Evolution of Principal Contradiction Facing Chinese Society and the CPC Leadership over Economic Work

Shi Dan (史丹)*

Institute of Industrial Economics (IIE), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Beijing, China

Abstract: Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has separated China’s evolving principal social contradictions into four different stages. Based on the assessment of principal social contradictions at different points in time, the CPC enacted different economic policies. During 1949-1956, based on the recognition of class struggle as China’s principal social contradiction, the Party focused its economic policies on socialist transformation and established the foundation for the public sector of the economy. During 1956-1978, amid flip-flops in the Party’s assessment of whether class struggle or backward productive forces were the principal contradiction, China’s economic development suffered some setbacks, but the vision for building an industrial country remained unchanged, and resources were focused on developing major national industrial projects. During 1978-2019, the Party focused on economic development and reform and opening up in pursuit of the realization of grand economic development goals based on the assessment that China’s principal social contradiction was between people’s ever-growing material and cultural needs and China’s relatively backward social productive forces. In 2017, the 19th CPC National Congress made the important political assessment that China’s principal social contradiction had transformed into the contradiction between people’s ever-growing need for a better life and China’s unbalanced and inadequate development, and proposed new development concepts to lead the Chinese people on a new journey towards the second centennial goal. The most important experience of the CPC’s economic work is analyzing and solving problems based on Marxist ideology and methodology.

Keywords: Centenary of the CPC’s founding, principal contradiction, economic development, success factors

JEL Classification Code: P21, P26, P30

DOI: 10.19602/j.chinaeconomist.2022.05.01

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