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What’s ‘new’ in the new stage, new philosophy, and new paradigm?

Gao Peiyong addresses the Opening Ceremony of The International Academic Forum in China 2021 on Oct. 14 in Beijing. Photo: Zhu Gaolei/CSST


In contemporary China, with a little more calm observation, we can find many expressions described as “new” around us. In other words, we are being surrounded by the “new” in many aspects. 

 
For example, the theme of the forum today is “A New and Uniquely Chinese Path to Modernization.” Highly related to the theme are terms including “new model for human advancement,” “new journey toward socialist modernization in all respects,” and “new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” There are more phrases beginning with “new.” 
 
Among such phrases, the most frequently used, most fundamental, most profound, and most distinctive ones are the so-called “three ‘new’s”—new [development] stage, new [development] philosophy, and new [development] paradigm. Making sense of the three “new”s and clarifying what’s new and why they are new from theoretical perspectives are undoubtedly vital for China to take the new course toward the second centenary goal of building the country into a great modern socialist country in all respects and to capably tell stories of the new and uniquely Chinese path to modernization to the world. 
 
In the context of the Chinese language, we always talk about the “new” as opposed to the “old,” with the “past” as the frame of reference. We always summarize salient features of the new and systemic differences from the “past” through comparison with the “past.” Therefore, to find the right frame of reference of the past for comparative analysis, we should first answer the question: “where is the watershed between the three ‘new’s and the ‘past?’”
 
2021 as the watershed
We know very well that the new development stage is a stage in which China, after accomplishing the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, builds on this achievement to embark on a new journey toward the second centenary goal of building the country into a great modern socialist country in all respects. We notice that the new era started from the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, while the new development stage was first proposed in 2021 by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of the seminar for provincial- and ministerial-rank principal officials on studying and implementing the guiding principles of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee. Therefore, it is certain that the new development stage starts in 2021, instead of 2012. Drawing the clear-cut watershed is truly important to understanding and grasping the “newness” of the three “new”s. This is because: 
 
First, only with 2021 as the watershed can we make clear the salient features and systemic differences of the new development stage from the past. For example, different from the past, the goal of the new development stage is to build a great modern socialist country in all respects, rather than build a moderately prosperous society in all respects. This is a higher goal set on a new, higher starting point. Different from the past, the circumstances for development we are facing has undergone profound and complicated changes, becoming substantially more unstable and uncertain.    
 
Second, only with 2021 as the watershed can we explain explicitly why the new development philosophy must be completely, accurately, and comprehensively implemented in the new development stage. For example, the statement about the content of the new development philosophy remains unchanged. Different from the past, however, China must understand the fundamental aim, stay problem-oriented, and be mindful of the difficulties ahead when implementing the new development philosophy in the new development stage. Different from the past, the goals of implementing the new development philosophy in the new development stage must be extended from achieving higher-quality, more efficient, fairer, and more sustainable development to include “more secure development.”  
 
Third, only with 2021 as the watershed can we elucidate the starting point and goal of building a new development paradigm in the new development stage. For example, different from the past, the essence of the new development paradigm is realizing a high level of self-reliance and self-strengthening in the new development stage. It is by no means confined to the economic field and it is more about smoothing the national economic circulation. We must think outside the box of discussing the construction of the new development paradigm only on the economic front or by “smoothing.” It is crucial to precisely understand and actively promote the construction of the new development paradigm from a holistic perspective, and shift the focus to striking a dynamic balance between development and security. 
 
Now another question follows: If the new development stage makes clear the historical position of China’s development, the implementation of the new development philosophy clarifies the guiding principles for China’s modernization drive, and building the new development paradigm determines China’s choice of the path to its economic modernization, then are there any internal relations among the “newness” expounded in the three “new”s in the three dimensions, respectively? If yes, what are they? These questions are not so difficult to answer after we have made clear the watershed between the three “new”s and the “past.” 
 
The “new” in the new stage 
First, the new development stage is “new” in development goals, environment, and in the changes to opportunities and challenges. On this basis, the ambitious new development goals, the new development environment marked by a remarkable increase of unstable and uncertain factors, and the obviously increasing difficulty of grasping opportunities and identifying risks all reflect a basic fact that as China is entering a new development stage, the weight and significance of security have grown, highlighting the need to adopt a coordinated approach that balances development and security imperatives. 
 
This underscores the importance to, at the height of coordinating and balancing development and security, deeply understand the complexity and harshness of the domestic and international circumstances facing China, favorable and unfavorable factors within, and the possibility of discovering opportunities from adversity and turning adversity into opportunities, to guard against and defuse various risks in China’s modernization drive, and build solid shields for national security, thereby ensuring the course of national rejuvenation is never delayed or interrupted. This is a crucial juncture to cross in order to accurately understand the new development stage, thoroughly implement the new development philosophy, and accelerate the construction of the new development paradigm. 
 
Second, the new development philosophy is “new” in that it must be implemented in a complete, accurate, and comprehensive manner. As such, whether it is to understand the new development philosophy by understanding the fundamental aim, staying problem-oriented and being mindful of the difficulties ahead, or to implement the new development philosophy by extending the goals of achieving higher-quality, more efficient, fairer, and more sustainable development to include “more secure development,” or to implement the new development philosophy with more precise and pragmatic actions that advance with the times, a profound truth implied in it is that China is entering a new development stage where development and security are equally important, and the two must be planned and deployed together.
 
This reminds us to stand at the height of adopting a coordinated approach to development and security, pay close attention to various risks and challenges at home and abroad, and prepare for worst-case scenarios, while striving for the best results. When planning for development, we must carefully plan for security, and strive to achieve higher-quality, more efficient, fairer, more sustainable, and more secure development. This is the necessary path to accurately understand the new development stage, thoroughly implement the new development philosophy, and accelerate the construction of the new development paradigm.
 
Third, the new development paradigm is “new” in that its starting point and purpose differ greatly from those of the past. Therefore, whether to define the most essential characteristics of the construction of the new development paradigm based on the standpoint of achieving a high level of self-reliance and self-strengthening, or to grasp the essential content of the construction of the new development paradigm by systemic and in-depth reform concerning the overall situation, an important message conveyed is that building the new development paradigm is aimed at coordinating and balancing development and security. It is manifested in the phenomenon of smoothing the circulation of the national economy, while the core essence lies in the strategic consideration of coordinating and balancing development and security.
 
Balancing development and security
This reminds us to stand at the height of coordinating and balancing development and safety, clarifying the unified dialectical relationship between development and security, while placing security in a more conspicuous position and giving more priority to security issues in development. It also reminds us to coordinate and balance development and security through the whole process and in all fields of the new development paradigm, striving to achieve a benign interaction between high-quality development and high-level security. This is an important starting point and purpose for accurately grasping the new development stage, thoroughly implementing the new development philosophy, and accelerating the construction of the new development paradigm.
 
Having said that, it can be clearly determined that the “new development stage,” “new development philosophy,” and “new development paradigm” are by no means simply piecing words together. Rather, the three are interdependent, and they serve as prerequisites for each other. The main thread hidden deep in them is coordinating and balancing development and security. The most fundamental, deepest, and most critical “newness” among the three lies in coordinating and balancing development and security.
 
To extend it further, it is necessary to accurately grasp and continuously improve the political ability, strategic vision, and professional level to enter the new development stage, implement the new development philosophy, and build the new development paradigm from the height of coordinating and balancing development and security. It is also necessary to strengthen forward-looking thinking, overall planning, strategic layout, and holistic advancement. Only by doing this can we grasp the key points and implement without deviation, so as to achieve the unity of quality, structure, scale, speed, efficiency, and security of development, thus providing new opportunities for the world through China’s new development.
 
As a conclusion, I want to point out that the core and soul of the new and uniquely Chinese path to modernization lies in the word “new.” The core and soul of the new journey to achieving the second centenary goal also lies in the word “new.” It can be said that “new” is key and essential to understanding and grasping the three “new”s. It is also the key pivot to understanding and grasping the new and uniquely Chinese path to modernization, as well as how China can achieve its second centenary goal.
 
Gao Peiyong is vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. This is an excerpt from his speech at the forum’s Opening Ceremony.
 
 
 
 
Edited by ZHAO YUAN

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