by Xinhua writer Xu Lingui
BEIJING, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- In his 1927 book "Decisive Moments in History," Austrian writer Stefan Zweig wrote that though a critical moment rarely occurred, when it did it would be decisive for the course of history for decades or centuries.
In years to come, it might be that people recall the current Communist Party of China (CPC) national congress as one such moment for the country, perhaps even for the world.
Past CPC national congresses taught us that the twice-a-decade meeting is not just important as a leadership reshuffle, but is equally essential for setting the way forward for China's future.
In a report delivered to the congress on behalf of the outgoing CPC Central Committee, Xi Jinping said China would become a "great modern socialist country" by the middle of the 21st century.
China will have become a global leader in terms of composite national strength and international influence, with a modern economy, advanced culture and world-class armed forces.
Common prosperity for everyone is basically achieved. The Chinese people enjoy happier, safer, and healthier lives, Xi said.
On the eve of the congress, French newspaper Le Monde printed, in large Chinese characters, "China, a rising great power" on the front page with an eight-page special report on China's emergence.
Le Monde is not alone seeing such a trajectory. U.S.-based financial firm Morgan Stanley published a report in February, predicting China's per capita income to grow from 8,000 U.S. dollars now to 12,500 dollars by 2027.
In his speech, Xi said that socialist modernization will have been basically realized by 2035.
If this goal is reached, the CPC would turn socialist China into one of the world's richest and most powerful countries on earth -- the first time a Marxist party has achieved such a feat.
Karl Marx, the 19th century German philosopher, believed socialism would create a better future beyond capitalism. More than a century after his death, the CPC is applying his theories in practice, albeit with Chinese characteristics, and leading the country from poverty to prosperity.
As late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping once said, "When China enters the front ranks of nations, we shall not only have blazed a new path for the peoples of the third world, but also -- and this is more important -- we shall have demonstrated to mankind that socialism is the only path that is superior to capitalism."
The 20th century witnessed fierce rivalry between socialist and capitalist camps, but the fall of the Soviet Union dealt a heavy blow to the world socialist movement. However, China resisted such head-winds and marched into the new century with a sinicized Marxism.
On Wednesday Xi declared that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era.
Scientific socialism is full of vitality in 21st century China; the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics is flying high and proud for all to see.
The illusion that socialism is over is now dead in the water.
It is clear that capitalism is completely unfit to monopolize the world's ideology. This has been more true than ever since the 2008 financial crisis whose prolonged impact still causes ripples across the developed world. And so the wealth gap widens, the working class suffers, and the society remains divided.
The cracks in capitalism are all-too-easy for everyone to see. It is no surprise that there is a growing nostalgia for socialism in the West.
In the developing world, China's experience offers them a new option to speed up development while preserving their independence.
The 21st century is likely to see capitalism lose its appeal while the socialist movement, led by China, rapidly catches up.
Many economic observers are upbeat on the prospect of China overtaking the United States as the world's top economy this century. London-headquartered global accounting firm PwC predicts this may even happen before 2030, no matter one calculates the gross domestic product in market exchange rate (mer) term or in purchasing power parity (ppp) term.
The day China overtakes the world's most advanced capitalist country will be a milestone in history, a history that follows thus:
-- In the 19th century, Marx conceived scientific socialism.
-- In the 20th century, the Russian Revolution led by Vladimir Lenin kick-started the application of Marx's theories in real world politics.
-- In the 21st century, the Chinese experiment showed the world that socialism could achieve its full potential in a developing country, living up to a time-honored Chinese slogan: Socialism is great.
Marxist theorists see the transition from capitalism to socialism as inevitable but agree the process will be a long and arduous one.
Today, the socialist and capitalist camps seem more likely to maintain a relationship that is both competitive and cooperative for a very long time. Nevertheless, both ideologies can and should peacefully co-exist in an era of globalization, or as Xi put it, "in a community of shared future for mankind."