At China’s 20th Party Congress, the Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping delivered a lengthy speech outlining the perceived accomplishments of the past five years and setting the stage for the CCP's priorities and strategies for the coming five years. The 20th Party Congress has come at a critical juncture as the country embarks to construct a strong and modern socialist country.
At the 20th Party Congress, Xi Jinping presented a clear vision for the next five years. He was appointed the President for the third term and all the six people assisting Xi made it to the Politburo Standing Committee. President Xi announced the new leadership would not be apprehensive by “high winds, choppy waters and even dangerous storms” an explicit mention of the Party’s grip on Power. https://thediplomat.com/2022/10/xis-work-report-to-the-20th-party-congress-5-takeaways/
Xi’s position has been further strengthened making ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ the CCPs guiding philosophy for the future. The 20th Party Congress cemented Xi’s authority as the strong and most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping. The Party Congress is more indicative of the fact that Xi does not act merely as the guardian of the Party spirit but as an advocate of the CCPs role in Chinese Society and its crucial mission of determining China’s future in the world.
The Congress held high the banner of Socialism with Chinese characteristics and a model to be imbued by the rest of the world. The Party leadership has been strengthened in all respects. The most significant outcome of the 20th Party Congress was Xi’s clear focus on carrying forward the mantle of achieving the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. The Party will continue its concerted effort of development and make breakthroughs in the field of technology and industry. Xi highlighted the Party’s key role in the growth and development of the Chinese economy.
Xi is the Head of the Party, the State, and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, it is important to see how he proposes to use the next five years in China’s favour. Xi’s speech is ambitious and has set the tone for the next five years and beyond. One of the major policies is outward-looking in international politics, emphasising a proactive role in major global issues that go beyond China’s national and regional interests.
Hongkong & Taiwan
The most assertive section of the 20th Party Congress was on Hong Kong and Taiwan. Xi appreciated the work of the CCP in the crackdown on pro-democracy activists in the region. In resolving the question of Taiwan, the Party shall unswervingly advance the cause of national reunification. China shall continue to adhere to the one-China principle and any form of external interference shall be dealt with severely. Xi’s dream mentioned the reunification of Taiwan and the hope to complete it by 2049. Xi’s speech strongly emphasised ‘national rejuvenation’ and any violation of China’s unity and sovereignty shall be dealt with severely. Xi did not rule out the probability of the use of force to ensure the reunification of Taiwan.
Zero Covid Policy
Xi reiterated a zero-covid policy approach as a necessity for the benefit of the economy. The pandemic prevention measures were very effective and shall continue to stay. Xi continued to highlight the importance of stopping the spread and reducing fatalities. Xi repeatedly emphasised the commitment to the zero-covid strategy.
Assertive Foreign Policy and Security Posture
Xi hinted at the continuation of the country’s aggressive foreign policy posture for the next five years as he presented the 20th Part Congress Report. No individual country was mentioned but affirmed an assertive policy as Xi touted China’s growing global clout and warned against any external interference to suppress or contain China. Xi placed special emphasis on advancing China’s national security and urged a “strong system of strategic deterrence”https://indianexpress.com/article/world/china-ramp-nuclear-arsenal-xis-assertion-establish-strong-strategic-deterrence-experts-8224361/
Xi’s speech reflected a vigorous upgrading of capabilities with new military and strategic guidance. Xi accelerated the building of a world-class military and strongly emphasised security. China continues to grapple in key areas – ideological domain, development-rural and urban, ecological conservation and protection remain formidable tasks. Xi did not rule out any unforeseen challenges and claimed various “black swan and grey rhino”https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-economy-xi-idUSKBN29Y12N
Upholding and strengthening the Party leadership shall only help accelerate the country's development. China will continue to pursue independent foreign policy and shall practise a “defensive national policy”. China shall continue to follow the wolf warrior approach and assertive diplomatic tactics as and when needed. Xi’s claim to supremacy and consolidation of power can see a more aggressive and assertive China.
What can India expect with Xi’s third term?
Given the security environment, any projections shall be difficult. China’s move will depend on a case-to-case model. Any major change in India-China relations is unlikely with New Delhi insisting on a resolution of eastern Ladakh. Xi’s cabinet shows a “strong Indian undercurrent” reflected in candidates' selection and elevation. Wang Yi is one such recognizable name dealing with the US and India. Wolf warrior diplomats at the helm of affairs will pose a great challenge to India in bilateral and multilateral forums. Given the new game plan for the next five years, India must prepare for a periodic if not an increase in China’s assertive action vis-à-vis the LAC and regional power politics.