At the 19th party congress of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping made a boring 3-hour long speech wherein he said China will play the role of a big brother for developing nations.
In one of the longest and most boring speech that lasted well over three hours, President Xi Jinping gave himself a big pat even as he endeavoured to present a new model of governance to the world that will be an alternative to democracy.
In his “work report” of the past five years presented at the inaugural of the 19th party congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Wednesday at the Great Hall of the People, a vast scarlet-carpeted theatre in Tiananmen Square that is the ceremonial heart of Communist party rule, Xi called the new form of governance as “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.
After Karl Marx and Mao Zedong, Xi subtly sent out a message that he was keen or refurbishing and repackaging Communism that would be in tune with the modern world. He underscored that the Chinese path of the development will be a blueprint that can be adapted appropriately by developing countries.
This will be an alternative to the Washington Consensus of policies advocated by the IMF, the World Bank and the US Treasury.
Virtually sidelining Deng’s policy of opening up the economy and taking a slant towards capital economy, Xi indicated that China will go slow on opening up its economy and will opt for a bigger dose of socialism. This clearly was indicative of growing disparities in Chinese society and the heartburns that it is causing in rural hinterland.
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Xi’s speech was so boring that The Guardian newspaper said it tested the eyelids and bladder of many leaders and delegates at the Congress. Yawns were aplenty even as Xi said that China stood at “new historical juncture.”
Looking ahead, he said China will achieve “moderate” prosperity in the next four years, and emerge as an “advanced socialist nation by 2050”.
This new form of governance will offer “a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence…” Xi said playing the role of a big brother.
Mr Big Brother Xi tried to allay fears among neighbouring countries which saw China’s rise as a threat by saying “peoples of all countries can join China’s effort to build a common destiny for mankind and enduring peace and stability”.
But, at the same time he said China will maintain a defensive policy when it comes to national security, and refrain from interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries. Was this an indirect reference to the Jammu and Kashmir issue which China has been consistently looking to as a domestic issue.
In an interview with the state-broadcaster China Global Television Network (CGTN), China commentator Robert Lawrence Kuhn said Xi’s address revealed that China will keep developing as a “moderately prosperous society” between 2020 and 2035.
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But in the second phase between 2035 and 2050, it will evolve “into an advanced nation and will be a global leader in all categories of human importance — economics, governance, science and technology and culture”.
Xi also announced a new anti-graft law, and the establishment of a national anti-corruption body to achieve these goals. It was his ruthless fight against corruption that catapulted Xi to the top as an unchallenged leader. He also declared that a new “Leading Group” within the party would be established to ensure comprehensive governance through the “Rule of Law”.
The once-in-five years Congress will end on October 24. During the meeting, the 2280 delegates will elect a Central Committee. In turn, the Central Committee will elect a 25-member Politburo, as well an apex 7-member or more Standing Committee of the Politburo. The General Secretary of the CPC, the highest ranking official of the party — a position currently occupied by Xi — would be picked from the Politburo Standing Committee’s ranks.
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Xi wants Wang Qishan, his ally in the anti-corruption drive, to be accommodated in the top-seven leadership rung, despite attaining the unofficial retirement age of 69. If that happens, Xi can look to yet another term after his present second term ends in 2022. That will take him close to 2030 – something remarkable for a modern leader.
But Xi has to be wary of dissent that is slowly building up. The Congress itself is being held amidst a paranoia when hundreds of dissenters were sent out of Beijing and factories and schools shut for the entire period of the Congress.
Amidst all the boredom, Xi also tried to be poetic. “The Chinese dream is a dream about history, the present and the future,” he declared towards the end of his long-winded address.
He also dealt with other themes ranging from housing to Hong Kong independence; soil erosion to the South China Sea; rural poverty to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation; cyber-security to corruption; Marxism to military modernisation; global governance to global warming.
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Donning the role of an environmental evangelism he said “Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets. We should be good friends to the environment … for the sake of human survival.”
And then, as a theoretician he said: “Everyone in the party should develop a good grasp of the essence and rich implications of the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and fully and faithfully apply it in our work,” Xi said. “Our revolutionary ideals soar beyond the skies.”
Three hours later when many had almost gone to sleep, he played the moral card saying: “We must foster values like loyalty, honesty, impartiality.”