Tagged as one of Xi Jinping’s greatest theoretical achievements in the sinicization of Marxism.

The attached graphic, which depicts digitalized transformation of the Five Sphere Integrated Plan (五位一体), is drawn from educational materials distributed by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) State Information Center following the 19th Party Congress, a period of intense public education on Digital China. Clockwise from 12:00, you see Digital Government (or the digitalization of politics), Digital Economy, Digital Society, Digital Culture, and Digital Ecology (or digital environment).

Party commentary describes Xi Jinping’s first theoretical insights on informatization (信息化)dating back nearly 25 years to his time in Fujian as governor and deputy party secretary of that province.  As told in party history, Xi’s insight began with understanding that improving government performance through the application of information technology (informatization) could both improve the “people’s happiness” and strengthen the leadership (and image) of the party itself.  Over the next twenty years, his insight would continue to evolve to where it stands now: the transformative potential of data intelligence, the predictive potential of historical materialism, and the bundling of these two theoretical insights into Digital China’s potential to “win the future.”

The digitalized transformation of the Five Sphere Integrated Plan is encapsulated in the very public (and object of nearly continuous cadre and public education) Chinese Communist Party term-of-art (提法) “accelerate digitalized development.” (加快电子化发展)  You saw it in the 14th Five Year Plan and the 14th National Informatization Plan.  It refers specifically to the digitalized transformation of the Five Sphere Integrated Plan.  An important note for Digital China watchers:  informatization (the application of information technology) and digitalization (adding value to data) mean two different things。 The terms are quite specific as used by the party (and that includes the party’s army). You can thank Xi Jinping for that too.

Now some background on the Five Sphere Integrated Plan: The Five Sphere Integrated Plan was first proposed at the 18th Party Congress in November 2012, and was the most recent expansion of the party’s “overall scheme for China’s development,” a party concept dating back to the Sixth Plenum of 12th Party Congress in September 1986. The Central Committee “with Xi Jinping as the core, coordinates the overall layout of the Five-Sphere Integrated Plan as an organic whole, integrating economic construction, political construction, cultural construction, social construction, and ecological construction.”  In the new digital age, construction of Digital China “must also focus on and serve the Five-Sphere Integrated Plan, building China into a Modernized Socialist Great Power by coordinating and advancing digital economy, digital society, digital government, digital culture, and digital ecology.” 

As always, for the full story, see David Dorman and John Hemmings, “Digital China: The Strategy and Its Geopolitical Implications,” Issues and Insights, February 21, 2023.