The Governance of China, President Xi Jinping's new book, is unprecedented. Can analyzing the book elucidate Xi's thinking and illuminate China's future? Consider seven frameworks or perspectives: publishing purposes; overarching themes; content analysis; chain of developmental causation; domestic goals; domestic means; and global principles.
Publishing Purposes: substance, symbol, signal. Substance means Xi's political philosophy and wide-ranging policies - organizing 79 speeches and commentaries in 18 chapters - to discern how Xi intends to realize the Chinese Dream of "the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation". Symbol means recognizing Xi's emergence as China's leader, with greater authority, confidence and support than observers had expected when he first took office two years ago. Signal means communicating Xi's way of thinking to global audiences in nine languages, an original and explicit outreach to engage the world on multiple levels.
Overarching Themes: pride, stability, responsibility, vision. Pride expresses the yearning of the Chinese people for the "great rejuvenation". Stability means maintaining the current political system (Socialism with Chinese characteristics and the Party's leadership). Responsibility means "realizing a moderately prosperous society by the centenary of the Party in 2021". Vision means "turning China into a prosperous, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious modern socialist country by the centenary of the People's Republic of China in 2049".
Content Analysis. How does Xi impute importance to topics? By examining what's in Xi's book, can we explore what's on Xi's mind? Of the book's 18 chapters, 11 relate to domestic affairs, seven to foreign affairs; six have political relevance; six concern standards of living, and four standards of behavior. Categorizing the content, about a third is Politics & People, another third on International Relations; about 15 percent each on Reform & Development, and Society & Culture; and about 8 percent on National Security & Defense. Pervasive throughout is Reform.
Chain of Developmental Causation. The Chinese Dream is founded on political stability, which enables far-reaching reform, which in turn promotes economic development, and which, when combined with rule of law and Chinese values, strengthens China's society, culture, ecology and even defense. Where is this "chain of causation" in Xi's book?
The first and last chapters affirm political stability: "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" and "The CPC Leadership", both of which assert the Party's political primacy and thus assure social stability. "The Chinese Dream" is the second chapter, proclaiming the grand mission of national resurgence and personal well-being. Then, chapters on deepening reform and economic development, which lead to chapters on rule of law, advanced culture, social undertakings and ecological progress.
Domestic Goals: values, morality, prosperity, fairness, happiness. Values: Xi's vision is to inculcate China's traditional values - "the thoughts of the ancient sages", exemplified by Confucianism - into socialist core values. ("We must take traditional Chinese culture as the base.") Morality: Derived from values, morality is described as "conscious law" and "civic morality" is characterized as needing improvement, while "paragons of morality are important banners for building public ethics".("A gentleman takes morality as his bedrock" - a traditional virtue that Xi quotes.) Prosperity: "Common prosperity is the fundamental principle of Chinese socialism We will accelerate China's overall prosperity". Fairness: Because the Chinese people have always had a perception that "inequality rather than want is the cause of trouble", Xi says China "should do a better job of promoting fairness and justice". Happiness: The Chinese Dream, Xi says, is to "bring happiness to the Chinese people," to "ensure the people greater happiness" - but, he cautions, "happiness does not fall from the sky, nor do dreams come true automatically." (In Xi's book, "values" occurs about 120 times, "morality" 24, "prosperity" 67, "fairness" 44, and "happiness" 16.)
Domestic Means: close to the people, realism, stability, reform, rule of law, combating corruption. "Close to the people" is an all-encompassing way of thinking that shapes all decisions. Realism: "I have repeatedly said that the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation can in no way be realized easily," Xi says. "While fully affirming our achievements, we should also be aware of our shortcomings". Stability: The precondition for all else, stability is a recurrent and foundational theme ("stability" occurs 125 times). Reform: Those who wonder whether Xi is a "real reformer" should read "Explanatory Notes Concerning Comprehensively Continuing Reform" (page 76). Examples: the market plays a "decisive role"; farmers given transactional property rights; the judicial system separate from the administrative system. Rule of Law: "A fundamental principle" and "the basic way to run the country" - the Fourth Plenary of the 18th CPC Central Committee, focusing on Rule of Law, is Xi's call to action. Combating Corruption is a hallmark of Xi's administration, enhancing each of the five other "Domestic Means". It is no accident that the chapter on "Combating Corruption" is positioned, significantly, between "Close Ties with the People" and "The CPC Leadership".
I bear witness to Xi's consistency. In 2006, Adam Zhu (my long-term partner) and I met privately with then Zhejiang Party Secretary Xi. He stressed that while China should be properly proud of its successes, "achievements should not engender complacency". Xi said: "We need to assess ourselves objectively."
Global Principles. Consider five. Independence (China remains unaligned). Multi-polar World (no country dominates). One Country, Two Systems (Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan). Peaceful development ("We have made a solemn pledge to the whole world that we will never seek hegemony"). Multilateral Affairs (cooperation with the global community). These five global principles drive China's "New Model of Major Country Relations" (primarily with the US), "Neighborhood Diplomacy" (Japan, Vietnam, Koreas, etc.), and "Cooperation with Developing Countries" (such as in Africa). The "Silk Road Economic Belt" (land route and maritime) is President Xi's new initiative for multinational development.
Here's my blurb for Xi's book: "This book is a milestone, both in substance and symbol, offering openly the political philosophy of President Xi Jinping and recognizing his emergence as China's senior leader. While misunderstandings about China and its leadership abound, there is now no need to speculate about President Xi. Here is how he thinks, candidly and comprehensively." It is the pride of a patriot.
The author is an international corporate strategist and political/economics commentator. He is the author of How China's Leaders Think and a biography of former president Jiang Zemin. He gave one of the speeches at the launch ceremony of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 8.
(Source: China Daily)