Un­cer­tain­ties at the top in China plans

The Dominion Post - - Business -

All eyes were on Bei­jing last week. The oc­ca­sion was the 19th Na­tional Congress of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC), the much-awaited meet­ing that would set up the Chi­nese lead­er­ship for the next five years.

As one would ex­pect, se­cu­rity within the coun­try and around Bei­jing in par­tic­u­lar was tight.

My ar­rival in Bei­jing was wel­comed by a blue sky and freeflow­ing traf­fic that is usu­ally al­to­gether elu­sive in the city.

The congress went as smoothly as my trip to Bei­jing.

Five new mem­bers were in­stated on the seven-man Polit­buro Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee.

The congress passed var­i­ous amend­ments to the CPC con­sti­tu­tion, which reg­u­lates the party.

Of par­tic­u­lar note is the in­clu­sion in the con­sti­tu­tion of ‘Xi Jin­ping’s Thoughts on So­cial­ism with Chi­nese Char­ac­ter­is­tics for a New Era’.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, this puts Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in the same league as Mao Ze­dong, the founder of new China in 1949. Mao was the Para­mount Leader of the CPC from 1949 through to 1976.

This does high­light the pos­si­bil­ity that Xi might stay be­yond the 20th congress, given there is also no ap­par­ent heir be­ing put in place.

The Party Re­port also charted the broad plans for the next 33 years un­til 2050, when the new China will cel­e­brate its centenary.

China will seek to gen­er­ate a mod­er­ately pros­per­ous so­ci­ety by 2020, then to re­alise so­cial­ist moderni­sa­tion by 2035, and fi­nally to be­come a great mod­ern so­cial­ist coun­try that is pros­per­ous, strong, demo­cratic, cul­tur­ally ad­vanced, har­mo­nious, and beau­ti­ful.

There are also work­ing plans for pro­mot­ing so­cial­ist eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal, cul­tural, so­cial, and eco­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment in China. This is la­belled as a five-sphere in­te­grated plan.

Along­side the five-sphere in­te­grated plan is a four-pronged com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy. This strat­egy hopes to make com­pre­hen­sive moves to­wards build­ing a mod­er­ately pros­per­ous so­ci­ety in all re­spects, deep­en­ing re­forms, ad­vanc­ing law-based gover­nance, and strength­en­ing party self-gover­nance.

Qual­ity will be set as a pri­or­ity, and this will ap­ply to sup­ply-side struc­tural re­forms and to in­no­va­tion.

Although this is not new, it is set to be­come more prom­i­nent un­der the um­brel­las of the Made in China 2025 Strat­egy and the One Belt One Road Ini­tia­tive.

In­ci­den­tally, the One Belt One Road Ini­tia­tive is now be­ing writ­ten into the con­sti­tu­tion.

So, we now have an an­swer to the spec­u­la­tion around the medium to long-term ex­is­tence of the One Belt One Road Ini­tia­tive.

China will be push­ing harder on this strat­egy now that the con­sti­tu­tion does re­quire some re­sults to be re­ported in five years’ time.

In the grand scheme of things, the Party Re­port and the new lead­er­ship set­tings and amend­ments to the con­sti­tu­tion do not present new chal­lenges to for­eign play­ers.

China’s many strate­gies in the in­ter­na­tional arena re­main. The amended con­sti­tu­tion just strength­ens the im­per­a­tive for China to go deeper into these strate­gies.

Do ex­pect more push around in­no­va­tion, qual­ity prod­ucts and ser­vices, the Made in China 2025 Strat­egy, the One Belt One Road,

China will be­come an even tougher mar­ket to crack.

and all Chi­nese out­ward in­vest­ments.

The congress’ fo­cus on strength­en­ing China from within is a good sign for the na­tion and also for the rest of the world.

It is sur­pris­ing that the world is ex­pect­ing China to grow faster this year than last year, but with a stronger fo­cus on ser­vices, it may just hap­pen.

None­the­less, as we start to see re­sults from the four-pronged com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy, China will be­come an even tougher mar­ket to crack. ❚ Siah Hwee Ang is the BNZ chair in busi­ness in Asia and also chairs the en­abling our Asia-Pa­cific trad­ing na­tion dis­tinc­tive­ness theme at Vic­to­ria Uni­ver­sity.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

The Com­mu­nist Party Congress amended the party con­sti­tu­tion but the ab­sence of an ob­vi­ous heir to the pres­i­dent was no­table.

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