The CPC meeting is an opportunity for the Party to explicitly declare which policies it upholds and which path it will take in next five years.
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, to be convened in Beijing on Wednesday, is set to become a new milestone in the Party’s success and in national rejuvenation.
The CPC, with more than 89 million members, is not only the largest political party in the world and in history, but more importantly, it is the ruling party in the largest developing country—home to nearly one-fifth of the world population.
The all-important meeting provides the Party an opportunity to explicitly declare which policies it upholds and which path it will take in the next five years before the next congress and even beyond, according to experts and researchers. As China is the second-largest economy, contributing over 30 percent to global growth since 2008, answers to these questions concern the world.
Its rise along its own path over the past five years, while drawing points from many other countries, represents the constant improvement of that path. This is shown not only in stable growth and productive restructuring but also in a larger say and role in global governance that has accompanied China’s new type of major-country diplomacy, active participation in multilateral mechanisms and the Belt and Road Initiative.
The path, which is officially termed “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, is by no means a vague concept. It is a pragmatic path that has been adhered to and enriched by different generations of leadership since 1978, when the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee convened in Beijing. That session addressed the historical issues left by the “cultural revolution” (1966-76), ushering in a new era of reform and opening-up.
Meetings are of vital importance to good governance in China. Some, though held decades ago, like the 1978 plenary session, remain fresh in the public’s memory. They represent paradigm shifts in the operation of the country and influence people’s lives.
A recent example is the 18th CPC National Congress five years ago. It prioritized clean governance, innovative growth, green development and national confidence. The new leadership has ever since demonstrated the corresponding executive power to transform ideas into realities in an increasingly sure and predictable manner.
The 19th CPC National Congress, which comes at a decisive moment in the construction of a well-off society by 2020, and at a key period in the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, is expected to chalk up new guidelines, if not action plans, along the path.
The meeting’s results will directly concern three problems deciding China’s future: the driving force and innovative power of social development; the balance, harmony and stability of social development; and good governance of society and the country, Han Qingxiang, a member of the administration committee of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, writes in People’s Daily.
Han said the meeting, while a Party gathering, will certainly inject new vitality into Chinese society. This will be seen in better solutions to problems in education, caring for the elderly, housing, medical care and income distribution. It also will be seen in advancing good governance in the fast-changing country by improving its efficiency and abilities in solving problems.
Li Lin, director of the institute of law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the rule of law, which will definitely top the agenda of the congress, is a “profound revolution” in the realm of governance.
He said the Party will unswervingly deepen the rule of law as one of the most important ways to modernize its governance system. It will send a clear message showing the Party’s resolve in advancing the rule of law, Li said.
China’s political party system, a key component of the path, will be further strengthened by the meeting, Yuan Tinghua, former deputy head of the Central Institute of Socialism, said in People’s Daily.
Experience has shown the complexity of China’s modernization requires a political party system that has an exceptional capacity for integration, always uniting different forces to strive for a common goal. China’s political party system has just that ability, Yuan said.
The system can only be strengthened with China’s development, he added. Neither a two-party system nor a multiparty system fits China’s national conditions and would split society. The success of China’s political party system provides a new paradigm for the development of party politics.
The final sprint
The meeting also is expected to stick to some judgments that have not been changed.
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has reiterated the necessity for Party members to understand the “largest practical national conditions”. This could be summarized in the following points: China has remained and will remain in the primary stage of socialism; the main social conflict remains the gap between needs and production; and China has been and will continue to be the largest developing country.
Tao Wenzhao, a professor of politics at Renmin University of China, said these national conditions are the starting points for policymaking, keeping decision-makers clearheaded and preventing China’s drifting from its path.
“The meeting, the last of its kind before 2020, will mark the start of the final sprint before accomplishing the goal of realizing a well-off society.”