President Xi Jinping had big ambitions for China.

The Chinese Communist party congress has opened in Beijing. The conference is a key meeting held every five years where President Xi Jinping is expected to receive a second term as the ruling Communist party leader.

Posted by Times News on Thursday, 19th October 2017

Delegates travel from around China to attend and people tune in from across the country. Speaking at the start of China 19th Communist Party congress , President Xi gave a work report that summed up his achievements so far, while also laying out where he wants to take China in his second term, which starts after this congress. Sitting on a podium before 2,300 delegates, he spoke for 205 minutes, long enough that his predecessor.

Mr Xi did not mention Donald Trump or North Korea or other specific policy headaches. Party congresses are held every five years, and always start with China’s leader giving a work report that is a broad outline of policy, not a detailed blueprint. Even so, Mr. Xi’s priorities shone through. This is a leader who believes China is on the cusp of greatness, but who worries about domestic security threats and maintaining ideological control.

Xi laid out a sweeping vision to transform China into a strong global power while guaranteeing Communist Party rule for decades. In a speech to party cadres that went on for more than three hours, Xi on Wednesday outlined a three-decade road map to entrench China’s great power status. By 2050, Xi said the country would be a global leader in innovation, influence and military might.

“Our country is approaching the center of the world stage and making continuous contributions to humankind,” Xi told almost 2,300 delegates gathered for the party’s twice-a-decade congress in Beijing. “The Chinese nation is standing tall and firm in the East of the World.”

Xi’s vision to expand party control over all aspects of the nation revealed a greater certainty in the supremacy of China’s one-party system as political upheaval draws Western democracies inward and growth tilts toward Asia. Still, it provided no strong clue over whether Xi would embark on painful structural reforms in the next five years that analysts say are necessary to foster sustainable growth in the world’s second-biggest economy.

The stakes are high for Xi to strike the right balance, both at home and abroad. As one of the top global growth drivers, China’s ability to prevent an abrupt slowdown is crucial to maintaining the stability of the world economy. Any failure to deliver prosperity would also undermine the Communist Party’s legitimacy among China’s 1.4 billion people.

Here are some key points from Mr. Xi’s report:

Xi said he would put China on a sounder economic footing by containing financial risks, encouraging innovation and increasing consumer spending. But he also refrained from calling for the liberalizing overhauls that earlier leaders like Deng Xiaoping used to bring China roaring growth in the 1980s and ’90s.

Since then, the Chinese leadership’s enthusiasm for allowing market forces to pick winners and losers has wilted as social inequalities have grown, and Mr. Xi’s speech confirmed that trend. He used the word “market” only 19 times, compared with 24 times by Mr. Hu at the previous congress in 2012, Mr Xi did raise some points dear to economic reformers. He called for breaking up monopolies, even though he oversaw the merger of the two largest rail equipment manufacturers to prevent them from competing against each other for overseas projects. And he made a fleeting promise to “support the growth of private businesses.”

Throughout his speech, Mr. Xi described China as a “great power” or a “strong power” 26 times, a clear departure from the days when leaders in Beijing depicted their country as a poor, modest player abroad. “China will continue to play its part as a major and responsible country,” Xi said.

Mr. Xi pointed China was committed to supporting international cooperation, global economic integration and the developing world. He also highlighted his trademark “ the Belt the Road” initiative to build roads, railways and other infrastructure projects that solidify Chinese economic and political influence.

But Xi also took a hard line on some issues. Near the start of his report, he called China’s building of artificial islands in the South China Sea a highlight of his first five years, despite the fact that they have raised tensions with other Asian countries, and the United States Navy.

Mr. Xi also warned that China had to gird for possible conflict. Having reorganized China’s military during his first term, Mr. Xi promised more changes in the next five years, including greater professionalization of officers and more innovation in weaponry.

“A military is built to fight,” Mr Xi said. “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.”
Regarding Taiwan and Hong Kong in Xi’s speech, Xi said that Hong Kong and nearby Macau, a former Portuguese colony, could govern themselves, but only “with patriots playing the principal role.” He also called for the return of Taiwan, a self-governing island, to mainland Chinese control, before delivering the line that won the loudest applause of his marathon speech: “We will never allow anyone, any organization, or any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate any part of Chinese territory from China.”

While Mr. Xi’s report described a more confident, engaged China abroad, it also dwelled on the risks from social tensions created by decades of rapid growth. While Mr. Xi has tightened China’s already strict controls on protest, dissent and unrest, he warned that the sources of social discontent were changing in ways that demanded new responses.

“What we now face is the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life,” Mr. Xi said. He said improving people’s lives included reducing pollution, improving schools and health care, and ensuring fairer access to courts and the justice system.

Among the many slogans used by Mr. Xi, one stood out. Mr. Xi said China had entered a “new era” under his stewardship, and the phrase also featured in the long-winded title of his report: “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.”

“It will be an era that sees China moving closer to centre stage,” Xi said and he has made clear that he has responsibility to lead and guiding China into this new era. By using that phrase and others like it, Mr. Xi appeared to be making the case that he was to this new era what iconic Chinese leaders like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping had been in their times.

Mr. Xi also held out China as a model for the new era, saying his country had developed its economy without imitating Western values. “It offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence.”

Editor: Jian Ping Sun

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