Staff Writer
News & Views
Thoughts from “the core of the Chinese communist party”

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) comes to a close. This twice-a-decade summit has cemented the “core of the Chinese communist party,” President Xi Jinping, as modern China’s second great leader.

“Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”, a long-term guide to action that the Communist Party must adhere to, was voted unanimously to be incorporated into the party’s constitution as one of its guiding theories. The enshrining of his name and ideology into the constitution elevates President Xi to the same status as Chairman Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Previous Party Leaders – Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin (Three Represents) and Hu Jintao (Scientific Outlook on Development) have all had their ideologies incorporated, but only Deng Xiaoping (Deng Xiaoping Theory) has had his name attached, albeit after his death and only as a theory.

The congress is, for all intents and purposes, a Communist Party Conference attended by a carefully selected 2,287 delegates from the estimated 90 million strong party members. Its aim is to discuss and approve new policies, formally grant President Xi his second term, and elect the people who will run the country for the next five years.

President Xi’s Thought essentially puts the Chinese spin on Marxism and consists of 14 principles

  1. Ensuring Party leadership over all work.
  2. Committing to a people-centred approach.
  3. Continuing to comprehensively deepen reform.
  4. Adopting a new vision for development.
  5. Seeing that the people run the country.
  6. Ensuring every dimension of governance is law-based.
  7. Upholding core socialist values.
  8. Ensuring and improving living standards through development.
  9. Ensuring harmony between human and nature.
  10. Pursuing a holistic approach to national security.
  11. Upholding absolute Party leadership over the people’s forces.
  12. Upholding the principle of “one country, two systems” and promoting national reunification.
  13. Promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
  14. Exercising full and rigorous governance over the Party.

President Xi outlined a two phased approach to develop China into a “great modern socialist country” by the middle of the 21st century, where its citizens identify with “the motherland, the Chinese nation or race, Chinese culture, and the Chinese socialist road.”

The goal from now until 2020 is to create a “moderately prosperous society” through eliminating poverty in China by 2021, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC. The first phase, from 2020 to 2035, will consolidate the moderately prosperous society, ensuring that socialist modernisation is realised.

The second stage from 2035 to 2050 will focus on developing China into the world’s dominant economic and cultural power — a position they believe is rightfully theirs and ending what many see as a century of humiliation.

However, his ambitious plan gave away no clues to potential economic or political reforms that would benefit foreign businesses through creating a level playing field. Some observers suggested that it indicated an increase in a command and control economy, and a continuation of hardline domestic and international policies that to all intents and purposes would likely see even more obstacles to doing business in China. Others expect to see China adopt a more bullish foreign policy, and “take an active part in reforming and developing the global governance system, and keep contributing Chinese wisdom and strength to global governance.”

If his first five years are anything to go by — China’s first overseas military base, a military build-up in the South China Sea and the launch of the One Belt, One Road initiative that spans more than 68 countries, encompasses 4.4 billion people and up to 40% of global GDP — they may well be right!

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