Chinese modernization unique but beneficial to world
The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which promoted Chinese-style modernization, was one of the biggest events in 2022 that had an equally big impact on the world. The 20th CPC National Congress report describes Chinese path to modernization as the modernization of a huge population, pursuit of common prosperity, advancement of material and culture ethics, promotion of harmony between humankind and nature, and realization of peaceful development.
Like civilization, modernization contains elements of both universality and particularity. According to the 20th Party Congress report, Chinese-style modernization contains elements common to the modernization processes of all countries, but it has features that are unique to China. Modernization with Chinese characteristics has shown that modernization is not Westernization, and every country can choose its own path to modernization in line with its own national reality.
However, Chinese path to modernization and Western modernization are not necessarily mutually exclusive. They can be complementary, as both manifest the modernization of human civilization. Likewise, Chinese-style modernization, as a product of the creative transformation and innovation-driven development of traditional Chinese culture, will suit the international community's interests.
Common prosperity, which is essential to socialism, is a significant feature of Chinese-style modernization. It refers to the prosperity of all people, rather than a few. The concept can be traced back to Confucianism, according to which inequality rather than want is the cause of all the troubles.
By eradicating absolute poverty, China has taken a big step toward realizing common prosperity because rising incomes mean increasing consumption, which in turn will promote development.
The development of a modern society of more than 1.4 billion people with shared prosperity will in itself be a big contribution to overall global development, as China's modernization will enlarge China's already huge market.
Material, cultural and ethical advancement is a key feature of Chinese-style modernization. In the modernization process of many countries, material advancement has been valued above cultural and ethical progress, leading to many social problems. Philosophically speaking, one-sided development leads to alienation. But Chinese-style modernization attaches importance to developing harmony between material civilization and spiritual civilization, leading to the all-round development of human beings.
The people-oriented approach to modernization will facilitate comprehensive social progress, and coordinated material, cultural and ethical development will enrich people's spiritual and cultural life, and promote mutual learning between Chinese and Western civilizations, enriching human civilization as a whole.
In the modernization process, which asserts the subject-object dichotomy, people have treated nature as an object of conquest, severely damaging ecosystems and endangering human existence. By contrast, traditional Chinese culture emphasizes the importance of unity between humans and nature, and regards humans as an integral part of nature, as is reflected in Taoist sage Laozi's philosophy that man is modeled on Earth, Earth on heaven, heaven on Tao, and Tao on nature.
China believes that "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets", and has significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP and cut energy consumption.
It has also been fighting climate change and participating in global environmental governance, while forging ahead in renewable energy development and capacity. According to China's National Energy Administration, by the end of 2021, China's installed renewable energy capacity was 1.06 billion kilowatts, accounting for 44.8 percent of its total installed power generation capacity. In 2021, China generated 2.48 trillion kWh of electricity from renewable energy sources, which accounted for 29.8 percent of its total electricity consumption.
Chinese-style modernization featuring harmony between humankind and nature is also beneficial to global ecological and environmental governance. In fact, China has substantially contributed to the development of the global renewable energy sector, and accounts for nearly half of the global renewable energy capacity.
China aims to achieve modernization by following the path of peaceful development, rather than by fighting wars, invading or colonizing other countries, as some countries have done. China became the world's second-largest economy by realizing rapid economic development, participating in global economic and trade cooperation and adhering to the UN-based international order. And it wants to realize modernization through innovation-driven development in order to improve the well-being of the Chinese people, instead of achieving prosperity at the expense of other countries.
China's contribution to the world can be gauged from the fact that it contributes more than one-third of global economic growth, with the Belt and Road Initiative serving as a global public good, and that it is the second-largest contributor to the UN's regular and peacekeeping budgets, it also has more than 2,500 personnel serving on UN peacekeeping missions, more than any other permanent member of the Security Council.
China's contribution to the world highlights the Confucian concept that a man of perfect virtue, wishing to establish or develop himself, also seeks to establish or develop others. And since Chinese-style modernization follows Confucius' philosophy, it will not only benefit the Chinese people but also promote and safeguard the international community's interests.
The author is a professor at and director of the Center for Global Governance and Law, Xiamen University of Technology. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
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