Xi Jinping Thought is a set of ideas that the Chinese Communist Party considers central to how China is supposed to be governed.

One of its points is:

The Communist Party of China should take a people-centric approach for the public interest.

What does this mean in practical terms? What kind of government policy comes out of this principle?


2 Answers 2


TLDR: the motivation is that, if the Chinese people are satisfied with their life circumstances, then they will have less reasons to question CCP leadership.

First, you have to understand the CCP was very shocked by the fall of the USSR and is very paranoid about it happening to China.

Looking at causes, they roughly identified 3 causal groups, some of which have changed in perceived importance (interestingly they initially blamed much of the mess on the Soviets themselves, before shifting the blame more to Western interference)

  1. loss of control by the Soviet Communist Party
  2. insufficient economic performance
  3. grievances by the people.

Xi's all about covering 1/CCP dominance. and even China's critics can mostly agree they do a good job on 2/economics.

That leaves 3/popular sentiment and that means listen to the people and give what they want, as long as it doesn't interfere with 1/CCP dominance.

If people are doing OK materially, then they won't care that much about bizarre foreign abstractions like democracy.

A more expansive quote of said principle:

Party supreme

"It is necessary to adhere to the leadership of the party over all work. Among the party, the government, the military, the people, the academia and all circles, the party leads all."

People-centric approach

"The people are the creators of history as well as the fundamental forces that determine the future and destiny of the party and the country. We must adhere to the principal position of the people, adhere to building a party that serves the interests of the public and to governing the country for the people."

So that means delivering robust growth and addressing people's desires and grievances. One set of hard-fought-against grievances that can even work out to Xi's benefits is corruption: he's sent many a political opponent to jail as part of his anti-corruption drives.

The Big Bet at the Heart of Xi Jinping’s “New Deal”

Hundreds of millions have grown prosperous during 39 years of economic reform. For these teeming millions, prosperity alone is, quite clearly, no longer sufficient. Their expectations now transcend wealth and economic mobility. Increasingly, they demand not just material gains but social ones too—equitable life chances, better welfare protections, safer food, drinkable water, cleaner air, and more responsive (if still unrepresentative and undemocratic) government.

At the 19th Congress, Party leaders made clear that this message from the public has been sent and received. Xi Jinping, the Party’s general secretary and China’s president, devoted significant chunks of his more than three-hour speech to what he bluntly termed the public’s demands for “a better life.”

Or Economist 2022-06-09 China’s Global Development Initiative is not as innocent as it sounds | The Economist:

China talks up human rights, too, but its definition of the term is idiosyncratic. It says that economic advancement is itself a human right and that getting richer is a precondition for enjoying other human rights. It calls for “people-centred” development, by which it means a kind that focuses on people’s material needs. When China’s ambassador to the un, Zhang Jun, said in January that the gdi was sure to make an “important contribution to the international human-rights cause”, he did not mean that China would promote free speech or the right to vote.

  • In USSR they tried having "communism with a human face" before the collapse, which sounds not unlike the policy being discussed.
    – alamar
    Oct 18, 2022 at 7:11
  • Xi came to power in 2012. The bulk of economic gain and political openess came before that. Xi has tightended things down considerably, even before COVID. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uyghur_genocide What actions have resulted from this policy? What evidence is there that it is anything more than sweet smelling flowers to cover up less pleasant things?
    – BillOnne
    Oct 18, 2022 at 19:52
  • 1
    @BillOnne you seem to hold very strong opinions. don't hold back on posting an answer ;-) Oct 18, 2022 at 19:54

Xi repeatedly emphasized this point for one fundamental reason: the legitimacy of the Communist Party in power.

In its early years as a nominally socialist country, China's political party was guided by Marxism. However, after the official establishment of the PRC, a frenzy of individual worship took hold in China[1]. This event led to a change in the guiding ideology of the Chinese Communist Party from Marxism-Leninism to Mao Zedong Thought. Despite the end of the Cultural Revolution, China's leaders were still keen to summarize their governing philosophy as "XXX's Thought" and write it into the Communist Party's constitution. As a result of this shift, China was not in fact a socialist country and the party's philosophy was far from Marxist-Leninist, but most Chinese, they still believed that China is a socialist country, so the Communist Party did not need to worry about its legitimacy being challenged before the Xi era. During Xi's reign, with the rapid development of the Internet in China, more and more facts that had been deliberately buried by the Communist Party were revealed, and this was the first time that the Communist Party was challenged about the legitimacy of its rule. Because of this, Xi will frantically tighten internet blocking and speech control. In this regard, he has been very successful, and I personally believe that this is his greatest achievement in office. However, since the covid happened, along with the global economic downturn, more and more problems have emerged in China under Xi's leadership, for example, China's covid test was paid for by public health insurance funds, and in three years, the covid test cost public health insurance funds 1.7 trillion RMB. This money was taken by Xi-led interest groups. Speaking of this, we have to mention Xi's fight against political opponents in the name of anti-corruption when he first became president. Nominally he was fighting corruption, but in reality, he was bringing together scattered interest groups from all over China for his use.

The situation in China is not good now, the economy is on the verge of collapse the main reason (for example, the complete collapse of the Chinese real estate market), and Pelosi's visit to Taiwan has exacerbated internal conflicts, for the Communist Party, the recovery of Taiwan is a huge dream they have prepared for the Chinese. Resistance and rhetoric began to emerge everywhere. For these reasons, the legitimacy of the Communist Party is once again being challenged, and Xi has therefore repeatedly emphasized in this year's conference the "people-centered" basis on which the party was founded, in order to give the people confidence and to keep their trust in the Communist Party and in his leadership.

Here is my personal opinion:

Many people think Xi is a loser because China under his leadership has really become more and more conservative and many of his policies are ridiculous (e.g. radical environmental policies). I don't think so, Xi was ambitious because before he came to power he appeared to be a very controlled and weak man, and this impression led directly to his selection by Jiang Zemin as his successor. However, due to his education level (his real education was only elementary school dropout), he could not contribute much to economic construction, but he was convinced that his policies were effective (Chinese government departments have a habit of reporting false data), and probably in his heart he really thought he was doing it for the good of the people. This may also be the reason why he came up with this slogan.

Sorry for being a bit off-topic, but I hope you can learn more from my answer.

Ref: [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution

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