Graphic: Timothy Alexander / African News Agency (ANA) – The General Secretary of the CPC and the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, is expected to present a report outlining the performance of the party over the last five years while also charting the path to be followed for the next five years, the writer says.
By David Monyae
The eyes of the world will soon be trained on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the Communist Party of China (CPC), the ruling party, is set to hold its 20th National Congress on October 16.
The CPC National Congress is held in five-year intervals and the upcoming one follows the 19th Congress that was held in 2017.
About 2296 delegates drawn from the CPC’s 96 million-strong membership base are expected to attend. The delegates are carefully selected to represent the diverse sections of Chinese society.
The primary functions of the Congress include setting the policy agenda of the party, revising the party constitution if necessary, and selecting the party leadership that will direct the implementation of the adopted agenda in the following five years.
Ordinarily, a party congress would be an internal political process attracting little interest beyond party members. However, the CPC Congress will determine the policies and the leadership of the world’s second-largest economy and, in many respects, a rising superpower.
As such the outcomes of the Congress will have significant implications for the direction of the global economy hence the widespread interest.
The General Secretary of the CPC and the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, is expected to present a report outlining the performance of the party over the last five years while also charting the path to be followed for the next five years. The delegates will study and debate the report before its adoption.
Moreover, the delegates are expected to elect the 200-member Central Committee which in turn will elect the 25-member Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee.
The Central Committee will also elect the party Secretariat, the Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC), and the Central Military Commission (CMC).
The 20th CPC National Congress comes just over a year after the CPC celebrated its 100th anniversary in July 2021 where the party proudly claimed to have achieved its first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society by eradicating poverty and placing the Chinese economy on a sustained growth path.
The realisation of the first centenary goal meant that the party’s focus is now shifting to the second centenary goal under which the party will “build a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious”.
This being the first Congress into the CPC’s second century, delegates will seriously debate the efficacy of available policy options to move the country towards the second centenary goal. As the General Secretary, Xi will outline and articulate those policy options when he presents the political report of the 19th Central Committee.
One of the issues that is likely to be a subject of emphasis is the concept of common prosperity, proposed by Xi at the end of 2021 as a guiding idea for the CPC’s second centenary goal. Common prosperity seeks to narrow the gap between the rich and poor in Chinese society by promoting high-quality development.
The idea is centred on giving Chinese people opportunities to boost their capabilities and realise their potential. The policy of common prosperity marks a departure from a focus on high growth, to the distribution of wealth.
Secondly, the CPC will assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and formulate strategies to overcome the disruption caused by the pandemic. One of the strategies likely to be up for debate and possible endorsement will be the dual circulation strategy under which the Chinese government will reduce the country’s dependence on exports and instead encourage domestic consumption.
This is intended to make China’s economy more resilient in the face of economic shocks caused by conflicts, pandemics and protectionist policies from some countries.
The CPC will also have to grapple with an uncertain geopolitical environment characterised by tensions amongst major powers, a struggling global economy, and threats to international peace and stability.
The trade war between the US and China has continued to intensify as both countries impose restrictive tariffs on each other’s products.
This not only affects China’s US export market but also its access to critical technology supply chains.
The US has imposed restrictions on China’s access to semiconductor technology, especially chips used in Artificial Intelligence and quantum computing which are at the centre of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The upcoming Congress will explore the possibilities of creating a more resilient technology supply chain that is critical for the Chinese economy. Also high on the agenda of the Congress from a geopolitical perspective will be global peace and stability, especially in the light of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The war has destabilised global energy and food markets which have exacerbated inflationary pressures on the global economy. President Xi has already proposed the Global Security Initiative (GSI) which envisions a sustainable and equitable international security framework with an emphasis on common security and the peaceful resolution of conflict.
Regional peace and security will also figure prominently in the deliberations of the delegates with a view to finding a peaceful settlement of disputes among the Indo-Pacific countries.
Moreover, as China’s tensions with the West show no sign of abating, the Congress is likely to double down on China’s mobilisation and courting of the global south in Asia, Africa, and Latin America in challenging the current western-centric global order through South-South cooperation.
Such programmes as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Global Development Initiative (GDI) will continue to play an important role in China’s global south strategy by laying the foundation for intensified economic cooperation.
David Monyae is an Associate Professor of International Relations and Politics and Director of the Centre for Africa – China Studies at the University of Johannesburg