The central message of Xi's book remains relevant in a post-COVID-19 world
By Augusto Soto  ·  2021-01-19  ·   Source: NO.5 FEBRUARY 4, 2021

A staff of an artistic experience center teaches a girl to make pottery in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province in east China, on September 27, 2020 (XINHUA)

The book Xi Jinping: The Governance of China Volume III assembles Chinese President Xi Jinping's 92 speeches and texts between October 18, 2017 and January 13, 2020, preceding the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic. However, the ideas in the book are still relevant. 
Several insights attract readers' attention from the start. At the national level, the goal of realizing rejuvenation of the Chinese nation manifests itself in multiple ways, with the most striking one being the unleashing of the country's vitality leading to the greatest economic growth in human history. In 2020, this vitality was not subdued by the pandemic, but on the contrary, remained strong. 
Despite the still uncertain global economic outlook, the World Bank projected that China's GDP growth would accelerate to 7.9 percent in 2021. At the same time, the pandemic also reinforces Xi's assessment that the world is facing changes unseen in a century. 
Key to China's success
In contrast with volatile international situations and the alarming domestic division in the United States, the world's largest economy, also the representative of Western democracy, China's incredible feats unfolding before our eyes make people think that it will not be long before the country can successfully realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation. 
Indeed, anyone who dispassionately observed the crisis in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, where hordes of vandals stormed the building encouraged by then sitting U.S. president himself, against the backdrop of tens of millions of citizens who do not trust the mechanisms of their own democracy, knows that we are witnessing a major change with remarkable potential echo in international politics. The U.S. democracy, seen as a model in the West for two centuries, is cracking dramatically due to internal causes. 
In the West, usually politicians trumpet short-term goals to win over voters, while statesmen who think deeply and adopt a long-term approach are hardly recognized and seem to belong to the past. In such a context, it is completely novel to read a 650-page corpus containing the ideas of a country's leader ruling a fifth of the world's population and contributing to multilateralism and to global interdependence like no other. 
In style and content, Xi's analysis is based on socialism with Chinese characteristics, sometimes incorporating references to the country's philosophical wisdom dating back 5,000 years, making it a unique flowing narrative. Also, in times that call for more international cooperation, volume III can help readers from different continents understand Xi's motivations and the country's achievements directly, without intermediaries. 
How does the leader of a country responsible for a third of the world's economic growth assess the course of the local and global economy? How does he evaluate the public policy mechanisms of the government that has managed to lift nearly 800 million people out of poverty in the last 40 years? What steps has China taken to achieve the status of a moderately prosperous society? What are the institutional merits of the country which can explain its successful fight against COVID-19 while most of the world is overwhelmed by the virus? What are the guiding principle and goals of the Belt and Road Initiative? What is the meaning of a community with a shared future for humanity? The answers to these and other fundamental questions are found in the book. 

A production line of auto glass manufacturer Fuyao Glass Industry Group in Fuqing, Fujian  Province in southeast China, on January 12 (XINHUA)
Progressive and innovative
Regarding foreign policy, readers will find explanatory references to a series of international initiatives with China as an important player. They include the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the Group of 20, and the Belt and Road Initiative. 
Centuries ago, some remarkable Western intellectuals studied China in search of wisdom about governance and a model of government. Over time we have learned that each country has its unique characteristics, and that, above all, it is not wise for a country to try to copy a foreign model without considering its own circumstances. China has been following its own path. Under the leadership of Xi, the country has been adjusting itself to the changing situations. 
The world is changing at an unprecedented rate. When the world's most powerful country appears structurally divided and confused, the world needs to be reoriented. When CNN's White House correspondent reported that Donald Trump "is leaving America in a whirlwind of violence, disease and death and more internally alienated than it has been in 150 years," as global citizens we must wake up and readjust our perspective. 
The ancient Greek and Chinese classics already warned us that time is fleeting, and thus we need resilience. This means that inspired by great thinkers, we must remain curious and seek the truth from facts, which is also a fine tradition of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the world's largest political party. 
Following the structural guidelines outlined in Xi Jinping: The Governance of China Volume III, the 19th CPC Central Committee concluded its fifth plenary session in October 2020. To boost its economic development, China decided to accentuate innovation, the real economy, a strong domestic market, the vitalization of rural areas, and green and sustainable development. And the emphasis is reflected in the CPC Central Committee's proposals for the 14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2021-25) and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035. 
Is there anything in these wide-ranging plans (which include a vision of China and the world by 2049) that can also inspire us within the framework of a community with a shared future? Certainly. The answer is also an invitation to read the book so as to get an insight about the CPC's guiding ideas and decision-making processes in governing the country. 
When an ancient country translates its governance vision into a modernization drive, which will meet its goal earlier than Western modernization in the 20th century, it is time to reflect on the importance of the governance of China and on the importance of continuous and deeper interaction. Recent examples, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership signed among Asia-Pacific countries including China, and the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, both sealed in late 2020, demonstrate that the notion of a community with a shared future for humanity proposed by Xi is a feasible path. 
Practical synergies mean that China and the rest of the world have more chance of pursuing progress if they work together, than if each country pursued development decoupled from other countries. This is the central message to the world of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China Volume III. 
(Print Edition Title: Synergies Amid Change)
The author is director of Dialogue with China Project and China Today magazine's representative in Spain
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