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Preliminary stage (of socialism)

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初级阶段 (chūjí jiēduàn): preliminary stage (of socialism)

The winding road of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
The “preliminary stage of socialism” is a rhetorical device which allows for a redefinition of orthodox Marxist theory, enabling the government to undertake whatever economic policies are needed to develop into an industrialized nation. It permits reformists to demonstrate loyalty to Chinese communist ideology while introducing capitalist measures to the centrally-planned economy. Socialism with Chinese characteristics goes hand-in-hand with this ideological concept. Wen Jiabao penned the article Our Historical Tasks at the Preliminary Stage of Socialism and Several Issues Concerning China’s Foreign Policy in 2007.

The trouble is, when does China advance past the “preliminary stage”? Netizens will quip that police brutality, food safety scandals, and other public mishaps are all just part of the “preliminary stage of socialism.” Other jokes use the term in other contexts to mock its absurdity:

To all unmarried comrades: Singles Day is approaching, and on behalf of the Central Group and Group Academy, I would like to address all unmarried comrades: Firstly, Happy Singles Day! We are currently in the preliminary stage of marriage. Through our twenty-some years of hard work, although we have not realized great accomplishments in meeting many people of the opposite sex, there are many of us...
致所有未婚的同志: 光棍节将至,我瑾代表群中央群务院 致所有未婚的同志们:首先,光棍节快乐! 我们正处于结婚时代的初级阶段经过二十几年的努力虽然取得了结识众多异性的巨大成就但是人口众多人…

Another old joke is an imagined exchange between the leaders and the people:

“The preliminary stage of socialism is relatively poor; everyone should tighten their belts.”
“First, give us belts.”
社会主义的初级阶段比较贫穷,请大家勒紧腰带过日子。
先给我们腰带。
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