Nav Search

Chinese Modernization Is a Sure Path to Building a Great Country and Rejuvenating the Nation

Source: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2024-01-05

Chinese Modernization Is a Sure Path to Building a Great Country and Rejuvenating the Nation


The path to modernization a country chooses is determined by its historical traditions, social systems, developmental conditions, and external environment, among other factors. As countries differ in their conditions, they may take different paths to modernization. As we have seen, to achieve modernization, a country needs not only to follow the general laws governing this pursuit; more importantly, it needs to keep in mind its own realities and distinctive features. Chinese modernization has features that are common to the modernization processes of all countries as well as features that are unique to the Chinese context. The Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) articulated the five distinctive features of Chinese modernization, profoundly capturing the essence of the concept. Both a theoretical summary and a guide to action, this offers a sure path for China to build itself into a great modern socialist country and achieve the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

A sure path does not mean that there will be no challenges along the way to modernization. To fully leverage the following five distinctive features of Chinese modernization and turn them into unique strengths calls for arduous efforts. 

First, the modernization of a huge population 

This is a salient feature of Chinese modernization. As countries differ in population size, they face different tasks which vary in magnitude and complexity, and their paths of development and ways of advancement are necessarily different. Today, only more than 20 countries around the world, with a combined population of around one billion, have achieved modernization. China is working to achieve modernization for more than 1.4 billion people, more than the combined population of the world’s developed countries. This will largely reshape the landscape of global modernization. Chinese modernization is unprecedented in human history in terms of both scale and difficulty.


President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening of a seminar on the study and implementation of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the guiding principles from the 20th CPC National Congress at the Central Party School (National Academy of Governance), February 7, 2023. The seminar was attended by newly-elected members and alternate members of the CPC Central Committee and principal officials at the provincial and ministerial level. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER LI TAO

A huge population provides ample human resources and a vast market, but it also poses many problems and challenges. Ensuring that our more than 1.4 billion people are fed is a tough challenge to begin with, and there are other issues to be resolved, such as employment, income distribution, education, health care, housing, eldercare, and childcare. None of these issues can be easily solved and each of them involves an enormous number of people. When we are considering problems, making decisions, and taking actions, we need to keep in mind our population size as well as the gaps in development between urban and rural areas and between different regions. We should neither pursue grandiose goals nor stick to old ways. We need to be patient in advancing our course and take steady and incremental steps to sustain progress.


President Xi Jinping visits the Cuiyun Corridor, a national key cultural heritage site, Jian’ge County, Sichuan Province, July 25, 2023. He toured Sichuan Province from July 25 to 27, 2023. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER XIE HUANCHI

Second, the modernization of common prosperity 

This is a defining feature of Chinese modernization, and what distinguishes it from Western modernization. The biggest problems with Western modernization are that it is capital-centered rather than people-centered and that it seeks to maximize capital gains rather than serve the interests of the vast majority of the people. This has created a huge gap between the rich and the poor and led to severe polarization. In their efforts to achieve modernization, some developing countries once approached the developed country threshold only to fall into the “middle-income trap” and become mired in prolonged stagnation, or even experience severe regression. A major cause for this is that these countries failed to solve the problems of polarization and solidification of social strata.

Chinese modernization aims to ensure that development is for the people and by the people and that its fruits are shared by the people. China has made important progress in promoting prosperity for all. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, we have won the critical battle against poverty and lifted close to 100 million rural people out of poverty. We have now developed a complete set of guidelines, principles, institutions, policies, and measures to deliver prosperity for all.

As we work to pursue high-quality development and strive to make the economic “pie” bigger, we need to make it better and share it more fairly, solving problems that affect people’s wellbeing in areas such as employment, income distribution, education, health care, housing, eldercare, and childcare. We need to create a complete system of institutions in which primary, secondary, and tertiary distribution is conducted in a mutually complementary way. We need to take more effective measures to regulate income distribution and wealth accumulation and conduct law-based regulation and guidance to promote the healthy development of capital. With these efforts, we can expand the middle-income group over time, narrow income disparities, and see that the benefits of modernization are shared equitably among all our people so that no polarization will occur. Achieving prosperity for all is a long-term mission, so we must make persistent efforts to deliver continued progress, and we must not stop until we reach our goal.

Third, the modernization of material and cultural-ethical advancement

Both material abundance and cultural-ethical enrichment are lofty features of Chinese modernization. Material poverty is not socialism, nor is cultural impoverishment. Western countries’ early pursuit of modernization only led to the accumulation of wealth, crises of faith, and insatiable material desires. An important cause of Western countries’ predicaments today is their failure to check greed, which is the nature of capital, and to resolve their deep-seated problems of rampant materialism and spiritual impoverishment.

Chinese modernization, in addition to creating abundant material wealth, also strives for cultural-ethical enrichment to boost our people’s confidence in Chinese values and culture. We must attach equal importance to material progress and cultural-ethical progress and ensure that the two reinforce each other and advance together. This will give our people an intellectual foundation to strive together in unity, initiative to break new ground, and values to pursue a healthier life. In response to the people’s growing cultural needs, we must develop socialist values that have the power to rally and inspire the people; foster ideals and convictions; heighten public understanding of the history of the CPC, the People’s Republic of China, reform and opening up, and the development of socialism; nurture and promote the core socialist values; and develop advanced socialist culture. We should encourage the creation of outstanding literary and artistic works, enrich people’s cultural lives, enhance public civility, and promote well-rounded personal development.

Fourth, the modernization of harmony between humanity and nature

Respecting, adapting to, and protecting nature and promoting harmony between humans and nature are distinctive features of Chinese modernization. Since the advent of modern times, Western modernization has typically involved a stage of wanton plundering of natural resources and destruction of the environment. While creating enormous material wealth, it has often caused serious problems such as environmental pollution and resource depletion. Because of its severe dearth of per capita share of energy and resources, China will face growing energy, resources, and environmental constraints as its development accelerates. This means that China cannot follow the beaten path of Western modernization.

In pursuing modernization, China is committed to sustainable development. Guided by the policy of giving priority to resource conservation, environmental protection, and letting nature restore itself, China consistently pursues sound development featuring improved production, higher living standards, and healthy ecosystems, thus opening up broad prospects for realizing the sustained development of the Chinese nation. We should embrace and act on the principle that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets and take well-coordinated steps to preserve and improve mountains, waters, forests, farmlands, grasslands, and deserts. We should prioritize ecological protection, conserve resources and use them efficiently, and pursue green and low-carbon development. We should accelerate the transition to a green development model, enhance the diversity, stability, and sustainability of our ecosystems, and work both actively and prudently toward the goals of achieving peak carbon emissions and carbon neutrality. We should enable high-quality development with high-quality ecosystems.

Fifth, the modernization of peaceful development

Adhering to the path of peaceful development, pursuing our own development as we safeguard world peace and development, better safeguarding world peace and development through our own development, and promoting the building of a global community of shared future are prominent features of Chinese modernization. Western modernization was fraught with sanguineous crimes such as war, slave trade, colonization, and plunder, which inflicted untold misery on developing countries. Having suffered from aggression, bullying, and humiliation by Western powers, we Chinese are keenly aware of the value of peace and will never follow the beaten path of the West.


Xi Jinping, Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang, and other CPC and state leaders attend the opening ceremony of the 31st summer edition of the FISU World University Games in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, July 28, 2023. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER XIE HUANCHI

In advancing Chinese modernization, we should maintain independence and rely on our own efforts. We should strengthen ourselves with the hard work and creativity of all our people and pursue development by boosting internal drivers and making peaceful use of external resources. We should never oppress other nations or loot the wealth and resources of other countries in any form. Rather, we should provide support and assistance to other developing countries to the best of our ability. We will always uphold peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit, follow a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up, and continue to create new opportunities for the world through China’s development. We should get actively involved in the reform and development of the global governance system, practice true multilateralism, champion the common values of humanity, pursue the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, and endeavor to make greater contributions to world peace and development.

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and particularly since the launch of reform and opening up in 1978, we have completed in a few decades the process of industrialization that took developed Western countries centuries to complete. We have achieved the miracles of rapid economic growth and enduring social stability, thus opening up bright prospects for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. This shows that Chinese modernization works and that it is the only correct path to building a great country and rejuvenating the Chinese nation.

This was part of a speech made on February 7, 2023 at a seminar on studying and implementing Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the guiding principles from the 20th CPC National Congress. The seminar was attended by newly-elected members and alternate members of the CPC Central Committee and principal officials at the provincial and ministerial level.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 16, 2023)