
Luo Ronghuan
Luo Ronghuan (罗荣桓) is one of the founders of the People’s Republic of China and the People’s Liberation Army, comprising one of the ten Great Marshals (十大元帅)of China

Context

During the period of building the revolutionary base in Jinggang Mountain (井冈山革命根据地 jǐnggāngshān gémìng gēnjùdì) from 1927 to 1929, Chinese communists applied Lenin's theory of party-building to the concrete conditions of China, achieving the first advances in the Sinicization of Marxism. After the Nanchang Uprising (南昌起义 nánchāng qǐyì, August 1927) and the Autumn Harvest Uprising (秋收起义 qiūshōu qǐyì September 1927 ), the question of what kind of army the Communist Party of China wanted to build became increasingly prominent. In December 1929, the 9th Party Congress of the 4th Red Army, or Gutian Conference (古田会议 gǔtián huìyì), was held in the town of Gutian, eastern Fujian Province, to criticize the various non-proletarian ideologies that existed in the Party, reaffirm the democratic style in the army, and establish the political leadership of the Party over the army. Luo Ronghuan, a participant in the conference and then a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, recalls this historical process.

Key points

  • On his way to Jinggang Mountain, Mao Zedong carried out the famous "Sanwan Reorganization" (三湾改编 sān wān gǎibiān) in the village of Sanwan, Jiangxi Province. The goal was to "build the Party branches organized on a company basis" (支部建在连上 zhībù jiàn zài lián shàng) to ensure the absolute leadership of the Party over the Red Army.
  • The Gutian Conference opposed the idea of "roving bandits" (流寇 liúkòu), characterized by the disorganized and undisciplined methods of armed combat and opposition to the establishment of solid revolutionary base areas. Mao severely criticized this error and proposed the “three main rules of discipline" (三大纪律 sān dà jìlǜ) and "eight points of attention" (八项注意 bā xiàng zhùyì), which clarified military discipline and established rules for military-civilian relations.
  • The Gutian Conference solved the problem of "warlordism" (军阀主义 jūnfá zhǔyì). At that time, the old-style military officers punished soldiers at will and created confrontations between military officers and soldiers. Therefore, Mao proposed that political work was the lifeline of the people's army, and should be strengthened to ensure that the troops' actions conformed to the Party's requirements and acted in accordance with its policies. The relationship between the officers and the soldiers was significantly improved.
  • The Gutian Conference opposed the view that the army's task was only to fight wars. Proletarian ideological education and mass mobilization are equally important as military tasks.

Summary

In June 1929, opposition to Mao Zedong's views on the establishment of consolidated base areas and Party control over the army, forced Mao out of his leadership position at the 7th Congress of the 4th Red Army held in Longyan, Fujian Province. It was not until the military commander, Chen Yi, brought back a letter of guidance from CPC's Central Committee in Shanghai that Mao's views were affirmed, thus leading to the Gutian Conference. The resolutions of this conference summarized the party committee system, collective leadership, democratization, unity between the army and the people, and between officers and soldiers, policies that the People's Army continue to this day.

(Chinese Voices will continue to interpret the historical context and developmental logic of Marxism's Sinicization)

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