Questions and Answers on the Study of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era

By Tuvia Gering

This is a guest post by by Tuvia Gering (@GeringTuvia) of the Middle East Media Studies Institute's (MEMRI) Chinese Media Studies Project.

In late February 2021, the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) Central Propaganda Department published "Questions and Answers on the Study of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era 《习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想学习问答》出版发行"[1].

The book, which is divided into seven sections and contains one hundred questions and answers, is an attempt to popularize CCP theory and ideological work and to clarify the "spirit, content, and practical requirements" of General Secretary Xi Jinping's theoretical and ideological contributions to the Party. It is aimed at Party leaders and members, as well as the general public. [Note from Bill: The People’s Daily is now running the book in installments of two Q&A per day, and is up to question #56 (习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想学习问答连载), and at the current pace should finish by late September or early October, just in time for the 6th Plenum.]

On the occasion of the publication, Li Jie 李捷, the former president of the CCP's top theoretical journal, "Seeking Truth" (Qiushi), published an introduction to the new book in the People's Daily - “深刻领悟党的创新理论最新成果的理论品格(深入学习贯彻习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想) Profoundly understand the theoretical character of the Party's latest innovative theoretical achievements (in-depth study and implementation of  Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”.

As the CCP approached its one-hundredth anniversary in July of 2021, the essay lists the accomplishments of its leadership, and specifically focuses on the "epoch-making" and "man-made" miracles that the CCP Central Committee "with Xi Jinping at its core" was able to accomplish, from fighting corruption and crime to eradicating poverty, achieving economic growth, and containing the epidemic.

These achievements, along with China's increased international contributions for world peace, global development, and international order, as well as "the ever-growing influence and attractiveness of China's development philosophy," according to Li Jie, have made people all over the world realize the many benefits of the Marxist and socialist system.

Furthermore, Li Jie contends that by adhering to and developing Marxism, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era has demonstrated that it is a superior ideology and governance system to the West's.

Li Jie concludes the introduction by stating that by promoting a Marxist selfless devotion to the people, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era ensures the Party's ability "to overcome any difficulties and become invincible".

The full translation of Li Jie's introduction, which was reprinted in the People's Daily on April 28th, 2021, can be found below:[2]


深刻领悟党的创新理论最新成果的理论品格(深入学习贯彻习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想) Profoundly understand the theoretical character of the Party's latest innovative theoretical achievements (in-depth study and implementation of  Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era

The focus on the organized study of "Questions and Answers on the Study of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" is a major initiative to deepen the study and implementation of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, as well as promote ideological and theoretical party strengthening. This work takes on a novel form, is illuminating and lively, and delves into complex topics in simple language. As a result, it meets current needs in terms of deepening the study and implementation of the Party's innovative theories, bringing together many theoretical and practical highlights. It goes a step further in popularizing Party theory and work. An in-depth study of "Questions and Answers on the Study of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" helps deepen the understanding of the theoretical character of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, so as to further enhance theoretical self-awareness and theoretical self-confidence.

Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is a theoretical crystallization that emerged from the full practice of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. It comprehensively and methodically responds to the major contemporary challenge of what kind of socialism with Chinese characteristics China should adhere to and develop in the new era, as well as how it should adhere to and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics. Thus, it serves as a scientific guide for advancing the Party and the State's cause in the new era. The theoretical character of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, which leads the times, seeks the truth, and puts the people first, shines through in this process of promoting the Party and the State to make all-round, groundbreaking historical achievements and deep and fundamental historical changes.

Leading the Era 引领时代

The new era requires theory, which we can certainly produce, as well as ideas, which we can certainly produce as well. The [key] issue of the era is finding a source and drive for continuous theoretical innovation.

China is in its best development period in recent history. Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, China has achieved a comprehensive victory in the battle against poverty, completing the arduous task of eliminating absolute poverty and creating another epoch-making man-made miracle; China has made a great historic achievement in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and has taken a big new step forward in the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation[3]. China's epidemic prevention and control achieved major strategic results in 2020, despite the sudden outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the global recession, and other multiple serious shocks. China was the world's only major economy to achieve positive economic growth, providing an "answer sheet" that met the people's expectations, drew international attention, and has the potential to go down in history. Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era was created, enriched, and developed in the struggle to promote the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, as well as the struggle to spur the Chinese nation to take the great leap from standing up and getting rich to growing strong[4]. Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, we must continue to promote theoretical innovation based on practice in order to build a modern and strong socialist country for the future.

Our Party celebrates its centennial this year; the secret to its vitality is remaining true to our original aspiration and keeping our mission firmly in mind[5], as we lead the great social revolution by maintaining our own great self-revolution. How to remember our original aspiration and mission while maintaining the party's progress and purity is an eternal theme of the Marxist party and a question of the times that must be resolved in the new era. In the process of answering this epoch-making question, the CCP Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, has courageously faced major risks and tests and the outstanding problems within; they corrected the [cadres'] work style and discipline with their strong determination to fight corruption and punish evil, eliminated the grave hidden dangers within the Party and the State, achieved profound changes in the management of the Party from a lenient and lax approach to a strict and rigorous one, reinvigorated the political life of the Party, significantly improved the Party's political ecology, and improved the Party's creativity, cohesion and fighting spirit; The Party's creativity, cohesion and combat power have been significantly enhanced, its unity consolidated, and the relationship between the Party and the people has been significantly improved, providing a strong political guarantee for the development of the Party and the State. Xi Jinping's Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era was created and is being continuously enriched and developed in the process of promoting the Party's self-revolution, realizing the Party's self-purification, self-improvement, self-innovation, and self-renewal, ensuring that the Party remains the strong leading core of the socialist cause. We are always focused on administering the party in a strict, all-around manner, and passing the "Four Major Tests" and overcoming the "Four Types of Dangers"[6]. Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era ensures the Party's invincibility. 

The world today is undergoing major changes not seen in a century, and the majority of developing countries are benefiting from this momentum. Regardless of human will, peace, development, cooperation, and win-win solutions are the order of the day. At the same time, various risks and challenges and uncertainties are emerging, and a variety of geopolitical games and trials of strength are becoming increasingly intense and complex. "What are the world's problems?" and "What can we do about them?" have become epoch-making questions for the international community. The CCP Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, has raised the banner of multilateralism, put forward the idea of building a community of shared future for mankind, and actively advocated the co-construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, providing a new direction, new solutions and new alternatives for solving a range of major problems in the world economy, international security and global governance. China's international influence has been achieved mainly through its own peaceful development. The influence and attractiveness of China's development philosophy, development path and development model have increased significantly, and China is increasingly playing an important role as a guarantor of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order, as it moves closer to the center of the world stage. In the process of grasping the general trend of world development, addressing common global challenges, and safeguarding mankind's common interests, Xi Jinping's Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era was created and continues to be enriched and developed.

As socialism with Chinese characteristics enters the new era, the Party Central Committee, led by Comrade Xi Jinping, has mobilized the entire Party and the entire nation to advance its cause, which has yielded significant results that have attracted international attention, demonstrating the exuberant vitality of scientific socialism through irrefutable facts. The wider the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the more people around the world believe in and look up to Marxism and socialism, causing profound changes in the historical evolution of two ideologies and two social systems and their competition in the world in favor of Marxism and socialism. Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era was conceived and refined over time through deep reflection and distillation of scientific socialism's theory and practice, as well as unwavering exploration and perseverance in upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Seeking Out the Truth and Sticking to the Facts 求真求实

In the expression "seeking out the truth and sticking to the facts", the "truth" refers to the truthfulness of contemporary Marxism and the laws of social and historical development; the "facts" refer to the idiom "seek truth from facts"[7], that combines China's national conditions with the realities of the reform era. The fundamental principles of Marxism are used as an "arrow " to shoot at the "target" of the practical problems of contemporary China. 

Marxism is a scientific, people-oriented, practical and open-minded truth, and its truthful luster is constantly manifested in the development of the times and practice. Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era adheres to the basic principles of Marxism, promotes theoretical innovation in close connection with Chinese realities and characteristics of the times, and breaks new ground for Marxism; it manifests itself in the adherence to and development of Marxist ideas on the laws of social development, unifying the lofty ideals of communism with the common ideals of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and firmly asserting the road, theory, system and cultural self-confidence of socialism with Chinese characteristics; it is also manifested in adhering to and developing Marxist ideas on sticking to the people's dominant position, adhering to the fundamental purpose of serving the people wholeheartedly, implementing the mass line, respecting the people's dominant position and innovative spirit, and always maintaining the flesh-and-blood ties between the Party and the people; it manifests itself in a adherence to and development of Marxist ideas on productivity and production relations, as well as a commitment to the new development concept, a courage in comprehensively deepening reforms, and a promotion of the continuous development of socialism with Chinese characteristics; it manifests itself in adhering to and developing Marxist ideas on people's democracy, advancing the construction of socialist democracy in the organic unity of the Party's leadership, continuously strengthening the institutional safeguards of the people's sovereignty, and advancing the modernization of the national governance system and the ability to govern while maintaining the Party's leadership, the people's sovereignty, and the rule of the nation by the law; it manifests itself in adherence to and development of Marxist ideas on cultural construction, consolidation of the guiding position of Marxism in the ideological sphere, development of advanced socialist culture, strengthening of socialist spiritual civilization, integration of socialist core values into all aspects of social development, promotion of creative transformation and innovative development of the excellent Chinese traditional culture[8], and continuous efforts to forge new glory for Chinese culture; it manifests itself in adhering to and developing Marxist ideas on social construction, adhering to the people-centered development ideology, allowing the fruits of development to benefit all people in a greater and more equitable manner, continuously promoting the all-round development of the individual, and making continuous progress toward achieving common prosperity for all people; it manifests itself in adhering to and developing Marxist ideas on the relationship between man and nature, insisting on the harmonious coexistence of man and nature, firmly establishing and practicing the concept of "clear waters and green mountains are worth mountains of gold and silver"[9], and embarking on a development path of a civilization where production flourishes, life is abundant and the environment is healthy; it manifests itself in adhering to and developing Marxist ideas on world history, holding high the banner of multilateralism, creating a pattern of major power diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, and working together with all peoples to build a community of shared future for mankind; it manifests itself in adhering to and developing Marxist ideas on the construction of political parties, remaining true to our original aspiration, keeping our mission firmly in mind, unifying the "Four Greats"[10], maintaining that the political construction of the Party comes before anything else, further enhancing the "Four Consciousnesses", strengthening the "Four Confidences", achieving the "Two Protections"[11], constantly improving our political judgment, political comprehension and political execution, and building the Party into a vigorous Marxist ruling party that is always ahead of the times, enjoys the people's heartfelt support, capable of implementing bold steps of self-improvement, and able to withstand all kinds of storms and tests. Precisely because of its all-round original contribution to the contemporary development of Marxism, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era has become a modern-day expression of Chinese Marxism fit for the 21st century.

The People's Dominant Position 人民至上

"The most important factor underlying the CCP's power is that it has always adhered to the people-centered development ideology and never forgotten its original aspiration and mission of seeking happiness for the Chinese people and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. This power is what has enabled it to achieve miraculous rapid economic growth and long-term social stability, and the miraculous elimination of absolute poverty[12]. The CCP's 100-year history is one of practicing the Party's original aspiration and mission, and one in which the Party and the people are united in heart, breathing together and sharing their future.

Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era, an adherence to the fundamental view of historical materialism, an insistence on the people's dominant position, an adherence to the principle that everything is for the people and everything depends on the people, always keeping the people in the highest position in the heart, taking the people's aspiration for a better life as the goal of struggle, promoting the fruits of reform and development to benefit all people more and more equitably, and promoting common prosperity to make more obvious and substantial progress - these ideas emphasize strengthening the Party's leadership in all of its endeavors, ensuring that the Party is always a strong leading core, ensuring that the Party is the vanguard of the Chinese working class, the vanguard of the Chinese people, and the vanguard of the Chinese nation, and gathering the magnificent power of 1.4 billion Chinese women and men to promote the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation; these ideas emphasize the importance of maintaining the flesh-and-blood relationship between the Party and the people and adhering to the Marxist mass viewpoint and mass line.  The country is the people, the people are the country, and the survival of the party depends on their heartfelt support. By winning the trust and support of the people, the Party can overcome any difficulties and become invincible.

The distinctive feature and theoretical character of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, as well as the glorious tradition and political advantage of our Party, is adherence to the people's dominant position. This is determined by the Party's nature and purpose, as well as the laws of human social development as revealed by Marxism. People are the true masters of history and the primary force propelling it forward. As we enter the new era, the main social contradictions have undergone a transformation. People's desire for a better life has grown stronger, and they anticipate better education, more stable jobs, higher income, better social security, higher level of medical and health services, better living conditions, a nicer environment, a richer spiritual and cultural life, and better growth, better work, and a better life for their children. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that the people's aspiration for a better life is our goal. "I will selflessly devote myself for the people" - this pledge is the spiritual framework and working state in which we practice our solemn commitment to the people. Looking back over the last 5,000 years, the Chinese people have written the history of the Chinese nation's development, created the profound Chinese civilization, cultivated the enduring Chinese national spirit, and have made the Chinese nation take great leaps in standing up to getting rich and becoming strong. As long as we profoundly understand that the people are the main force of historical development and social progress, and rely closely on the people to create the great work of history, any difficulties and dangers can be overcome, and no force can stop the CCP and the Chinese people from moving forward.

[1] People's Daily Online, February 27, 2021. Retrieved from: http://cpc.people.com.cn/n1/2021/0227/c64387-32038185.html

[2] People's Daily, April 28, 2021. Retrieved from: http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2021-04/28/nw.D110000renmrb_20210428_1-09.htm

[3] The two centennial goals were proposed by the Communist Party of China at its 18th National Congress November 8, 2012. The first goal is to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the centennial of the founding of the Communist Party of China (founded in 1921). The second century goal is to build China into a "modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful" by the middle of the century, a hundred years after the founding of the People's Republic of China. The "great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation" is the essence of the vision Xi Jinping put forward in the 18th Party Congress, the so-called "Chinese Dream".

[4] According to current CCP historiography, Mao Zedong's leadership saved China from a century of foreign humiliation, and the Chinese people "stood up" as a result; Mao's successor Deng Xioaping's "reform and opening to the world" made China rich, and it is becoming strong under Xi Jinping's drive for modernization.

[5] Lit. "Do not forget the original aspiration and keep the mission firmly in mind" 不忘初心, 牢记使命, refers to the CCP's founding goals, which include "putting the people at the core" of Party work and achieving socialism with Chinese characteristics. The phrase "original aspiration" has Buddhist origins and was popularized in self-help books on the Chinese mainland before becoming a key Xi Jinping catchphrase at the 19th Party Congress. See: https://jamestown.org/program/xi-jinping-evokes-the-original-aspirations-of-the-communist-party-while-seeking-to-further-consolidate-his-hold-on-power/.

[6] The "Four Major Tests" are: 1) exercising governance; 2) carrying out reform; 3) opening up and developing the market economy; 4) the external environment. The "Four Kinds of Dangers" include: 1) Danger of spiritual laziness that leads to passivity, ideological rigidity, conservatism in the actions of Party members and government cadres; 2) Danger of incompetence due to neglect of study and low ideological level; 3) Danger of getting isolated from the masses leading to bureaucratism, subjectivism, and formalism, neglect of the people’s interests, and preoccupation with just looking good to superiors; 4) Danger of passivity and corruption leading to in some areas many party members and cadres violating party discipline or laws sometimes resulting in severe social repercussions. See: https://gaodawei.wordpress.com/2019/03/13/xi-jinping-and-mao-zedong-the-medium-is-the-message/

[7] "Seeking truth from facts" is a call for pragmatism first made by Mao Zedong at the CCP's 6th National Congress in 1938, and popularized by Deng Xiaoping, his second successor, as a justification for reform and opening to the outside world.

[8] Xi Jinping uses the phrase "excellent Chinese traditional culture" to instill a stronger sense of cultural self-confidence among Chinese citizens and diaspora. It has first appeared in the 6th Plenary session of the 18 CCP Central Committee, where he stressed that: "we must firmly believe in the road, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the ideals and struggles of the Chinese people, the values and spiritual world of the Chinese people, and the self-confidence of the Chinese people, always rooted in the fertile soil of the excellent Chinese traditional culture. See: https://webofproceedings.org/proceedings_series/ART2L/ICALLH%202018/ICALLH075.pdf.

[9] "Clear waters and green mountains are worth mountains of gold and silver" is another key Xi Jinping slogan, first used in 2005 when he was the Party Secretary of Zhejiang province to promote sustainable economic development. See: https://chiculture.org.hk/en/china-today/1345

[10] The "Four Greats" is a theoretical concept introduced by Xi Jinping on July 26, 2017, in a seminar for provincial and ministerial level officials. Abbreviated as "the great struggle, the great project, the great cause and the great dream", the "Four Greats" include: "1) the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation as the goal; 2) the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics as the banner; 3) the great project of further strengthening Party building with a series of new initiatives as the cornerstone; 4) the great struggle of facing up to diverse challenges, bravely dealing with all kinds of contradictions, and boldly solving various problems as the spirit".

[11] Taken together, the "Four Consciousnesses," "Four Confidences," and "Two Protections" constitute the "442 formula," which calls for the consolidation of Xi Jinping's leadership role as the Party's "core". See: https://chinamediaproject.org/2020/11/09/xi-jinping-at-buddhisms-core/.

[12] China announced on November 23, 2020, that it had achieved the "man-made miracle" of eradicating absolute poverty in the country, having lifted 800 million impoverished people over the course of 40 years of "reform and opening." For a critical study of this claim, refer to Reflections on Poverty Reduction in China byBill Bikaleshttps://www.eda.admin.ch/dam/countries/countries-content/china/en/20210608-Poverty-Reduction-China_EN.pdf