By HASSAN ARSHAD CHATTHA
This 19th CPC National Congress holds more importance than usual for China, and a lot more for the world than usual. It concludes Xi Jinping’s first term during which he has proven his mettle in testing times and has been successful on multiple fronts ranging from the economy, diplomacy, championing a tweaked model of globalization and tackling the scourge of corruption within the rank and file of the party.
His report of over three and a half hours at the opening session was marked by reflection on the last five years and examining the trials and triumphs, as well setting into perspective the ambitions for the next five and beyond. With the vote to include Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era into the Party constitution, Xi Jinping’s name and ideology has become an integral part of China’s future. Some key aspects of it in terms of global relevance are its call for a complete and deep reform and a vigorous pursuit of “harmonious living between man and nature”.
The global business community is of the hope that the reform alluded to will allow Xi to push through with much needed structural and economic reform. Although the Chinese economy has been stable, there has been some slowdown and there is pressure on it to create 15 million jobs annually.
And the second is a declaration of commitment towards combating the issue of devastating climate change which is of paramount importance for the future of humanity. With a country of China’s size and stature putting its weight behind this issue, there is good reason for hope.
Significance for the World
This congress is of particular significance for the world as a great deal has changed globally over the last half decade. The U.S. saw the election of a leadership that has decidedly reversed the prevalent globally outward facing policy of decades by taking a more inward-facing direction, shunning previous allies and backing out from critical undertakings such as addressing climate change.
On top of that, Europe is facing an existential crisis in the wake of a messy Brexit vote and the rise of further thorny issues such as that of the Catalan referendum as well as immigration, resurgence of the far right politically and ailing economies.
It would not be an overstatement to say that China has presented a picture of stability in troubled times. Furthermore, with mega global projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative, it has presented an alternate and perhaps sustainable model of a relatively fairer globalization and economic growth than that seen in the past.
However, President Xi is also cognizant of the vast challenges that lie ahead, acknowledging them in his speech and asserting the need for China to rise to the occasion. As President Xi aptly noted in his report, it will take more than drum beating and gong clanging to get there on the pursuit of the Chinese Dream.
However, compared to how the rest of the world is faring, China seems to better equipped to tackle its challenges and pursue its goals. Time will tell how Chinese society reacts and adapts to the changes and the new era, but there is no doubt that China has definitely entered a new era with renewed vigor and optimism.
HASSAN ARSHAD CHATTHA is a media commentator in Parkistan.