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The Successful Balance of the CPC

China Today by AUGUSTO SOTO,October 19, 2017 Adjust font size:

On October 18, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is officially inaugurated, the most significant summit of the CPC in five years. The week-long event will attract both national and worldwide attention, and reflect the most recent achievements since the 18th National Congress, which was held in 2012. The development of China will be evaluated; and the congress will refine and envisage further modernizations.

It was in 2012 that Xi Jinping was elected and announced General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, the largest political organization in the world, and in 2013, Xi Jinping assumed his role as President of the People's Republic of China. By the end of 2016, the Party has brought together about 90 million members (more than the entire population of Germany). Within the framework of this congress, it has been shown yet again that in a few years this enormous organizational structure has led modernizing transformations that have taken several decades, or even more than a century, to materialize. Thus, as a result, the CPC has accumulated a unique experience summarized below.

Administration and Promotion of People's Life

First, the dynamism of people's life comes from its foundational slogan: "serving the people." This is amply demonstrated by the extraordinary elevation in the standard of living of the population. For example, in 1960, life expectancy was 40 years; in 2017 it is 76 years. In addition, China has managed to lift more than 500 million people out of extreme poverty in almost two generations, according to the World Bank. And since 2013, with Xi as leader, China has brought an additional 66 million people out of poverty (a figure equivalent to the population of France). Last year, according to the World Bank, the GNP per capita (at current international prices) is 16 times more than in 1990, two years before the 14th National Congress of the CPC, at US $990 per capita.

A second aspect to be highlighted is the Party's encouragement of the development of the creative capacities of the Chinese people. This is manifested in the emergence of millions of entrepreneurs as well as the mobility of the Chinese people. The profile of the Chinese traveler is one of the great innovations and one of the most visible aspects of the personal and collective successes achieved by the country. In 1986, there were not very many Chinese international tourists. By 2017, more than 120 million Chinese were traveling around the world.

A third aspect to emphasize is the colossal process of construction and urbanization and the improvement of China's infrastructure. This has been possible, fundamentally, because the Party has constantly been concerned with training its leading cadres. Only in this way can the titanic achievements in the engineering field be explained. For example, in the use of cement (the central element of infrastructure projects), China used more of it in two years of this decade than the U.S. did throughout the entire 20th century. As a result, the country has unique experience and industrial capacity, clearly reflected in the largest and most powerful high-speed rail network in the world. In the field of technological applications, gadgets such as the 3D printer and other more advanced mechanisms have flourished in China and transformed not only the national landscape, but also that of a large part of the world.

Another aspect is the ecology and renewable energies of China. For obvious reasons, China developed later than other industrialized countries in these sectors. The challenge, however, have positioned it in just a few years as the world leader in renewable energies. Earlier this year, China announced that by 2020 it will have invested US $360 billion in renewable energy, a figure that reaffirms its leadership in a crucial aspect for the survival of the planet.

Another relevant aspect is the fight against corruption, a phenomenon that affects practically all countries. China has carried out this fight in its own unique way, covering each segment of society.

The International Dimension of Politics

To start with, China's extraordinary increase in foreign dialogue is clearly visible. Xi Jinping is one of today's leaders with the busiest foreign visit schedule, not only compared to previous Chinese leaders, but also when compared with other world leaders. China's capacity for dialogue has not only encompassed traditional international forums but also more recent ones such as the G20, the BRICS Summit, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, among others. Xi also emphasized his participation in more innovative forums, highlighting his involvement at the Wuzhen Summit in China (during the last five years), where he praised the importance of the global dimension of the digital revolution, and in Paris in 2014  in UNESCO, he stressed the importance of maintaining and reinforcing exchanges and dialogue between cultures .

In the context of opening up to the outside world, I remember the milestone that was the organization of the historic international meeting called "The 2014 World Party and Dialogue," and a year before, the "Joint Delegation of Political Parties and Foreign Media." On those occasions in which I had the honor to participate, I was given the opportunity to interview senior Chinese leaders and their advisers (who participated in the 19th National Congress in October) and who seemed to be extremely informed, with a remarkable knowledge of the world.

Secondly, other highlights include the major international initiatives launched since the 18th National Congress in 2012, which provided a very positive platform for the framework of the 19th National Congress. These are the megaprojects of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The intercontinental projection of the Belt and Road also concerns world security and peace, as existing and planned routes cross large areas of Eurasia.

The revitalization of old routes is just one contribution of the Belt and Road. Other equally important routes are also being brought to life, for example, the Amazon-Andes route in South America, and the Arctic Ocean route, which will lead to an extraordinary growth of in trade.

Third, the efficiency demonstrated by the CPC takes on great significance in an era of accelerated change. This has been commonly accepted a truth in the West. China continues its course, while other large countries act more slowly, renouncing their policies and act divided, or clamorously hesitate, without long-term planning.

Finally, it is important to highlight the scope of conflict resolution as a result of a consensus patiently negotiated, with China's own characteristics, whether in its congresses or in its daily life. For example, Beijing's strategic patience regarding North Korea's nuclear development, as well as negotiations for a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, are realistic and effective methods which greatly contribute to world peace and offer proof-positive of China's mark on this world.

AUGUSTO SOTO is professor at the School of Business Administration & Management (ESCADE) of Spain and director of the “Dialogue with China Project.”