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The “Two Integrations”: the Only Path and Strongest Assurance for Our Success

By Theoretical Study Group Under the Executive Council of the Institute of Party History and Literature of the CPC Central Committee Source: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2023-09-13

In an address at a meeting on cultural inheritance and development, General Secretary Xi Jinping noted, “Given the rich foundations of our more than 5,000-year-old civilization, the only path for pioneering and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics is to integrate the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and with its traditional culture. This systematic conclusion, drawn from our explorations of Chinese socialism is the strongest assurance for our success.” In his speech, General Secretary Xi incisively discussed the significance of integrating the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and traditional culture (referred to as the “two integrations”) and the rich implications and practical requirements therein.

The CPC’s experience and application of the “two integrations”

The history of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has been a process of continuously adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times and a process of continually making theoretical innovations. The CPC has led the people through arduous quests, setbacks, and pioneering efforts to accomplish enormous tasks that would have been inconceivable for any other political force in China. Essentially, this has been possible because the CPC has remained committed to integrating the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and the best of its traditional culture, thus continually adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times.


Visitors tour Baota Mountain in Yan’an, Shaanxi Province. During a visit to the Yan’an Revolutionary Area in October 2022, President Xi Jinping noted that the revolutionary site had witnessed the CPC’s glorious journey of leading the Chinese revolution and adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times during the Yan’an period (1935-1948), serving as a source of inexhaustible knowledge and wisdom. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER ZHANG BOWEN

In the periods of the new-democratic revolution (1921-1949) and socialist revolution and development (1949-1978), the CPC integrated the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete realities of the Chinese revolution. This enabled it to blaze the right revolutionary path of encircling cities from the countryside and seizing state power with military force, secure victory in the new-democratic revolution, complete the socialist revolution, and carry out a highly productive socialist development drive. It was during this process that the CPC established, enriched, and further developed Mao Zedong Thought, which marked the first historic step in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times. By integrating Marxism’s basic tenets with China’s realities, the CPC developed many original theoretical achievements, put forward a series of important ideas regarding China’s revolution and development, and led the people in securing great successes in the new-democratic revolution and in socialist revolution and development.

In his explorations of a path for China’s revolution and development, Mao Zedong placed importance on interpreting and applying Marxism from a national perspective and was particularly adept at drawing nourishment from China’s cultural heritage. Indeed, he once observed that “We should sum up our history from Confucius to Sun Yat-sen and take over this valuable legacy.” Mao advocated making the past serve the present and stressed the need to “extensively and critically make use of China’s cultural heritage,” “to reject its feudal dross and assimilate its democratic essence,” and “to make the things we have inherited our own.” He fully tapped the contemporary value of China’s traditional culture by infusing classic Chinese idioms such as “seeking truth from facts” and “shooting the arrow at the target” with new meanings. These were used to illustrate the Marxist approach to thinking and working, which grounds all actions in reality. In this way, Mao demonstrated a practical mastery of the best of China’s traditional culture.

While upholding the basic principles of Marxist state and political theories, the CPC based itself on China’s specific realities. It drew upon the Chinese concept of the people being the foundation of the state, the idea of universal participation in governance, the tradition of joint and consultative governance, and the political wisdom of being all-inclusive and seeking common ground while setting aside differences. On this basis, it established the system of people’s congresses and the system of CPC-led multiparty cooperation and political consultation. Adapting itself to the underlying development trend of the Chinese nation toward internal cohesion and unity amid diversity, the CPC carried on the Chinese cultural tradition of striving for great unity to see all regions sharing common customs and practices amid rich diversity and all people coming together as one family. On this basis, the CPC instituted the system of regional ethnic autonomy and creatively developed Marxist theories on ethnicity.

In the new period of reform, opening up, and socialist modernization, the CPC upheld and developed Marxism in light of new practices and contemporary features in order to successfully found, uphold, safeguard, and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics and form the theory of Chinese socialism. This represented a new step forward in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times. To accelerate socialist modernization, the CPC remained committed to steering the advancement of its cause with theoretical innovation and kept integrating the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and exploring the right path for building socialism in China. It thus led the people in making impressive achievements in reform, opening up, and modernization.

In the course of advancing these endeavors, the CPC placed great value on the positive role of traditional culture. Deng Xiaoping stressed that “the socialist China we are building should have a civilization with a high cultural and ideological level as well as a high material level; only if we do well on both fronts can we say we are building socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Deng also emphasized the need to carry forward and develop our nation’s fine cultural traditions and our Party’s fine traditions, oppose lingering feudal influences, and guard against the corrosion of decadent capitalist ideas. He endowed the idea of moderate prosperity—a dream ceaselessly pursued by the Chinese people for millennia—with contemporary meaning by formulating a three-step development strategy for socialist modernization. He also put forward a fundamental criterion for appraising all our work, namely, whether it is favorable to growing the productive forces in a socialist society, to increasing the overall strength of the socialist state, and to raising the living standards of the people. This “three favorables” criterion demonstrated the traditional Chinese spirit of being pragmatic and of using ancient knowledge to meet present needs. In the face of challenges posed by deepening reform, more expansive opening up, and the development of a socialist market economy, the CPC used China’s profound cultural heritage and abundant cultural resources as a foundation and support for its efforts to foster firm ideals and convictions, promote core socialist values, and develop an advanced socialist culture. Defining the development of a strong socialist culture as a strategic task, it enabled our culture to thrive and thus provided a strong guarantee for the smooth advancement of reform, opening up, and socialist modernization.

Following the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, socialism with Chinese characteristics entered a new era. Chinese Communists, with Xi Jinping as their chief representative, have remained committed to integrating the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and traditional culture and brought about historic achievements and changes in the Party and the country. On this basis, they have established Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, marking yet another new step forward in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times. Proceeding from a new historical juncture and new realities in China’s development, the CPC has continued to make breakthroughs in theory and practice and led the people in securing great success for Chinese socialism in the new era.

In upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, General Secretary Xi has placed great importance on carrying forward and developing the best of China’s traditional culture and continuously deepened understanding of the “two integrations,” particularly with regard to integrating Marxism’s basic tenets with China’s traditional culture. He has pointed out that “the basic tenets of Marxism must be closely integrated with China’s specific realities. We should adopt the right approaches to our national traditional culture and the cultures of other countries to equip ourselves with all the outstanding intellectual and cultural achievements of humanity.” He has also emphasized, “We need to pay special attention to exploring the very best of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization and base our efforts to carry forward fine traditional culture on the stances, viewpoints, and methods of Marxism, so as to firmly remain on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

It was in his speech at the ceremony marking the CPC’s centenary in 2021 that General Secretary Xi put forward the concept of the “two integrations” by placing the “second integration” on an equal footing with the first. Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era was established on the basis of upholding the “two integrations” and serves as a shining example for this concept. For instance, it upholds the people-centered viewpoint of Marxism and draws extensively on the ancient Chinese governance principles of regarding the people as the foundation of the state and ensuring the people enjoy safety, prosperity, and contentment. On this basis, it proposes a people-centered development philosophy. In addition, it adheres to Marxist principles regarding the relationship between human and nature and draws on Chinese wisdom concerning the environment, including the ideas of humanity being an integral part of nature and all things living side by side. On this basis, it espouses the concept of harmony between humanity and nature, thus giving shape to Xi Jinping’s thought on ecological conservation. Furthermore, it adheres to Marxist ideas on world history and carries forward the broad-minded vision advocated in traditional Chinese culture, which includes seeking prosperity for all and harmony between all nations. On this basis, initiatives such as a global community of shared future and the Belt and Road Initiative have been put forward. These new ideas, new thinking, and new strategies, which are original and contemporarily relevant, have elevated efforts to promote China’s traditional culture to new heights.


The Wanren Palace Wall at the Temple of Confucius in Qufu, Shandong Province. During a visit to Qufu in November 2013, President Xi Jinping pointed out that the flourishing of Chinese culture is a prerequisite for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER GUO XULEI

Since its founding in 1921, the CPC has actively guided and promoted China’s advanced culture while keeping its traditional culture alive and strong. When integrating the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities, it has always sought to carry forward and develop China’s traditional culture. The CPC’s new theoretical innovations embody both the basic tenets of Marxism and the best of Chinese intellectual thought as well as the practical experience of Chinese Communists. The “two integrations” proposed by General Secretary Xi represent a systematic summary of the CPC’s invaluable experience in keeping traditional Chinese culture alive and strong over a long period, a further deepening and extension of the first integration, and a major theoretical innovation.

The rich implications and practical requirements of the “two integrations”

“What is it that sets our socialism apart? What enables it to thrive with such vitality?” As General Secretary Xi has stated, “The answers lie in its distinctive Chinese characteristics, and the essence of these characteristics is encapsulated in the concept of the ‘two integrations’.” In his speech at the meeting on cultural inheritance and development, General Secretary Xi systematically expounded on the rich connotations and core tenets of the “two integrations” from five perspectives, shedding light on their significant implications and practical requirements.

The prerequisite is mutual compatibility

General Secretary Xi has pointed out, “Although Marxism and fine traditional Chinese culture have different origins, they are highly compatible.” With a history stretching back to antiquity, China’s traditional culture is extensive and profound; it is the crystallization of the wisdom of Chinese civilization. It espouses many important principles and concepts, including pursuing common good for all; regarding the people as the foundation of the state; governing by virtue; discarding the outdated in favor of the new; selecting officials on the basis of merit; promoting harmony between humanity and nature; ceaselessly pursuing self-improvement; embracing the world with virtue; acting in good faith and being friendly to others; and fostering neighborliness. These maxims, which have taken shape over centuries of work and life, reflect the Chinese people’s way of viewing the universe, the world, society, and morality. They are highly consistent with the values and propositions of scientific socialism.

After Marxism was introduced into China, these propositions were enthusiastically embraced by the Chinese people amid fierce competition between different ideological trends, and they ultimately took root and bore fruit in the land of China. This was far from coincidental. Rather, it was because they were consistent with China’s millennia-old culture and the common values that Chinese people intuitively apply in their everyday lives. It is only with mutual compatibility that genuine integration can be achieved. This integration is not a masterplate from which we simplistically continue our history and culture, nor a pattern through which we mechanically apply the ideas of classic Marxist authors, nor a reprint of the practice of socialism in other countries, nor yet a duplicate of modernization from any other country. Rather, it is the combining of the basic principles of scientific socialism with China’s specific realities, historical and cultural traditions, and the call of the times. It demands a harmonious blending of communist faith and socialist convictions with the millennia-old ideals of the Chinese nation. It is about ensuring that the tree of Marxist truth takes root in the Chinese soil with rich historical and cultural traditions and truly flourishes.

Integration is a mutually beneficial process

Integration is not about piecing different components together; it is not a simple physical convergence, but instead requires complete fusion. Though it is reciprocal, integration should not erase the identity of either side but lead to mutual enhancement, creating greater and better versions of each. As General Secretary Xi has pointed out, integration has “created a new, organically unified cultural entity, enabling Marxism to truly take root in China, modernizing traditional Chinese culture, and facilitating the emergence of a new culture that serves as the cultural form for Chinese modernization.” While Marxism has profoundly changed China, China has also greatly enriched Marxism. Through the historical process of advancing the “two integrations,” the CPC has used the power of Marxist truth to give a new lease of life to the great civilization that the Chinese nation has cultivated over thousands of years, enabling it to radiate with renewed vitality. By the same token, traditional Chinese culture has provided Marxism with rich nourishment, endowing it with a distinctive Chinese quality, style, and ethos. Through such integration, a closer bond has been formed between Marxism and the glorious history of the Chinese nation, thereby allowing Marxism to become deeply rooted in China and be truly embraced by hundreds of millions of Chinese people. Integration has also seen traditional Chinese culture move from antiquity to modernity and emanate great inspirational power, inherent charm, and contemporary appeal. In contemporary China, developing a sound, people-oriented socialist culture for our nation that embraces modernization, the world, and the future means fostering a socialist culture with Chinese characteristics in the new era to pool strength, consolidate unity, nourish the roots, and forge the soul of our nation for advancing Chinese modernization.

Integration has reinforced the foundations of our path

The path of socialism with Chinese characteristics has been blazed under the guidance of Marxism and is based on the continuation and development of more than 5,000 years of Chinese civilization. General Secretary Xi has pointed out, “The path China has taken is inextricably linked with Chinese culture. This is where the genetic code for the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics resides—in China’s fine traditional culture.” Only within the context of more than 5,000 years of Chinese civilization can we truly understand the historical necessity, cultural significance, and unique strengths of the Chinese path. He has emphasized, “Without the 5,000-year-old Chinese civilization, where would the Chinese characteristics come from? If it wasn’t for these characteristics, how could we have today’s successful path of socialism with Chinese characteristics?” Therefore, as we follow this path, it is imperative to keep adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times and remain committed to the “two integrations.” As General Secretary Xi has pointed out, integration has “endowed the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics with greater historical depth and broadened its cultural underpinnings. Just as Chinese modernization infuses Chinese civilization with modern vitality, Chinese civilization imparts a rich heritage to Chinese modernization.” Integration has enabled us to draw on the abundant intellectual and cultural resources of our ancient civilization to promote Chinese modernization. At the same time, it has infused the ancient Chinese civilization with new life by incorporating it into the modernization process. Chinese modernization seeks to build upon, rather than erase, China’s ancient civilization; it has been developed here in China, not copied from any other country; and it has stemmed from the renewal, not the disruption, of Chinese civilization. Chinese modernization is a broad avenue that leads to a strong country and national rejuvenation. While allowing the Chinese civilization to shine with renewed radiance, it has also helped bring about a new form of human advancement.

Integration has opened new space for innovation

The Chinese civilization is distinguished by its outstanding originality. This originality fundamentally determines that the Chinese civilization upholds tradition without clinging to the past and respects ancient wisdom without reverting to antiquated thinking. It also defines our nation’s fearless character of facing new challenges head-on and embracing new things. Integration is in itself a form of innovation, but it also opens vast ground for theoretical and practical breakthroughs. It inspires intellectual insights and reflects profound truths, theoretical concepts, and philosophical wisdom. General Secretary Xi has stated that “Integration has enabled us to retain the theoretical and cultural initiative and effectively apply this to the path, theory, and system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Socialism with Chinese characteristics comprises a cohesive whole in which its path, theory, system, and culture are closely interwoven and operate in unison in practice. This is the defining feature of Chinese socialism. The power of our culture is also deeply imbued in this path, theory, and system. History and present reality have repeatedly shown that through integration, the CPC is able to seamlessly coordinate its endeavors to explore the right path, develop sound theories, establish effective systems, and promote advanced culture. The path, theory, system, and culture of Chinese socialism not only embody the fundamental principles of scientific socialism but also exhibit the distinctive features of our country, nation, and times. Xi Jinping has stressed, “‘The second integration’ is yet another instance of freeing the mind. It allows us to fully harness the precious resources of fine traditional Chinese culture to explore future-oriented theoretical and institutional innovations within a broader cultural space.” Integration is not just about discarding the outdated in favor of the new—it is a journey toward the future. The “second integration” has helped unleash the innovative power of fine traditional Chinese culture and provided the CPC with intellectual guarantees, inspirational strength, and moral support as it blazes the right path, builds sound theories, and establishes effective systems, ultimately resulting in a great number of innovative theories, institutional innovations, and new achievements in all fields.

Integration has helped fortify our cultural identity

The Chinese nation has forged ahead through thousands of years of trials and adversities and remains as vibrant as ever. A key reason for this is our firm sense of cultural confidence and awareness. This confidence and awareness are deeply woven into the cultural lineage of our nation and have endured and grown stronger over time. Their source can be traced to our cultural identity. This identity has given us a firm cultural sense of self, fueled our cultural creativity, and provided fundamental support for our cultural confidence and awareness. It is only in this way that the Chinese nation has fully realized intellectual independence and truly come to stand firmly among the nations of the world. Losing our national cultural identity would mean losing our spiritual home and the lifeblood of our culture. The establishment of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is a powerful embodiment of our cultural identity. Emerging from the vast backdrop of 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, it incorporates the best of Chinese traditional culture into the blueprint for national rejuvenation. This has allowed the Chinese nation to give prominence to our own culture and prioritize our own needs while remaining open and inclusive, all of which has seen fine traditional Chinese culture exhibiting renewed vitality and timeless charm in the new era. The most fundamental and important tasks in developing a modern Chinese civilization are to adhere to the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, maintain firm cultural confidence, and better shoulder new cultural missions in the new era. Amid global changes of a magnitude not seen in a century, we are witnessing interactions between various ideas and cultures, with exchanges, integration, and clashes all becoming more frequent. We must always preserve the identity of Chinese culture, resolutely oppose cultural nihilism, firmly resist any attempt to strip away the Chinese elements, ideology, values, mainstream thought, or historical significance of Chinese culture, and make continued efforts to fortify the common spiritual home of the Chinese nation.


The memorial temple and former residence of Su Xun and his two sons Su Shi and Su Zhe, three literary masters of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), collectively known as the Three Sus Temple. During a visit to the temple in Meishan, Sichuan Province, President Xi Jinping pointed out that just as a single drop of water can reflect the sun, the Three Sus Temple reflects both the breadth and depth of Chinese culture. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER SHEN BOHAN

The “two integrations” shed light on the fundamental path and mechanism for adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times. More importantly, through the “second integration,” we have pioneered a new paradigm for the CPC’s theoretical innovations. The “second integration” constitutes a profound summary of the CPC’s experience in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times and indicates a thorough grasp of the development laws underlying Chinese civilization. It reflects the new heights the CPC has attained in its understanding of the path, theory, and system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, in its historical and cultural confidence, and in its consciousness in promoting cultural innovation while carrying forward traditional Chinese culture.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 13, 2023)