From Nezavisimaya gazeta, July 4, 2023, p. 5. Complete text:
The Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee held a training session on the objective of adapting Marxism to modern times and China’s traditional culture. The deputy chair of the Central Party School read a lecture on this topic. The Politburo discussed the lecture, and closing remarks were made by General Secretary Xi Jinping, who highlighted that it was Marxism that let the CCP bring the people out of poverty – something that other forces were unable to achieve. The meeting was preceded by the promotion of two political commissars to the rank of general, while the Jiefangjun Bao, the newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), pointed out after the failure of the Wagner mutiny [see Vol. 75, No. 26, pp. 3‑9, and pp. 10‑17] that the commissar system is indispensable, and ensures the Party’s absolute control over the military.
According to Xi, Chinese Communists are called upon to find ways to Sinicize and modernize Marxism. This was the approach that ensured the success of building a modern welfare state in China. The soul of Marxism and the roots of traditional Chinese culture cannot be abandoned, as that would lead to ruinous mistakes. At the same time, the outstanding achievements of global civilization must be studied and adopted with an open heart. That is necessary in order to advance reforms, ensure domestic stability and strengthen national defense. The enrichment of socialism with Chinese characteristics must be a constant process.
The question is, who are these directives addressed to? Obviously, they are not intended for laymen or even businessmen, who are concerned not with Marxist ideas, but with ways of increasing their companies’ profits. The intended audience is the CCP membership, which numbers 98.4 million. The party’s history goes back 102 years. According to the People’s Daily, the CCP’s central mouthpiece, in the more than seven decades since the creation of the People’s Republic of China, the CCP has governed the world’s largest Socialist country, transforming poor and backward China into a state that is on a path toward high levels of income.
You can’t argue with that. However, the party’s propaganda machine has also been working hard to convince both the Chinese populace and foreign audiences of the merits of the party and specifically Xi Jinping. It’s no accident that a history of the party was just published in English, French, other European languages and, of course, Russian. Then again, Russian Sinologists don’t need any convincing of the need to study the CCP’s ideology. A lab has been set up at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of China and Modern Asia (ICMA) to study Xi Jinping’s ideas. This is the first such institution outside of China. Chinese experts welcomed its creation, according to the South China Morning Post. That does not, however, mean that their assessments of events in our country match those of the Russian government. Chinese analysts were particularly perturbed by the Wagner rebellion. For example, Xiao Bin, a researcher at the Institute of Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the Wagner coup made China realize that the domestic political situation in Russia is very fragile. The fragility was there before, but it increased after the special military operation [in Ukraine] began. In the 23 years that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin has been in power, relations between Russia and China have improved significantly. The question is, Xiao added, how strong is Russia’s current government?
At the same time, Chinese state media tried to downplay the significance of the “Wagner incident.” The Global Times, which is published by the CCP, wrote that the West hyped it up to denigrate China’s ties with Russia.
The reaction of the Chinese military establishment stands out. After the failure of the Wagner rebellion, the newspaper Jiefangjun Bao pointed out that China has a system of political commissars that guarantees “the absolute leadership of the Communist Party over the Armed Forces.” Observers noted that after the Wagner incident, the PLA leadership promoted two political commissars to the rank of general. It’s possible that this has nothing to do with what happened in Russia.
China borrowed the political commissar system from the Red Army. Back in the 1930s, during the [Chinese] Civil War, Mao Zedong said: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Even then, the Armed Forces began to be seen as the party’s fighting flank.
Song Zhongping, a former instructor for the PLA, said that China’s and Russia’s military institutions differ. And the events in Russia show that the Chinese system is much more effective. Nothing like what happened in Russia is possible in China.
In an interview with NG, Aleksandr Lukin, research director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ ICMA, said: “Xi Jinping dedicated a lot of time in his speech at the last CCP congress to the Sinicization and modernization of Marxism. Sinicization refers to combining Marxism with traditional Chinese thinking and practice. That means moving away from Soviet and other Marxist experiences in state-building. The Chinese saw those attempts as unsuccessful. In [Soviet-era] Moscow, this was interpreted as a departure from proper Marxism. For that reason, the term ‘Sinicization of Marxism’ was not used for a long time in China. But Xi has started to use this term more. Here he was talking about using ancient Chinese wisdom, particularly Confucianism. The Politburo occasionally holds training sessions where some professor is invited to give a lecture from time to time. In other words, they are increasing the political literacy levels of the Politburo members. As for Wagner, that has nothing to do with the Chinese Army. Talk about the Chinese system being superior to the Russian system is strange. China participated in hostilities against Vietnam 1979-1980. At that time, its Army did not perform very well. A system’s expediency is demonstrated in action. So that expediency has yet to be proven.”