China, the world’s largest communist country, is at a turning point in its history, especiallly for India and one that will have profound implications for the rest of the world.
The recently concluded 19th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party put its imprints on President Xi Jinping’s centralization of power by not naming a successor to him and thus signaling the collective leadership system’s quiet death. Xi succeeded in filling up the top leadership with his allies and also have his ideology incorporated into the party’s guide to action.
The Chinese Communist Party’s new Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) consisting of seven leaders was officially announced. Listed in order of seniority are Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji, and Han Zheng.
While most immediate news stories have emphasized the absence of any clear-cut successor to Xi Jinping in the new line up and have taken that as a sign that Xi is planning to continue on as China’s leader for the indefinite future
As far as a violation of norms is concerned, the absence of younger, potential successors to Xi on the new PSC break with recent practice.
In the run-up to the party congress, top-ranking general holding the position equivalent to the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff disappeared from public view, including the two senior military generals
More recently, Xi has also gone after China’s new tycoons in order to block the rise of Russia-style autocrats. Xi has ruthlessly erased out any institution or group that could pose a potential challenge to his authority. By wiping out scores of generals, he has sought to tame the powerful People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The Congress, in essence, was about Xi’s coronation as China’s new emperor.
Xi will decide to keep his seat on the PSC or his current positions as CCP general secretary after the next Party Congress in 2022, he may well continue to hold considerable power after 2022 and could easily continue on as chairman of the Central Military Commission
Xi’s had two dates in mind as he addressed the party members on Oct .18 in a three and a half hour opening speech. Those dates were 2035 and 2049.
Xi’s two-stage blueprint first aims to realize socialist modernization by 2035 and then turn China into a fully developed nation, a global leader on par with the US, by 2049. 2049 would be the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China’s founding.
China is the world’s second-largest economy and the biggest exporting nation, a country now recognized as the most powerful country next to the United States. China is a growing military power with a defense budget only smaller than that of the US, now unreserved in unveiling its geopolitical ambitions, unilaterally defining its core interests and threatening to defend them at all costs.
Xi quoted South China Sea reef and island construction, as one of his major achievements, in his speech to the party congress. This was observed on the Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs in the Spratly Islands, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, new satellite images showed missile shelters and radar and communications facilities being built.
Meanwhile, Xi’s ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) project has been enshrined in the party’s constitution, the world will likely witness a greater Chinese inclination to utilize geo-financial instruments to accomplish bigger geostrategic goals.
OBOR also serves Xi Jinping’s intention to bring about “top-level design” of economic development, whereby several infrastructure-focused state-controlled firms are provided with profitable business opportunities in order to maintain high GDP growth. The Belt and Road Initiative is believed to be a way to extend Chinese influence to fight for regional leadership in Asia.
China has invested billions of dollars in several South Asian countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan to improve their basic infrastructure. Sole implications for China’s trade regime as well as its military influence. China has been one of the fastest-growing sources of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India.
Xi campaign to eradicate poverty by 2020 was one of his chief priorities, vowing to leave no one behind in the march toward common prosperity.
The fact is that Xi’s campaign is not focused on urban areas. Out of more than 200 million rural migrants in China’s cities, many struggles to receive education, health care, and other benefits because the local government does not consider them residents. According to some experts, Xi’s plan is more about making headlines than bringing lasting change to poor communities.
Nothing that Xi plans for China internally or externally gives any comfort. Xi’s aim is to make China more authoritarian, more intolerant of internal dissent, more opposed to non-Chinese values, more obsessed with sovereignty issues and more power-oriented in foreign policy goals.