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Party meeting on history to set future path

By Mario Cavolo | China Daily | Updated: 2021-11-11 07:08


How does China's achievement of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects compare with the Western pronouncements at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which Greta Thunberg, Swedish teen environmental activist, said amounted to "blah blah, blah".

As an Italian American living in China for 22 years, I have found myself caring much less about divisive politics and ideology, and appreciating the actual results that follow right decisions and actions. For many observers, what happens at the CPC and the Chinese government's meetings may be shrouded in mystery no matter how hard they try to be transparent about what they are doing to govern the country and engage in its increasingly critical relationship with the rest of the world.

Details of plans and actions

Perhaps highlighting the meaning and importance of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Committee can make it less of a closed book.

The truth is that the details of plans and actions of the ruling party and the Chinese government are readily accessible. For example, with the focus on specific economic, technological, food, energy, environmental and additional social development plans, China's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) details everything-and it is available in English.

In fact, the development of the core five-year plans are scheduled as the responsibility of the fifth plenum of each CPC Central Committee, and the Fifth Plenum of the 19th CPC Central Committee was held last year.

Let us also consider some experiences from years ago, the theme of the Fourth Plenum of the 19th CPC Central Committee in 2019 included "advance the modernization of China's system and capacity for governance". Such ideas are in line with the core Party principles and reflect the faith in strong and resolute leadership, building an even greater sense of unity among the people, and deepening the ongoing reforms which continue to revitalize and will ultimately keep vitalizing the economy.

However, the vast majority of media outlets based in countries where their governments have failed in governance by comparison have made it a habit of misrepresenting and misinterpreting China's achievements and the political system that has made those achievements possible.

Reviewing the Party's 'historical resolution'

Appropriately, in the centenary year of the founding of the CPC, the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee has decided to review the "historical resolution" on the major achievements and experiences of the Party in its 100 years of existence.

According to The Hindu newspaper in India, observers say the document highlighting the "historical resolution" has been used only three times in its 100-year history of the Party. In the CPC's parlance, "the words' historic resolution' carry special political significance and implications. Only twice in the Party's 100-year history have the leaders adopted the so-named documents at critical junctures…"

But according to the South China Morning Post, the Sixth Plenary Session needs "to convince the Chinese public to continue trusting in its leadership". What is the need for that when the level of trust in the Chinese government's leadership is the highest among all countries? What it takes to convince people is policy followed by actions that produce results. When people see things moving in the right direction, they don't need much convincing.

China watchers worldwide also expect the Sixth Plenum to give specific messages on the Taiwan question. The fact is, Taiwan is an integral part of China and will ultimately reunite with the mainland. Beijing is aware of the West's provocative views on the matter which are mostly rooted in distortions and misinformation, and aimed at misleading people interested in the subject.

For example, any amendment to Taiwan's existing laws would require 75 percent vote by the members of the local legislature. Politically speaking, nothing could be more improbable and yet all manner of ridiculous arguments continues in the public sphere distracting us from this fundamental legislative reality.

If we pay attention to the proceedings of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, we will realize the Party is reflecting on its history because the stakes are higher than ever before. Recognizing what has been done wrong in the past ensures those mistakes are not repeated. And its achievements show how China makes moving forward sustainable and builds upon its remarkable accomplishments.

This has been a very successful period for the Party, the country, the Chinese society and the Chinese government. And to continue to move forward, the Party system should be incredibly diligent and avoid veering far from the course.

The view from business community

As for business organizations, they are far more interested in results and specific decisions than Party ideology. While preparing a private research report recently, I noted that organizations such as the American Chambers of Commerce in China and US-China Business Council are largely pro-China from the business point of view. And they hope to see less divisiveness.

As Mike Rosenthal, a former member of AmCham Shanghai board of governors, said: "The foreign business community highly appreciates the substantial level of messaging consistency available to them on all topics of interest as a result of China's highly organized annual plenary sessions."

Craig Allen, USCBC president, on the other hand, voiced concerns, saying that more candid engagement is needed between China and the United States and that intensifying competition with Chinese companies is a concern for many foreign companies. Tariffs continue to pose a major challenge, and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated political tensions and operational challenges, he added.

Yet on the flip side, that has not stopped US companies from investing more in China. More than 40 percent of the companies surveyed said they are increasing their resource commitment for next year-only 6 percent said they are curtailing investment.

The view is quite similar from the recent AmCham Shanghai Survey of September. Nearly 60 percent of the respondents to the survey said they increased investment this year compared with 2020, which is remarkable considering the ugly politicization of certain issues in Washington.

Likewise, during my recent conversations with Harald Klumpfert, chairman of the European Union Chamber of Commerce China, Shenyang chapter, it became apparent that EU companies are greatly concerned about whether there will be any barriers making the foreign business environment more difficult.

Many in the EU are highly supportive of EU-China relations and do not want to see China isolating itself in response to the political headwinds created by a small group of China hawks in the West. Therefore, from the business point of view, the greatest interest lies in the macro shifts taking place which the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee will surely clarify.

Common prosperity initiative welcomed

Lastly, what I regard as an amazing development in the right direction is China's "common prosperity" initiative. As we are now seeing in the US, the dangers of and the damage caused by distorted capitalism and the outright neglect of the core middle class have had disastrous effects both socially and economically, forcing the US political structure to make impossible choices and the entire system to become unsustainable.

The CPC realizes the necessity and importance of preventing China from going down the same path of distorted capitalism which now defines the West led by the US. China will have none of it. And avoiding that direction is, in my view, the Party's top priority. That's why it has launched an initiative to realize common prosperity.

The Party's ability to assess, self-reflect and adjust as it continues to guide the country forward is what has made China the country it is today. And I have little doubt the Sixth Plenary Session's third "historic resolution" in the Party history will be clear in its support of China continuing as the largest, and most stable, successful and capable country in the world.

The author is a senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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