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Explained: Chinese versus Western modernization
Chinese modernization is based on China's national realities
By Zhang Shasha  ·  2022-10-21  ·   Source: Web Exclusive

In his interview with Beijing Review, Tang Renwu, Director of the School of Government under Beijing Normal University, elaborated on the contrast between Chinese and Western modernization.   

Tang pointed out that the two do share vast common ground. Both depend on economic growth, higher productivity and better living conditions generated by industrialization and urbanization. Yet differences abound. Western countries practice a multi-party political system, whereas China adheres to multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. Chinese modernization is based on China's national realities and sticks to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics.  

Specific distinctions between both types of modernization follow:  

First is the difference in timespan. Modernization first started in the West following the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, and after hundreds of years of evolution has already reached a high level. China's modernization efforts fall far behind those in the West. Modernization in the strictest sense of the word started after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. On the whole, China and the West have a gap in terms of modernization levels. However, it's unwise to apply Western standards to Chinese levels given the country comes with its own national context. Therefore, China must have its own philosophy, which is "Chinese modernization."  

Second is the difference in orientation of values. Western modernization is capital- and profits-driven. Prevailing private ownership in the West means that capital is controlled by a small fraction of the population and thus only this small fraction can benefit most. Chinese modernization, however, focuses on the people's interests, thanks to its adoption of a basic economic system with public ownership playing a dominant role and diverse forms developing side by side. The people are the biggest beneficiaries here. Chinese-style modernization is one that ensures common prosperity for all. 

Third is the difference in ways of realizing modernization. Western modernization over the centuries often came at a large social, human cost. China is opting for a strikingly different path. The Party's purpose is to serve the people and it represents the fundamental interests of the majority of the population.  

Fourth is the difference in actual results. Western modernization means to consolidate the maximum interests of the elite, whereas in China modernization benefits the general population. Its final goal is to realize common prosperity for all, the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the creation of a great modern socialist country. 

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon  

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