Why is China's 19th National Congress important?

Why is China's 19th National Congress important?

The Resolution of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on the Report of its 18th Central Committee was passed at the closing session of the 19th CPC National Congress today.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's political thoughts have been written into the Constitution of the Communist Party of China (CCP), sealing his status ahead of his two immediate predecessors and just behind those of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

The amendments to the party charter that were passed by the party's week-long 19th national congress at its closing on Oct 24 morning included Mr Xi's political thinking worded as: Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

The amendments were passed unanimously by some 2,300 delegates present at the five-yearly meeting, which were chosen from the 89 million-member party.

Addressing the delegates, Xi Jinping announced a new era of "Chinese socialism". The country is to complete modernization and become the leader by 2050.

According to Xi, between 2020 and 2035, China will work to build a country that is "prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful". He said that new approaches based on "dialogue and partnership are to be adopted in state-to-state relations, instead of confrontation and bloc mentality". "China will continue its efforts to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development, and uphold international order," the General Secretary stressed. 

The Resolution of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on  was passed at the closing session of The members of the 19th CPC National Congress passed the report of its 18th Central Committee, noting that it "has improved party conduct, fought corruption, and removed serious potential dangers in the party and the country".

"We should make all-round efforts to see the Party's political building enhanced, its theory strengthened, its organizations consolidated, its conduct improved, and its discipline enforced," the resolution says.

"China will work toward a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation. The Congress stresses that China will keep to the path of peaceful development, hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit, and uphold its fundamental foreign policy goal of preserving world peace and promoting common development," the resolution reads.

"China remains firm in its commitment to strengthening friendship and cooperation with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. It will actively promote international cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative, and continue to take an active part in reforming and developing the global governance system," the resolution adds.

The Director of the Center for Studies of Eastern Asia and the SCO of the Institute for International Studies of MGIMO, Alexander Lukin, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that Xi Jinping's report presented at the congress consolidated the Chinese policy, which has been carried out in recent years. "They strengthen policy of China occupying a worthy place in the existing system of international relations, without undermining it. I would say that the main innovations at the congress were of an internal nature, which do not affect foreign policy. First, they have approved policy of strong anti-corruption measures," he said.

"The second important result - Xi Jinping's name was added to the party charter, following Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. It could mean that Xi Jinping may want to break the tradition and serve more than two terms. Although the CPC General Secretary can serve no more than two terms, the working time of the current leader - the secretary general of the Central Committee - is not formally limited. There is an informal instruction by Deng Xiaoping for a limit of two terms in order to change the generation of leaders. However, since Xi Jinping has greatly consolidated his power, it is believed that he may be planning to rule longer," Alexander Lukin said.

The head of the program 'Russia in the Asia-Pacific region' of the Moscow Carnegie Center, Alexander Gabuev, also pointed to the apparent consolidation of Xi Jinping's political positions following the results of the 19th Congress of the Communist Party. "Although the final composition of the Politburo will be announced tomorrow, it is already clear that the main result will be the strengthening of Xi Jinping's personal power and his position in the party, as well as the preservation of his influence on the party after the likely resignation as CPC chairman in 2022. Perhaps he will even be able to retain some formal posts, primarily head of the Central Military Commission, supreme commander-in-chief and, possibly, the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee," he stressed.

According to the expert, it will not have any negative consequences for China's neighbors. "Xi Jinping intends to use his new powers to continue structural reforms, but it is not yet clear how it will affect foreign policy. Perhaps we will see less internal factional struggle. For China, congresses of the CPC are the same as presidential elections in the US, since behind-the-scenes agreements are concluded between different power groups in the US, which determines the specific arrangement of people for important positions in the Politburo, thus creating some new configuration of power in the country," Alexander Gabuev concluded.