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It's all about Xi's 20th Party Congress Speech
Today’s edition of the paper is basically about the opening of the 20th Party Congress and Xi Jinping’s speech. Significant excerpts of the speech have been reproduced in the People’s Daily.
While we await the full official text from state media, I am sharing below a PDF of the speech, which I believe was handed in printed form to the media present in Beijing. I’ve run through this and have highlighted bits that I thought were important. But I am also sharing some useful excerpts below:
Xi on challenges that still persist: “Imbalances and inadequacies in development remain a prominent problem. There are many bottlenecks hindering high-quality development, and China's capacity for scientific and technological innovation is not yet strong enough. Many major issues need to be resolved in order to guard against financial risks and ensure that food, energy, and industrial and supply chains are secure and reliable. There are still many tough issues to be addressed in the reform of key areas. Quite a few challenges exist in the ideological domain. There are still wide gaps in development and income distribution between urban and rural areas and between regions. Our people face many difficulties in areas such as employment, education, medical services, childcare, elderly care, and housing. Ecological conservation and environmental protection remain a formidable task. Some Party members and officials lack a strong sense of responsibility, the capacity to grapple with tough challenges, and the readiness to get down to work. Pointless formalities and bureaucratism remain rather pronounced. Eradicating breeding grounds for corruption is still an arduous task.”
Xi on the adaptation of Marxism to the Chinese context going forward: “Theories that are detached from the people will be feeble and ineffective, and theories that cannot deliver for the people will be stale and lifeless.” In the same section, he says: “We should never act blindly without assessing how conditions have evolved or allow ourselves to become ossified or closed off, nor should we mechanically imitate others or indiscriminately absorb foreign ideas.” And further, he argues:
“We are advancing a great cause that none have attempted before. Only by upholding fundamental principles can we avoid losing our bearings or making catastrophic mistakes. Only by breaking new ground can we meet the call of the day and shape the trends of our times. We should approach Marxism with a respect for science and in the spirit of seeking truth. We must never waver in upholding the basic tenets of Marxism, the overall leadership of the Party, and socialism with Chinese characteristics. We should keep pace with the times and adapt to the evolution of practice.”
Xi then summarised Chinese-style modernisation as comprising:
The modernisation of a huge population
The modernisation of common prosperity for all
The modernisation of material and cultural-ethical advancement
The modernisation of harmony between humanity and nature
The modernisation of peaceful development
After this, he outlined goals for 2025 and 2035. One of the key 2035 goals is to get China’s GDP to be on par with that of a “mid-level developed country.” The emphasis on self-reliance in science and technology is also worth noting. But these goals must be achieved in a challenging environment. Xi says:
“A new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation is well under way, and a significant shift is taking place in the international balance of power, presenting China with new strategic opportunities in pursuing development. At the same time, however, the once-in-a-century pandemic has had far-reaching effects; a backlash against globalization is rising; and unilateralism and protectionism are mounting. The global economic recovery is sluggish, regional conflicts and disturbances are frequent, and global issues are becoming more acute. The world has entered a new period of turbulence and change.”
And then he adds:
“At home, we face many deep-seated problems regarding reform, development, and stability that cannot be avoided or bypassed. In our efforts to strengthen the Party, and especially to improve conduct, build integrity, and combat corruption, we are confronted with many stubborn and recurrent problems. External attempts to suppress and contain China may escalate at any time. Our country has entered a period of development in which strategic opportunities, risks, and challenges are concurrent and uncertainties and unforeseen factors are rising. Various ‘black swan’ and ‘gray rhino’ events may occur at any time. We must therefore be more mindful of potential d angers, be prepared to deal with worst-case scenarios, and be ready to withstand high winds, choppy waters, and even dangerous storms.”
Section IV discusses high-quality development and dual circulation. Here, this is worth noting:
“Development is our Party’s top priority in governing and rejuvenating China, for without solid material and technological foundations, we cannot hope to build a great modern socialist country in all respects.”
He adds: “We will raise total factor productivity, make China's industrial and supply chains more resilient and secure, and promote integrated urban-rural development and coordinated regional development, so as to effectively upgrade and appropriately expand China's economic output.”
After this, there are some useful policy signals.
“We will refine the systems underpinning the market economy, such as those for property rights protection, market access, fair competition, and social credit, in order to improve the business environment.”
“We will reinforce the systems that safeguard financial stability, place all types of financial activities under regulation according to the law, and ensure no systemic risks arise.”
“We will take stronger action against monopolies and unfair competition, break local protectionism and administrative monopolies, and conduct law-based regulation and guidance to promote the healthy development of capital.”
“We will advance new industrialization and move faster to boost China's strength in manufacturing, product quality, aerospace, transportation, cyberspace and digital development.”
He talks about improving “our capacity for securing the supply of strategic resources. We will promote the integrated and clustered development of strategic emerging industries and cultivate new growth engines such as next-generation information technology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, new energy, new materials, high-end equipment, and green industry.”
Some other useful excerpts:
“Law-based governance and law-based exercise of state power begin with compliance with the Constitution. We must remain firmly committed to leadership of the Party to the state system of people's democratic dictatorship, and to the political system of people's congresses, all of which are mandated by the Constitution.”
On core socialist values: “The core socialist values have immense power to rally the people's support and pool their strength. We will carry forward the long line of inspiring principles for the Chinese Communists that originated with the great founding spirit of the Party; put resources related to the Party's heritage to great use; conduct extensive public awareness activities to promote the core socialist values; enhance commitment to patriotism, collectivism and socialism; and foster a new generation of young people to shoulder the mission of realizing national rejuvenation. We will develop and institutionalize regular activities to foster ideals and convictions, and we will carry out public awareness initiatives on the history of the Party, the People's Republic of China, reform and opening up, and the development of socialism, in order to foster love for the Party and the country. These efforts will help strengthen the people's commitment to our common ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics. We will draw on the core socialist values to forge inner strength and inspire our people, improve the system of theoretical and political work, and integrate the political education curriculum across all levels, from elementary schools to universities. We will uphold both the rule of law and the rule of virtue and see that the core socialist values are incorporated into efforts to advance the rule of law, into social development, and into the people's daily lives.”
“We will make sure the cultural sector prioritizes social benefit while also producing economic returns, deepen reform of the cultural management system, and improve economic policy for the cultural sector.”
On enhancing people’s well-being and quality of life: “We will keep distribution according to work as the mainstay with multiple forms of distribution existing alongside it, and we will build an institutional framework under which primary, secondary, and tertiary distribution are well coordinated and mutually complementary. We will work to raise the share of personal income in the distribution of national income and give more weight to work remuneration in primary distribution. We will ensure more pay for more work and encourage people to achieve prosperity through hard work. We will promote equality of opportunity, increase the incomes of low-income earners, and expand the size of the middle-income group…We will enhance the roles of taxation, social security, and transfer payments in regulating income distribution. We will improve the personal income tax system and keep income distribution and the means of accumulating wealth well-regulated. We will protect lawful income, adjust excessive income, and prohibit illicit income.”
On green development: “Fiscal, taxation, financial, investment, and pricing policies and systems of standards will be improved to support green development.”
On the national security system: “We must take the people's security as our ultimate goal, political security as our fundamental task, economic security as our foundation, military, technological, cultural, and social security as important pillars, and international security as a support.”
“Improvements will be made in the legal, strategy, and policy systems for national security as well as the risk monitoring and early warning systems and the national emergency management system. We will also improve the systems that safeguard security in key sectors and the coordination and command systems for major projects. We will strengthen the safeguards for ensuring economic, major infrastructure, financial, cyber, data, biological, resource, nuclear, space, and maritime security. Mechanisms for countering foreign sanctions, interference, and long-arm jurisdiction will be strengthened. We will improve the allocation of national security resources and create a coordinated, multi-dimensional, and highly effective system for protecting national security across all domains.”
“We will resolutely safeguard the security of China's state power, systems, and ideology and build up security capacity in key areas. We will ensure the security of food, energy, and resources as well as key industrial and supply chains. We will strengthen our capacity to ensure overseas security and protect the lawful rights and interests of Chinese citizens and legal entities overseas. We will safeguard China's maritime rights and interests and resolutely defend our country's sovereignty, security, and development interests. We will enhance our capacity to prevent and mitigate major risks and will remain on high alert against systemic security risks. We will crack down hard on infiltration, sabotage, subversion, and separatist activities by hostile forces.”
On the armed forces and national defense, there were three bits that I thought were critical.
First, Xi talked about politics and loyalty.
“We will strengthen Party building across the board in the people's armed forces to ensure that they always obey the Party's command. We will improve the institutions and mechanisms for implementing the system of ultimate responsibility resting with the chairman of the Central Military Commission. We will continue to arm our military service members with the Party's new theories and carry out activities so that they gain a good command of the thinking on strengthening the military and contribute their share to building a strong military. We will encourage military personnel to learn more about the history of the military, promote a thriving military culture, and redouble efforts to foster our military's fighting spirit. We will strengthen Party organizations in the people's armed forces, carry out regular activities and put in place institutions to improve the military's political work, and make unremitting efforts to improve conduct, enforce discipline, and combat corruption in the military.”
Second, he talked about combat readiness.
Third, he talked about strategic deterrence.
“We will establish a strong system of strategic deterrence, increase the proportion of new-domain forces with new combat capabilities, speed up the development of unmanned, intelligent combat capabilities, and promote coordinated development and application of the network information system. We will improve the command system for joint operations and enhance our systems and capacity for reconnaissance and early warning, joint strikes, battlefield support, and integrated logistics support.”
He also mentioned the need to modernise border, coastal and air defense.
On Hong Kong and Macao, Xi’s comments indicated more of the same that we have seen in the past few years. On Taiwan, said:
“We will stand closely with our Taiwan compatriots, give firm support to patriots in Taiwan who desire reunification, and join hands to keep pace with the trends of history. We will safeguard the overall interests of the Chinese nation and take resolute steps to oppose ‘Taiwan independence’ and promote reunification. Our great country will forever stand firm behind all patriots who support reunification.”
Later he added:
“Taiwan is China’s Taiwan. Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese, a matter that must be resolved by the Chinese. We will continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort, but we will never promise to renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary. This is directed solely at interference by outside forces and the few separatists seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ and their separatist activities; it is by no means targeted at our Taiwan compatriots. The wheels of history are rolling on toward China's reunification and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Complete reunification of our country must be realized, and it can, without doubt, be realized!”
The foreign policy section does not mention BRI at all. Rather BRI is part of the section high-quality development. But the foreign policy section does mention GDI and GSI. In addition, Xi talks about China investing more to narrow the North-South gap and assisting developing countries. He also added that “China opposes protectionism, the erection of ‘fences and barriers,’ decoupling, disruption of industrial and supply chains, unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure tactics.”
Also interesting is the bit on having officials who are “capable of shouldering the mission of national rejuvenation.” In this, he explicitly says that officials must be selected on the basis of both integrity and ability, with integrity being given greater weightage.
But what does integrity mean? This quote explains: “We take political commitment as the primary criterion for selection and carry out solid vetting of officials’ political commitment to ensure that they politically reliable and corruption free.”
Xi further added: “We will strengthen the ability of officials by tempering them through practice and giving them professional training, and we will focus on honing their skills by assigning them major tasks.”
On greater Party building, he said:
“Party building will be improved across the board in Party and state offices and will be advanced in public institutions. We will make sure that Party leadership in SOEs and financial firms is strengthened in the process of their improvements to corporate governance. Party building will also be stepped up in mixed-ownership and non-public enterprises. The management systems for Party building in trade associations, academic societies, and chambers of commerce will be improved. Party building efforts will also be enhanced in new types of economic and social organizations and among groups in new forms of employment.”