Xi Jinping braces for turbulence ahead as China’s relations with US continue to deteriorate
- China’s Politburo has acknowledged the challenging external environment, but says the nation will continue to enjoy a ‘strategic period of opportunities’
- President Xi Jinping says China’s track record of bringing the coronavirus outbreak under control shows the effectiveness of the country’s governing system
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday declared initial victory in achieving the Communist Party’s 2020 development goals and began laying out a long-term plan to manage a rapidly changing international environment highlighted by Beijing’s deteriorating relationship with the United States.
The 25-member Politburo, the supreme decision-making body headed by Xi, had its midyear gathering on Thursday and discussed the country’s 14th five-year plan covering the period from 2021-25, as well as a “2035 vision”, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
The meeting comes just days after Washington made it clear it would abandon its decades-long policy of “engagement” with China, a change that could put an end to the accommodating external environment that helped China’s economic rise over the past 40 years.
Xi, the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, said China’s track record of bringing the coronavirus outbreak under control and its quick economic recovery had proven the effectiveness of the country’s governing system.
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“The party’s leadership is strong and powerful, the Chinese economy is resilient … and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics has strong vitality,” Xi said.
The 14th five-year plan would mark a move towards “the second centenary goal”, namely turning China into a powerful socialist country by 2049 when the People’s Republic celebrates its 100th anniversary, the Politburo said.
The Xinhua statement summarising the Politburo meeting did not mention the US directly, but hinted that China was not expecting an all-out conflict with Washington even though the “international environment is becoming increasingly complex”.
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“Peace and development are still the themes of the times … but there will be changes in opportunities and challenges,” the statement said.
Zhang Ming, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Politburo statement showed the Chinese leadership was “not optimistic” about the years ahead.
“Under these circumstances, China has to speed up the formation of growth dynamism driven by domestic demand,” Zhang wrote in a note.
In a separate meeting with China’s political advisers this week, Xi said China’s strength meant it could meet challenges “and no country or person can stop the historical march of the Chinese nation’s great rejuvenation”, Xinhua reported.
Confronted with an increasingly hostile external environment post-coronavirus, Beijing plans to reduce China’s reliance on the outside world and focus on its domestic market for economic growth.
The new strategy, officially called “double circulation”, will rely on the domestic market, although many economists and analysts doubt whether Beijing has the capability to conduct the deep-rooted structural reforms needed to achieve the goal.
While Beijing sees growing risks on the horizon, it is relatively confident about the immediate prospects of the world’s second biggest economy.
“China’s economy has recovered steadily, and the resumption of work and production has improved month by month,” Xinhua reported after the Politburo meeting.
China’s fiscal policy will remain proactive and the country’s monetary policy will be more targeted and flexible in the second half of 2021, state media said.
Authorities will crack down on speculation in the housing market and stick to goals of eradicating poverty by the end of 2020.