On the Summits of Science: Legal Construction and Recent History

“I want to be damned if I know now what I meant when I wrote that” – that’s how a German author, Arno Schmidt, once quoted an imaginary writer, confronted with his productions of several decades ago.

I’m only translating an article – but I want to be damned if I know now what this is actually about. Anyway – I feel that someone has to do this translation.

Here goes.

A Xinhua commentary earlier thims month looked back to the 18th CCP Central Committee’s plenary session – the one that focused on rule of law under CCP leadership -, and repeats an old leitmotif: the unity of theory and practice. The Xinhua commentator/editor, Ding Feng (丁峰), puts it this way:

Just as a nation must stand on the summits of science, it must never, not even for a moment, be separated from theoretical thought. To succeed in a great cause, it must never, not even for a moment, be separated from the guidance by scientific theory. Theory comes from practice, and on the other hand, it guides practice. In the circles of practice, knowledge, more practice and knowledge again, practice deepens continously, theory improves with each passing day, and the promotion of the cause develops steadily.


As an important part of the great  cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, legal construction is part of the foundations of institution building. The party’s 18th central committee’s fourth plenum issued a comprehensive strategic policy [or decision] on the promotion of government by law (依法治国), the general goal of which is to build a legal system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, to build a socialist country ruled by law. The goal decided that socialism with Chinese characteristics rule of law is Chinese rule of law, and its significant function is to provide a powerful guarantee for the cause of of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The fundamental task of rule by law stipulates that legal theory must closely center around this core of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and ponder and answer to the major theories and practical questions of legal construction, so as to comprehensively provide a compass of thought and theoretical guidance for the comprehensive promotion of rule by law. Secretary-general Xi Jinping emphasized that “the theory of socialism-with-Chinese-characteristics rule by law is essentially the theoretical result of the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics”, deeply promulgating the source of Chinese theory of rule by law and political attributes. It specifies the direction in which to promote the development of our country’s theory of rule by law.

作为中国特色社会主义事业的重要组成,法治建设居于制度建设的基础性地位。党的十八届四中全会作出全面推进依法治国战略决策,总目标就是建设中国特色社会 主义法治体系,建设社会主义法治国家。目标决定了中国的法治是中国特色社会主义法治,其全部意义和作用在于为中国特色社会主义事业提供有力法治保障。法治 根本任务规定了法治理论必须紧紧围绕“中国特色社会主义”这个核心来思考回答法治建设的重大理论、实践问题,为全面推进依法治国提供思想指南和理论指导。 习近平总书记强调“我们要发展的中国特色社会主义法治理论,本质上是中国特色社会主义理论体系在法治问题上的理论成果”,深刻揭示出中国法治理论的思想渊 源和政治属性,为推动我国法治理论发展指明了方向。

Problems are the voice of the times, and theory is the answer to the “voice of the times”. The theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics was formed by opening and reform. [This theoretical system] is the theoretical summary made by the party leaders and the people, in the practice of socialist modernization. It is the current CCP members’ theoretical innovation, combining Marxism with our country’s initial stage of socialism. It is the latest theoretical fruit of the sinicization of Marxism. Under the correct guidance of this theoretical system, reform and opening achieved brilliant successes that attracted worldwide attention, highlighting the great power of this theory, and established our high degree of theoretical confidence.

问题是时代的声音,理论则是对“时代之声”的思考回应。中国特色社会主义理论体系形成于改革开放,是党领导人民进行社会主义现代化实践的理论总结,是当代 中国共产党人把马克思主义原理同社会主义初级阶段基本国情相结合的理论创新,是马克思主义中国化的最新理论成果。在这一理论体系的正确指导下,改革开放取 得举世瞩目的辉煌成就,凸显出这个理论的强大威力,树立起我们高度的理论自信。

Ever since [the policies of] reform and opening, from the third plenum of the 11th central committee‘s promulgation of building comprehensive socialist democracy and the strengthening of a socialist legal system, to the 15th national party congress‘ establishment of a basic plan for a country ruled by law, and the 16th national party congress‘ proposal for socialist-democracy politics most fundamental organic unity of maintaining the leadership of the party, the people’s self-determination (当家作主), the 17th national party congress‘ proposal to accelerate the strategic plan of a socialist country ruled by law, the 18th national party congress‘ clearly pointing out that rule by law is the fundamental way of governing the country, the 18th central committee’s fourth plenum issuing the decision and plan for the comprehensive promotion of government by law, our party has continuously deepened humankind’s knowledge of theoretical thought on government by law, practical exploration and the major successes achieved, reflecting, from an important aspect, the milestone to which socialism with Chinese characteristics theory has developed so far, marking the continuous deepening of our party’s knowledge about the party’s pattern of holding power, about the pattern of building socialism, and about the pattern of human development. […]

改革开放以来,从党的十一届三中全会提出健全社会主义民主和加强社会主义法制的目标,到党的十五大确立依法治国基本方略,十六大提出发展社会主义民主政治 最根本的是要把坚持党的领导、人民当家作主和依法治国有机统一起来,十七大作出加快建设社会主义法治国家新的战略部署,十八大明确提出法治是治国理政的基 本方式,十八届四中全会作出全面推进依法治国决策部署,我们党对依法治国的理论思考、实践探索以及所取得的重大成就,从一个重要方面反映出中国特色社会主 义理论从形成到发展的历程,标志着我们党对党的执政规律、社会主义建设规律、人类社会发展规律的认识不断深化。[…..]


China Copyright and Media, on January 24, provided background to the CCP’s current endeavors to rectify higher education. The Copyright and Media post also summarizes a speech by Xi Jinping on a study session of the politburo, in the afternoon of January 23. An academic, Professor Sun Zhengyu (孙正聿) from the Center for Fundamentals of Philosophy at Jilin University, reportedly also spoke at the study session.

Meantime, the English-language “Global Times” quotes a report by Liaoning Daily from November last year: it

said that many college teachers mocked Marxism, praised Western values and questioned the central government’s major policies. The report said that 80 percent of college students have encountered such teachers. The report which asked teachers to “treat China in a nicer way” has become a hit on the Internet.



» Re-ideologizing, ChinaChange, Feb 10, 2015
» Neither law nor order, Apr 24, 2011


2 Comments to “On the Summits of Science: Legal Construction and Recent History”

  1. That’s pretty obtuse stuff. It’s basically a bunch of nonsense, just jargon talk to fill up words. It reminds one of the example that B. R. Meyers gives on the book written by the North Koreans on Juche, just repeating the same long phrases over and over again. It’s terrible writing. I guess it’s a reflection of the vapid logic of their argument to begin with.


  2. I think it’s obtuse in that it keeps repeating itself – that’s “the Chinese way”, and it’s the essence of propaganda. It probably depends how frequently you’re exposed to this kind of stuff. After all, there are Chinese students who find it funny, too. That’s why the CCP wants to make these courses mandatory again.

    Unity of theory and practice is important – people like Hannah Arendt and Jacques Ellul would probably both agree, even if for different reasons. If I remember correctly, Arendt described how people in the French resistance during WW2 moved out of their worldviews exactly by taking – illegal at the time – action, By doing, they changed their perspective.

    My knowledge of philosophy and sociology is very small. But apart from a religious overtone – a bit like a Marxist mass being read -, this seems to contain some of the things that great thinkers have talked and written about more lucidly.

    What I do find obtuse, too – next to the constant repetitions – is how the ‘Xinhua article models the past thirty to fourty years after its beloved theory here – but that’s what most or all propaganda is like. It’s there to give you the means to explain everything, but not necessarily to explain things accurately.


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