On 19 March 2022, China’s ambassador to Cuba, Ma Hui, spoke at our event 21st Century Socialism: China and Latin America on the Frontline.
Ambassador Ma discusses the nature, development and trajectory of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics; the history of China-Cuba relations; Cuba’s remarkable progress in pursuing its own form of socialism; and the importance of ending the criminal US blockade against Cuba.
I am delighted to join you at this very important webinar. The topics are wide-ranging. I will first share two points on what socialism with Chinese characteristics is and what it is not, then two points on Chinese-Cuban relations, and then my observations about Cuba.
First, socialism with Chinese characteristics is the result of the Chinese people’s painstaking trials and great sacrifices. It just doesn’t come easy to us.
Since the 1840s, through successive aggression such as the two Opium Wars, the Sino-French War, the First Sino-Japanese War, and the Eight-Allied Powers invasion, the Western powers bullied China into signing a series of unequal treaties, gradually reducing China from a world power to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal state. As a result, the Chinese people embarked on the arduous quest for survival and rejuvenation. China tried constitutional monarchy, parliamentary system, multi-party system, presidential system, you name it, but all failed.
In the process of Chinese revolution, socialist construction, and reform, the Communist Party of China (the CPC) and the Chinese people, chose Marxism and the socialist road after repeated comparisons and appraisals. The CPC integrated the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s specific realities and the needs of the times, and China’s fine cultural traditions. We created, developed and improved independently our own path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Both history and reality tell us that only socialism can save China; only socialism with Chinese characteristics can develop China, and is the only path to rejuvenate the Chinese nation.
Second, socialism with Chinese characteristics not only adheres to the basic principles of scientific socialism, but has distinctive Chinese features in light of the conditions of our times. It is true socialism, not any other -ism.
1. The leadership of the Communist Party of China is the most essential feature and the greatest advantage of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Instead of a Western parliamentary system, we follow the system of the People’s Congresses, which unites the party’s leadership, the people’s position as the masters of the country, and law-based governance as an indivisible whole. Instead of a Western multi-party or two-party system, we follow the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC.
2. We follow the path of socialist democracy and implement whole-process people’s democracy, which combines process democracy with outcome democracy, procedural democracy with substantive democracy, direct democracy with indirect democracy, and people’s democracy with the will of the state. Democracy exists in the whole process, i.e. decision-making, management and supervision.
3. We keep public ownership as the mainstay while diverse ownerships develop together; distribution according to work as the mainstay while multiple distribution forms coexist alongside it, and promote the socialist market economy.
4. We ensure the guiding role of Marxism in the ideological domain, promote and practice the core socialist values.
5. Common prosperity is the essential requirement of socialism. We follow the people-centered approach, and aim to achieve common prosperity for all people. Since the 18th National Congress, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China under the leadership of Xi Jinping has united and led the people of the whole country in winning the battle against poverty, completely eradicating absolute poverty, and completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way as scheduled. In the face of the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese Party and government successfully controlled the pandemic, and ensured the safety of people’s lives and sound health by putting the people and their lives first, and by leveraging the advantages of the party’s centralized and unified leadership and the socialist system’s ability to focus on major tasks. Saving human lives is indeed protecting and promoting human rights.
At the same time, socialism is a process of continuous improvement and development. Marxism is a guide to action, an evolving theory, not a dogma. The CPC enriched, developed, achieved breakthroughs in socialism with Chinese characteristics in the process of adapting the basic tenets of scientific socialism to the Chinese context, historical and cultural traditions, and the needs of the times.
Third, China and Cuba are fellows in building socialism, bound together by common ideals and beliefs.
175 years ago, the first group of Chinese indentured laborers came to Cuba, and made Cuba their home. Ever since then, the Chinese in Cuba contributed heavily to Cuba’s independence, revolution and socialist construction. After the victory of the Cuban Revolution, the Chinese government took the lead in recognizing the Cuban revolutionary government. In 1960, under the proposal of the historic revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, Cuba became the first Latin American and Caribbean country to establish diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China. The solid friendship created by Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro, following our respective revolutions, and cultivated jointly by ensuing leaders, remain strong and close despite the passage of time. China firmly supports Cuba in taking a socialist road that suits its national conditions, and has provided assistance within its capacity. Last December, China and Cuba signed the Belt and Road cooperation plan, opening up new prospects for deepening cooperation. As pointed out by General Secretary and President Xi Jinping, China is willing to walk together with Cuba in building socialism, to be good partners in pursuing common development, to be good exemplars in the joint fight against COVID-19, and to be good comrades in strategic coordination.
Fourth, China-Cuba friendship is not only based on common socialist beliefs, but also on our common faith in international fairness and justice, and the opposition to power politics and hegemony.
China upholds that all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, have equal sovereign rights including the right to choose their own social system and development path. Latin America is no one’s backyard or front yard. The 60-year economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States has seriously hindered Cuba’s efforts to develop their economy and improve people’s livelihood, and violated the Cuban people’s right to exist and develop. China demands that the United States listen carefully to the voice of the international community and immediately lift all sanctions and blockade against Cuba.
China and Cuba have cooperated closely on international and multilateral occasions to jointly safeguard the norms of international relations, international fairness and justice, and the common interests of developing countries. The humanity is one community sharing weal and woe. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, solidarity and cooperation are the right choice. Therefore, China lent a helping hand and provided emergency assistance to Cuba and other countries and regions hard hit by the pandemic.
President Xi Jinping said that Cuba is a great country; Despite the difficulties and obstacles for over half a century, Cuba has stuck to its own path, and won the respect of the people of the world. Since I arrived here, I understand the observations better.
Cuba is a great country because the Cuban Communist Party and people are determined and strong-willed to defend their sovereignty and independence are.
Cuba is a great country, because it demonstrates that a small country can achieve big. Cuba has attached great importance to science and technology, and against all odds, has made remarkable progress in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Cuba is the first and only country in Latin America and the Caribbean region that has successfully developed and put into emergency use three covid-19 vaccines.
Cuba is a great country, because it has all along contributed to the cause of socialism and international justice. General Secretary Xi Jinping in his tribute recognized the immortal historical contribution to the development of socialism in the world by Comrade Fidel Castro as the founder of the Cuban Communist Party and the Cuban socialist cause, and the great leader of the Cuban people. Cuba’s contribution to the development of socialism in the world and its support to the justice cause of all countries should be long remembered by the world.