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SPECIAL REPORT On the path of China’s modernisation

Recently, ROBERT GRIFFITHS led an international delegation to China at the invitation of the Communist Party of China. Here is the first of four reports

FROM June 24 until July 4, the international department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) hosted a delegation representing 11 communist parties and a friendship society from Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the US, Canada and Australia.

I had the honour of leading the delegation at the invitation of the CPC as we visited the provinces of Guangdong and Guizhou as well as the capital city, Beijing.

Our hosts’ intention was to explain China’s path of “socialist modernisation” and demonstrate the achievements of their country’s system of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” 

Guangdong borders Hong Kong and is China’s most populous province with more than 127 million inhabitants.

Situated at the delta of the Pearl River, the provincial capital Guangzhou was the starting point of the famous maritime “Silk Road.”

Its working class and intelligentsia played a major part in the national democratic revolution of 1911, led by Sun Yat Sen, who remains a revered figure for the Chinese people and the CPC.

Today, this city of 16 million people is a major international port and trading centre, having pioneered China’s “reform and opening up” strategy initiated by former CPC leader Deng Xiaoping in 1978.

At the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, Prof Deng Zhiping presented China’s path of socialist modernisation as one which: 


- Embraces almost one-fifth (1.4 bn) of the global population and 56 nationalities over a vast territory, boosting the world's economy, especially in the wake of Covid-19.  


- Brings common prosperity to all, lifting 800 million Chinese people out of absolute poverty and enabling China to assist poorer countries, for example through the Belt and Road infrastructure investment initiative. 


- Seeks harmony between humanity and nature, committing China to reduced carbon emissions in 2030 and net-zero by 2060. 


- Aims for material abundance while also placing more emphasis on  cultural-ethical advancement.


- Advocates peace, development, co-operation and mutual benefit to build an international community with a shared future for humanity.

“Socialism with Chinese characteristics” is a comprehensive system of theories and policies that has grown and been revised since 2012, when Xi Jinping was first elected CPC general secretary.

In the modern era, when China is defined as still being in “the primary stage of building socialism,” it means:


- People-centred, planned, balanced and integrated development economically, socially, politically, culturally and environmentally, based on an open “socialist market economy” in which the large state sector plays a vital role.


- Deeper reform in every sphere in order to enhance Chinese socialism and modernise its system and capacity for governance based on the socialist rule of law.


- A new type of international relations to build a community with a shared future for humanity.


- Enhancing CPC leadership as the defining feature and greatest strength of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, hence the rigorous requirements for Party-building and cadre development.


- Upholding the goal of China’s socialist modernisation and national rejuvenation by building a great modern socialist country by the mid-21st century: prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful.


The delegation’s first field trip was to KingMed Diagnostics. It is the leading private-sector clinical testing company in Guangdong province, with more than 700 testing and research laboratories. Welcomed to its headquarters by senior vice-president Yu Shihui, delegates witnessed its scientists hard at work. 

In partnership with US corporation Illumina, KingMed is conducting ground-breaking genomic research into cancer and hereditary diseases.

The company played a valuable role in China’s all-out struggle against Covid-19, especially through their 670 testing facilities in remote countryside areas. 

China’s record during the pandemic exemplifies key aspects of socialist modernisation with Chinese characteristics, namely, people-centred development, breakthrough innovations in science and technology, and the drive towards top-class provision for all in healthcare as well as in education and other services.

Covid-19 death rates per head in the US, Britain, France and Germany were two or three thousand times higher than in China and North Korea (and hundreds of times higher than in Vietnam and Cuba). 

China’s radical lockdown and isolation policies were far more effective than testing and “herd immunity” strategies in the West.

Most Chinese people understood and complied with their government’s drastic measures, despite some outbursts of frustration widely publicised by the Western media.

Moreover, during the pandemic China demonstrated another characteristic of its long-term, two-stage plan to build a great modern socialist society by the middle of the 21st century. This is to spread the benefits of modernisation as part of creating a shared future for humankind based on sovereignty, mutual respect, peace and co-operation.

Thus China supplied billions of doses of its five anti-Covid vaccines and hundreds of billions of medical items to more than 165 countries and international bodies, at low or no cost. Specialist medical teams were sent to Zimbabwe, Algeria, Nigeria, Italy and elsewhere.

At the state-owned Guangzhou Automobile Company (GAC) plant, vice-president Gao Rui and other company officials outlined the company’s plans to expand production of electric vehicles from more than one third to at least two-thirds of its total output over the next few years. 

Its operations in China illustrate how industry is pursuing the course of socialist modernisation set by President Xi Jinping and the CPC, based on consumer-driven, high-quality and eco-friendly development.

In partnership with foreign producers at home, the GAC Group also engages with distributors abroad to export its models to Asian, Middle East, African, Latin American and Pacific markets.

Significantly, though, the challenges to wider expansion are the same as those that face other Chinese transnational corporations, most of which, like GAC, are largely or fully state-owned. 

Firstly, there has been the impact of the Covid pandemic on many capitalist economies; secondly, in the case of Russia, the war in Ukraine has impeded sales following successful motor-show appearances there; and thirdly, president Donald Trump’s huge hike in tariffs on Chinese imports from 2018 forced GAC to postpone its entry into the US market.

Robert Griffiths is general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain.


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