President Xi Jinping, 67, who has become China's most powerful leader after Mao Zedong since he came to power in 2012.(Xinhua via AP)
President Xi Jinping, 67, who has become China's most powerful leader after Mao Zedong since he came to power in 2012.(Xinhua via AP)

Xi says, time, momentum on China's side as world faces unprecedented turbulence

Given the evolution of the principal contradiction facing Chinese society as well as the change in the world power structure
PTI, Beijing
PUBLISHED ON JAN 12, 2021 01:06 PM IST

Time and momentum are on China's side as the world faces an unprecedented turbulent time, President Xi Jinping has said, outlining his vision for the ruling Communist Party for the next 30 years to achieve "great rejuvenation of Chinese nation".

Xi, 67, who has become China's most powerful leader after Mao Zedong since he came to power in 2012 was addressing the leading cadre of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Monday. Founded in 1921 by Mao, the CPC took over power in 1949.

In his morale-boosting speech, Xi said he believes "time and momentum are on China’s side", despite challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, deteriorating relations with the West and a slowing economy.

The coronavirus pandemic, which first broke out in central China's Wuhan city one year ago, has so far killed over 1,944,750 people worldwide and crushed the global economy.

"The world is in a turbulent time that is unprecedented in the past century,” Xi was quoted as saying by Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post.

"But time and momentum are on our side. This is where we show our conviction and resilience, as well as our determination and confidence,” he said.

Xi spoke of the importance of implementing the new development philosophy and advancing the new development paradigm of "dual circulation" in the country's new development phase to ensure a good start for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period.

Xi has consolidated his leadership as the head of the party, the military and the presidency and bestowed the “core leader” status of the CPC, a position only enjoyed by Mao. Thanks to a constitutional amendment doing away with the two-term provision for the president in 2018, Xi now has the privilege to continue in power for life.

Given the evolution of the principal contradiction facing Chinese society as well as the change in the world power structure, Xi also underscored the importance of becoming more aware of potential dangers, keeping in mind worst-case scenarios and getting prepared to deal with a more complicated and difficult situation, the state-run China Daily reported.

He called for ensuring a good start for fully building a modern socialist country, adding that the next three decades will be a new development phase during which the Chinese people achieve a tremendous transformation from standing up and growing rich to becoming strong under the CPC's leadership.

Xi's remarks drew mixed reactions from analysts. While western analysts likened it to that of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte's declaration that the conditions are right to make the most of a world that was in flux, Chinese observers said the address reflected Xi's confidence in China’s political system and development.

Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London, said Xi’s remarks showed he intended to make the most of a world that was in flux and undergoing changes that could fundamentally reshape the global order.

“Xi is now cautiously very optimistic. He sees the general environment and development as positive for China to assert a new historical role and sees challenges but feels confident that China under him will be able to make the most of it,” Tsang was quoted as saying by South China Morning Post.

“It is a – to paraphrase Napoleon – declaration that the conditions are right for the previously slumbering lion to roar and he will see to it that it does,” he said.

Though Xi has not specified the exact policies China will implement, “what he has declared is that the conditions are ripe, and if China will rally around the leadership and follow the leader it will get there. The world should take notice,” Tsang said.

Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of the Research Centre for Government Integrity Building at Peking University, said Xi’s speech showed his confidence in China’s political system and development.

“From his remarks, we can see that Beijing is very confident about China’s major policies and all kinds of responsive measures and Beijing is determined to walk its own path, unaffected by the outside world as it undergoes changes not seen in a century,” he said.

Peng Peng, vice-president of Guangdong System Reform Research Society think-tank, said the speech indicated new momentum at a time when China had largely contained the pandemic, and as the US was in chaos amid a power transition.

“In the future, China will seek to consolidate partnerships with Russia and Southeast Asian countries, try to mend its strained ties with the US, and it will stick to its own principles in dealing with the Hong Kong and Taiwan issues,” Peng said.

Xi has been outlining sweeping changes to come in China’s governance after the Plenum, a key leadership meeting of the CPC in October last year which has approved the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.

In November last year, he said China is set to change its development model from 2021, relying more on domestic consumption than export-reliant growth and begin a new phase to become a modern socialist country.

Also, coinciding with Xi's assertion of a fully modern socialist society, the CPC in recent months focussed more on reviving studies in Marxism, theory and practice, besides strengthening regulations against top business houses like Alibaba and its billionaire founder Jack Ma.

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