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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, November 23, 2017

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Chinese President pledges to build modern socialist country

Socialism with Chinese characteristics

Share on Facebook October 19, 2017, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 469

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BEIJING, China - Opening the critical Communist Party Congress on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping laid out his visit to build a "modern socialist country" for a "new era" that will still hold the Chinese values, but will be ruled by the party and open to the world.

Jinping’s highly anticipated address laid out a confident vision for a more prosperous China and its place in the international community.

The Chinese President’s address focussed on plans for wiping out corruption, curbing industrial overcapacity, income inequality and pollution.

He clarified that there were no plans for political reform, but added that China's development had entered a "new era.”

In fact, analysts pointed out that Jinping used the phrase ‘new era’ 36 times in the nearly three-and-a-half hour speech.

He said, “With decades of hard work, socialism with Chinese characteristics has crossed the threshold into a new era.”

The week-long, mostly closed-door congress, which is held twice-a-decade, will culminate with the selection of a new Politburo Standing Committee that will rule China's 1.4 billion people for the next five years.

Jinping, widely regarded as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, is expected to consolidate his control and potentially retain power beyond 2022 when the next congress takes place.

He addressed more than 2,000 delegates in Beijing's cavernous, red-carpeted Great Hall of the People, including 91-year-old former president Jiang Zemin. 

Commenting on the economy, Jinping said China would relax market access for foreign investment, expand access to its services sector and deepen market-oriented reform of its exchange rate and financial system, while at the same time strengthening state firms.

During Jinping's first term, China disappointed many expecting it to usher in more market-oriented reforms, especially in its debt-laden state sector.

In an indirect reference to U.S. President Donald Trump's "America first" policy, Jinping promised that China would be fully engaged with the world.

He reiterated pledges to tackle climate change too. 

Speaking to delegates, that included Buddhist monks, Olympic medalists, farmers and an astronaut, Jinping said, "No country can alone address the many challenges facing mankind; no country can afford to retreat into self-isolation.” 

Jinping even set bold long-term goals for China's development, envisioning it as a "basically" modernised socialist country by 2035, and a modern socialist "strong power" with leading influence on the world stage by 2050. 

He, however, signalled there would be no significant political reforms, calling China's system the broadest, most genuine, and most effective way to safeguard the interests of the people.

Over the last few years, Jinping has overseen a sweeping crackdown on civil society, jailing rights lawyers and dissidents and tightening internet controls as he has sought to revitalise the Communist Party and its place in contemporary China.

The Chinese leader said, "We should not just mechanically copy the political systems of other countries. We must unwaveringly uphold and improve party leadership and make the party still stronger."

Damien Ma, fellow and associate director at Paulson Institute said, "If Xi gets the political mandate that he is expected to out of the congress, then my hope is that the state sector reforms actually get done. If not, then I would also revise my assessment of the state of reforms in China. There have been talks in Beijing that the state sector will be a focus after the ongoing 19th party congress, so we need to see."

Meanwhile, Jinping also praised the party's successes, his high-profile anti-graft campaign, which has seen more than a million officials punished and dozens of former senior officials jailed.

He also warned the campaign would never end as corruption was the "gravest threat" the party faces.

Commenting on conflicts with Taiwan, that Beijing claims as its own, Jinping said China would never allow the island to separate from China, and said China would strive to fully transform its armed forces into a world-class military by the mid-21st century.

However, Jinping made no mention of neighbouring North Korea or its repeated nuclear and ballistic missile tests in defiance of UN sanctions. 

Pyongyang however, sent a congratulatory message ahead of the meeting.

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