Exclusive Conversations

Exclusive Interview with Ambassador Ma Xinmin to Brown Land for Centenary of the CPC’s Founding and 72nd Anniversary of the PRC’s Founding (Part 1)

1. Brown Land: This year marks the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and also the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Looking back at history, we see that China has scored remarkable achievements and seen the governance of China gain an increasing influence on the world stage. My question is, what is the reason for China’s success? And what successful experience has the CPC gained in governing the country and leading the people?

Ambassador Ma Xinmin: The past century has witnessed the historic stride of the Chinese nation from standing up, becoming prosperous, and growing in strength. As we have successfully built a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, we have shown the world that China’s national rejuvenation has become a historical inevitability. Some people may wonder why we could become a success story. The answer could be found in the address delivered by General Secretary Xi Jinping at a ceremony marking the centenary of the CPC. Talking about why the CPC was successful in the past and how it can continue to succeed in the future, he stressed that we must bear nine points in mind. First and foremost, we must uphold the firm leadership of the CPC. As he remarked, “without the CPC, there would be no new China and no national rejuvenation”. This is the most important historical conclusion. It is also the most valuable experience we have gained from our success.

The CPC’s leadership constitutes the greatest strength of our continued success. It is the foundation and lifeblood of the Party and the country, and the crux upon which the interests and wellbeing of all Chinese people depend. It is under the CPC’s leadership that we have created a great miracle in the history of the Chinese nation and the history of human progress. The successful experience drawn from the CPC’s leadership includes, but is not limited to the following points. We must uphold the CPC’s leadership over all work; uphold the guiding role of Marxism; follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics; stay committed to a people-centered approach; pursue development as the Party’s top priority in governance; further deepen reform and opening up; pursue sound, democratic, and law-based governance; adhere to the right policies on ethnic minorities and religious groups; consolidate and expand the broadest possible patriotic united front; continue to advance the noble cause of peace and development for humankind, and exercise full and rigorous governance over the Party.

2. Brown Land: In the past several decades, the CPC has led the Chinese people in completing a journey that took Western countries a hundred years or even centuries to accomplish and making the country the world’s second-largest economy. As Mr. Ambassador just said, the key to China’s great achievements lies in the CPC’s leadership. So how does the CPC lead the country and the people?

Ambassador Ma Xinmin: General Secretary Xi Jinping has reiterated that “China’s success hinges on the Party”, and pointed out time and again in his report at the 19th CPC National Congress that “Party leadership over all work must be ensured.” The Party leadership has been essential in every aspect of state governance, including but not limited to the following.

Historically, the CPC’s leadership has been upheld throughout the entire process of China’s revolution, construction, reform, and practice of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

From the perspective of targets, the CPC’s leadership is comprehensive, systematic, and holistic. The Party exercises overall leadership over all areas of endeavor in the country. This means that the leadership must be upheld in all sectors and every part of the country, ranging from workers, farmers, entrepreneurs, students, and servicemen, to party and government organs, armed forces, enterprises, public institutions, civil groups, and other organizations, to state organs like legislative, administrative and judicial departments. Under the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee, all areas of endeavor not only perform their respective duties and responsibilities but also cooperate, thus jointly forming a huge and sophisticated framework of state governance. In this way, governance is well-guided, well-organized, and powerful.

From the perspective of leadership coverage, the CPC exercises overall leadership over the governance of the Party, the country, and the armed forces, as well as the country’s internal affairs, diplomacy and national defense, and other causes like economic, cultural, and social progress. It is clearly stated in the Constitution of the CPC that the CPC is the leadership core for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. While advancing all initiatives, the Party always exerts its core role in providing overall leadership and coordinating the efforts of all sides.

From the perspective of leadership philosophy, the CPC is committed to prioritizing the interests of the people and the nation. It always represents the fundamental interests of the greatest possible majority of the Chinese people. It has no special interests of its own. It has never represented any individual interest group, power group, or privileged stratum. This is in contrast to the political parties of Western countries that place the partisan interests and interest groups over the interests of the nation and the vast majority of people.

3. Brown Land: Some said that the U.S. and its allies’ hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan indicates that military intervention promoted and Western democracy exported by the Western countries led by the U.S. ended in failure. What is your comment? And what can we learn from this?

Ambassador Ma Xinmin: By this year, the U.S. military troops have stayed in Afghanistan for 20 years. They initially entered Afghanistan in the name of a counter-terrorism war. After the U.S. overthrew the Taliban government in 2001, it began to impose “democratic transformation” on Afghanistan, in an attempt to transplant the American-style democracy into the country. But all its efforts failed. After 20 years, the number of terrorist organizations in Afghanistan has grown to more than 20 from a single digit, and the Afghanistan government built on American democracy collapsed immediately after the U.S.’s withdrawal.

American elites believed that American democracy is the approach to prosperity and a solution to all social ills. But facts have proved again that solving problems with power and military means would only lead to even more problems. A democratic model copied from the U.S. can hardly fit or stand in a country with a distinctively different history, culture, and national conditions.

Just as Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, we should learn three lessons from the situation in Afghanistan. First, seeking hegemony is unacceptable. However strong a country is, it should respect other countries, as well as fairness and justice. Second, military intervention is unacceptable. Political solutions to hot issues should be upheld. Third, wishful thinking of democratic transformation is unacceptable. Each country’s development path, which is suited to its national conditions, should be respected.

Democracy is a shared value. There is no fixed model of democracy; it comes in various forms. Western democracy is not the only form of democracy in the world. The coexistence of different democratic models is what the real world is about. In judging whether a particular form of democracy works, one needs to see whether it is adapted to a country’s history and culture, whether it conforms to its conditions, whether it can deliver political stability and economic and social progress, and whether it can win public support.

Different from the democracy in Western countries, the CPC is committed to be kept to the socialist path of political advancement with Chinese characteristics. This is socialist democracy with distinctive Chinese features, a whole-process democracy. Such democracy is conducted not only utilizing elections, but also through democratic consultation, decision-making, management, scrutiny, and other mechanisms of governance. The whole-process democracy is supported by public consultation, under which public issues are discussed by all those involved to reach extensive consensus.

Democracy, as practiced in China, is rooted in China’s history and culture. It fits the country’s conditions and enjoys popular support. As for Western-style democracy, its form and procedure outweigh its essence and content. A prominent problem in a Western democracy is that partisan interests are placed above national interests. This results in the “gamification” of democratic election, the “capitalization” of democratic operation, and the “nearsightedness” of democratic decision-making.

China will never export its ideology or system. We will stick to the system we have chosen, and meanwhile fully respect the independent choices of other countries. Our socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics is formed by learning from the good practices conducted by Western and other countries while taking the country’s actual conditions into account. China’s development path provides a model and sample worth learning by those countries that aspire to development and hope to remain truly independent at the same time.

4. Brown Land: The long-term sanctions imposed on Sudan that hinder its connection with the outside world are the main restraint on Sudan’s development. As we can see, one of the reasons for China’s successful development is an important decision adopted at the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee to implement opening up. Mr. Ambassador, could you share with us what new measures for opening up does China has in place now?

Ambassador Ma Xinmin: Opening the country to the rest of the world is a major decision made by the CPC. Believing that openness brings progress while seclusion leads to backwardness, we came to realize that opening-up is the path China must take to achieve prosperity and development. General Secretary Xi Jinping once remarked that “reform and opening-up was the key maneuver for determining the fate of contemporary China.” A prominent feature of China’s opening up is the gradual process. Since the launch of the reform and opening-up initiative in 1978, China has been opening its door wider to the world over the past four decades and more. China’s development is the result of greater openness.

In the face of major changes unseen in a century across the world, China has, since the 18th CPC National Congress concluded in 2013, rolled out more new initiatives to promote higher-standard opening up, thus fully updating the overall layout of its opening up.

First, institutional opening-up has been expanded. While continuing to promote opening-up based on flows of goods and factors of production, China has taken solid steps to advance opening-up based on rules, regulations, administration, standards, and related institutions. This is evidenced by the implementation of the Foreign Investment Law and the related implementing regulations, and the nationwide practice of a management system that combines pre-establishment national treatment and the negative list. We have also opened up the manufacturing industry fully and the service sectors gradually, and lifted all restrictions on the ratio of foreign shareholding in such financial sectors as banking, securities, and funds.

Next, free trade zones have been put in a higher position. In addition to building free trade zones in coastal areas, we have been working to establish new free trade zones inland and then in border areas. So far 21 pilot free trade zones have been built by stages. And we also launched the Hainan free trade port in 2018.

Third, high-standard trade agreements have been concluded. We have signed new bilateral free trade agreements with eight countries and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with multiple countries. These agreements will help facilitate and liberalize trade and investment at a faster pace.

Fourth, the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been boosted. To date, China has signed 170 intergovernmental documents on Belt and Road cooperation with 122 countries and 29 international organizations. We have also signed five new or updated free trade agreements with 13 countries along the route of the BRI and currency swap agreements with 21 nations along the route. Acting on the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefit, and committed to a vision of green development, openness, and clean governance for the BRI, China has strengthened policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity with other countries. Together, we will make the BRI an open and inclusive platform for global cooperation.

Fifth, major platforms for opening up have been set up. They are the China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, the China International Import Expo (CIIE), and the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS).

Last but not least, efforts to promote the reform and construction of the global governance system have been made. China has played its role in promoting reforms in the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and took firm actions to safeguard the interests of developing countries. This is China’s contribution to world peace and development as a major constructive force.

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