According to the party, the growing privatization of the Chinese economy was to be a temporary phase—lasting as long as a hundred years according to some party leaders—on the way to a classless society of full socialism-communism. The party leaders claimed, and still maintain, that socialism with Chinese characteristics was necessary in China’s case because China was a “backward” agrarian country when communism was introduced—too early, it was suggested. China needed a capitalist booster shot.
With the slogan, the party was able to argue that China had been an exception to the orthodox Marxist position that socialism arrives only after the development of capitalism—although Marx himself deviated from his own formula late in life. At the same time, the slogan allowed the CCP to confirm the orthodox Marxist position. China’s communist revolution had come before developed industrial capitalism—an exception to orthodox Marxism. Capitalism was thus introduced into China’s economic system later—a confirmation of orthodox Marxism.