Uphold and Develop Socialism with Chinese Characteristics

Xi Jinping: The Governance of China I Updated: 2021-12-03

Uphold and Develop Socialism with Chinese Characteristics *


January 5, 2013


Which path should we follow? This is the paramount question for the future of the Party and the success of its cause. Socialism with Chinese characteristics is the integration of the theory of scientific socialism1 and social development theories of Chinese history. Socialism has taken root in China. It reflects the wishes of the people and meets the development needs of the country and the times. It is a sure route to success in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, in the acceleration of socialist modernization, and in the great renewal of the Chinese nation. 

All Party members must follow the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of the Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development, be firm in their commitment to socialism with Chinese characteristics and to the Marxist view on development, treat practice as the sole criterion for testing truth, and apply their historic initiative and creativity. 

We must be clearly aware what is changing and what remains constant in the international, national and Party situations. Never should we hesitate to blaze new trails, bridge rivers, forge ahead with determination, and audaciously explore new territory. We should have the courage and capability to address pressing issues in our work and remove doubts in people's minds, and come up with solutions. We should drive reform and opening up to a deeper level, make new discoveries, create new ideas, achieve new progress, and promote innovation in our theories, practices and systems. 

The guiding principles of the Party's 18th National Congress, in essence, boil down to upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. The year 2013 is the 31st year since Deng Xiaoping put forward the concept of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. He provided for the first time clear systematic answers to several basic questions about how to build, consolidate and develop socialism in China, an economically and culturally underdeveloped country. His answers brought a new perspective to Marxism, opened up new realms, and raised the understanding of socialism to a new scientific level. 

Socialism with Chinese characteristics is socialism and nothing else. The basic principles of scientific socialism must not be abandoned; otherwise it is not socialism. What doctrine a country may choose is based on whether it can resolve the historical problems that confront that country. Both history and reality have shown us that only socialism can save China and only socialism with Chinese characteristics can bring development to China. This conclusion is the result of historical exploration, and the choice of the people.

As socialism progresses, our institutions will undoubtedly mature, the strengths of our system will become self-evident, and our development path will assuredly become wider. We must have confidence in our path, our theory and our system. We must be as tenacious as bamboo, as described by Zheng Xie: "In the face of all blows, not bending low, it still stands fast. Whether from east, west, south or north the wind doth blast."

The process by which the people build socialism under the leadership of the Party can be divided into two historical phases – one that preceded the launch of reform and opening up in 1978, and a second that followed on from that event. The two phases – at once related to and distinct from each other – are both pragmatic explorations in building socialism conducted by the people under the leadership of the Party. Chinese socialism was initiated after the launch of reform and opening up and based on more than 20 years of development since the socialist system was established in the 1950s after the People's Republic of China (PRC) was founded. Although the two historical phases are very different in their guiding thoughts, principles, policies, and practical work, they are by no means separated from or opposed to each other. We should neither negate the pre-reform-and-opening-up phase in comparison with the post-reform-and-opening-up phase, nor the converse. We should adhere to the principles of seeking truth from facts and distinguishing the trunk from the branches. We should uphold truth, rectify our errors, draw on practical experience, and learn lessons. This is the foundation which facilitates further advance of the cause of the Party and the people. 

Marxism will not remain stagnant. It will certainly keep up with the times, the progress of our practice and the advance of science. Socialism too always advances through practice. Developing Chinese socialism is a great cause. Deng Xiaoping clearly defined some basic thoughts and principles on the subject. The Central Committee headed by Jiang Zemin, and later by Hu Jintao also added some outstanding chapters to it. Now, the job of the Communists of our generation is to continue with this mission.

We must adhere to Marxism and socialism from a developmental perspective. With each step forward we will encounter new situations and unfamiliar problems, we will face greater risks and challenges, and we will be confronted by the unexpected. We must be prepared for adversity and danger, even in times of prosperity and peace. 

We should not pretend to know what we do not know. We should try to put what we already know to use, and lose no time in learning what we do not know. We must not be muddle-headed. 

Party members, particularly Party officials, should maintain a firm belief in lofty communist ideals, along with the common ideal of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, and pursue them with dedication. 

We must be rigorous in implementing the Party's basic lines and programs in the primary stage of socialism, and do all our work well. 

Our revolutionary ideals are of the greatest importance. A Party member devoid of ideals lacks an essential quality – as does one who engages in empty talk about lofty ideals without doing anything. 

There are objective criteria to measure whether Party members or Party officials have these high communist ideals. Can they stick to the basic principle of serving the people heart and soul? Can they be the first to bear hardship and the last to enjoy comfort? Can they work hard and remain honest and dedicated? And can they make every possible effort and even lay their lives for the sake of their ideals? 

Flawed thinking, hedonistic desires, corrupt behavior and passive attitudes – all are at odds with the communist ideals.

* Main points of the speech at the seminar of the members and alternate members of the newly-elected Central Committee of the CPC for implementing the guiding principles of the Party's 18th National Congress.


1  Scientific socialism, also known as scientific communism, refers to the entire thought system of Marxism in a broad sense and to one of the three major components of Marxism in a narrow sense. The latter meaning is commonly used. Founded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the 1840s, scientific socialism is a science that examines the nature, conditions and general purpose of the proletariat liberation movement. It mainly proposes eliminating private ownership and embracing public ownership, vigorously enhancing productivity, generating abundant social material wealth, implementing planned economy, and getting rid of commercial production and exchanges involving money. It endorses the principle of "to each according to his contribution," and predicts that classes and class distinctions will disappear, the nation state will gradually vanish, and a community of free individuals will come into being. 

2  Zheng Xie: Bamboos amid Rocks. Zheng Xie (1693-1765), also known as Zheng Banqiao, was a calligrapher and writer in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

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