Xi ends reformist era with emphasis on self-reliance and political control
International analysts consider that Xi Jinping’s second decade in power represents the end of China’s ‘reform and opening’, with Beijing now favoring self-sufficiency, political control and raising the country’s global status.
During the plenary session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), which ended on Monday, Xi strengthened the leadership of the Communist Party (CPC) in various aspects of the country’s governance and extended its dominance in the financial and technology sectors.
“The separation of Party and State was a key feature of the Age of Reform in China,” noted Richard McGregor, a researcher at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based think tank, quoted by The Wall Street Journal. “Xi has long considered this separation redundant. Now, we are seeing his vision put into practice.”
Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of the economic reforms that opened China to the world in the 1980s, sought to institutionalize the succession of political power, base decision-making on a process of collective consultation, move the Communist Party away from state administrative bodies, and decentralize authority across provinces and localities.
Xi Jinping reversed several of those policy reforms, including the removal of term limits for the office of head of state. He was nominated for an unprecedented third term as China’s president last week with no dissenting votes from nearly 3,000 NPC delegates.
China’s highest legislative body also approved a reshuffle of the Ministry of Science and Technology, after Xi asked for an increase in the country’s capabilities, in the face of growing tensions with Washington, which began to restrict the supply of advanced semiconductor ‘chips’ to the country Asian.
“The key (…) is integration,” Xi pointed out at a meeting with army representatives last week. “The success of integrated resource allocation and coordination under unified leadership will decide whether we can maximize our overall strategic capabilities,” he said.
In the closing speech of the annual session of the NPC, the Chinese leader stated that “security is the basis of development” and that “stability is a prerequisite for prosperity”.
This contrasts with the official rhetoric of recent decades, which pointed to economic development as the “central task”. The term “reform and opening” was then omnipresent in official discourses, which also highlighted the importance of attributing to market forces a “decisive role” in the allocation of resources.
“Security and control” now seem to guide Beijing’s political decisions, at a time of growing tensions with the United States and several neighboring countries, raised by territorial, commercial and technological disputes.
“China must work towards achieving greater technological self-sufficiency,” Xi said on Monday.
Cited by the Japanese portal Nikkei Asia, Mary Gallagher, professor of political science at the University of Michigan, in the United States, said that the Chinese leader is doing two things at the same time: centralizing power within the Communist Party and expanding the power of the Party. , to the detriment of state bodies.
“It’s unprecedented in the Age of Reform,” she noted.
Building on Xi’s status as the strongest Chinese leader since the founder of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong (1949 – 1976), the new governing team is made up of Communist Party veterans with longstanding professional and personal ties to the Chinese leader.
Outside the lineup are officials who combined political standing with technocratic skills.
“Xi is restoring much of the Mao model, in which the Party runs the economy and ideological loyalty trumps professional competence,” observed Susan Shirk, a former US diplomat.
Externally, the Asian country also began to claim the position of great power. In 2017, Xi already announced the beginning of a “New Era”, in which China “will rise among all the nations of the world”.
Reflecting China’s growing role in foreign affairs, Iran and Saudi Arabia announced, on Friday, in Beijing, an agreement, mediated by Chinese diplomacy, to restore diplomatic relations severed by Riyadh in 2016, after attacks on its diplomatic headquarters. in the Persian country.
On Monday, Xi Jinping said that China should “actively participate in reforming and building the global governance system”. China’s greater intervention in international governance will “create an international environment conducive to our country’s development,” he said.
On the same day, the international press reported that Xi Jinping will visit Moscow next week for a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and that he will have a virtual meeting with Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
“China will bring its age-old wisdom to the modern world and recover the greatness of yesteryear. It will offer the world a Chinese solution,” David Kelly, director of research at the think tank China Policy, told the Lusa news agency about the new narrative of the Chinese regime.
“This will be attributed to Xi for creating his own thinking,” he said. “He will be attributed a theoretical innovation at the level of Mao Zedong, or even higher”, he said.
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