Curtis Stone, Chengliang Wu
CHINA’S 88-million-strong Communist Party of China (CPC) will kick off its 19th National Congress in Beijing on Wednesday. This key event occurs once every five years to set the Party’s national policy goals and elect its top leadership. The congress will review the Party’s work since 2012 and chart a course to guide the nation’s development over the coming years under a new leadership elected by 2,300 nationwide delegates.
Speculation and assumptions have churned around in the run-up to the congress, with an excess amount of attention placed on the leadership reshuffle by the Western media. Some reports and commentaries have framed the political meeting like an episode of Game of Thrones. This makes for good entertainment, but trying to understand Chinese politics through the lens of American TV series or by projecting the mechanics of Western democracy onto Chinese politics creates a distorted picture of China’s political system and why the congress matters.
In a nutshell, the congress creates a five-year road map for the nation. Take poverty, for instance. It is common knowledge that China has lifted more people out of poverty than any other country. In the past five years alone, China has lifted at least 65 million people out of poverty, equal to the entire population of the UK. China plans to lift the remaining 40 million or so out of poverty by 2020. Taken together, that is the entire population of Vietnam.
Once the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Party in 2021 is realized, China will eradicate poverty in a country with a population of about one-fifth of the global total.
The second centenary goal, which aims to build a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious, will be completed by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Since the 18th congress, China has made onerous efforts to realize the “Two Centenary Goals” and fulfill the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.
How does China do it? The secret is the strong leadership and guidance of the Party. And that is where the congress comes into play. The event gives the Party an opportunity to review its work over the last five years and shape the future direction of the organization and the nation. It goes without saying that some will rise and some will fall in the leadership reshuffle, but the congress is not about who wins the Iron Throne. Looking at everything as a power struggle is misleading, because all the Party’s efforts are aimed at national rejuvenation. “The people’s desire for a better life will always be our goal,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in 2012 after he was elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party.
Moreover, this political event is not just about China’s future. China is a rising tide lifting all boats and the country has become a source of global peace and prosperity.
In addition, China’s political meeting comes at a critical time, not only for China but also for the world. “The 19th CPC National Congress is a very important meeting, to be held at a critical stage when China is striving to achieve an all-round moderately prosperous society and at a critical time for the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” according to a government statement issued after a meeting in September. China’s new five-year plan will not only shape the future of China but also the world for years to come. From the Belt and Road initiative to the goal of building an international community of shared future, China has provided a new blueprint for global development, one which will have a transformative effect on Asia and the world.
To better understand the future direction of China and its unique multi-party cooperation system under Party leadership, we need to leave the fantasy drama on the cutting room floor and examine the wisdom, governing philosophy, strategy and plan of the largest political party in the world: the Communist Party of China. It is in this sense only that the 19th congress opens a window on the inner workings of Chinese politics. —Courtesy: GT