There were almost no media reports on it, but China's 17th Communist Party Congress (CPC) adopted a new amended Constitution on October 21, 2007. Should you care about this? Perhaps. It was at the 11th Congress of China's Communist Party Congress, held in 1979, that China adopted, in effect, free enterprise. That is why so much of what you buy today comes from China. Since that Congress the economy of China has grown by leaps and bounds.
The just completed Communist Party Congress has addressed social and political development which is called "the Scientific Outlook on Development." As I researched what that actually meant in practical terms, this new China Communist Party Constitution reminded be a great deal of the four principles that George Washington set forth in the 1790s in his last years as President of the United States. Those principles Washington talked about in his 5th State of the Union Address and his Farewell Address are in Chapter 28 of my book, A Hunger for Liberty Leads to the Declaration of Independence, which was published in Beijing Chinese last year and is available in China's bookstores.
- A strong, well armed, supplied and trained military. Both China and the USA have that.
- Unity among the people without factional, ethnic and religious hostility. The USA has had only one civil war in its more than 200 years. The ability to live together without constant armed conflict is a major factor in our success as a nation. After the 20th Century wars which involved both European and Japanese imperialism that devastated China, unity became a major goal for the Chinese people. Marxism, of course, is based on a theory of conflict between the haves and the have-nots. This conflict was addressed in Chinese communism in 2002 at the Party's 16th Congress by adopting Jiang Zemin's "Three Represents" which legitimized the inclusion of capitalists and private entrepreneurs within the Communist Party.
- A strong and free economy. In George Washington's time that concept largely involved the relationships among the factions in the USA -Northern States versus Southern States, Eastern culture versus the Western States culture. Those differences, in the late 1700s, were similar to differences we see on continents - Asia, Europe, North and South America and the Middle East. The United States has had, in the past, a strong and a free economy and in spite of a lot of creeping socialism, we still have enough freedom to be able to create and invent. As we have adopted more socialism, China has adopted more capitalism. We are now China's best customer. China's 1.3 billion people now produce goods at a price that make them available to even the poorest among us. China's new Constitution describes that as an effort to "balance urban and rural development, development among regions, economic and social development, relations between man and nature, and domestic development and opening to the outside world, adjust the economic structure, and transform the pattern of economic development." It foresees "a new path of industrialization with Chinese characteristics, and making China an innovative country and a resource-conserving, environment-friendly society." We can, and should be, friends. We have a lot in common.
- A Virtuous and Moral People. "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports," Washington observed. It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less to every species of free government. China's new Constitution calls for the Party to "respect and safeguard human rights, encourage the free airing of views and works to establish sound systems and procedures of democratic election, decision-making, administration and oversight," and uphold "the system of self-governance at the primary level of society." For the first time China's Communist Party Constitution requires that the Party to "strive to fully implement its basic principle for work related to religious affairs, and rally religious believers in making contributions to economic and social development."
The most important event of the year 2007 in the entire world, I believe, was the China Communist Party adoption of a new Constitution on October 21st that so closely mirrors the thinking of George Washington. Yet, this momentous event has been almost totally ignored by the media of the world. While the Chinese still call themselves "Communists" in spite of new freedoms, and we Americans still call ourselves "Free" in spite of a lot of socialism, these days we have a whole lot more in common, words aside, than probably either side realizes.