By Nick Bisley

Be in no doubt, Xi Jinping wants to make China great again

October 19, 2017

It was long, very long. And, as with previous iterations, Xi Jinping’s speech to the Chinese Communist Party’s five yearly national congress was a mix of party slogans, Marxist jargon, subtle signaling and long to-do lists.

Given the density and length of the speech it will repay careful scrutiny, particularly given its political function within the party-state. But on first impression a number of interesting developments were immediately evident.

One of these could be found at the end of speech’s title, itself a typically catchy CCP number: “Secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.”

The age-old task of the party, to create socialism with ‘Chinese characteristics’ has entered a new phase. It is a new era because China has improved over the past five years – noted in loving statistical detail at the outset – and China’s standing the world has also changed. But the demands of the new era could also be used to justify changes to traditional party practices, such as giving Xi a longer tenure than the usual 10 years.

Xi also conveyed a very positive view about China and its future prospects. He expressed a high level of confidence that the country would become a “moderately prosperous country” by 2020.

But Xi also described the “second centenary goal” in which China becomes a modern socialist prosperous society by 2049 as likely to occur provided reform continued.

In his Communist party speech Xi’s ambition and confidence were on display. He wants nothing less than for China to be the world’s most important country.

List of reforms
Indeed, much of the speech entailed a long list of reforms, from market access, and innovation to a moral campaign and greater involvement in sport.

Xi exuded confidence that through these reforms China will become the world’s leading country in terms of “national power and international influence”.

But he also made clear that this optimism is only possible because of the absolute centrality of the Party and party discipline both to China’s past success and future prospects.

And references to the anti-corruption program, predictability, received stormy applause.

While focused mainly on domestic matters a number of international issues were notable beyond the assertion that China expects to be the pre-eminent global power by mid-century.

China will also resist any efforts “to divide the country”. Taiwan, Hong Kong and disputant countries in the South and East China Sea you’ve been warned.

Xi also reiterated the point he made at Davos: China will be a champion of economic openness. And the key mechanism for this will be the Belt and Road Initiative. A closed off America will be left behind.

While the length and rhetoric of the speech matched the drab weather outside the Great Hall of the People, the ambition on display and the confidence of Xi were striking.

Whether he is able to deliver on these is an open question, but we should be in no doubt that Xi wants nothing less than to make China the world’s most important country on every conceivable measure.

(Source: The Guardian)
 

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