Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, China, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022. Xinhua News Agency via AP
Chinese leader Xi Jinping opened the Communist Party’s 20th Congress Sunday promising to reinforce “a new pattern of development” focused on domestic rather than export-led growth and reducing inequality.
Vowing to continue “the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” in an address to the congress’s 2,000 delegates, Xi was joined on stage by his predecessor as Communist Party general secretary Hu Jintao, former prime minister Wen Jiabao, and 105-year-old communist revolutionary veteran Song Ping to emphasize the continuity of the Chinese Revolution.
“We must fully and faithfully apply the new development philosophy on all fronts,” he said, referring to changed targets that emphasize “all-rounded development” rather than simply economic growth.
Reducing inequality has been a major theme of Xi’s leadership, with China celebrating the elimination of absolute poverty last year and cracking down hard on corruption in both the party and the government.
Promoting domestic demand and a higher quality of life within China rather than settling into a position as a manufacturer of goods for the developed West has also been a hallmark policy, one accelerated by U.S. economic attacks seeking to cut China out of global supply chains.
The leader attributed the progress China has made to its reliance on socialist ideology in the development of policy. “Our experience has taught us that, at the fundamental level,” he said, “we owe the success of our party and socialism with Chinese characteristics to the fact that Marxism works.”
Xi said Beijing would maintain its zero-COVID policy, in which coronavirus outbreaks are quickly isolated and suppressed. China, he argued, had “protected life and health” in contrast to Western governments which let the virus rip.
Official state statistics report that China has recorded just 10.38 COVID-19 deaths per million inhabitants, a figure far lower than Britain (2,689 per million) or the U.S. (3,099 per million).
The party leader also pledged to stand up to attempts to divide China, praising his administration’s handling of anti-China protests in Hong Kong and saying it would continue to pursue peaceful reunification with Taiwan. He did emphasize, however, that China “will never promise to renounce the use of force” to settle the Taiwan question and said the nation would “reserve the option of taking all measures necessary.”
Xi is expected to be elected to serve a third five-year term as general secretary at this congress.
Since 1993, the general secretaries of the Communist Party of China have also been elected president of the country and chair of the Central Military Commission, positions he is also likely to retain over the next five years.
Roger McKenzie is a journalist and general secretary of Liberation, a UK-based human rights organization which fights for economic and social justice, and opposes neo-colonialism, economic exploitation, and racism.
People’s World, October 17, 2022, https://www.peoplesworld.org/