The report of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China proposed to “comprehensively promote the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation with Chinese-style modernization.” Thus, the country’s emphasis on this mode of modernization has global implications.
They lie mainly in four aspects:
First, Chinese-style modernization emphasizes that countries should explore their own path to modernity based on their own national conditions. Modernization is a common goal of developing nations, many of which face significant obstacles to effectively fulfilling that vision. Drawing lessons from its own past, China has come to the important conclusion that countries should combine the general experiences of modernization with their own realities and find a path to modernization that suits their situation. Outcomes may be disappointing if people take a particular approach to modernization as universally applicable.
This has been a major reason that many developing nations have suffered repeated setbacks in their pursuit of modernization since World War II. Chinese-style modernization broke away from the myth that there is only one path. This realization brought a profound emancipation of the mind.
Second, Chinese-style modernization emphasizes quality development. Modernization is inseparable from industrialization, marketization and globalization, yet traditional industrialization, marketization and globalization all followed the principle of efficiency first, while relying heavily on fossil fuels and other short-term advantages, which may destabilize the economic structure.
For instance, when one country’s economic structure becomes highly dependent on a global division of labor, making its economic structure lopsided, there will be negative influences on its economic security and sustainable development. Widening wealth gaps and the sabotage of resources and the environment ultimately affect international security, peace and stability.
Chinese-style modernization highlights quality development, which includes optimizing and upgrading economic structures, renewing growth dynamism, improving social distribution and guarantee mechanisms and the harmonious coexistence of man and nature. The idea is to facilitate integrated progress in such areas as promoting growth, preserving fairness and protecting the environment to achieve coordinated, balanced, universally beneficial and sustainable development.
Third, Chinese-style modernization proceeds from mankind’s all-around development. Modernization is in essence human modernization, since people have both biological and social characteristics and their needs are diverse. Modernization promotes the development of productivity and enriches people’s material lives.
However, this doesn’t mean their lives will be richer or happier. Meeting people’s material needs is only the basis for sustaining the human species, which is not the whole picture or even the main element. To obtain greater sense of happiness, a person needs to pursue higher values. In other words, people’s sense of happiness originates mainly from the satisfaction of their needs at the spiritual or values level.
Chinese-style modernization, while enriching material lives, also highlights an effective approach to human needs at the spiritual level, so as to promote mankind’s all-around development and better match individual and societal values.
Fourth, Chinese-style modernization is aimed at promoting world peace and common development. It follows the path of peaceful development, the core idea of which is to accomplish self-development through preserving world peace and development, while at the same time better preserving world peace and development with its own development.
This completely forsakes the old paths of traditional major powers achieving modernization by means of war, colonization and looting and provides clear answers to the two significant questions of global concern: How China will achieve development and what China will do after achieving development. Therefore, peace, development and win-win cooperation are the essential characteristics of Chinese-style modernization.
Chinese-style modernization is ongoing, which means it will be enriched and improved by continuous exploration and turned into reality in innovative practice. It is one of various roads to modernization, having clear Chinese characteristics, but it has also provided new ideas, directions and methods that developing countries can use to accomplish modernization.
Therefore, to understand Chinese-style modernization, one needs to realize that it’s a kind of developing theory and practice. It has both universal value and special significance. And it presents developing nations with a meaningful reference, rather than a rigid template.