Sultan M Hali
THE fourth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CCCPC) concluded at Beijing from October 28 to 31st. After the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC), a major landmark, all eyes were on the fourth plenary of the 19th CCCPC because the world takes developments in China very seriously. In 2013, when the current President Xi Jinping took up the mantle of leadership, at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee outlined the timetable and roadmap for comprehensively deepening reforms by 2020. Six years on, after achieving the four modernizations of agriculture, industry, science and technology and national defence, focus is on the fifth modernization: better governance. The fourth plenary looks at the overall goal of improving and developing the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and promoting the modernization of the national governance system and governance capacity.
The plenary session heard and discussed the work report delivered by Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, as being entrusted by the Political Bureau. It fully recognized and highly praised the Bureau’s work since the third plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee. It reviewed and approved the Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Some Major Issues Concerning Upholding and Improving Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Modernizing National Governance System and Capacity. It also reviewed and approved the decisions to fill the vacancies on the CPC Central Committee and impose disciplinary penalties on a rule breaker. At the conclusion of the plenary session, General Secretary Xi delivered an important speech. All items of session’s agenda were completed.
The first four modernizations deal with the material or productivity level, while the new modernization emphasizes the institutional or production relationship level. Since PRC is ruled by a one-party system, in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) prevails, it is looking forward to further emancipation of the CCP and developing its productive forces. One of the hallmarks of the CCP is that rather than remaining stagnant and fixated by old and archaic systems, it has been adapting itself to changing times. One of the major lessons PRC learnt from the breakup of the Soviet Union is that the western system of democracy must also be studied, adopting openness but retaining the socialist system with Chinese characteristics as a model that can achieve the goal of modernization. China has taken a path of development that suits its own domestic conditions. International experts, including those from Europe and USA, who had at one time shunned the PRC for the first 22 years of its existence, instead recognizing Taiwan as the Republic of China, are now keen to study the system which CCP has adopted after years of research, trial and error. Proven by practice, the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and China’s system for governance are systems of strong vitality and huge strength will now be concentrated upon further improving its systems. The current international milieu is fraught with challenges, ranging from Trade Wars with the US, allegations of ill treatment of Muslim Uighurs by the Chinese government and riots in Hong Kong along with problems some neighbours of China being instigated to create problems in the South China Sea as well as over the sovereignty of PTC over some islands. Most of these problems are either created by China’s detractors or are based on misunderstandings, which China can resolve amicably. Unfortunately, its opponents, who feel threatened by China’s rapid economic rise, would like to fish in troubled waters or place impediments in its path to development and further progress.
While there are disparagers, there are also admirers, who believe that China ‘s governance style is smart, and it has worked well both economically and politically because it incorporates other philosophies and taps into their cultural values. CPC, which currently has 90.59 million members, and is warmed with applications for new entrants, is reaching another milestone, one hundred years since it was founded in 1921. Membership to the party is subject to stringent tests, training and a battery of examinations. In 2014, only two million applications were accepted out of some 22 million applicants. Admitted members then spend a year as a probationary member.
The CPC continues its determination to improve management efficiency at all levels, aiming for greater reforms. At the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, China had carried out the most courageous economic and social reforms in the past 30 years, further opening up the market and making the world’s second largest economy develop more smoothly. The Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee held this time formulated major policies in 2020 and beyond. From the last 20 months of the last plenary session, when China needs to evaluate the new system, it evaluates the advantages and disadvantages and determines the next direction of the modernization of state governance. All of this is in line with the spirit of reform practice of the Chinese people who “cross the river by feeling the stones”. The decision-making at the highest level of the CCP is very important. The Fourth Plenary Session was held at a crucial moment; when China needs to push the economy forward through structural reforms. This plenary session has injected new impetus into it. Many analysts opine that one of the cores of Chinese leaders’ efforts to modernize the governance system is to ensure that the government can keep up with the rapid changes in society and the economy while fulfilling the Chinese Dream.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.