China building Harmonious Society

Building Harmonious Society

Figure 1           Picture drew by Ping Yinchang (冯印澶), ‘Building of the Harmonious Society’, refelct fully the power and dinamicity of this project.

The aim of this article is to offer a further explanation to the topic on the role of the ‘Chinese model of economic and political development’ discussed during the course. Is important to keep in mind that the majority of the sources of the information reported in this essay are based on official statements of  the Chinese: government officials, scholars, experts of politics, social science and economics, and moreover that many of the reflections included in this paper are inspired by my Italian masters thesis on the role of  the Chinese media in building the socialist harmonious society in China.[1]

During the semester we understood how in the past decades the international role of the People Republic of China (PRC) has developed and growths reaching a very influential action over the international political and economic agenda.

Still is very interesting to analyze more in details which are the political, social and economic changes that have stimulated a mutual change in both the Chinese society and the political pattern.

Western media and observers have been often more interested in the economic liberalization of the market, assuming that an higher GDP mathematically  corresponds an improvement in the living standards in the population, and that a economic development will be sufficient to change the socio-economic condition of a country. Such kinds of assertions don’t take into accounts that these adjustments require a new political frameworks and a new perception in society about its own role. All this aims necessitate a long-term process to been lunched and set up, but, since in China changes occur so fast, observers shouldn’t confuse a shift in the structural-external framework with a, more important, qualitative development.

The main characteristics of the nowadays Chinese model can be synthesized into three spheres: the Political, Market and Cultural ones. All of them differ from the Western ones, and it couldn’t be otherwise.

Political, first of all, because, despite the huge changes that took place in PRC in the last three decades, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has maintained his role of guidance of the Country, of the social order and produced a more chino-centrically sights on how run politics and on the way to manage international relationships[2].

The local and global Markets have revolutionized the previous socio-political assets letting grown the Country and at the same time enlarged the disparities in the population, generating a new challenge for the Government [this is what interest much closely the Concept of Socialist Harmonious Society][3]. In few words, it represents at the same time both a opportunity of many-sided development and a risk.

Cultural, finally, because has the power to resizing the relationship between the political and economic initiatives. Moreover, this phenomenon is more or less related locally and marked according to a specific geographical culture.

One of them is the objective of maintaining the welfare society (小康社会, xiaokang shehui), the final goal of the communist project. Blankert[4], which retrieves the Maltus vision of the relationship that exists between democracy and development, argues that modern democracy are a relatively new experience, this is very close to the Chinese concept of (socialist) xiaokang, for which only by achieving a level spread and development can make a decent democratic society.[5]

The Party has evolved form embodying the role of advocate-emancipation of the people, to the promoter of economic development at the time of Deng Xiaoping, until, finally, to present themselves as the vanguard of all social classes (全民党, quanmindang).[6] Jiang Zeming, officially launched this last concept in 2002 through the introduction, within the constitution of the Party, of the “Theory of Three Represents. ” Finally, with the rise of Hu Jintao, between 2003 and 2004, the ruling class while keeping the attention focused on the economic development of the country, he started to occupy most of the population. Particularly towards the less agitated. Hu Jintao has entered a new maximum in the dense vocabulary of the CCP: yi ren wei ben (已认为本), that is, “put people first, ” just to indicate this change of course in theory aimed at a more sustainable way to the development of the country.

To understand the changes taking place in the PRC analysis is sufficient to take in exame the Eleventh Five-Year Plan, which can provide a support of information on the changes that are going to happen. [7]  The Eleventh Five Year Plan has basically three aspects of particular importance: i) China has become a powerful nation, ii) The standard of living of the population has increased, [8] and finally, iii) China assumed a new role in the world stage.

Through this Plan have been delivered two concepts immediately accepted and promoted by the media, in particular through the work of education and supervision of public opinion. The most recent and important concepts, which this study aims to examine, are the ‘Scientific Concept of Development’ (科学发展观, Kexue fazhan guan) and of the ‘Edification of the Harmonious Socialist Society’ (构建社会主义和谐社会Goujian shehui zhuyi hexie shehui).

The party has matured following the new needs of the society. Aware of the growing political and media understanding of the population, it has begun to pay increasing attention to the terms to adopt.[9]  Therefore the development of these two concepts highlights two priorities of the Government: continue along the path already taken the development, and through the use of proper tools, take a more populist approach.

Returning to the Eleventh Five-Year Plan, Cindy Fan offers a very interesting observation, which notes that while in the Tenth Five-Year Plan was proposed a “relatively rapid development“, in that of 2006, however, the Party shall act favor of a “gradual and relatively rapid (平稳较快发展,pingwen jiaokuai fazhan).[10] The two terms differ only significantly, but as the plan a “political plot” on which rests the future of the country’s political project, it is clear that the weight of words is enormous.

  1. 1.     The Harmonious Society
    1. a.     Introduction to the Harmonious Society.


Harmonious society, as embodied in the Sixth Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party in 2006, is a society that enclose five characteristics: 1) It’s a democratic society[11] under pose to the rule of law;[12] that 2) Excels in fairness and justice, 3) Honest and altruist, 4) Stable, vigorous and ordered, and, finally, is 5) A society in which man and nature coexist in harmony.[13]

Because of its elements sounds too theoretical and its objective too optimistic, the theory hasn’t obtain many greetings by western politicians, experts, that instead had criticized and perhaps underestimated it.

Curiously the criteria adopted by the World Bank in providing its financial assistance to the governments of developing countries is based on the presence of six points very similar to those listed above: 1) The quality of lawmaking, and 2) The effectiveness of government; 3) The rule of law, 4) Control of corruption; 5) Democracy, and 6) Stability.[14]

Political leaders, such as President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, and many other figures, have begun to repeat these principles trough media, political summit, etc many times over the years.[15] [16]

Wing Thye Woo asserts that, because of the choice of the characteristics mentioned above, the Party has adopted a form of development that takes into account also the companies, which are contributing deeply in the development on the environment.[17] If so, through a reverse logic, all items listed may be read rather as the set of elements that the country was not provided in 2006 and in previous years. Since have been past only a few years since then, it is reasonable to think that the problems have remained broadly unchanged.

In Western countries the concept of ‘social harmony’ foreshadows a condition in which the state and people have broken down the bureaucratic barriers, and in which each individual enjoys equal dignity and equal opportunity for his self-affirmation.[18] Moreover, this concept can be read as that moment in human history in which individuals mediate all forms of individual conflict and instability. In this context, the State would no longer have a reason to exist, at least insofar as we understand it today, because they have peaceful autonomy.

According to Eva Pföstl, a society would be called “Harmonious” if everyone will be able to lead a satisfactory existence. Chinese leaders, instead, believe that the social contradictions keep to exist, but that people will possess all the tools needed to reduce it. This will happen for one simple reason: because people “feel” the Harmonious society (which does not appears in Pföstl’s idea of harmonious society).[19]

This “feel” should be interpreted as the inner perception by the individual to be a member of society and its role in the service to it. The Party recognizes that if China will  keep on growing and raising its living standards the internal market will be more prosperous and the area more stable.[20]

China’s transition towards a market economy presumes a great effort to draw the boundaries between the ruling party and state, between state and economy, and between state and society. All these great borders were determined in the hope of facilitating economic growth, but this did not necessarily means an automatic division of the power from one party.[21] On the other hand, a liberalization of many sectors, including education, healthcare and the pension system, stimulate the government to delegat part of its responsibility to society itself. Laliberté and Lanteigne believe that since the liberalization of sectors involves closely the life of the population, and therefore the stability of the nation, Jiang Zemin and his successor Hu Jintao have both agreed to deal with this conflict by giving more responsibility to the private sector, especially by allowing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to promote social services, religious[22] and to make use of philanthropic circles. [23]

  1. b.    Throw the Harmonious Society

John Delury argues that the concept of “harmony” evokes, as in the minds of observers, different ranges in population.[24] For those living at the extremes boundaries of the economic boom, harmony suggests a new socialist political alternative to safeguard rural masses and urban poor people; For the nationalists[25] and more conservative, harmony is a means for the revival of traditional Chinese values and thought; Finally, for the faithful of the party, harmony is an indication of the adaptability of the Party and its desire to maintain is duty to rule the country.

In fact, there are good reasons to assume that the Party’s new mission is to not disappoint anyone of these four groups, through targeted policies and education of society.

In fact, the harmonious society requires a strong state, an efficient private sector and a joint society, and that all these three components must cooperate each other.[26] In these early years from the lunch of social project, this balance has not been achieved yet since the Chinese experts have all agreed in reach a first phase of social harmony by the year 2020, less than 9 years from now.

Figure 2              A very interesting map of China recently realized by The Economist, which compare the GDP of Chinese provinces with those of other countries. According to this data is possible to have a preview of the differences between the richest provinces, dark red, with the undeveloped one, light green.[27]

  1. 2.     How Has Been Introduced the Harmonious Society in China

Since the PRC is playing an important role in the global market and politics it might be careful to do not destabilize the future economic-political environment in the decades to come. Problems such as corruption, social injustice, geographical disparities, the gap in incomes and services between the cities and countryside, the scarcity and poor distribution of energy and resources, unemployment, pollution, the mismatch between economic growth and the level of protection of workers and the pension system, political instability and the crisis of social values. All together this factors if underestimated could undermine the needs of quiet life of the society.[28]

The concept of “harmonious society” appeared for the first time at one of the speeches by Jiang Zemin at the Sixteenth National Congress of the CCP in Beijing in 2002. The harmonious society was included among a list of six objectives aimed at achieving “the creation of a welfare society” (xiaokang shehui jianshe, 小康社会建设).[29] Later, during the Fourth Plenary Session of the Sixteenth CCP Congress in September 2004, this time under President Hu Jintao, was officially introduced the motto “building of the harmonious socialist society. ” A few months later, February 19, 2005, Hu Jintao called the Concept of Managers at the Central School of the CCP.[30] A very significant signal, since it is inside of it walls that a part of the future Chinese Communist leadership is formed.

Finally, during the Sixth Plenum of the Sixteenth National Congress of the CCP in October 2006, was promoted as one of the most important political stakes, social and economic future of the country. The Seventeenth National Congress of the CCP has raised Finally, the combination of the “Scientific Concept of Development” and ‘”building of the harmonious socialist society” the same ideology of Mao, Deng’s theories, the “Three Represents, ” Jiang, not to mention the ideological pillars of the Marxist and Leninist thought, placing them in the paper of the Chinese Constitution.

The reasons that led the political elite to choose Chinese harmony as the new symbol of the ideology of the Party can be summed up in one sentence by Francois Jullien: “The harmony is, and it contains all the Chinese ideology”.[31] In the past, the legitimacy of the Party had its roots in the charisma of its leaders, as happened with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Subsequently, the new ruling class sought to secure the consent of the masses through their ability to promote economic development in the country.[32] Unfortunately, is missing an important component for the popular cohesion, which are essential for a socialist country: the social ethics.

The social ethics affects the life of society and political action.

And so one could argues that, “Chinese leaders have quickly realized that the efficiency without equity is unsustainable. But theoretically, instead of emulating the Western model of the welfare state, they have turned their attention to traditional Confucian idea of society Datong. “[33]

  1. a.     The Socialist Harmonious Society

Hu Jintao declared in 2005 that the harmonious socialist society “is perfectly suited to the objective demands of [the population] sort of reforms in a key period of openness in which the country has started, fully reflecting the fundamental interests and common hopes of all masses. “[34].

According to a recent study by Yu Xefen, all made in-depth around the harmonious socialist society agree in defining it as a society in which there are conditions for the development of a positive society, the social foundations based on respect, trust, mutual aid and cooperation And, finally, a reciprocal relationship between man and society.[35]

The harmonious socialist society and the one of the tradition have two essential elements that distinguish them from the western imaginary of democracy: i) The hierarchical structure, for which individual self-determination is constantly under poses to the stability of society; ii) The role of the state. Both appertaining to the Confucian culture and socialism with Chinese characteristics has an active role in achieving social harmony. The CCP, producer of this social project, will continue, in theory, to represent the communities from which it is composed. If it ever shapes a harmonious system with Western-style characteristics, it would be very difficult if both the previous two elements to be effective;[36] iii) The Western dualism, finally, reduces this synergy of cause and effect. [37]

In addition, the Chinese concept of harmony is part of a fourth characteristic: mediation (or compromise). This implies that, through the efforts of every citizen, institutions, and media, society will increasingly produce its own instrument to reduce conflicts and resentments, reaching a point of not generate it, or rather generate it as the least as possible.[38]

The harmony is not a middle point between two extremes, but it is both the result of identity and difference.[39]

Songyan Chu, associate professor of the China National School of Administration in Beijing, pointed out that the building of a harmonious society requires factors such as state, private sector and a strong society. All these factors must cooperate to succeed.[40]. Currently, the People’s Republic has a strong government and a rapidly growing economy, and but still society remains fragile. For this reason, a full erection of harmonious society can’t be immediate and requires time.[41]

  1. b.    Considerations in Chinese Media and Scholars.

Because of the issues addressed by the theory of social harmony, the response from the intellectual circles and academics was immediate.

For example, in his article of August 2008, Yan Guoping, of the Nanfang Ribao, operates a reflection on the meaning of the term of “harmonious society”, which leads to many explanations but that arise also ‘other questioning’.[42] In doing so, interview Yu Jianxing, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University (Guangzhou), which focuses its considerations on the role of the participation of the masses. Arguing that the building of harmonious society has “largely transposed the consent of the Chinese people ” and that “if every person would be involved in the debate of this ideal [..]” extend to many fields such as economics, politics, culture, etc.. “then this work of differentiation and analysis would get a huge step forward. ” “Undoubtedly, the economy, politics, culture need of harmonious development, transport and urban planning, in turn, need it, for [all] these adhere to the categories of social life. But those two words “harmonious” and “society” are general and wide. “”These require that we [Chinese nationals] to know that there are close links between the indivisible building a harmonious society, economy, politics and culture, respectively, with solutions and specific laws. “[43]

Certainly, this aspects also serve to reassure the population, in particular to demonstrate that changes are taking place not only at the roots of society, but within the whole system. The participation of each individual becomes more important because it requires the creation a synergetic relationship between the various gears of the engine of Chinese society.

It is a concept that can be exemplified in the metaphor mentioned by Premier Wen Jiabao during a interview, arguing that once the country used to be more like a man with one leg longer than the other. Therefore the distance of the two steps would be clearly different one to the other. According to a recent analysis by Luan Luan, in ‘Study on the Theory of Hu Jintao on the harmonious socialist society’, this new social policy would allow the Party to strengthen its political foundations, and at the same time to correct the models of government in society, stabilizing it by implementing the correct measures to transform it. In addition, it would allow the Party to maintain the social order.

Finally, by strengthening the foundations of the Party and its relationship with the population, this solution would allows the country “to adapt to a market economy, democratization and the plurality of values“.[44] It would allow, in addition, a transition of the country from the proletarian struggle in the development of peace “by denying the right to private property in its recognition, and simple administration of the government to itself.”[45]

In the “Blue Book of the Society of 2005” of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,[46] Dang Guoying reaffirms that it would be possible to realize the harmonious society only if the country succeeds in increasing its social pluralistic system, by resolving the conflict between equity and efficiency, and by producing further improvements on the path to political democratization. For Deng Weizhi, the differences between countryside and cities, and the gaps between social classes themselves would have been already achieved in 2005, as demonstrate by various significant progress. Hu Angang instead considered more important that the Chinese company will be able to cope with the growing conflict between the contradictions and changes of society, going to be a strong and stable society based on compromise, able to reach consensus in the community and can to realize the common good.

In another article of 2005, two journalists Yu Jianxin e Yan Guoping stated that the basis on which to build a harmonious society reside in the “scientific development”, the latter being “a clear argument for which was opened to the Third Plenary Session of the Sixteenth National Congress of the CCP. “[47]

In fact, a scientific development requires, in this new phase:

Economic development and society, better provision of urban-rural, manage more effectively the economic exploitation of the environment and raw materials, new reforms, to create a better political sense that an acculturation in [the country], the intellectual spirit [of people], to improve the management of relations with internal development in relation to a more open foreign.. [48]


Their discussion highlights the dual aspect of development, thanks to which many have been taken “steps forward, but [many] of steps back. ”

Investment in the buildings of poor quality, the intense demand for energy, transport and components, and lawlessness” are many of the negative effects of progress. The two journalists believe that the purpose of building a harmonious society is to reiterate the society, day by day, therefore “in the construction of harmonious society, it is on the base of the actual economic development condition of  ‘not harmony’ that it should be [set] the objectives and tasks for development.

In other words, Chinese society is harmonious in this moment, therefore we must look positively to the future, remembering the company that these are the years when they will be required more effort and determination.

  1. c.     The Official Position of the Government

Yi Quansheng, [49] in 2009, recalled that at the time of the Sixteenth Central Committee, the country had set sixteen points for the development of a welfare society to be reach by the year 2000. At the end of that date, three of these points have not been realized. Unfortunately they were very important point, such as lowering of the disparities between urban and rural areas, territorial differences, and lack of coordination in economic development. All these together would have negatively affected the process of modernization of the Country.

It is precisely for this reason that during the Third Plenum of the Sixteenth Central Committee of CCP, the Party has established and set out the principles of the Theory of Scientific Development.[50] The development of these two concepts has the ultimate aim of achieving xiaokang shehui, the welfare society, which must be completed by 2020, becoming “more harmonious“.[51]

Ultimately there are three characteristics of the harmonious socialist society: i) From the political point of view, equality of citizens in their political right of expression and in front of the law, ii) From an economic point of view, the possibility of self-assertion and to utilize resources, iii) The ethical aspect is expressed in: equity & morality, the right to life, and the right to development.

To offer additional insight more close to those of the Party, is Li Zhongfu, social scientists, in an interview realized in 2007.[52] Li said that “a true Marxist, must always take care about the welfare of the people and have faith in the development of society, and […] the relationship between person and nature-society. This has generated a ‘second revolution‘. “[53] [54]

Hu Jintao during the Assembly recalled that the “socialist road with Chinese characteristics” foresees the party as its fundamental prerequisite, and the draft statement as a central core. This is followed by the Four Cardinal Principles of the CCP, (i) reform of market opening, (ii) liberalization and development of the productive forces of society, (iii) strengthening and completion in the socialist system, (iv) the construction of a modern socialist country, with a strong and democratic harmonious culture.

Clearly reaffirms two essential points: i) The maintenance of primary institutions, and ii) the submission of secondary institutions to the project of building social harmony.[55]

Also according to Li Junli, [56] harmonious society must embody the essence of socialism. This must be done constantly emancipating and developing the workforce, making sure that people can enjoy a peaceful and prosperous standard of living.

Still others believe that the harmonious society is a society: i) energetic; ii) in which profits are managed in a more appropriate way; iii) which has been improved its system of administration and management, and, once again; iv) stable and ordered.[57]



  1. 3.     Reconsiderations

Through the previous reflections is understood that the Chinese project of “building of the harmonious socialist society”, even if complex and ambitious, it can be shared also with the Western social thought. Once the CCP has realized the harmonious socialist society will be forced to begin a new crusade for its legitimacy? Could then constitute a “post-harmonious” phase?

Finally, should not be underestimated semantic aspect of the word “building”. “building” means that the Party has a plan, which finds its foundations in society and ideology. Also, the term “building” implies that the project was started, but at the same time, by being work in progress, it is still subject to changes.

  1. 4.     The Five Characteristics of the Chinese Socialist Harmonious Society:

On the basis of the five points set out in 2006, at the Sixth Plenum of the Sixteenth Central Committee, the “harmonious socialist society” became a society:

Referred to the Democratic Rule of Law;

Based on equality and justice;

Honest and that is interested in the community;

Stable, vigorous and orderly;

In which man and nature live in harmony.

It is on these five points, considered to be vital by the Government elite,  which the Party intends to promote its policies for political consolidation and consensus.

The Government can’t postpone the solve these problems, so it appeals to common sense of the population for this grant him time to remedy to it.

  1. a.     A Democratic Society and the Democracy Inside the Party.

Chinese experts, politicians & journalists and  Western observers all agree on the important role played by democratic reforms and the rule of law in difficult challenge for greater efficiency and sustainability of the socio-political future of the country.

They have been included as the first point of the five points, because they can then prepare the ground on which to structure the work of all other projects of harmonization. Together they demonstrate the direct intervention of the Party in the rules to run more democratically the country.

By the mid-Nineties, many developing countries were directing their policies towards democratic transitions. Not all of them become completely democratic, instead they stationed in a position that is in the middle between democracy and authoritarianism. In some of these countries elections are free, but this does not allow them to still qualify as democracies. Larry Diamond calls “semi-democratic” regimes of the institutions in which power is limited or where competition between political parties is limited, or where freedom and transparency in elections is influenced by the results, or that even if competitive, does not reflect the real preferences of the population[58] In his discussion also shows that there are deep connections between the country’s size and the type of regime in power. The majority of democratic countries has a population of no more than that about ten million inhabitants.[59] A democracy also requires a series of reforms that help reduce the barriers to political life, greater freedom of expression, both for applicants and for the citizens, impartiality and so forth.

By 2020, the Chinese political reform must be matured enough to be considered complete. We have seen that the harmonious society isn’t a society in which doesn’t exist any conflict, but rather a society in which the community and the individual will be able to manage independently and peacefully every type of problem.[60] The law, based on the rule of law, will serve to define the rules that then formally structured behavior of the population.

The presence of these two elements, in a context in which a distinction was drawn between the Party and Government, is clear: the entire Chinese people, including Party, must comply with the rules. This reflection can be viewed both as a form of protection, seeking to defend the weaker social classes from abuse and threats, but also as a way to protect those who have conquered their social status, because democracy should provides a solution to the class struggle.

At the same time, the Party intends to fill those voids in those that exist between the masses and the Central Government, by the legacies of local institutions, which often do not respect the rights of other citizens, let alone the directives of the higher levels.

In this regard Zhou Tianyong said: “We felt that because [China] governed by a single party, […] needed a social mechanism adequately by central political point of view, but from market-oriented economic point of view. Consequently, the main task of reforming the political system was to eliminate all factors that hinder economic development, and in particular to change the administrative system, the financial and fiscal, and simultaneously to create non-governmental organizations, to strengthen the control on local government officials and so on. ”

In October 2005, the Council of State published a statement entitled “Building of a Political Democracy in China“, the result of lengthy discussions lasted more than a year among intellectuals chosen by the Party,[61] among them can not be excluded that there were proposals to extend this project to the all country,[62] but obviously it is a long-run process.

On April 21, 2006 Hu Jintao, during a diplomatic visit to the United States, was invited to Yale University,[63] where he gave a speech in which he explained that, although China had made great progress and achieved many successes, the Country has still many unanswered questions, and that its modernization would only be possible with the implementation of democracy.[64]

Having determined its importance, it should be noted that what China foresees in democracy has not the same value of Western countries. The following hypotheses are envisaged: first, it will provided a greater democracy within the Party itself; The second hypothesis involves achieving a balance is obtained through a system of “balances”, ie, a balance produced by the proper function of various organs such as the National People’s Congress, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the Party, the Judiciary. In addition, the administrative system must be reformed, so will increased transparency, active participation of the population, NGOs and control over corruption. In reality, these observations show, respectively, as is China today (first alternative) and will be that of tomorrow, as promoted by Hu Jintao.[65]

Compared to the previous decades, during which the CCP has devoted its efforts to consolidate the unity and to develop of the country, the Party has launched a new process, the current one, which leads to a greater emancipation of society and correct thought. This process should be fulfilled through a refinement of the legal system, and the direct supervision and participation of the people through democratic systems of government.

The first changes occurred during the tenure of Jiang Zemin, when Hu Jintao, then vice president, took over the project of rebuilding the Party, particularly between 2001 and 2002.

Hu Jintao seems to have entered into a period in which balance is a fundamental policy reform of the underlying strategies of consolidation of power. To do this it is essential to pursue some of the political ideology underlying objectives set by the CCP, and at the same time to fight corruption and inefficiency, and bureaucracy that undermine its credibility.[66]

Is still open a question on the meaning that is attributed to the concept of “democracy. ” It seems, in fact, that the Party has begun to accept alternative views suggested by some socio-political spheres, but that is not yet mature the moment to introduce definitively all of them.[67]

Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, on several occasions, expressed their support for the development of elections at lower levels of the administrative hierarchy. Among them, some say that even though the rural committees and citizen committees have limited power in contemporary China still this kind of initiatives would planting the seeds for forming a vaster fields of democracy in China.[68]

The “inner-party democracy” (党内民主, dangnei minzhu) actually involves only about seventy million members of the Party. This means that those wishing to express their political opinions should join the ranks of the CCP.

But leaving behind any doubt, this is a demonstration that the country’s political choices are always made after much thought well thought out. In September 18, 2009 was realized an announcement by Hu Jintao at the Fourth Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. The statement marks the renewed interest in Beijing around the role of the Party.[69] Speaking of democracy within the Party, has emphasized the predominant role of impartiality. Adhering to it would be possible to take the democratic path, particularly through the strengthening of grass roots democracy. In addition, to allow all members of each hierarchical level to be able to fully express their initiative, their zeal and their creativity.

To do so would be necessary to promote and improve the mechanisms of driving the party, safeguarding its predominant role. The system of election in the party and the House Representative of the Party should be improved, as well as their mechanisms of regulation. Of course, all this must be done in regard to unity and the centrality of the party.[70]

Only a year earlier, in an article in Nanfang Zhoumo, Ma Changbo, a journalist, questioned the meaning of “Democracy Within the Party”, specifically on the contents that were discussed during the Second Plenary Session, arriving at conclusion that the National Conference representative for the CCP should be permanently established to accelerate the processes of democratization.[71]

The fact that Hu Jintao discussed the importance of this regulatory mechanism, it suggests that the Party is about to move from theory to practice. Many Chinese observers believe, in fact, that having already been launched this theory is counter stop it, because then the party would be seriously damaged.[72]

In an article in the People’s Daily of November 17, 2009[73]  will reflect on the fact that this concept has become widespread and at the same time remained very theoretical. He suggested, therefore, to introduce the following points: i) Define each component of the meticulously mechanism DWP; ii) Specify the procedures as “does not have specific regulations and principles to be followed, while in practice there are many issues that refer to it.” It would be essential, therefore, to distinguish between the rights and obligations of institutions and actors, in particular the power to specify where one ends and another begins; iii) Delineate the steps for the implementation of the DIP.[74] Again Jiang points out that in case of failure to complete the project, the consequences would be very serious.[75]

Ultimately democracy in China has not yet been fully implemented. It is uncertain if it ever will assume the characteristics of the Western. Most likely it will shape according to the characteristics closer to Chinese culture and needs of self-preservation of the party. For this reason, the official party view, promoting democracy inside you can lead the people to democracy, while maintaining strong cohesion of the country.[76]  Many are the aspects in which the party tries actively to show himself as the defender of the interests of the people. Just before the Spring Festival and National People’s Congress and Political Consultative Congress, Country Wen Jiabao went to visit an urban community and a rural family. Premier Wen asked the audience: “What do you hope that the Government formulate policy?“, “What question do you hope that the Government, in the work of information, to compile a clearer picture?”. At the meeting said that “it is the people, who has more right of all to assess the work of the Government. If the Government acts as right or wrong, the people he feels within himself. “Also before the holidays, including President Hu Jintao reiterated the traditional annual visit with some families.[77] As the meeting held by Wen Jiabao live with Chinese Internet users on a chat line of People’s Daily.

Some reformist wings of the party are hoping that in 2012 the new generation of leaders will be elected through some small form of competition.[78]

After more than three decades of reforms that have made the transition from centrally planned to a market economy, has gradually been given more importance to the rule of law as an instrument of governance and social justice,[79] and many improvement were scored.

Since the early ‘90s Beijing has expressed its interest in promoting reforms in the legal system, including the insertion of the principles of rule of law, subjecting the state itself to the law, stating that it should be observed, and that violators should be punished.[80]

  1. b.    Hu Jintao, the Fourth Political Generation and ideological innovations

The growing changes in the Party, as well as in Chinese society, have influenced the way of governing. The new leadership has also continued to lean in favor of “democracy within the party ” to keep its direct interaction with the population.[81] It has been promoted what is called the “Third Way“, an institutional compromise between the authoritarianism of the single party and multiparty democracy.

The main changes were: strengthening the role of the Party committees at various levels, through the implementation of a collective leadership and a major law and the strengthening of the Party Congress, to expand the base of the power split between the elites of Party; The development of mechanisms for monitoring and balancing within the same Party; And, the improvement of electoral competition to the entire party. But it is not easy to reform a political system without losing control.

The fourth generation differs from the previous several reasons:

The most obvious is the age of the participants to the Central Committee, and in particular the Standing Committee. Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao were both in their thirties when Deng Xiaoping launched the policy of reforms and opening. The life of Hu Jintao, although always in touch with the Party, is characterized by its technical and scientific training in universities and through the work in the areas of central China. In addition, his family background has been marked by the Cultural Revolution, because his father was sent into the countryside to be re-educated.

The fourth generation is the first to have enjoyed greater freedom from the traditional communist structure, which has not occurred for the third generation since it was still too far away from past models. This change is also noticeable from the language, which has been enriched by a vocabulary of more technical and more suited to diplomacy, as well as the costumes for the elite. At the same time, training in elite universities and schools have permit to maintain the language best suitable to the members of the CCP.

The images of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao are characterized by a calm behavior,[82] and participation in society through which delivered a strong message. Since their election, in fact, have begun to promote an image of stability (institutions), sharing of feelings,[83] and dynamic (in the enact measures as in their mobility) through their figures. Before you even define what were the “scientific development” and “harmonious society” promoted, during the Sixteenth CCP Congress in November 2002, the image of a party that puts “people first” (已认为本,yi ren wei ben). The response of governments was immediate and clear: the party intends to participate actively in helping the disadvantaged classes (弱势团体, ruoshi tuanti).

It seems that the Fourth Generation is keen to maintain the spirit of self-preservation of the party, but by balancing it with the reforms that the country needs.[84] Within these reforms for the stability and control over the fragmentation of power is certainly the will to fight corruption, waste and inefficiency. The new leadership would be directed to the ‘self-perfection’ of the party. This also means that the CCP is determined to rectify the trend has been consolidated in recent years.

In the way it promotes its own theories, the fourth generation is more cautious, because, while Jiang Zemin led back to his genius the development of the Theory of Three Represents, Zeng Qinghong, Wang Huning and Hu Jintao shared the merit  on the development of new socio-political theories.


The role of the Concept of Socialist Harmonious Society introduces a new way to handle domestic politics and international relationships. It mix old elements, such like the Chinese tradition, with those of the socialist assumptions and liberal and democratic theories, producing a new vision of politics making. This statement find its justification in the constant attention by the Chinese Government over sensible topic such as reduction of equality in society, fight of corruption, improvement of efficiency.

This ambitious project will be the one of the biggest bet of the PRC to maintain social stability and on is future international role in the next decades.  The full attainment and achievement of its objectives, will determine which position China will occupy as one of the major economic and political powers of the world stage.

China holds all the cards to win this challenge, to achieve its ambitions, promote world economy, providing its contribute in the new phase of the contemporary history.

Finally, still some dilemmas are challenging nowadays China, mostly inflation and unemployment.

If the gap between Western and Eastern China will be fixed little by little, instead it will be more difficult the reduce the gap between rural and town inhabitants, that on the contrary, is widening. Experts, in fact, argue that the gap between the two groups has keep on enlarging since the ‘80s, but that at the same time there have been many evident improvement in both groups in incomes.[85] In 1978, the average yearly income in urban population was 343 Rmb and for farmers 134 Rmb, with a ratio of 2.56:1. At the beginning of 2010, the urban population has earned 17,175 Rmb and the rural 5,163 Rmb, but the ratio has enlarged reaching 3.31:1. [86]

The purchasing power of the population indeed should has increase a lot since the 1980s, but, because of the inflation, is mostly increased just in numbers.

By the other hand, this is the cost of progress. Developing countries, such as Brazil, China, India, etc., are growing faster and what they need is a huge quantity of raw material to provide infrastructures and transportation. Because of that, the price of raw materials is improving, becoming more expensive for developed countries, but very expensive for the developing ones. In the last world financial crisis their role was strategic in let the global economy spinning.

This explains why, jointly with their economic growth, they are so influential in the global political agenda, why they become an important bridge for connecting industrialized and underdeveloped countries.

In order to accomplish this task, is required a strong government, capable to direct its economy and to coordinate it with its population. It is a challenge, indeed, but for China it won’t be the first and not even the last one. For this reason time and dedication will be the only keys its success.

[1] STAMBOGLIS, Marco, “ On the Role of Mass Media in the Building of Socialist Harmonious Society: the Information in Hu Jintao’s China”, Masters Thesis, Università Cà Foscari of Venice, 2010, pg.1-217.

[2] Just took for example the “Beijing Consensus”, by Ramo, as an evolution of the “Washington Consensus”, or all the daily activities of the Chinese representatives in the global political agenda.

[3] See Figure 2 pg.11.

[4] BLANKERT, 2009, pg.xii.

[5] It could be compared with the vision of Will Hutton for whom “democracy” matches “a delicate capitalist infrastructure.” Delicate signifies the moderation, capitalism should not be for so invasive.

[6] LAM, 2006, Pg. 35.

[7] Composed of fifteen sections for a total of forty-eight chapters, is a continuous one that was signed between the years 2001 and 2005, and together with the Constitution indicates the scope of future decided by the Government..

[8] But not in fact as yardsticks such as GDP per capita does not represent the actual average, also vary greatly depending on the factor used to make the calculation.

[9] If a word, a phrase or a concept are misinterpreted by the elite or by the population, this may cause confusion and disorders, but rather whether the choice is well thought out, they can become wonderful instruments of identification and control, even if this does not have an ‘acceptance of the positive.

[10] FAN, C. Cindy, China’s Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2006-2010): From “Getting Rich First” to “Common Prosperity”,da Eurasian Geography and Economics, 2006, No. 6, Bellewether Publishing, Ltd. , 2006,  Pg. 712.

[11] That in itself implies a more democratic approach by the Party, or rather, the use of many tools similar to those found in many modern democratic systems. See in this regard: JACOBSON, 2008, Pg.31.

[12] Use of the term rule of law is preferable to the “rule of law” in the Chinese case. Yet in China counts with the many nuances than the countries of the Common Law, allargatamente or more internationally recognized..

[13] Notion expressed previously by Hu Jintao himself in 2005. For further information see the article:: ANONYMOUS, “Hu Jintao zonglun goujian shehuizhui hexie shehui” 胡锦涛纵论构建社会主义和谐社会 (Hu Jintao speaks freely of building the harmonious socialist society), Renmin ribao haiwai ban, 21 February 2005, pg. 1.

[14] Information available on the website of the World Bank under China, and in, Blankert, 2009, pg.22..

[15] ANONYMOUS, “Hu criticizes officials for poor job”, in, del 20 October 2008, pg.1, visited in 20 November 2009,

[16] ANONYMOUS, “Hu criticizes officials for poor job”, in, del 20 October 2008, pg.1,

visited in 20 November 2009,

[17]WING, Thye Woo, The origins of China’s quest for a harmonious society: Failures on the governance and environmental fronts, in SANDERS, Richard, YANG, Cheng, China’s Post-Reform Economy—Achieving Harmony, Sustaining Growth,New York,Routledge, 2007. pg.15-16.

[18] IANNELLO, Nicola, La Società Senza Stato: I Fondatori del Pensiero Libertario (The Stateless Society: The Founders of Libertarian Thought) ,Torino, Rubbettino Editore srl., 2004, Pg.130.

[19] PFÖSTL, 2009, Pg. 207.

[20] WING, Thye Woo, The orignins of China’s quest for a harmonious society: Failures on the governance and evniromental fronts, in SANDERS, Richard, YANG, Cheng, China’s Post-Reform Economy—Achieving Harmony, Sustaining Growth,New York,Routledge, 2007. pg.15-25

[21] LALIBERTÈ, e LANTEIGNE, 2008, Pg.24.

[22] For example, in 2004, was included in the “Regulation on Religious Issues”, in Article 34, a provision that would allow religious organizations to manage social welfare services. As the campaign Yinli, well known Chinese producer of milk and drinks, at the bottom of some of its products, it announced that part of collection would have been handed over to a Chinese Muslim Association. This, at least until the summer of 2007.

[23] In reality, these areas are very sensitive and limited. In 2009 I could not attend, with some Chinese friends, members of an NGO, at the inauguration of a school in the countryside of Zhejiang, because the government is still very sensitive to the presence of foreign observers at work, but traditionally, it belongs to her competence.

[24] DELURY, John, “Harmonious” in China, Policy Review, n.148, April-May 2008, pg. 7-8.

[25] Understood as those rooted in their country’s political vision. Could be seen as the adherents of movements “patriotic”, so as not to be confused with the PNC.

[26] AHMAD, 2006, pg. 3-4.

[27] ANONYMOUS, “Comparing Chinese Provinces with Countries: All the parities in China”, The Economist, last visit in 09 June 2011

[28] Because of their political, economic and military power is important that we succeed for the good of the West.

[29] CHEN, Xiaoyun 陈晓云, “Goujian hexie shehui de xinwen chuanbo linian” 构建和谐社会 的新闻传播理念 (The concept of propagation of information of building a harmonious society), Journal of Minjiang University, Vol.28, n.6, December 2007, pp.60- 64.

[30] YU, Xuefen 于雪芬, “Hu Jintao he hexie shehui sixiang tanxi” 胡锦涛和谐社会思想探析 (Study on the Thought of Hu Jintao on Harmonious Society), Dalian Maritime University, Department of Law, Master’s thesis in law, June 2009.

[31] JULLIEN, 2004, pg.78.

[32] Less risky, in addition, it is not easy to retire a charismatic leader.

[33] Guo e Guo, 2008, pg. 3.

[34]ANONYMOUS, “Hu Jintao zonglun goujian shehuizhui hexie shehui” 胡锦涛纵论构建社会主义和谐社会 (Hu Jintao speaks freely of building the harmonious socialist society), Renmin ribao haiwai ban, 21 February 2005, pg. 1.

[35] YU, 2009, Pg.2.

[36] It is not that easy that they can both present at the same time.

[37] Not to mention that in the Christian concept of the whole is traced to God’s will elements of disharmony are interpreted as an evil man who tries, rather than to a lack of commitment and duties towards society, as is the case Confucian in China.

[38] Heghel reflects on the conflict much closer to China than to the widely embraced in the West.

[39] LICATA, 2007, Pg.22.

[40] Confr. Hamad Pg.9.

[41] CHU, in AHMAD, 2006, pg.38.

[42] YAN, 和谐社会是什么与不是什么?“Hexie shi shenme yu bu shi shenme?”(The harmonious society: What is and what is not?)Nanfang Ribao, 18, 08, 2008, Pg. A27.

[43] Ibidem.

[44] In fact, the exclusion from official records of issues such as class struggle, revolutionary and other terminology, were made only recently, from the constitution of 2002.

[45] LUAN, 2008, pg.3.

[46] In YU, YAN, in Nanfang ribao, 8 September 2005, pg. A07,

[47] Ibidem.

[48] Ibidem.

[49] Professor, Department of Studies and Research in Social Sciences, University of Qiqiha’er (Heilongjiang).

[50] Yi, 2009, pg. 61.

[51] The language of the Party, despite its enhanced and modernized in recent years, maintains, in part because the Chinese language itself, pre-register. The term “harmonious society” (Shehu gengjia hexie 社会 更加 和谐) for example is used very frequently, particularly in areas related to raising the standard of living. Take, for example, the article reports on the work of the Government in: ANONYMOUS, “Rang renmin Shenghuo geng geng you zunyan Xingfu” 让 人民 生活 更 幸福 更有 尊严 “Let the people live with greater joy and dignity, ” by, source Xinhuanet del16 May 2010, visited on 16 May 2010 .

[52] MAO, Lingyun 毛凌云, ZHAO, Jiayue 赵佳月, “Zhongyang zhengzhi ju di 13 ci jiti xuexi jiangjiezhe Li Chongfu renwei: Shehui hexie shi shehui zhuyi de bezhi shuxin ” 中央政治局第 13 次集体学习讲解者李崇富认为社会和谐是社会主义的本质属性  (13th Politburo collective study by Li Chongfu explain that social harmony is the essential attribute of socialism), in Nanfang Ribao, 20, 10, 2007, pg. A6.

[53] Ibidem.

[54] Il vero marxista deve anche prendere spunto dagli ordinamenti occidentali se utili alla sua causa.

[55] During this speech there was a change in the lexicon, since it was passed by the motto “Building socialism with Chinese characteristics” to “develop socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Because obviously, “developing”, compared to the first term, mean that the site is already in place.

[56] Cit. in Yu, 2009, pg.3.

[57] YU, Xuefen 于雪芬, “Hu Jintao he hexie shehui sixiang tanxi” 胡锦涛和谐社会思想探析 (Study on the Thought of Hu Jintao on Harmonious Society), Dalian Maritime University, Department of Law, Master’s thesis in law, June 2009.

[58] DIAMOND, Larry, Elections Without Democracy: Thinking about Hybrid Regimes, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 13, n. 2, April 2002, pg. 25.

[59] DIAMOND, Larry, Elections Without Democracy: Thinking about Hybrid Regimes, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 13, n. 2, April 2002, pg. 27.

[60] CUI, Qinxin 崔清新, “Xin Chunyin: goujian hexie shehui xu shixian sifa gongzheng” 信春鹰:构建和谐社会需实现司法公正, (Xin Chunying: The Constitution of Society Requires the Harmonious Development of Impartial Justice), in Xinhua Meiri Dianxun, 21, 09, 2009, Pg. 2.

[61] MURPHY, Melissa, Decoding Chinese Politics: Intellectual Debates and Why They Matter, Center for Strategic & International Studies, January 2008, pg.13.

[62] WING THYE WOO, 2007, pg.20.

[63] He also said that “understanding is the basis of trust”, 了解是信任的基础, Liaojie shi xinren de jichu.

[64] ANONYMOUS “Hu Jintao zai Meiguo Yelu daxue de yanjiang” 胡锦涛在美国耶鲁大学的演 讲 (Speech by Hu Jintao held at the American University of Yale), 21 April 2006,, 01 February 2010.

[65] ZHOU, in LIMES, 2008, pg.97-106.

[66] WO-LAP LAM, 2006, pg.34.

[67] WO-LAP LAM, 2006, pg.109.

[68] LIAO, Wengen 廖文根, “Minzhuzhengzhi de shengdong ketang ” 民主政治的生动课堂 (A Lively Lesson in Democratic Politics), Renmin Ribao, 28 October 2009, pp.17.

[69] As evidenced by new commitments both internally and internationally, on the changes within it, on progress made and outstanding issues to be resolved.

[70] ANONYMOUS, “Zhongguo gongchandang di shiqi jie zhongyang weiyuanhui di si ci quantihuiyi gongbao”中国共产党第十七届中央委员会第四次全体会议公 (Communicated by the Fourth Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Chinese Communist Party Central Committee), from     Renminwang,     18 September     2009,, 11 February 2010.

[71] MA, Changbo 马昌博, “Zhizhendang yantao dangneiminzhu” 执政党研讨党内民主 (he ruling party has discussed the “democracy within the party”), Nanfang Zhoumo, 01, 05, 2008, pg. B10.

[72] According to the line of thought of the party “democratization promotes democracy within the Party of the People, the National Conference representative for the CCP should be the key to democratization of the party, while it should probably be fixed permanently.

[73] JIANG, Jie 姜洁 , “Dangneiminzhu zhidu xuyao jingxiha” 党内民主制度需要精细化 (The Mechanism of Democracy Within the Party Needs to be Meticulous), Dangjian Zhoukan, Renmin Ribao, 17 November 2009.

[74] Tracciando una tappa sarebbe più facile definire gli obiettivi da conseguire nel breve periodo.

[75] Ibidem.

[76] Ibidem.

[77] ANONYMOUS, “Hu Jintao zongshuji 2010 nian chunjie zuji” 胡锦涛总书记2010年春节足迹 (Secretary Hu Jintao’s trip for the 2010 Spring Festival), from Renminwang, 17 February 2010,, 17 February 2010.

[78] ANONYMOUS, “Democracy, China and the Communist Party:Big Surprise: Attempts to Democratize the Communist Party Have Failed. Again”, The Economist, 17,12, 2009.

[79] HUISKEN, 2009, pg. 27.

[80] BAO, ZHAO, ADI, CHIANG, MACFARQUHAR, 2009, pg.82.

[81] HU, Xiaobo, LIN, Gang, China after Jiang, Chicago,  Stanford University Press, 2003, pg.3-4

[82] FA, Yingzhu 范英著, “Jiang zemin de ‘taiyang’ meng ” [The dream of the ‘Sun’ of Jiang Zemin] 江泽民的“太阳”梦, from, del 3 December 2002, visited the 12 December. 2009.

[83] Example of drought in Yunnan province. LI, Bin 李斌, “Wen jiabao dao yunnan zhidao kanghan jiuzai gongzuo jishi” 温家宝到云南 指导抗旱救灾工作纪实 (Report on Arrival in the Province of Yunan Wen Jiabao to Direct Rescue Operations to Fight the Drought),, 21 May 2010, , 21 May 2010.

[84] WO-LAP LAM, 2006, pg.34.

[85] For further information this is a interesting econometrics analysis of the Chinese socio-economic condition in 2011:  LYHAGEN, Johnan,  RICKNE, Johanna, Income Inequality Between Chinese regions:Newfound Harmony or Continued Discord, Research Institue of Industrial Economics, Stockholm, Sweden, 9 May 2011, Pg.1-18.

[86] ANONYMOUS, “ChinaChina’s urban, rural income gap widens”,, Xinhua News Agency, 22 January 2010,, 09 June 2011.

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