THE dream of Chinese national rejuvenation is based on Sun Tzu’s aphorism “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles,” and “to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” The strategic wisdom to keep the opponent unaware of one’s intentions and actions has woven Sun Tzu’s thoughts into its grand strategy by China which was a terra incognita until the recent pronouncements in the 19th CPC Congress. With enigmatic elements by putting her opponents especially the US and her allies on the horns of dilemma China is successfully overcoming the weaknesses and flaunting her strengths day by day. As a matter of understanding, grand strategy enunciates what sits at the top of the hierarchy of what a State’s leadership seeks to achieve in its foreign policy by determining their ultimate goals and interests using State’s finite resources including military, diplomatic, economic, psychological and moral aspects to deal with competing challenges and opportunities. President Xi Jinping’s recent speech has uncovered the Chinese grand strategy.
The doyens of academic China-watchers, political analysts and commentators are putting Present Xi Jinping into the same pantheon as Chinese legends Mao Zedong and Deng Ziaoping after his elevation during 19th CPC National Congress in October which unanimously voted to cherish with his thoughts on “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”. Under leadership of President Xi, the CPC put forward a wide range of strategies into their constitution giving play to the decisive role of market forces in resource allocation, advancing supply-side structural reform and enhancing the country’s cultural soft power. The resolution passed on the 19th CPC addressed the new thought as “an important component of the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and a guide to action for the entire Party and all the Chinese people to strive for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” It encompasses with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, and the Scientific Outlook on Development to systematically address what sort of socialism with Chinese characteristics the “new era” requires?
President Xi used the phrase “new era” more than 30 times in his three hour and half long speech at the CPC Congress with the pronouncement to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects to “secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, and work tirelessly to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation”. His commitment to examining “ourselves in the mirror, tidying our attire, taking a bath, and treating our ailments,” is Sun Tzu’s stratagem to “know yourself” which has compelled CPC to adopt values fitting for a new era to assess the calibre of officials and achieved a notable improvement in the way officials are selected and appointed.
By what Socialism with Chinese characteristics entering a new era, President Xi was of the opinion that Chinese nation has achieved an incredible transformation by standing up, growing rich and becoming stronger and it has come to embrace the dazzling prospects of rejuvenation. He meant that socialism is full of vivacity in China and “the path, the theory, the system and the culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics have kept developing, blazing a new trial for other developing countries to achieve modernization.”
Xi urged the Congress to live up to the trust of the people, come together, keep going and realize the Chinese dream to build China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the middle of the century when China marks its centenary. As a policy guideline, President Xi elaborated his fourteen points that ensuring party leadership at all works, commitment to people-centred approach, reforms, adaptation of new vision for development, law based governance with core socialist values, improvement in living standards through development in harmony with human and nature, and pursuing a holistic approach to national security while upholding the supremacy of Party leadership over its Armed Forces.
President Xi envisaged a two-staged development program for the Chinese nation from 2020 to 2050. During first 15 years of hard work from 2020 to 2035, the strategic vision foresees a significant increase in China’s economic and technological strengths becoming a global leader in innovations, equal rights of people participating in the development, with a modern social government and a stronger cultural soft power, fundamental improvements and reduction in societal disparities as well as modernization of Chinas system and capacity for governance is improved. Whereas, in the second 15 years’ stage starting from 2035 to 2050, Xi strategic vision is to develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful and China has become a global leader in terms of composite national strength and international influence.
The “new era” strategy is not only limited to social and economic aspects, it also incorporates the military component with a special focus adapted to the trend of a new global military revolution and to national security needs by upgradation of Chinese military capabilities with a big improvement in strategic capabilities by modernizing Chinese military across the board in terms of theory, organizational structure, service personnel and weaponry. Such a dream of national rejuvenations is not possible without training a contingent of competent staff and professionals, strengthening governance systems, enforcement of discipline, with a sweeping victory in the fight against corruption, and state oversight while strengthening every dimension of ability for governance. Xi’s new era offers a new option for other nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence. There are lots of lessons to be erudite in Pakistan from Chinese grand strategy elucidated by President Xi for our own version of a “new era” yet to be manifested by our leadership for the national rejuvenation.
— The writer is Assistant Professor Department of International Relations, Karakoram International University, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan.