In Summary
  • The changes, a culmination of the Communist Party Congress in Beijing, gave Mr. Xi more powers to rule but with no clear succession plan.
  • Much of Asia has managed to develop its human resources to a level that can compete with anyone else in the world.
  • Africa must graduate from personality politics to issue-based politics.  It is what we envisaged in the Vision 2030 agenda, which has been drowned by the focus on personalities.  

Last week I spent time watching President Xi Jinping unveil a seven-man Politburo that will rule China in the next five years.

The Politburo is the decision-making organ of China’s Communist Party.

Except for Mr Xi and the Premier, Li Keqiang, five of the appointees are new to the Politburo that will seek to expand this populous country’s global influence and set the reform agenda for the next several years.

The changes, a culmination of the Communist Party Congress in Beijing, gave Mr. Xi more powers to rule but with no clear succession plan.  By enshrining “Xi Jinping Thoughts” into the party’s constitution, they effectively elevated the President to the status of the country’s founding father, Mao Zedong.

This may have been deliberate or necessary, considering the uncertainty in global leadership occasioned by President Trump’s philosophy of “America First”.  

It remains to be seen what Mr. Xi meant when he said, “new era needs a new look and even more, needs new accomplishment” in Chinese socialism and, that China will “stand proudly among the nations of the world” and “become a leading global power.” 

At times in his three-hour 23 minutes speech, he was deliberate and had no qualms making indirect reference to US President Trump.

For instance, he said, “No country can retreat to their own island, we live in a shared world and face a shared destiny,” a clear reference to US exit from the Paris climate accord. 

He even had one sentence for the academics from other parts of the world to ponder and define its theoretical application when he revealed “Socialism with Chinese characteristics for the new era.”

In a veiled reference to Taiwan and Hong Kong, Mr. Xi animatedly said, “We will not tolerate anyone, using any means, at any time to separate one inch of land from China,” Adding that he will “strengthen the ranks of patriots who love our country,” as “blood is thicker than water.”

He promised a “Beautiful China” that meets “people’s ever-growing demands for a beautiful environment”, further promising that “Chinese people will enjoy greater happiness and well-being.” 

OPEN FINANCIAL SYSTEMS

He pledged to “firmly and unwaveringly deepen reform in every aspect” and to make China a “country of innovators” in several areas, including transport, aerospace, and cyberspace.

More importantly, he pledged to open up China’s financial systems as well as greater market access to foreign companies operating in China.

Although at times his speech contained some capitalist ideals, it contradicted the very same ideals perhaps as a result of expounding his China's form of socialism as a bridge between capitalism and communism. 

For example, as he promised openness of financial systems, and seemed to suggest controlling housing prices when he said “Houses are for living, not for speculating,” possibly to ensure that every Chinese person can afford housing in a China “where people will enjoy greater happiness.”

The only time Mr. Xi referred to Africa is when he suggested that:

“All countries, from either Asia, Europe, Africa or the Americas, can be international cooperation partners of the Belt and Road Initiative. The pursuit of this initiative is based on extensive consultation and its benefits will be shared by us all.”  

The Silk Route/Road

Map of Eurasia with drawn lines for overland and maritime routes

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The key question we must ask is:  What will be the implication of a resurgent China?  My take is that there is much we can learn from China since our destiny is purely in our hands.

REFORMS WITH A HUMAN FACE

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