The Successful Balance of the CPC




ON October 18, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the most significant five-yearly CPC congress, was officially convened. The week-long event attracted both national and worldwide attention, and reflected the most recent achievements since the 18th National Congress held in 2012. The development of China was evaluated; and the congress refined and envisaged further modernizations.



China enhances green infrastructure construction. Yu Xiangjun


It was in 2012 that Xi Jinping was elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPC, the world’s largest political organization, and in 2013, Xi Jinping assumed his role as president of the People’s Republic of China. By the end of 2016, the Party had brought together about 90 million members (more than the entire population of Germany). Within the framework of this congress, it has been shown yet again that in just a few years this enormous organizational structure has led modernizing transformations that have taken several decades, if not more than a century, to materialize. Thus, as a result, the CPC has accumulated a unique experience as summarized below.


Administration and Promotion of People’s Life


First, the dynamism of Chinese people’s lives comes from its foundational slogan: “serve the people.” This is amply demonstrated by the extraordinary elevation in the population’s standard of living. For example, in 1960, life expectancy was 40 years; in 2017 it is 76 years. In addition, China has managed to lift more than 500 million people out of extreme poverty in the space of less than two generations, according to the World Bank. And since 2013, with Xi as leader, China has lifted an additional 66 million people out of poverty (a figure equivalent to the population of France). Last year, according to the World Bank, the GNP per capita (at current international prices) was 16 times more than in 1990, two years before the 14th National Congress of the CPC.


A second aspect to be highlighted is the Party’s encouragement of the creative capacities of the Chinese people. This is manifested in the emergence of millions of entrepreneurs as well as the mobility of the Chinese people. The profile of the Chinese traveler is one of the great innovations and most visible aspects of the personal and collective successes achieved by the country. In 1986, there were few Chinese international tourists. By 2017, more than 120 million Chinese were traveling around the world.


Vegetable planting is one of the pillar industries to help locals in mountainous areas in Sichuan Province shake off poverty.


A third aspect to emphasize is the colossal process of construction and urbanization, and the improvement of China’s infrastructure. This has been possible, fundamentally, because the Party has constantly been concerned with training its leading cadres. Only in this way can the titanic achievements in the engineering field be explained. The use of cement, central element of infrastructure projects, is one example. China used more of it in two years of this decade than the U.S. did throughout the entire 20th century. As a result, the country has unique experience and industrial capacity, as clearly reflected in the world’s largest and most powerful high-speed rail network. In the field of technological applications, gadgets such as the 3D printer and other more advanced mechanisms have flourished in China and transformed not only the national landscape, but also that of a large part of the world.


Another aspect is the ecology and renewable energies of China. For obvious reasons, China developed later than other industrialized countries in these sectors. The challenge, however, has positioned it in just a few years as the world leader in renewable energies. Earlier this year, China announced that by 2020 it will have invested US $360 billion in renewable energy, a figure that reaffirms its leadership in a crucial aspect of the planet’s survival.


Another relevant aspect is the fight against corruption, a phenomenon that affects practically all countries. China has waged this battle in its own unique way, covering each segment of society.


The International Dimension of Politics


To start with, China’s extraordinary increase in foreign dialogue is clearly visible. Xi Jinping has a schedule of foreign visits as busy as any of today’s world leaders, and busier than that of any former Chinese head of state. China’s capacity for dialogue has not only encompassed traditional international forums but also more recent ones such as the G20, the BRICS Summit, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, among others. Xi also emphasized his participation in more innovative forums, highlighting his involvement in the Wuzhen Summit in China (during the last five years), where he praised the importance of the global dimension of the digital revolution, and in Paris in 2014 at UNESCO, where he stressed the importance of maintaining and reinforcing exchanges and dialogue between cultures.


In the context of opening up to the outside world, I remember the milestone evident in the organization of the historic international meeting, “The Party and the World Dialogue 2014,” and the year before, the “Joint Delegation of Political Parties and Foreign Media.” On those occasions, in which I had the honor to participate, I was given the opportunity to interview senior Chinese leaders and their advisers (who participated in the 19th National Congress in October) and who seemed to be extremely well informed, with deep and insightful knowledge of the world.


Secondly, other highlights include the major international initiatives launched since the 18th National Congress in 2012, which provided a highly positive platform for the framework of the 19th National Congress; these are the megaprojects known as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The intercontinental projection of the Belt and Road also concerns world security and peace, as existing and planned routes cross large areas of Eurasia.


The revitalization of old routes is just one contribution of the Belt and Road. Other equally important routes are also being brought to life, for example, the Amazon-Andes route in South America, and the Arctic Ocean route, which will lead to an extraordinary growth of trade.


Third, the efficiency demonstrated by the CPC takes on great significance in an era of accelerated change. This has been a commonly accepted a truth in the West. China continues its course, while other large countries act more slowly, renouncing their policies and acting divisively, or clamorously hesitating, without long-term planning.


Finally, it is important to highlight the scope of conflict resolution as a result of a consensus patiently negotiated through China’s own characteristics, whether its congresses or its daily life practices. For example, Beijing’s strategic patience regarding North Korea’s nuclear development, as well as negotiations for a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, are realistic and effective methods that greatly contribute to world peace and offer proof-positive of China’s mark on this world.


AUGUSTO SOTO is professor at Spain’s ESADE Business School and director of the Dialogue with China Project.