eg Chinese Voices
No. 34 | 27.02.2022
A medical worker registers personal information of a woman at a COVID-19 testing site in Hong Kong, Jan 24, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

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Behind the Ukraine crisis: a lesson for China
Gao Cheng
Gao Cheng (高程) is a researcher at the Institute of Asia-Pacific and Global Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Context

On February 21, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the breakaway regions of Eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, as independent states. Gao Cheng analyzes, in detail, the geopolitical game between the US, Russia, and the European countries in Ukraine over the past years, its deep-seated reasons, and elaborates on the implications of the Ukrainian crisis for China.

Key points

  • Behind the crisis in Ukraine is the historical conflict between the US and Russia in the post-Cold War period. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia tried to establish close relations with the West until the end of 2008.
  • The crisis in Ukraine was the trigger for the rapid deterioration of Russian-US relations. From the abandonment of the US commitment to "no eastern encroachment by NATO", to the US's support of pro-U.S. regimes in former Soviet countries, to political infiltration and color revolutions, through to the present Ukraine crisis, Russia's attitude toward the US changed from one of patience and mild resistance to a strong counterattack.
  • Russia cannot sit back and watch the West control its strategic buffer zone, as NATO's eastward expansion is a threat to its border security. In particular, Russia cannot allow the US to make Ukraine a military bridgehead to contain Russia.
  • The US has attempted to use Ukraine to keep Russia in check, create tensions between Russia and Europe, and successfully strengthen the security dependence of the EU countries on the United States. However, the US-European trust relationship has also weakened due to the decline of European power and status.
  • The US policy of containing China in the Asia-Pacific region and the policy of continued weakening of Russia in Europe go hand in hand.
  • The contradiction between Russia and China and the US-dominated international environment is one of the key foundations of strategic cooperation between Russia and China, and the crisis in Ukraine is only a further catalyst for promoting Russian-Chinese relations.
  • From a pragmatic perspective, Western sanctions may facilitate Russia's energy exports to Asia and could enable the strengthening of China-Russia cooperation and the expansion to a number of fields such as finance, high-speed railway construction, agriculture, military technology, and manufacturing.

Summary

According to Gao Cheng, the conflict in Ukraine will not prompt the United States to change its strategy to contain China. The US will try to prevent China and Japan from cooperating in Asia, while trying to prevent the European countries from aligning with Russia in Europe. Facing the pressure of the US-dominated international system, China and Russia will maintain and deepen their comprehensive strategic partnership for a longer period of time into the future. In a time of mutual suspicion between the major powers, and with regional integration hampered, China and Russia need to think about how to become a constructive force to change the established international order, which is unfavorable to them and emerging countries.

Controlling the pandemic as a test of Hong Kong’s patriotic governance
Tian Feilong
Tian Feilong (田飞龙) is an associate professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies and the School of Law, Beihang University

Context

The recent Covid-19 break-out in Hong Kong is spreading unabated. On 25 February, Hong Kong recorded over 10,000 new COVID infections. It is reported that some Hong Kong residents have even been smuggled onto the Mainland China to escape the pandemic. The central government has now sent a large number of medical personnel to Hongkong to help. Tian Feilong points out that the oscillation between China's "zero Covid" policy(清零政策qīng líng zhèngcè) and the West's "live with the virus" pandemic-control is the main reason why Hong Kong has struggled to contain the virus.

Key points

  • The root cause of Hong Kong's oscillation and failure in fighting Covid-19 is that its civil servants and social elites are accustomed to following Western values and prioritize implementation practices that ensure achieving resumption of quarantine-free travel (通关 tōngguān) to the West. This creates a disconnect with China's strategic and public interests.
  • Achieving "zero-Covid" and reopening the border with Mainland China is a significant test of Hong Kong's anti-epidemic policy. It means Hong Kong can ensure that it does not fall behind Mainland China's successful anti-Covid-19 management policy, and thus will continue to participate in and enjoy the benefits of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area economic development.
  • The current anti-epidemic measures taken by Hong Kong are not effective in controlling the outbreak. If the region adheres to the "zero-Covid policy" and brings in the central government's support, there is still hope that zero-Covid can be achieved, and that Hong Kong’s land border with mainland China can expect to reopen fully to quarantine-free travel within six months.
  • The Chinese government is doing its utmost to protect its people's lives, and for this reason, a dynamic zero-Covid approach is one that really protects the most important human rights.

Summary

According to Tian Feilong, the fight against the epidemic in Hong Kong is also a critical test of the actual effectiveness of the "Patriots administering Hong Kong" (爱国者治港 Àiguó zhě zhì gǎng)principle and the Chief Executive's ability to govern. If they pass the test, Hong Kong's confidence in "one country, two systems," (一国两制yī guó liǎng zhì)trust in the local and central governments, and the prospect of future economic and political integration will be stronger. Therefore, the fight against the epidemic is a major political issue for "one country, two systems." As a special administrative region under "one country, two systems," Hong Kong should not stand apart from the Mainland in terms of maintaining the health and safety of all people and integrating into the overall development of the country.

Training-based CPC cadre selection: A successful political practice with Chinese characteristics
Ji Naili
Ji Naili(季乃礼)is a professor of Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University

Context

"Training-based cadre selection"(培养式选拔 péiyǎng shì xuǎnbá) is a political practice with Chinese characteristics to select and promote talent. It is the mechanism by which CPC organizational departments, working on organizational and cadre construction, select a group of young cadres with potential and developmental prospects and train them systematically and purposefully so that they will eventually move to important leadership positions. Ji Naili analyzes several major ways of training cadres in CPC.

Key points

  • Core sector experiences(核心部门历练héxīn bùmén lìliàn): major Party and government leaders tend to transfer young cadres to geographically close key positions for further observation. In local governments, officials often arrange young cadres to handle urgent and difficult tasks, such as land acquisition and relocation. During 2019-20, media reports showed that 27 out of 41 cadres promoted to the bureau level (厅局级 tīng jú jí) had experience in urgent and difficult tasks.
  • Serving in temporary posts (挂职锻炼 guàzhí duànliàn): young cadres go to different positions at different levels or in different areas temporarily to gain diverse knowledge and experiences, while remaining on the staff of the dispatching organization. In recent years, more and more excellent young cadres have gone to grassroots and remote areas with complicated working environments for services.
  • Post rotation(轮岗交流lún gǎng jiāo liú): it aims to enhance the leadership stills and basic literacy of young cadres. In 2010, the organization department of CPC's Central Committee dispatched 66 bureau-level cadres from central-level departments to take posts in local-level departments. By 2020, 40 of them had been promoted to deputy ministerial-level cadres(副部级 fù bù jí).
  • Cadre training(干部培训gànbù péixùn): a long period of off-the-job training in Party schools, leadership academies, and other cadre training institutions is usually regarded as a sign of being groomed by the organization. The same media report found that 15 out of 22 cadres promoted to provincial and ministerial-level leaders have been trained in provincial or central Party schools.

Summary

Ji points out that elected officials in Western countries face poor governance capacity. On the contrary, in China, "training-based cadres selection" is based on a systematic and continuous process of "selection-inspection-confirmation-grooming-re-election-promotion (or elimination)" of cadres, which has prominent advantages. The author also quotes Xi Jinping as saying that China must train cadres for China's future leadership in 15 years, 20 years, or even longer time.

Rural revitalization: Five models of peasant engagement in rural environmental proction
Wang Xiaoli
Wang Xiaoli (王晓莉) is an associate professor at the Institue of Social and Ecological Civilization Research, the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC
He Jianying
He Jianying (何建莹) is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Social and Ecological Civilization Research, the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC

Context

The Central Document No. 1, released on 22 February proposed promoting green development of rural agriculture and further implementing the five-year action plan to improve the rural living environment by 2025. Participation of the peasants determines the effectiveness of these goals. However, according to Wang Xiaoli and He Jianying, at present, peasants have a low level of participation in and low motivation for environmental governance. Therefore, the authors summarize their hands-on experiences and make suggestions for promoting effective peasant participation by combining the following five models.

Key points

  • The "zero-pollution" (零污染 líng wūrǎn) village model, supported by social organizations, is based on capable leadership and volunteer mobilization, and is motivated by individual needs. The household-based model uses household waste to make eco-enzymes for home-grown and consumed products and implements a "point system" (积分制 jīfēn zhì) to eventually reduce waste by 80%.
  • The township environmental management (镇域环境治理 zhèn yù huánjìng zhìlǐ) model, supported by social organizations, takes advantage of its mentors, party members, village cadres, and volunteers to conduct training and develop professional implementation programs. The goal is to increase villagers' participation in garbage sorting and reward the results – waste has been reduced by 65% in the areas studied.
  • The county government-led Anji model (安吉模式Ānjí móshì), uses the "village + market" operational method, in which each villager pays one yuan per month, and the village's environmental sanitation is handed over to a professional cleaning company that manages the process with regular financial disclosure and multi-level supervision. The county government provides subsidies and encourages all employees to participate in the process. Garbage sorting is included in the village rules. Since the project began, Anji's natural environment has been beautifully restored.
  • Technology-led domestic sewage treatment, through government subsidies and financial assistance, reduces the cost incurred by villagers to transform the sewage discharge facilities. Furthermore, villagers involved in the sewage transformation pilot generated new revenue, inspiring other villagers to actively participate.
  • In the market-led model of livestock and poultry manure treatment, the government provides financial support to reduce the burden on peasant households, while mobilizing social forces to monitor, regulate, and promote the utilization of manure.

Summary

According to the authors, these treatment models are still in the exploration stage, although they are beginning to bear fruit. The market and technology-led models rely on passive or interest-driven participation of the peasants, and therefore they must still engage the peasants' active participation to sustain the models. The model led by social organizations (including those in villages, townships, and counties) needs to stimulate peasants to actively participate in rural environmental governance by enhancing their environmental awareness as well as promoting industrial development.

Zunyi Conference: A milestone in the Sinicization of Marxism
Jin Chongji
Jin Chongji (金冲及) is the former executive deputy director of the Literature Research Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and a renowned expert in CPC and modern Chinese history

Context

Since the establishment of the revolutionary base in JingGang Mountain in 1927, and Mao Zedong began to sinicize Marxism and explore the revolutionary path based on China's reality, the dispute over the ideological line within the Party began and then intensified. As early as 1931, the "leftist" tendency of dogmatizing Marxism, and the instructions and decisions of the Comintern dominated CPC, causing the failure of the fifth counter-encirclement campaign (第五次反围剿 dì wǔ cì fǎn wéijiǎo) (1933-1934) and the heavy casualties of the Red Army in the Long March. The Zunyi Conference, held from January 15-17 in 1935, saved the Party at the most critical moment, becoming a milestone in the Sinicization of Marxism. Jin Chongji's article examines this great turnaround in detail.

Key points

  • During the Civil War (1927-1937), there was a battle within the Party between "leftist" opportunism and the correct line represented by Mao Zedong.
  • Beginning in January 1931, Wang Ming's leftist tendency dominated the Party. It began a military offensive, suggested by the Comintern, and intensified intervention in revolutionary bases and the Red Army. In 1933, Bogu, CPC General Secretary at the time, continued the "leftist" errors, and denied the need for guerrilla warfare. Mao Zedong was therefore sidelined from his leadership post.
  • In the military, Bogu handed over power to Li De (Otto Braun), who came from the Comintern and did not understand the Chinese situation; Li implemented adventurism by copying theories unrelated to the Chinese situation. As a result, the fifth counter-encirclement campaign failed and the Red Army had to abandon the central revolutionary base.
  • The Zunyi Conference ended the dominance of "leftist" dogmatism in the CPC leadership. Apart from pointing out the errors of its military strategy and tactics, Mao Zedong said, "The Conference criticized the dogmatism that everything in the Soviet Union was right", and "the guiding ideology of the CPC changed completely from then on, being independent(独立自主dú lì zì zhǔ), seeking truth from facts(实事求是shí shì qiú shì)and starting from the actual situation in China became the accepted right path within the Party."
  • After the Zunyi Conference, Mao became the de facto head of the central leadership collective, and a mature central leadership collective was gradually formed.

Summary

As early as January 1930, Mao Zedong wrote "Oppose Bookism" (反对本本主义 fǎnduì běnběn zhǔyì), based on his rich practical experience, criticizing the erroneous tendency of the dogmatization of Marxism, but those ideas didn't get any attention from others. Chairman Mao later said that "the true understanding of CPC independence starts with the Zunyi Conference". Under the guidance of the correct Chinese Marxist line, the Red Army shifted its strategy from passive to active and a new revolutionary development began.

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

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