The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China comes together this week, with delegates representing nearly 100 million members
The Congress, colloquially known as “二十大”, literally “20 Big”, opened on Sunday 16 October and will elect a new Politburo, and, if all goes as planned, will see the re-election of Xi Jinping for an historic third term. More info on the significance of this Congress can be read here.
The first day of the Congress was opened by President Xi Jinping, who yesterday told the Congress that the “central task of the CPC will be … building China into a great modern socialist country”.
A report presented to the opening day of Congress outlined the CPC’s overall development objectives for 2035. Its stated aims are to:
- Significantly increase economic strength, growing GDP per capita to that of a mid-level developed country.
- Improve scientific self-reliance and improve technological innovation.
- Build a modernised economy with a modern system and capacity for democratic governance.
- Become a global figure in education, science and technology, talent, culture, sports, and health.
- Ensure that the people are leading better and happier lives across all of China.
- Steadily lower carbon emissions after reaching a peak, fundamentally improving the environment, and building towards the ultimate goal of a Beautiful China.
Of course, China is not without its issues, and the coming years will be significant as it grapples with a changing demographic and issues around youth unemployment, not to mention the lasting impact of Covid-19. It is estimated that around 1 in 5 16-24 year olds are unable to find work at the moment in Mainland China, and with a record 10.75 million young people graduating from universities this year, it is expected that this could worsen for the country’s graduates, forcing many to move away. Such a brain drain is already affecting the country and could pose significant issues for the CPC if the trend continues.
Nonetheless, President Xi’s speech to the Congress did not shy away from this and other issues facing modern China.
Xi spoke at length of the policy of the CPC with regards to Hong Kong and Macao. Reiterating the Party’s One Country – Two Systems policy, he said “We will support Hong Kong and Macau in growing their economies, improving their people’s lives, and resolving deep-seated issues and problems in economic and social development, and promote long-term prosperity and stability in the two special administrative regions.”
Xi also discussed the role of Taiwan and pledged to crack down on foreign agitators attempting to engineer a crisis in the South China Sea. He spoke resolutely, stating “The wheels of history are rolling on towards reunification and the rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation. Complete reunification must be realised and it can without a doubt be achieved.”
He went on, “We will continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and utmost effort, but we will never promise to renounce the use of force”. Among the many challenges facing 21st century China, this is among the most important and will likely dominate much of a third term under Xi Jinping with Washington increasingly looking to stoke up tensions in the region in favour of a new Cold War.
Rob Griffiths, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, sent greetings to the Congress on behalf of the Party, noting the role of the superpower in combating the spread of imperialism sponsored by the US military-industrial complex.
As the Congress continues over the week, it will be interesting to note the role of other delegates and the influence of ordinary party members. For the first time, ordinary Chinese Party members have been invited to ask questions of the Congress through the People’s Daily newspaper and through CCTV, the Chinese state TV broadcaster. Moves like these and the response from across the country on apps like Weibo highlight the level of support that both the Communist Party and Xi Jinping’s premiership have across all sectors of society. Something that will be crucial to remember as the Western Press gives undue attention to any level of opposition.
Peter Stoddart, is the Treasurer of the YCL