19th CPC: Xi Jinping most powerful Chinese leader

At a closing ceremony of 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Great Hall of the People, it was announced that Xi’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era had been written into the party charter. Party resolution stated that the congress unanimously agreed that ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ would constitute the guidelines to action of the party in the party constitution.

Since the Communist Party of China was founded in 1921, only one leader, Mao himself, has been honoured in such a way while still alive, in his case with a political philosophy called ‘Mao Zedong Thought’. Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s economic opening, also boasts a school of eponymous ideology in the party charter, ‘Deng Xiaoping Theory’, but that was included only after his death in 1997.

Now Xi Jinping is confirmed the rare levels of power and prestige which means Xi is effectively unassailable and challenging Xi is equal to challenging the party. This is about amassing power and credibility and legitimacy and authority within the system to drive through more effectively what he sees as the right path for China.

“Today, more than 1.3bn Chinese people live in jubilation and dignity. Our land radiates with enormous dynamism. Our Chinese civilisation shines with lasting splendour and glamour,” Xi said in a brief address to more than 2,200 delegates.

Xi has pledged to lead the world’s second largest economy into a new era of international power and influence. “Our party shows strong, firm and vibrant leadership. Our socialist system demonstrates great strength and vitality. The Chinese people and the Chinese nation embrace brilliant prospects,”he added.

Five years ago, many took a wait-and-see attitude, as Xi faced a plethora of headaches: a slowing economy, a widening wealth gap, corruption, and environmental woes. The waiting and seeing is now well and truly over. Already some speak of “historic change” when describing what happened in the ensuing 1,800-odd days. A total of 360 major reform plans were put forward and over 1,500 reform measures launched, establishing a general framework for reform in major fields and lending greater impetus to growth.

The economy expanded at an average annual rate of 7.2% between 2013 and 2016, outstripping the 2.5% average global growth. More than 60 million people have bid goodbye to poverty.

Hundreds of officials at or above provincial or corps level have been investigated for corruption and a campaign targeting undesirable working styles has ensured that the Party with over 89 million members stayed pure and grew stronger.

The two million-strong Chinese military has reshaped its way of thinking and work style, organizational form and armament. The strictest environmental protection system was put in place and numbers of officials were punished for insufficient work in this regard. Moreover, the country made major progress in scientific and technological fields, seeing successes with a space lab, submersible, radio telescope and quantum satellite.

For the first time in over six decades, leaders across the Taiwan Strait met in person. China is developing new type of relations between major countries, specifically with the United States and Russia. The Chinese currency, the renminbi or yuan, joined the IMF Special Drawing Right (SDR) basket. A proposal regarding a community with a shared future for mankind and the Belt and Road Initiative were incorporated into UN documents.

Xi’s roadmap for China’s future is inspiring: a two-step approach to becoming a “great modern socialist country, once a moderately prosperous society in all respects is established by 2020. Socialist modernization will be basically realized from 2020 to 2035. From 2035 to the middle of the century, China will become a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful.

By then, China will be a global leader in terms of composite national strength and international influence. Prosperity for everyone will be basically achieved, a prospect that the Chinese nation has been longing for since the Opium War (1840-1842). At this point, Xi is the unrivalled helmsman who will steer China toward this great dream. Xi has been described by the media as energetic, ambitious, sober-minded, and a pathfinder. He received the highest rating among 10 world leaders in a survey published by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. He also topped the domestic ratings that respondents gave to their own leaders. A Nikkei report in October said Xi had drawn up the blueprint for the country’s development over the next 30 or so years and was expected to ensure that China regains its status as a global power.

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