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Modernization experience from China’s B&R to the World

WANG YIWEI | 2021-08-26 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Thematic Forum of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation Photo: Yang Chonghai/CSST

The CPC has been working for the people’s wellbeing, the rejuvenation of the nation, and the great harmony of the world, while modernization is the distinctive theme of these endeavors. CPC members have enjoyed an indissoluble bond with China’s modernization, from the founding and construction of the PRC, to achieving the “Four Modernizations,” and to initiating B&R, all aimed at promoting the process of common modernization. The 14th Five-Year Plan (2021–2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, adopted at the fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, proposed to embark on a new journey towards building a modern socialist country, and highlighted the high-quality development of the B&R. There is a unique relationship between high-quality development of the B&R and comprehensive modernization.

Characteristics of China’s modernization
China’s modernization shares the common characteristics of other countries’ modernization, but with its own distinctive characteristics as well.
China’s huge population characterizes its modernization. There are 1.4 billion people entering into a modernized society in China, larger than the population of all the existing developed countries combined, which will completely alter the global landscape of modernization. In the process of digitization, the latest manifestation of China’s modernization, it has also created a miracle of digital industrialization and industrial digitization, with nearly one billion internet users. Its digital transformation has been rapid and successful after COVID-19, benefitting from a new system concentrating nationwide effort and resources on key national undertakings. The key is the leadership of the CPC, which is the greatest advantage of the system.
China’s modernization is characterized by common prosperity for all. The 14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 regarded satisfying the people’s growing need for a better life as the fundamental purpose of socioeconomic development during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, and incorporates more obvious substantive progress in people’s all-round development and common prosperity of all people in the long-range objectives of basically realizing socialist modernization through the year 2035, further clarifying the common prosperity as socialism’s essential requirement. Our modernization adheres to the people-centered development philosophy; consciously and actively bridges the regional gap, urban-rural gap, and income distribution gap; promotes social fairness and justice; gradually realizes the common prosperity for all; and resolutely prevents polarization.
China’s modernization coordinates the promotion of material civilization and the raising of ethical-cultural standards. The main objectives of socioeconomic development during the 14th Five-Year period and the long-range objectives of basically realizing socialist modernization by 2035 reflect the top-level design of comprehensively promoting the “five-sphere” integrated plan and the “four-pronged” comprehensive strategy, and highlight the scientific concept of coordinated development of “two civilizations.” China’s modernization adheres to socialist core values, pays attention to strengthening the education of ideals and beliefs, carries forward the refined traditional Chinese culture, enhances the people’s spiritual strength, and promotes people’s all-round development.
China’s modernization is the modernization of harmonious coexistence between man and nature. The 14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 proposed to achieve new progress in the construction of ecological civilization during the 14th Five-Year Plan period and to basically achieve the goal of building a beautiful China by 2035, clarifying the short- and long-term goals of harmonious coexistence between man and nature. China’s modernization focuses on simultaneously promoting the construction of material civilization and ecological civilization, realizing intensive development and eyeing the sustainable development of human civilization.
China’s modernization is a modernization that takes the road of peaceful development. The 14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 proposed opening to the outside world at a high level and opening up a new situation of win-win cooperation, which demonstrates that China unswervingly follows the path of peaceful development. 
In the process of modernization, China emphasizes mutual benefits and a win-win situation, promotes the construction of a community of shared future for mankind, and strives to contribute to human peace and development. Practices have testified that China’s modernization is not only in line with China’s reality, but also reflects the law of social construction and human development. Therefore, China’s modernization experience can be shared.  
Reform and opening up on the basis of independent development characterizes China’s modernization path. China has not only acquired advanced experience from abroad and formed an important circulation with developed countries, but also has formed another circulation through the B&R. This allows China to play a vital role in globalization and to enjoy a unique position in the global supply chain, value chain, and industrial chain. This “dual circulation” structure reflects that China’s modernization is inclusive, open, and mutually beneficial, rather than excluding other countries or delivering zero-sum gain. China has established an independent and complete industrial system with a complete range of industries. China can produce almost everything from matches to rockets, MSG to satellites, screw nuts to aircraft carriers. Therefore, the B&R could be developed with high efficiency and at a low cost, and the COVID-19 pandemic was effectively curbed, with work and production resumed and positive economic growth achieved. This is also the basis for China’s independent foreign policy of peace.
China’s modernization path can help other developing countries to catch up and overtake. Western developed countries have followed a linear development process, with the sequential development of industrialization, urbanization, agricultural modernization, and informatization. It took them more than 200 years to develop to the current level. To catch up, China’s development must be a parallel paradigm, with the co-development of industrialization, informatization, urbanization, and agricultural modernization. The experience of a parallel path of modernization can be shared with other developing countries and facilitate them in overtaking in the race.   
Promoting common modernization 
Why have many countries responded positively to the B&R? Because the B&R has activated the dreams of other countries, especially developing countries, to realize independent modernization, and has sounded the clarion call to share the experience of China’s modernization. In the international order dominated by the West, it is difficult for developing countries to achieve modernization. The B&R, however, has created a path of common modernization. Through strategic alignment, countries will take their fate into their own hands. Through interconnection, we can achieve a common destiny and build a community of shared destiny for mankind. China’s success has greatly encouraged the confidence of other countries in realizing modernization. We emphasize that we should achieve modernization under the condition of independence and stay true to ourselves. China’s development provides a new choice for countries that want to realize modernization and maintain their independence at the same time. These countries have learned from the experience of an efficient government and an efficient market.
More importantly, the goal of modernization we emphasize is to serve people’s wellbeing, national rejuvenation, and world harmony. This is inseparable from adhering to the leadership of the CPC and adhering to the socialist path. China’s modernization experience and model are inclusive, sustainable, and sharable. To develop the B&R is to pursue development, to advocate win-win situations, and to spread hope. At the Press Conference of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Xi Jinping pointed out that Belt and Road cooperation is in sync with the times, widely supported, people-centered, and beneficial to all.  
B&R is not to deconstruct the so-called western-centrism but to address the issues brought about by western-centrism. The 21st century is a century of interconnection; the center has been deconstructed and the center-peripheral system has been broken in terms of technology, mode, and concept. It is difficult for the West to maintain the central position. As populism and protectionism have risen in many developed countries, with serious industrial hollowing-out, they can hardly function as the main engine of globalization. In this case, it is necessary to clarify that the B&R is not a challenge to the western center, but is in sync with the change of the times. Globalization is evolving from the center-peripheral system to localization and regionalization. The global supply chain has evolved from growing increasingly long, with the lowest cost and the largest profit, to being decentralized, diversified, autonomous, controllable, resilient, and safe. Global governance is increasingly showing a multi-centered grid-like distribution, rather than one with a single center.  
On the basis of industrial, agricultural, national defense, and sci-tech modernization, China also advocates the modernization of national governance capacity and governance systems, enriching the definition of human modernization and creating a new civilization of human modernization. Domestically upholding the people-centered philosophy, internationally initiating the community of shared future for mankind facilitates the B&R to promote open, inclusive, sustainable, shared, and people-centered modernization. The B&R is breaking the monopoly of western modernization and encouraging more countries to take the road of modernization that is in line with their own national conditions and sustain the diversity of the world.
Wang Yiwei is a professor from the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China.
Edited by ZHAO YUAN