Huang Kunming, head of the CCP Propaganda Department, reiterates once again that Marx’s ideas remains at the core of the Party’s ideology.
by Massimo Introvigne
The CCP has published, in different languages, the third volume of the collected writings of Xi Jinping on “The Governance of China.” Not unexpectedly, on August 13 the People’s Daily, the organ of the CCP’s Central Committee, has published an enthusiastic review of the book. This is the typical article some foreign observers tend to dismiss as mere propaganda. Obviously, it is propaganda, and the author of the review is the very head of the CCP Propaganda Department, Huang Kunming. On the other hand, the CCP speaks through the propaganda, and cadres and members of the Party are expected to carefully read and study this kind of articles.
Huang celebrates the achievements of Xi Jinping as a leader “coming from the people,” “working for the people,” and putting the people and its happiness at the center of its political project. Some general principles of his politics are mentioned. Domestically, he is credited with advancing the “two miracles” of the Chinese dream, spectacular economic development and social stability. In foreign policy, Xi is celebrated for promoting “the two overall situations” (两个大局), firm defense of China’s rights and stability maintenance. Xi first proclaimed the “unity of rights defense and stability maintenance” (维权维稳相统一) in a July 31, 2013 speech on maritime disputes. The fact that this policy is underlined among the essentials of Xi’s thought shows how an aggressive stance on border disputes is regarded as a key feature of his presidency.
The most important part of the review is devoted to Huang’s comment on Xi’s “Socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Huang reiterates that the starting point of Xi’s thought is “a firm belief in Marxism.” “Marxism, Huang says, is the fundamental guiding ideology for our Party and the nation, and the guiding light for China to break through the darkness, usher in the light, and create brilliance. In 2018, our Party solemnly commemorated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Marx and the 170th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto. General Secretary Xi Jinping delivered an important speech to declare the Chinese Communists’ belief in the scientific truths of Marxism, and to show that the party and the people will not change.”
Xi’s Marxism “with Chinese characteristics”, Huang writes, incorporates “the essence of Chinese civilization,” “an ancient civilization with a history of more than 5,000 years.” However, the article makes it clear that the starting point is Marxism, and Marxism is the filter to decide what is valid and acceptable in the Chinese culture and not vice versa. As Bitter Winter has noted in previous articles, this means that Xi Jinping offers an edited version of the “Chinese culture” where, for example, religion and spiritual elements are eliminated. They are replaced by the modernist myth of the Republican pedagogues who proclaimed, falsely, that religion is not part of the Chinese tradition. This was a misleading interpretation, which confused the fact that Chinese for centuries did not have a word corresponding to the Western “religion” with an alleged lack of religious and spiritual life, which on the contrary flourished in ancient China.
Huang mentions that holding to Marxism is crucial to “prevent the Soviet and Eastern European drastic changes.” This is indeed another essential point to understand Xi Jinping. His generation of CCP leaders is obsessed by the fall of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European satellites, and they constantly ask themselves how to prevent Chinese Communism from collapsing as its Soviet counterpart did. Xi’s answer is that the collapse started when Khrushchev discarded the heritage of Stalin, a mistake China should not repeat. Westerners, on the other hand, as French Sinologist Alice Ekman told them in her recent book Rouge vif, keep repeating their own mistake, of considering Xi’s CCP as no longer Communist, or “post-Marxist.” As Ekman wrote, they do not read the CCP’s texts produced for the Party’s internal consumption. However, it is in these texts that the CCP reveals its true colors—in fact one color only, red.