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Xi Jinping Launches His “Non-Western” Model of Modernization

As “a new form of human civilization. Chinese-style modernization breaks the myth of ‘modernization=Westernization’” and offers a (non-democratic) model to the world, Xi said.

By Hu Zimo

February 20, 2023

The CCP organ “People’s Daily” of February 8, giving great emphasis to Xi Jinping’s February 7 speech on Chinese-style modernization.

Developing countries ruled by autocrats would like to modernize themselves, but their dictators are afraid that with modernization, human rights, democracy, free speech, and freedom of religion or belief will come—bringing their power to an end.

Good news is now coming to them from Beijing. Xi Jinping tells the world’s dictators that there is no single model of modernization. The CCP is offering to them the Chinese model of modernization, which is different from its Western counterpart. It is also better, Xi claims, and leads to “a new form of human civilization.”

On February 7, the new Central Committee members, alternate members, and major leading cadres at the provincial and ministerial levels gathered for a seminar led by Xi Jinping on “Studying and implementing the spirit of the 20th National Congress of the CCP.”

Xi insisted there that “the generalization and in-depth elaboration of the Chinese-style modernization theory is a major theoretical innovation of the 20th National Congress of the CCP and the latest major achievement of scientific socialism.” In fact, he said, “Chinese-style modernization is a major accomplishment achieved by our Party.”

“Chinese-style modernization,” according to Xi, is “a new leap in the modernization of Marxism in China” and, unlike other models of modernization, is “scientific,” precisely because it is based on Marx’s ideology.

Its essence is that economy can be modernized without changing political systems or ideologies, or renouncing security and control. Chinese-style modernization “balances development with security, implements the overall concept of national security, improves the national security system, enhances our capacity to safeguard national security, and firmly safeguards the security of state power, institutions, and ideology.” In China, it is “the leadership of the Party [that] gathers the majestic power of building Chinese-style modernization.”

Poster from an early modernization campaign, 1987. Source:

Other countries may follow the same model. Chinese modernization, Xi insisted, is “deeply rooted in the excellent traditional Chinese culture, embodies the advanced nature of scientific Socialism, learns from and absorbs all the outstanding achievements of human civilization, corresponds to the right direction of the human civilization progress, and presents a new model of modernization different from the Western one. It is a new form of human civilization. Chinese-style modernization breaks the myth of ‘modernization=Westernization,’ and shows a different path to modernization.”

Although rooted in the traditions of China, the Chinese way to modernization “offers an alternative model for developing countries to modernize, and provides a Chinese solution for human beings to explore a better social system. The unique world outlook, values, history, civilization, democracy, and ecology contained in Chinese-style modernization and its great practice are major innovations in the theory and practice of world modernization. Chinese-style modernization has set an example for developing countries to move towards modernization independently from Western values, and has provided them with a new choice.”

Xi also mentioned that the new model of modernization is part of “Socialist spirituality,” a concept we have recently explored in Bitter Winter. As such, it offers to developing countries not only practical tools but an ideology to resist calls for democratization and the respect of human rights. It also reiterates that China wants to become the leader of a world coalition of non-democratic countries.

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