(Bloomberg) — President Xi Jinping delivered a wide-ranging speech Sunday laying out the Communist Party’s agenda for China over the next five years, covering everything from Taiwan to tech policy.
Here are the key takeaways:
Xi: “Confronted with drastic changes in the international landscape, we have maintained firm strategic resolve and shown a fighting spirit. Throughout these endeavors, we have safeguarded China’s dignity and core interests and kept ourselves well-positioned for pursuing development and ensuring security.” The context: Xi declared that China was “standing tall and firm in the East” at the last congress in 2017, departing from former leader Deng Xiaoping’s “hide and bide” strategy. That shift along with Beijing’s moves to crush dissent in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, lack of transparency on Covid’s origins, partnership with Russia and more aggressive posture toward Taiwan and the South China Sea, has put China on a collision course with the West. Common ProsperityXi: “We will improve the system of income distribution. We will ensure more pay for more work and encourage people to achieve prosperity through hard work. We will promote equality of opportunity, increase the income of low income ear ners and expand the size of the middle income group. We will keep income distribution and the means of accumulating wealth well regulated.”
The context: Xi elevated the common prosperity slogan last year amid crackdowns on big tech and the real estate sector, drawing unease from investors who saw heavy losses from Beijing’s sudden policy shifts. The campaign to narrow China’s wealth gap initially saw revived calls for tax reform and the country’s rich scrambling to protect their wealth, but fell out of the limelight as Covid lockdowns battered the economy.
Xi: “In responding to the sudden attack of Covid-19, we put the people and their lives above all else and tenaciously pursued a dynamic Zero Covid policy. We have protected the people’s health and safety to the greatest extent possible and made tremendously encouraging achievements in both epidemic response and economic and social development.”
The context: China’s Covid Zero strategy has kept the virus death toll in China low but is extracting a growing economic and social cost. Xi has made it a cornerstone of his leadership, elevating it above economic growth, even as public tolerance for it appears to be cracking.Economy
Xi: “High-quality development is the top priority of building a socialist modern country in all aspects. Development is the party’s top priority in governing. It’s impossible to build a socialist modern strong country in all aspects without solid material and technology foundation.”
The context: Despite some analysts suggesting there may be a slight shift in Xi’s speech to elevate national security at the expense of economic growth, Xi repeated the slogan from previous party congress speeches that development is the party’s “top priority.” Some China observers had expected Xi to give equal weighting to security and development, a signal that Beijing could tolerate slower economic growth in order to meet other policy goals. By sticking to earlier language, Xi’s speech suggests no real departure from economic goals.
Xi: “We will continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerely and the upmost effort, but we will never promise to renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary. The wheels of history are rolling on towards China’s reunification and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The complete reunification of our country must be realized and it can without a doubt be realized.”
The context: Beijing sees the self-governing island as part of its territory and has ramped up military pressure on the island, increasing tensions with the US. President Joe Biden has repeatedly said the US would come to the democracy’s aid if attacked, marking a shift in the policy of “strategic ambiguity” that guided US-China relations for decades — even as the White House insists that nothing has changed.
Xi: “In the face of turbulent developments in Hong Kong, the central government exercised its overall jurisdiction over the special administrative region as prescribed by China’s Constitution and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It was ensured that Hong Kong is governed by patriots. Order has been restored in Hong Kong, marking a major turn for the better in the region.”
The context: Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong that bans terrorism, secession, subversion and collusion with foreign force in June 2020 to quell anti-government dissent, after city wide protests erupted a year prior legislation. That sweeping has been condemned by the US and other Western democracies for diminishing freedoms in the former British colony.
Xi: “In order to enhance the innovation capacity, China will move faster to launch a number of major national projects that are of strategic, big-picture, and long-term importance. Efforts will be made to improve the new system for mobilizing resources nationwide to make key technological breakthroughs, and boost China’s strength in strategic science and technology.”
The context: China’s crackdown on its once-swaggering tech industry erased more than $1 trillion in combined market value from the sector and affected major firms such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. But there has been some let-up on the The industry’s brutal reckoning in recent months, including the conclusion of a data-security probe on Didi and the green-lighting of new batches of video games.
Xi: “We will intensify military training under combat conditions across the board to see that our armed forces can fight. We will innovate new military strategic guidance and develop strategies and tactics for people’s war, establish a strong system of strategic deterrence, increase the proportion of new domain forces with new combat capabilities, and intensifying military training under combat conditions
The context: Xi has vowed to modernize the once infantry-dominated military by 2027. To achieve that goal, the People’s Liberation Army has undergone tremendous organizational changes and hardware upgrades. The ground force has been trimmed, while other services including navy and rocket force have gained prominence.
Xi: “We will work actively and prudently toward the goals of reaching peak carbon emissions and carbon neutrality. Based on China’s energy and resource endowments, we will advance initiatives to reach peak carbon emissions in a well-planned and phased way, in line with the principle of getting the new before discarding the old.”
More than any other leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi has sought to make the environment part of his lasting legacy. He’s dramatically cut air pollution that plagued urban residents and laid out ambitious goals for China including a target to reach net-zero emissions within four decades. But a spate of power shortages throughout the nation and global energy turmoil following Russia’s war in Ukraine have shifted the focus back on energy security, with climate goals coming in a distant second place.