China’s Communist party

K'reisa Cox

Reelection of President Xi by congress reinforces his power


China’s 19th Communist Party Congress, a week long event that occurs every five years, took place on Oct. 24.

This event is an opportunity for leaders of the Communist Party to discuss and approve new policies, as well as elect politicians who will lead China in the next term.

Unsurprisingly, the 2,287 selected party delegates decided to re-elect current Chinese President Xi Jinping for a second term. However, there were some surprising developments that came from this event.

Not only did they re-elect Xi as president, but they also elevated him to higher status.
The most significant amendment to come out of this convention was the unanimous vote to add “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in a New Era” to the constitution.

A namesake amendment has been an honor reserved for only two of Xi’s predecessors, including Mao Zedong.

Coupled with the fact that this new ideology will now become compulsory learning in Chinese schooling from elementary level to university, it seems that this convention has opened a path to Chinese political regression back into the early days of the Communist Party’s rule.

“The amendment of the party constitution effectively confirms Xi Jinping’s aspiration to be the Mao Zedong of the 21st Century…” said Willy Wo-Lap Lam, a political expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, as quoted by the Washington Post.

Along with Xi’s new status as an all-time party elite, another indication of Xi’s grab for more power is the omission to appoint a successor for after the completion of his second term.

China ensures the rotation of power through compulsory retirement of government officials over the age of 68.

Thus, it is practice for aging leaders like Xi to appoint a younger member to the cabinet as a designated successor. Xi made no such appointment.

This move implies that President Xi will not be content with just one more term in power, but instead might make a move to further amend the constitution in order to allow himself more time in office.

Why should this matter to Americans? In an era where tensions in Asia continue to rise, these developments could not have more far reaching consequences.

Another Putin-like regime that threatens free markets, free flow of information, and potentially the flow of human capital, will have far reaching consequences on the global economy.

In his speech to the Chinese Communist Party, Xi demonstrated the presence of a shift in Chinese political thinking from five years ago; before, the party rhetoric implored the need for liberalization to spur economic growth.

Now, Xi chose to paint China as the antithesis to conventional capitalist democracy, saying in his speech that “China is now officially in the business of styling itself as another polestar for the world, with a very different political, economic and cultural model.”

An emerging China intent on nationalism and centralization will not bode well for U.S. interests, or the free markets at large.

With, according to McKinsey & Company consulting firm, China’s middle class expected to include up to 76 percent of the population by 2022, the people most exposed to harm will be the majority of China’s own citizens. Xi’s last 5 years in power have seen a steady rate of decline for China’s GDP.

To bolster the success of its emerging middle class, China ought to be looking to expand outward into other global markets, encourage innovation, and foster growth of human capital.

Instead, the cult of personality surrounding Xi will ultimately succeed in closing the business market, by paving the way for an oppressive regime to begin stifling economic growth.

China cannot afford to go backwards, especially since they could potentially be giving up so much.

Reverting to 20th century authoritarianism will not solve their problems, but will instead create new ones as inevitably China will fall behind the innovative free market world.

Though capitalism is by no means perfect, it stills allows for individuals to determine their own choices.

This idea has value, and is reflected in the success of developing countries such as India.

Our Cold War with communism is over, but we still ought to recognize the threat that restrictive economies can pose to world markets at large.

This term’s party convention was a troubling look into the potential future of Chinese politics, and this story will continue to unfold as one of disappointing regression.

Still, I continue to hold out hope for a dramatic plot twist into a brighter, freer, more equal future.