Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Marxism-Leninism In China Update

The once-every five years Chinese Communist Party conference is now over.  It appears that Xi Jinping has not identified an heir to himself as his two predecessors did at the time of this equivalent meeting during their presidencies.  Furthermore, unlike either of them, Xi has joined Mao and Deng Xiaoping in having his work identified in the Chinese constitution as being an official part of Chinese ideology.  Most observers consider this a sign that even if Xi gives up one or maybe even two of his official positions, he is likely to continue to be the Paramount Leader in practice beyond the next five years.  A key part of his thought is the superior role of the Communist Party and its foundation on Marxist principles, even if a mixed economy is to be followed, "socialism with Chinese characteristics."  So, the assertion of Marxism-Leninism in China by Xi apparently means a justification for him to remain in power in China for the indefinite future.

The obvious way that Xi could pull off staying in power without changing the constitution would be to hang on to being Party Secretary as well as Chair of the Central Military Commission.  The job that has a two term limit is President, with him just starting his second five year term as that.  In five years he could easily select somebody who  is willing to obey him to replace him as President while he hangs on to the other two positions, which have no term limits to them.  The one rule he will have to break, although apparently it is not in the constitution and merely a recently accepted policy, is the upper age limit of 68.  That is apparently for all positions.  In five years he will be 69, so that would have to go as a rule, at least for him.

Barkley Rosser

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, but what about policy projected at the Communist Party Congress?

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

No serious change from the last five years. Xi says things are good, so let us keep doing it and doing it and doing and doing it and...

Anonymous said...

"No serious change from the last five years. Xi says things are good, so let us keep doing it and doing it and doing and doing it and..."

What condescending nonsense, prejudice being mistaken for an effort at understanding.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Anonymous,

"condescending nonsense"? Maybe condescending, but not nonsense. It is a fact that there was no new policy initiative introduced at the Party Congress. Do you think there was? If so, please tell us about it. If not, then please apologize for your obnoxious and inaccurate statement.

As it is, I am disgusted by Xi's elevation of himself to supreme power. Do you think that is something worthy and we should all kowtow to the new emperor?

Anonymous said...

What are important are the governing ideas for China, that there is no interest in them despite the success of the ideas is unfortunate. Also, the language used of course reflects prejudice but prejudice makes us indifferent to ideas.

No matter, I am sorry for being upsetting since that accomplished nothing.

Anonymous said...

As for "condescending nonsense," what was written was obviously what was considered important in this setting, but what was important to the Chinese was the substance of the report and failing to deal with that is to me unfortunate.

Use of a term such as "emperor" or "kowtow," even if angry, is of course uncalled for.

Anonymous said...

At least reason was found to write about the Chinese Communist Party conference and any such writing is useful and I should remember that. So, thank you.

Barkley Rosser said...

Yes, Anonymous, I am being disrespectful because I do not respect people grabbing supreme power, which is what Xi Jinping is doing. I do not respect it, and I do not respect it when leaders in other nations do it either. This has nothing to do with him being Chinese.

Frankly, I think I am accurate that there were no new policy initiatives introduced. My description was completely accurate, if loaded with some sarcasm. If you wish to provide a list of new policy initiatives, I would be willing to reconsider my remarks. But otherwise, sorry, I am not going to kowtow to your obnoxious and stupid bs. Get lost, you Xi Jinping troll. Go fuck yourself.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining, in however bullying and crude a manner.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Anoymous,

Let me be clear about something. I happen to think a lot of China's policies are wise, in many areas far wiser than those of the US currently, such as for example taking a leading role in keeping the Paris Climate Accord on track despite the US withdrawing from it. China is now viewed as the leading nation of the world by many nations around the world that just last year viewed the US as the leading nation, and they have good reason for doing so.

Therefore it is more important than ever what China does, and it is very disappointing and frustrating to see China moving towards a more blatant form of authoritarianism. I recognize that other nations have been doing so as well, including Russia and Turkey and others. Indeed, the US president seems to be encouraging this trend and clearly would love to be able to do what these other leaders have been doing, although so far has been unable to do so. But his praise of Xi Jinping on the conclusion of the Congress shows his tendencies.

So, Anonymous, it may be that my annoyance with Xi Jinping has more to do with my annoyance with Trump.

Regarding the policy issue and why I made my sarcastic remarks about policy are that indeed while most of the policies are not too bad, no set of policies are perfect and changes always need to be made from time to time, and this Congress would have been the obvious time and place to announce reasonable changes or adjustments. But instead we got this apparent complete lack of change with this being done as part of this hagiography of Xi Jinping so as to justify this ugly power grab.

I will also note that I have been a student and fan of Chinese art and culture since I was very young and have also published several papers about the Chinese economy. I wish China well and I am not anti-China. This is also why I dislike what is going on with this move by Xi to assert such a complete power grab.

Anonymous said...

Well and fairly explained, and possibly correct about an amassing of personal political power that could be a problem for the Chinese. The consensus of public opinion in the USA and UK seems to be that there has been an unfortunate concentration of political authority in China, unfortunate for domestic China and unfortunate for the conducting of Chinese international affairs. The Chinese leadership seemingly takes the approach that improving economic well-being resolves social problems.

Supposing that President Xi has focused on amassing personal power, even if well intended that could prove problematic and self-defeating.

I found a Chinese president and leadership speaking at length in idealistic-humane terms through these last days and was surprised and discouraged that this was little portrayed in the US and UK media, the focus being on the authority of the president.

I may have failed to understand what was actually happening, while your focus though seemingly too narrow may have been correct.

Anonymous said...

I heard an emphasis on social security, medical care, schooling, an end to poverty by 2020, care of the environment, cultural appreciation, having a beautiful China... There was a pledge of peace, no expansion, no seeking hegemony, working in the United Nations, offering what China has learned about development to other developing countries, offering a Belt and Road infrastructure-connectivity plan...

I heard of a China building to thorough well-being and beauty and standing for peace and sharing, so in view of what China has accomplished these 40 years, I was taken with the vision.

Possibly I listened and watched all too superficially.

Anonymous said...

I know what the development of China has meant in terms of poverty internationally these 40 years and have read the portrayals of Branko Milanovic and Mark Weisbrot and Amartya Sen on this. Then I listen and watch the focus on further poverty reduction in China, and I am hopeful. US and UK media coverage is otherwise focused.

I sincerely thank you for both discussion posts and only hope you will continue to write on China.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Anonymous,
What I followed most closely was the long opening speech by Xi Jinping, which was full of many of the things you mention, much of it very high minded, with in some cases actual Chinese policies supporting the declared high-mindedness to varying degrees. I commented on the speech briefly in an earlier post, mostly poking at some ideological points and sensing that indeed this speech was a prelude to an assertion of nearly supreme power. But the speech had only hints of that with much that at least sounded admirable and in many cases was admirable. As I said, many current policies seem fine, and I have stayed away from getting too specific about the policies as that can easily turn into a very long and detailed topic. My most recent writing on this is not quite yet publicly available, but will be in January in the chapter on the Chinese economy in the third edition of the textbook my wife, Marina, and I have coauthored coming out from MIT Press at the end of January.

I did not follow the rest of the Congress in super detail, but kept my eye looking out for any proposed policy changes and the general thrust of speeches, as well as who would get appointed to the higher level positions, and, of course, the central question of whether or not an heir would be identified, which did not happen. What I saw were completely sycophantic speeches by the delegates praising Xi to the utmost degree, along with the general attitude that indeed the status quo of policies is just fine and needing no change, although maybe some were announced, and I just did not catch that. Also apparently, even though the appointments did not contain an identified heir, apparently both the Politburo and the Standing Committee now have solid majorities of members who are clearly identified with Xi's faction rather than those of Jiang or Hu, his predecessors, who still have some of their associates at least in the Politburo.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Oh, our textbook is on comparative economic systems and is titled _Comparative Economics in a Transforming World Economy_. I note that the second edition, published in 2004, happens to have the highest price of any comparative economic systems textbook on Amazon at this time, despite its being quite out of date.

Anonymous said...

http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2017/10/marxism-leninism-and-chinese-communist.html

Anonymous said...

There is the first of the 2 posts, which along with the comments were especially helpful, clear and precise. I realize that policy matters, evaluation and projection, were of little concern, especially new policy projection. What mattered was leadership structure, the result of which you find regrettable. I had given little thought to leadership structure, thinking a consensus had been shaped well before the Congress.

I understand now that I did not listen and read properly, and I am pleased to have come to understand that. This was all especially helpful.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Well, Anonymous, it is highly likely that the major personnel decisions were made prior to the Congress, although we do not know how long in advance or how hard the arguing was over them. What goes on in Zhongnonhai is fairly opaque to outsiders, and it is possible that some decisions were not made until the last minute. Probably some day we shall know more of these details, but for the immediate future probably all we shall know is the outcome.