BY VICTORIA WANG ’20
China opened its 19th communist party congress in Beijing on Wednesday, Oct. 18. During the week-long congress, which is held every five years, the central delegates discuss keys issues which will project China’s future course of development for at least the next half a decade. As China continues to rise as a global superpower, this congress is particularly crucial to the global community, for it sets goals on China’s international participation in various aspects, as reported by Bloomberg.
During his opening speech for the congress, Xi Jinping, the general secretary of China’s ruling communist party, stated his resolve for China to become a “mighty force” on the global stage. Throughout the speech, he repeatedly emphasized the term “the New Era” in describing China’s near future. “It will be an era that sees China moving closer to center stage and making greater contributions to mankind,” he said.
This term refers to a new political theory brought up by Jinping, in which he introduces a broad range of reforms. “The ‘New Era Chinese socialism’ is an amalgamation of Xi Jinping’s pivotal political thoughts and state-governing methodologies,” reports Xinhua, China’s state media.
Jinping has plans for the Chinese economic strategy on both the domestic and international stage. On the domestic level, Xi emphasized that the party would devote its efforts to poverty relief and fighting corruption. According to Sally Hu ’18, a Chinese student majoring in international relations, Jinping expects China “to play a predominant role in various international fields, including military power, participation in the global economy, science and technology advancement and continuation on leading the globe in fighting global warming.”
Jinping underscored his confidence in China’s increasing role on the world stage, citing his “Belt and Road” infrastructure development project and his controversial island-building program in the disputed South China Sea, reported the Washington Post.
Jinping also plans to strengthen and modernize the military. “A military is built to fight. Our military must regard combat capability as the criterion to meet in all its work and focus on how to win when it is called on,” said Jinping in his speech.
He touched on China’s stance on climate change as well, stating, “China had taken a driving seat in international cooperation to respond to climate change… only by observing the laws of nature can mankind avoid costly blunders in its exploitation. Any harm we inflict on nature will eventually return to haunt us. This is a reality we have to face.”
The New Era speech was unanimously praised by state media, while foreign spectators held controversial views.
According to the New York Times, the economic reform plans articulated by Jinping “are raising concerns that leaders might put off changes needed to reinvigorate a cooling economy that faces surging debt and trade tensions with Washington and Europe.” Foreign industry groups complained that China is moving too slowly on promises “to shrink state-owned steel and aluminum producers they accuse of threatening jobs by flooding global markets with low-cost exports.”
“There is no grand vision. There are parallel goals that are competing with each other,” said Andrew Polk, an economist at Trivium China, a research firm in Beijing, to the New York Times. “We are not sure which ones are going to win out at a given moment.”
The communist party congress meeting marks the end of Jinping’s first term in office, and almost undoubtedly the beginning of his second term, which will last for another five years. As per tradition, he will be formally granted a next round in power as general secretary in a week’s time.