American professor on Chinese modernization
  ·  2022-10-26  ·   Source: Web Exclusive

Chinese modernization is the highlight of General Secretary Xi Jinping's report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on behalf of the 19th CPC Central Committee, delivered when the congress opened in Beijing on October 16. In an interview with Beijing Review reporter Li Nan, Mark Levine, a sociologist and professor at the Beijing-based Minzu University of China, shared his comments on Chinese modernization. Edited excerpts of the interview follow:  

Beijing Review: What impresses you the most in the report to the 20th CPC National Congress? 

Mark Levine: In the report, the first things that should impress anyone are the details of what has been accomplished since the 19th CPC National Congress. The growth of GDP, the lifting of close to 100 million rural residents out of poverty, the progress in science and technology, the advances in education, the improvements in security and stability and many other things are the most inspiring. 

It reads in the report that "Chinese modernization offers humanity a new choice for achieving modernization." What are your comments on it? 

Xi spoke of the new journey of building a modern socialist country in all respects. From my perspective there are three key elements in this journey. 

First is that the modern country must be socialist. Given, as Xi said, that the Party's priority must be to improve the well-being of the people, this is only possible through the advance of socialism. Looking around the world, we can see non-socialist but "modern" countries, where the conditions faced by some of their people are not advancing but rather deteriorating. 

Second is that it must be "in all respects". Although we could argue that this is inherent within socialism, it is important that Xi highlights it. If we take the poverty alleviation campaign as example, we can see that problems regarding housing, education, health, food, sanitation and transportation and etc. cannot be isolated and their connection must be recognized. 

Finally, regarding the matter of "a new choice for achieving modernization", I believe the emphasis must be on the word "choice". While many Western countries insist that there is only one way to achieve modernization and everyone must follow it, China argues for non-interference with the internal affairs of other countries. That means that what China is offering to the world is not that countries must choose either the "Western" path or the "Chinese" path of modernization but rather that choices exist and that each country has the right to choose their own path. 

(Wang Ruohan contributed to this interview)

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson 

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