China’s Gongtong Fuyu  (Gs-2, International Relations)

CONTEXT : President Xi Jinping has called for China to achieve “common prosperity”, seeking to narrow down the widening wealth gap that threatens the country’s economic rise and the legitimacy of Communist Party ruling.

MEANING : Common prosperity (gongtong fuyu) is an idea which is not new in China, but a sharp escalation in official delivery and a crackdown on excesses in industries including technology and private ones, has shaken investors in the world’s second-largest economy.  It is To achieve prosperity for all people.

Consequences of common prosperity : Refocusing of corporate China’s priorities to the domestic market.

Being a beneficiary of the country’s economic progress : 

  • Technology giant Alibaba  has now committed $15.5bn (£11.4bn) to help promote common prosperity initiatives in China.

  •  Rival tech giant Tencent has pledged $7.75bn for the same cause.

Rather than making a radical break and realigning social relations, it seems intended to sustain the existing system.

The Party-state is anxious about social disintegration and political polarisation.

 It seeks to tame the excesses generated by over4 decade-long Reform and Opening Up.

The common thread binding the following actions together is Common Prosperity (gongtong fuyu)-

  • From a regulatory crackdown on tech unicorns to→  clampdown on private tutoring

  • from exhorting the rich to redistribute wealth to → fintech companies forming unions for their workforce

Developments so far :-

  • Common Prosperity is not a new term, it’s there since 1992.

  • Under China’s President Xi Jinping, It has acquired momentum.

  •  In August this year, he explained action plan in his speech at the 10th meeting of China’s Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs.

  •  In October, Its text was published in the theoretical journal, Qiushi OF CPC.

  • The top-down campaign is aimed at manoeuvre a “profound transformation” of China-

  •  To achieve prosperity for all in their material, spiritual, and moral lives.

 Inspite of achieving industrial developments and technological growth, there are negative byproducts in China, like :

  •  widening inequality (income, wealth, and region-based)

  •  unbalanced, or inadequate development 

  • China’s Gini coefficient (between 0.46 and 0.49 for the last two decades) 

Origin of this Campaign :

It lies in Mr. Xi’s political report at the 19th Congress of the CPC in 2017, where he identified the change in the principal contradiction in Chinese society from previous years — between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life. 

The first step in that direction i→  authorising the State Council to initiate pilot experiments for five years before national implementation. 

Agenda of CPC behind this ?

  • To tighten the Party-state’s control over monopolies

  •  Regulate the private sector

  •  Expand the size of the middle class

  •  Check wealth accumulation

  •  Equalising access to basic social services

Mr. Xi continues to encourage people getting rich but in a more controlled manner as dictated by the Party-state.

 The government would continue its :

  •  Commitment to State-led capitalism

  •  Pursuit of larger economic goals

  •  Non-intervention in substantive welfare redistribution 

  •  Avoidance of welfarism

  •  Action plan that should not be equated with egalitarianism

Though, the Party-state erases its responsibility for workers-centric reforms at a systemic-level. 

CHALLENGES STILL PERSISTING ARE :-

  1. The long-pending reform of the household registration system (hukou) will still continue and remain unfulfilled given the strong pushback from city officials. 

  1. The rural migrant labour (nongmingong) will continue to negotiate their second class, lonely existence in unfamiliar cities and workplaces, alongwith their physical dislocations from home.

  2. The discouragement of and intolerance against the online resistance of white-collar workers against the gruelling ‘996’ work schedules (9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week).

 Labour repression is the basis on which the success of the Chinese economic development model is built.