Volume II of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, like Volume I, provides the reader with a wealth of information that is important for those interested in Chinese politics and government, as well as those interested in international relations.
Simply stated, Volume II offers supportive material that helps the reader understand why the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the whole Party have noted the importance of General Secretary Xi's core status and why the 19th National Congress of the CPC in 2017 amended the Party Constitution to include Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.
What stands out in Volume II is four-fold: Xi's view on China's role in promoting economic globalization, defining and detailing the mission and goals of the Belt and Road Initiative, an exposition on the concept of a community with a shared future, and an emphasis on dialectical thinking.
One underlying theme that Xi expresses throughout the work is a commitment to expanding China's reach into other parts of the world, while remaining true to China's pursuit of win-win cooperation. This is expressed by Xi in both a determined and respectful manner by observing that China's foreign partners have no need to remake themselves in China's image but rather, to operate in whatever distinctive system of development and governing structure that suits them.
Because the book is a compilation of Xi's speeches, it provides the reader with an in-depth explanation of what China and Xi have accomplished in the past few years. However, for those interested in discerning where China will go in the coming years, the book provides a window into one of Xi's primary goals for the nation: restoring China to its position as a great country. To do this, Xi notes that China needs stability, unity and the strong leadership of the CPC.
Those who have read the book, particularly in tandem with Volume I, will note another underlying theme pursued by Xi: China's values are not Western values. China's road to development and attainment of a moderately prosperous society, or xiaokang, in all respects by 2021 will remain different from that of the West. And copying the political systems of other countries could "spell an end to the independent destiny of our country." Xi also discusses concern for public opinion as well as the future of the CPC, saying that the future of any political party and government depends on popular support.
Since this volume was published in 2017, the book underscores the reality that China has entered a "new normal" in which the nation's economy can no longer rely on the unsustainable growth trajectories that propelled it forward for the last three decades and must begin searching for new drivers. This is important because as Xi notes, the nation must understand the importance and historical significance of technological innovation. Hence the reason behind the Belt and Road Initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and China's strong support for both economic globalization and global governance.
As a scholar interested in the workings of China's political structure and the CPC, an additional theme that stood out for me was dialectical thinking and Marxism. Xi's comments and writings provide a window not only on Marxist thought, specifically at the level of his theory of history, he also provides an important insight into China's contribution to Marxism as a scientific philosophy—one that describes both the arc and meaning of history. This contribution to historical materialism is accentuated by Xi's discussions on how political systems cannot simply be borrowed from other countries because those systems evolve from unique cultures.
Why is this significant? Because Xi not only emphasizes the primacy of the CPC as a ruling party, he also provides thought-provoking observations on the Party's ideological flexibility and willingness to engage in both political and economic experimentation.
One last section that should be of interest is China's approach to foreign policy and its stated goals for cooperation via the concept of a community with a shared future. In particular, Xi discusses economic globalization while criticizing protectionism, opposing interventionism, and calling for "partnerships based on dialogue, non-confrontation, and non-alliance." This is indicative of Xi's shaping of current Chinese foreign policy, one that views U.S.-style alliances as outdated relics of the Cold War, overly antagonistic, and out of step with contemporary international conditions.
Given Xi's position at the core of the CPC Central Committee and the whole Party, as well as his global leadership role, Xi Jinping: The Governance of China is a notable work, one that provides those interested in China with a thorough understanding of Xi's views as well as China's path to the future.
The author is chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography and professor of political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio