Harmonious China: A Secular Path of Growth



Since Global Financial Crisis of 2007, the following political events smoothed the way for the economic growth of developing countries of both global South and North. The BRICS-grouping can be taken in consideration as an instance. This international scenario has already brought the China’s socialist market economy to impose itself as world’s second largest economy by nominal GDP and, contemporarily, as world’s largest economy by purchasing power parity according to the International Monetary Fund.

Surely, the contemporary China is a far cry from the past-world Communist regimes well known in the ex Soviet Union’s backyard. Before the leadership of the reformer Deng Xiaoping, millions of unrelated peasants and workers were forced to the division of labour in order to break the link between individual effort and reward and to build a collectivization strategy undermined incentives to work. Under those circumstances, the Chinese proletariat and mass families, who were working in the agriculture sector, had been leaded toward unacceptable social conditions. On the contrary, in the last quarter of twentieth century, after late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, who launched historical and radical economic reforms, the agricultural output doubled in the space of just four years and the Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party has been able to show its world’s fastest-growing major economy, with a growth rates averaging 10%.

In the end of his tenure in 2011, the paramount leader of China, Hu Jintao, appeared to reaffirm the promotion of a “Harmonious Society” demonstrated by Confucian ruling philosophy and its religion principles, which had departed from the period of the Chinese predecessors. Actually, in the contemporary socio-economic vision of People’s Republic of China, the concept of “harmony” squarely stands into a multidisciplinary approach, given as political and ideological guiding.  Thus, the Chinese “harmony vision” has been developed into a key feature of Hu Jintao’s signature ideology of the Scientific Development Concept in the mid-2000s, being re-introduced by the Hu–Wen Administration during the 2005 National People’s Congress for building a harmonious macroeconomic growth that signifies GDP at potential for years to come. For instance, that is the reason why agriculture techniques in China remain unchanged and timeless in their applications. Following the traditional idea of a harmonious development involved between both tradition and progress, the Chinese mode of production of goods does not show much relevant differences from the forms adopted during the Han Dynasty, shortly after the birth of Christ, and in the late Qing Dynasty, prior to China’s colonization in nineteenth century.

The idea of harmony into a global governance introduced a scientific approach to the Chinese diplomacy in order toFlag_map_of_China_&_Taiwan minimize conflicts amongst different interest groups in society and maintain stability on the national level, in turn fostering economic and cultural advancement. The role interplayed by China in one of the worst scenario of international affairs, namely the crisis between Ukrainian and Russian boundaries, summarises the Chinese diplomatic strategy on the global arena. On the one hand, China, along with Brazil, India, South Africa and 54 other nations, abstained from the UN General Assembly resolution criticizing the Crimea referendum but, at the same time, Beijing tried concretely to reduce markedly negative effectiveness of Western attempts to isolate President Putin, on the other hand. However, the Chino-Russian relations never fall down at all. On the contrary, a more and more powerful bilateral relations had increased by both countries thank to a cooperative regional integration in the sector of natural resources for the increasing possibilities of the energy market.

By this contrast, to extend this ideology to an international dimension, with a focus on the international peace and cooperation, took the Chinese responsibility to lead to a “harmonious world”. One year ago, the Prime Minister of China Li Keqiang attended the World Economic Forum trying to spread the harmony philosophical-view out, as sustainable political strategy as soft-power instrument for the arena of international relations.

Coming from a Confucian religious idea, the concept of “harmony” stems from the basic premise that it is possible for the state to engineer sustainable development through tested and proven methodologies of governance. In the Southeast region of Asia, the ASEAN’s regional platform started to pay attention to all levels implementations and supervisions of progress, not only in policy-making but with particular regard concrete toward solutions for environmental development in order to attain both national and local long-term environmental target, resulting in sustainable development by using of a harmonious path.

Returning to main philosophy of Chinese harmony, the latter is recognized as a response to the increasing social injustice and inequality emerging in mainland Chinese society, result of unchecked economic growth and by which has led to social conflicts. The governing philosophy was therefore shifted around Chinese culture growth to overall societal check and balances. Along a moderately prosperous society, the harmony policies-making have been set to be one of the national goals for the ruling communist party too. In fact, the creation of a “Socialist Harmonious Society” represents, according to official statements by the Chinese Communist Party, the contemporary level, the new political-philosophy concept and the right extension ideology of Marxism-Leninism to Mao Zedong Thought until Deng Xiaoping Theory. In few words, the new approach of Chinese Marxist’ thought is completely integrated into every sphere of Chinese society, from the sustainable environment development to policies concerning social welfare and various annual plenums to social equality. In addition, scientific socialism appears to embody the contemporary feature of Marxist utopia fully applied on new Chinese methodology for development according to its times.

In the University of Wisconsin, Professor David G. Rowley explained that in the Chinese culture, one of the most important tradition of Eurasia together with the Japanese one, speaking from a historical view, the relation between both philosophical thought and human behaviours was mostly characterized by the concept of “harmony” or “unity” as well. Harmony and Unity date back to ancient China, to the time of Confucius, which shaped the Chinese culture for millennia. Curiously, the origin of philosophical concept of “harmony” does not come from the field of philosophy itself, but instead from which of the music, during the Third part of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. As a result, in few words, the Chinese “harmony” actually has been characterized in term of a new type of Confucianism philosophy.

In order to understand the main difference between the Chinese culture and the Western, Max Weber pointed out how China’s modernization has shown a different dimensions of its developing culture with regards economics, politics, sociology and art spheres -, each of them tightly interconnected each other. This kind of Chinese “cross-fertilization”, as Patrick Gleen mentioned in his Legal Traditions of the World: Sustainable Diversity in Law, is totally opposite to the culture of West, where, according also to the other researches held by R. Onstein, J. Bogen as well as Makoto Kikuchy, the functions of the Western political behaviours have been characterized by using of rationality.

This description can be understood more successfully by taking in consideration the development of the Western neoclassic economy, which built its models on the assumptions that human beings are rational beings who want to maximize their individual utility or incomes. As Francis Fukuyama underlines in his writing The Origins of Political Order, Western individualism seems a solid core of our own economic and political behaviour only because we have developed institutions that override our more naturally communal instincts. From the Middle Age, for instance, the Chinese noble’s power base in a lineage was geographically diffused and intertwined with other kin groups, in contrast to the strong hierarchical local political sovereignties that developed under European feudalism. Historically, during this age, the man of Western has been perceived as “lord of nature” or as “nonentity”, from which was opened the traditional acting towards the extremities’ choice in terms of right/left-wings or “yes/no” that have fed people during referendum processes in the Western democracies.

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