Scientific development concept (China)

Scientific development concept (China)
People's Republic of China

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The scientific development concept[1], sometimes translated as the scientific development perspective, is the current official guiding socio-economic ideology of the Communist Party of China incorporating sustainable development, social welfare, a humanistic society, increased democracy, and, ultimately, the creation of a Harmonious Society. The ideology stems from the basic premise that it is possible for the state to "engineer" sustainable development through tested and proven methodologies of governance. Such a scientific approach is said to minimize conflict amongst different interest groups in society in order to maintain stability on the national level, in turn fostering economic and cultural advancement.

The ideology is recognized by observers as a comprehensive response to the ideological gap left by the social problems that resulted from China's market economic reforms. Credit for the theory is given to current Chinese leader Hu Jintao and his administration, who took power in 2002. It is the newest brand added to the idea of Socialism with Chinese characteristics ratified into the Communist Party of China's constitution at the 17th Party Congress in October 2007. It is lauded by the Chinese government as a successor and extension ideology to Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the Three Represents.



Before former general secretary Jiang Zemin left office, the ideological contribution of the "third generation of leadership" was entrenched in the party and state constitutions in 2000 under the name Three Represents. This seemingly novel ideology was in reality a more capitalist deviation to Deng Xiaoping's original Socialism with Chinese characteristics,[says who?] and served more as official rhetoric than in practical usage. In addition, its poorly defined limitations as well as the timing of its inception seems[says who?] to point to it being a legacy project for Jiang. After his departure from an official role, Jiang Zemin continued to wield significant influence in the country's affairs. Due to popular pressure and increased inner party struggles, Jiang was forced to give up the power that remained through a gradual process lasting from 2003 to 2005.[citation needed]

In 2005 it was speculated[by whom?] that the new leader, Hu Jintao, had gained firm control of the state, party, and military. One of his main goals in his early administration was to fill the ideological vacuum left by China's leadership since Deng's economic growth-oriented policies cemented in Chinese society and began to backfire. While creating a new "middle class" as well as upper layers, the sheer size of the population and the starting conditions have necessarily meant that the bulk of the population has remained closer to those original conditions, a situation considered undesirable and unstable by the national leadership (whence the Harmonious Society policy). The idea was to thrash out an approach to the country’s increasingly serious social problems and general instability. In addition, the unstated focus on GDP growth by local governments was beginning to detract from overall societal development, also leading to false figures and various Face projects aimed solely at growing the monetary measure of output. The conclusion was the need for a new ideological campaign to shift the focus of the official agenda from "economic growth" to "social harmony". The idea, although not in the exact terms by which it would later become known, was first embraced by the Third Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee, which convened in Beijing on October 11 to 14, 2003.[2] Guangdong Party Secretary Zhang Dejiang openly embraced the idea at a provincial party session in Guangdong.

General secretary Hu Jintao subsequently launched the campaign in full form with a speech to the National People's Congress calling for the building of "a harmonious society". He summed up his conception as the development of "democracy, the rule of law, justice, sincerity, amity and vitality" as well as a better relationship between the people and the government and "between man and nature", meaning environmental harmony.[citation needed]

Comparison with other ideologies

It is also likely that the idea was also an attempt at solidifying Hu Jintao's status of a paramount position in China, as all other leaders before him had an ideology associated with them, namely, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, and Jiang's Three Represents. However, the fact that the concept was implemented during Hu's time in office, whereas all other ideologies were implemented after each leader's respective term had ended, seems to point that Hu wanted to assert his political stature rather urgently primarily to drown out growing dissent of Three Represents and signify Jiang's dwindling position of power. The ideology also states to be a lot more democratic and rights-based in its tone. Whereas Maoism was political in nature, and Dengism was economic, Scientific Development is social in its focus[citation needed] . The concept reflects a trend within the Communist Party of China under the Hu-Wen Administration to subscribe to more populist policies and guidelines.


In his speech, Premier Wen Jiabao promised to spend 10.9 billion yuan ($US1.3 billion) on the "re-employment" of millions of laid-off workers and another 3 billion yuan to improve industrial safety, especially in the country’s coal mines. He pledged to abolish the central government’s agricultural tax on 730 million farmers and provide education subsidies for poor rural children.

Wen specifically referred to the 140 million rural migrant workers who form the backbone of China’s cheap labour force. “A mechanism will be promptly set up to ensure migrant workers in cities get paid on time and in full, and the work of getting their back wages paid to them will be continued,” he said. Official estimates put the backlog of unpaid wages as high as $US12 billion.

The actual application of the Concept has received mixed results. The central government faces significant opposition from regional governments and from the so-called 'Shanghai Clique' from within the Politburo Standing Committee who wish to place greater emphasis on the path of economic growth (as opposed to the Concept's more tempered approach with a view to the social costs of development). While factionalism tends to be exaggerated in Chinese politics, the Concept plays an important role in outlining the divergent philosophies and developmental visions for China that are at play within the highest echelons of the Politburo Standing Committee.

Other political observers note that the very existence of such a concept helps create a social perception that the Hu-Wen government is concerned with the interests of the masses and separates them from the economically driven elitists in government who readily embrace capitalism.

See also


External links

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