National Congress of the Communist Party of China is the country's most important political event held every five years. At the recent concluded congress, Xi Jinping delivered a Report that reviews the past five years and looks ahead to the next five years. A great many topics were covered.
Xi articulated the grand vision of China's national rejuvenation according to a clear timeline, using a two-step process from 2022 to full modernization and national rejuvenation; by 2035, "basically realize socialist modernization," and by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the People's Republic, build a "great modern socialist country." The latter is described by six aspirational adjectives: prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful. Thus, the 20th CPC National Congress not only looks ahead five years, the traditional mandate of Party congresses, but also provides a roadmap for the next 13 years to 2035 and for the next 25+ years to mid-century. That's the overarching significance of this 20th CPC National Congress.
What about risks and challenges? We explore key topics in Xi's Report; Chinese modernization, high-quality development, common prosperity, law-based governance, Party building, Party self-reform, and the Party's battle against corruption.
The overarching theme of the 20th CPC National Congress, as presented by CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping, who was reconfirmed at the "core" of the CPC Central Committee and of the whole Party, was "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" and "Building a modern socialist country in all respects."
Party leadership, overall and uncontestable, was a consistent theme: carrying forward the founding spirit of the Party, the Party staying close to the people in a people-centered approach to development, and governing the Party strictly with respect to work styles and moral behaviors. To bring about China's great rejuvenation, Chinese modernization is the path and high-quality development is the mechanism. "Common prosperity," controversial to some, was featured but not overweighted. Common prosperity enhances standards of living for the relatively poor, but it is not welfare and handouts; hard work and equal opportunity are essential. And while private business will be supported, the accumulation of wealth will be regulated. Agriculture and rural development continue to be priorities. I have no doubt that the unprecedented and relentless anti-corruption campaign will continue, because, as Xi Jinping says, it is required to offend a few thousand corrupt officials in order to protect 1.4 billion honest citizens.
No doubt, China is facing a host of challenges and obstacles: structural imbalances in the economy (such as real estate), economic development constrained by competing priorities (such as common prosperity, ecological civilization), pandemic lockdowns, excessive debt, demographic whipsaw (a population both aging and shrinking), international tensions and pushbacks, technology sanctions — the list goes on. Xi Jinping has put forth a grand vision of China's great rejuvenation, along with a sober assessment of the "struggles" that lie ahead. The opportunities and the challenges are both writ large.