National Congress of the Communist Party of China:
It’s Significance to China and the World
(Dr. Sun Xianghua)
FROM the 18th to 24th October, the Communist Party of China (CPC) held its 19th National Congress in Beijing. This event drew wide attention across the world like a strong magnet. The number of foreign journalists who went to China to cover this event was more than 1800. Reports of this event occupied the headlines of numerous prominent newspapers both in China and abroad. This unprecedented attention paid to this event of the CPC has a good raison d’etre: the leadership of the CPC since its founding in 1921 is the fundamental reason for China’s national liberation and rejuvenation, the 19th National Congress of the CPC happened at a historic juncture of China’s development, and its decisions will have profound impacts both on China and the world.
As pointed out by HE Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the CPC and the President of the People’s Republic of China, at the 19th National Congress of the CPC, the CPC was born when China was embroiled in domestic turmoil and foreign aggression, and her people were ravaged by wars and lived in poverty and despair. Under the leadership of the CPC, the Chinese nation overthrew the oppression of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism, and finally gained her independence and national liberation in 1949. Since the founding of the People’s Republic, the CPC has led the Chinese nation in establishing socialism system and advancing socialist construction. China’s fate of continuous decline ever since modern times was reversed and a great transition for development and prosperity was started.
When analyzing People’s Republic of China’s development since its foundation, it’s imperative to bear in mind that the leadership of the CPC has always been the fundamental reason for the phenomenal achievements China has made. Under the leadership of the CPC, China and the Chinese people embarked on a development path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, guided by the corresponding theories and governance systems. In the past 68 years, China has developed itself from a poverty-stricken nation at the brink of failure and collapse to a comparatively prosperous country in all respects, and China has once again stood proudly among the nations of the world. There is pain truth that the Chinese people say that there wouldn’t be a new China without the leadership of the CPC, and only socialism could save China, only reforms and opening-up could develop China.
So, when the CPC held its 19th National Congress and declared its development principles, master plans and policies for the future, it’s no wonder that the whole world pays its close attention and try to gauge the potential impacts it’ll have on world politics, economy and international relations, etc.
At the National Congress, H.E. Xi Jinping delivered a comprehensive work report on behalf of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC. Comparing with the previous National Congress reports, this report made quite number of new judgments and decisions. Among them, the following one stands out prominently and draws wide attention. HE Xi pointed out that, with decades of hard work, socialism with Chinese characteristics has crossed the threshold into a new era. This is a new historic juncture in China’s development. This is a profound political judgment that the 19th National Congress made. The rationale behind it is three-fold.
Firstly, this judgment is based on the fact that the socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new development stage. In the past 68 years since the founding of the People’s Republic, China has developed from a backward agricultural country to the world’s second largest economy, the second largest trading country of goods and services, and second largest foreign investment provider. In the sector of manufacturing, China has ranked the 1st in the added-value growth for the last 7 consecutive years. Currently, China ranks 1st in total mileage of high speed railways, high ways and the cargo-handling capacity of seaports in the world. Especially in the past 5 years, in face of the sluggish world economic recovery and downward economic pressure at home, China adopts a supply side structural reform and maintained strong economic growth, with the growth rate between 2013 and 2016 being at 7.2%, still one of the fastest among major economies of the world. Meanwhile, China’s comprehensive reforms have been steadily forging ahead, covering a wide area of politics, rule of law, culture and theoretical advancement, social welfare, ecological civilization, defense, works relating Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and diplomacy. In one word, after years of hard work and for the first time since the modern times, China has come to an unprecedented position in terms of economic and technological strength, defense capabilities, and composite national strength.
Secondly, this judgment is based on the reality that the main challenge and principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved dramatically. The main challenge used to be the contradiction between the people’s increasing material and cultural needs and backward production capacity. However, the scenario has changed drastically in the past years. Today, the main challenge for the Chinese society is the contradiction between the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life and China’s unbalanced and inadequate development. After 68 years of development, especially after near 40 years of reform and opening up efforts, China is leading the world in its production capacity. Its industrial production capacity alone accounts roughly 40% of the world’s total. At present, China is leading the world in its production of over 220 categories of industrial and agricultural products. The situation of inadequate supply and shortage economy has long been something of the past. Meanwhile, Chinese people’s needs have evolved from material and cultural ones to needs for better education, healthier life, safer ecology, etc. And people’s demands for democracy, rule of law, fairness and justice, security and better environment are increasing. On the other hand, though China is leading the world in many areas of production, its development is unbalanced and inadequate. Inequities of development still exist among different regions, between cities and rural areas, and in different sectors. This new evolution of the principal contradiction facing the Chinese society provides the factual reason for saying the socialism with the Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. A somber realization of the characteristics of this new era will give corresponding guidance to China’s development policies and actions in the coming years.
Thirdly, this judgment is based on the new changes that are happening in the world landscape. The world situation has been experiencing profound development, transformations and adjustments. China is facing an increasingly complex outside world. Meanwhile, with its reform and opening up policy, China is increasingly integrated with the international community. For example, China’s foreign trade volume in 2016 was US$3.68 trillion, accounting for 30% of China’s GDP. In the same year, China’s outbound and inward direct investments were US$170 billion and US$ 126 billion respectively. Last year, 122 million Chinese tourists go abroad and 137 million foreigners visited China. The interdependency between China and the world has reached a historical high. In this process, China has been increasingly active in its participation of international affairs, and has made great contribution to international cooperation. In the last 5 years alone, China has initiated the Belt and Road Initiative, advocated the founding of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), set up the Silk Road Fun, and hosted the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, and the 4th Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia. In one word, today’s China has become an important participant, constructor and contributor of international system, and is approaching the center of the world stage.
Putting the above together, the judgment of the 19th National Congress of CPC that the socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era is founded soundly on the historic stage of China’s development, and on a somber evaluation of the world’s situation and China’s relations with the outside world. Based on this judgment, the 19th National Congress mapped out the historic mission of the CPC in the new era, as well as its basic policies, action plans and concrete measures. It’s the strong belief of the 1.3 billion Chinese people and our friends across the world that guided by the socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, China will continue to make greater achievements in realizing its national rejuvenation and make more contribution to the development of the humankind.
The 19th National Congress of the CPC attached great importance to China’s diplomacy in the new era. In H.E.Xi’s report, he made a clarion call for building a community with a shared future for mankind, and forging a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. The key messages in this declaration can be summed up as follows.
Firstly, the purpose of building the community with a shared future for mankind is to create a world a lasting peace, universal security, common prosperity, inclusive mentality, clean and beautiful environment. To build such a community, all members of the international community, while addressing various issues, shall respect each other, treat each other as equals, and rejects the Cold War mentality and power politics; dialogue and consultation shall be the only channels to resolve differences and disputes, and the diversity of civilizations of different nations shall be highly respected and protected.
Secondly, to build a community with a shared future for mankind, the common interests of the world community shall be pursued with great vigor. In face of the expansion of the economic globalization, measures must be taken to make sure that it shall become more open, inclusive, and balanced, so that all members of the international community can share its benefits, no matter they are big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, especially the developing countries shall not be left behind in the process of economic globalization.
Thirdly, China believes that its dream of national rejuvenation can only be realized in a peaceful international environment and under a stable international order. Therefore, it will unwaveringly pursue the path of peaceful development, and pursue a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up. In this regard, H.E.Xi categorically pointed out in his report, “China remains firm in pursuing an independent foreign policy of peace. We respect the right of the people of all countries to choose their own development path”, “China will never pursue its development at the expense of others’ interest, but nor will China ever give up its legitimate right and interests”, “No matter what stage of development it reaches, China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion.”
In face of the increasing sentiments of anti-globalization, populism and unilateralism, the above declaration sends a clear message to the world that, China will always be a strong supporter of globalization and multilateralism, a responsible participant, constructor and contributor to the international system, and it will work tirelessly to make the global governance system more just and righteous.
Last but not least, in mapping out China’s foreign policy for the new era, H.E.Xi specifically said in his report that, “China will increase its assistance to other developing countries, especially the least developed countries, and do its part to reduce the North-South development gap.” Bearing in mind of the tremendous achievement that China-Africa cooperation has accomplished in recent decades and years, we are more confident than ever that China-Africa cooperation will also enter a new era.
Dr Sun is the Chinese ambassador to Lesotho.