Feb 24, 2023
The report of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has formally proposed “Chinese Path to Modernization”. What is the goal and its context of modernization? What are the lessons of the Chinese path for Thailand? Prof. Dr. Tang Zhimin, Director of CASPIM, commented in his recent interview with the China Daily:
The report of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has formally proposed “Chinese Path to Modernization”, for a concerted effort to realize the Second Centenary Goal (by 2049) of building China into “a great modern socialist country in all respects” and “to advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts”.
The goal of Chinese modernization has five pillars: “modern agriculture”, “modern industry”, “modern national defense”, “modern science and technology” as well as modern system and capacity for governance”. The goal of modernization is also reflected in Chinese “Five-Sphere Integrated Plan” to promote coordinated economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological advancement. It is a vision for China in the next decades, based on the the experience of the country’s drive for modernization in more than seventy years since the founding of PRC in 1949.
There are limitations for other countries to adopt the Chinese model: China is a super- large country with considerable economy of scale and abundant human resources; It also has a unique political system with strong political leadership. However, a few points in Chinese Path to Modernization are worth attention as lessons in the journey of modernization of human history:
Firstly, the lesson from China’s path of modernization: its transition from emphasis on heavy industry, import substitution and planned economy towards export orientation and market economy, from high speed and extensive development to emphasis on quality. Modernization is not only industrialization and urbanization, it is a permanent process carried out through continuous reform and innovation, including the current postindustrial development and digital economy.
Secondly, the involvement of government in the modernization process and quality of governance: political stability, long term planning and execution, prevention of special interest groups from hijacking national economy, avoidance of populist politics, management of income inequality and eradication of absolute poverty, rule of law and protection of individual rights.
Thirdly, the importance of external environment for modernization: free trade and movement of capital, human resource and technology; inter-regional and intra-regional connectivity; balance between national security and embracing the international system for exchange.
Last but not least, there are wisdoms of different cultures which are valuable in the modernization process and should be preserved and shared in the global community. For examples, harmony with nature, value of family and community. Every country is entitled to choose its own way to achieve modernization which fits to its cultural heritage. Chinese Path to Modernization is by no means a path for other countries to follow. It only provides one alternative but proves modernization is not Westernization.