China’s 20th Party Congress
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China’s President Xi Jinping has called the Chinese Communist Party the standard-bearer for global socialism, ahead of the 20th Party Congress in October. Photo: AP

Xi Jinping article gives insight into China’s direction ahead of Communist Party congress

  • A bylined article by the Chinese president in the party’s top journal stresses revolutionary zeal and warns against complacency
  • Xi’s essay says the party must constantly self-correct to avoid fate of Soviet Union
The Chinese Communist Party is now the standard-bearer of the global socialism movement and must learn how to constantly self-correct to avoid the fate of the Soviet Union, Xi Jinping said in a recent article.
Qiushi – the party’s most authoritative theoretical journal – published the article on Wednesday, just a month ahead of the 20th party congress on October 16, which will confirm an unprecedented third term for Xi as its paramount leader.

The article is based on an internal speech given to party cadres in 2018, in which Xi reviewed past successes but also delivered stern warnings to members, asking them to keep up the “revolutionary spirit” and be ever-ready for self-reflection and self-correction.

Short of that, “even the most powerful regime” would crumble and collapse, Xi said. He noted that the sudden collapse in the 1990s of the Soviet Union and the communist bloc had led to a period of unprecedented difficulty for the global socialism movement.

Many developing countries abandoned the socialist path to copy the Western model, he said.

Xi said China, through its 40-year, non-stop effort of reform and rejuvenation, had achieved great success and remarkable progress.

“Today there are about 130 socialist or communist parties active in 100 countries. Many developing countries look at China with envy and want to learn about our governance experience. Socialism with Chinese characteristics has become the standard-bearer of 21st-century socialist development,” Xi said.

“We have the responsibility, capability and confidence to make historic contributions to the progress of scientific socialism.”

He said the key to China’s success was its determination to chart its own course and not blindly follow others’ governance models. Although the party suffered many setbacks during the process, it eventually forged a unique development path through countless trials and tests.

Xi said such a “self-revolutionary” spirit must be maintained, and China must be confident and determined to follow its own path.

“Our destiny lies in the path we select. If we take the wrong path, we will not achieve our goals and may even break the great rejuvenation of Chinese civilisation,” he said.

“China’s success proves that socialism is not dead. It is thriving. Just imagine this: had socialism failed in China, had our communist party collapsed like the party in the Soviet Union, then global socialism would lapse into a long dark age. And communism, like Karl Marx once said, would be a haunting spectre lingering in limbo.”

He warned the party members not to take success for granted and said it would still take a long time for China to achieve its great rejuvenation.

“During this long period, how can we ensure that the Communist Party will not collapse and our political system will maintain its vigour? [It] is going to be a huge challenge and risk,” Xi said.

“The Soviet Union once was so powerful, now it is just a faint memory. If we don’t have a historical perspective and long-term planning, we will bring ruin upon ourselves.”

Apart from confirming Xi’s third term, the party will also amend its charter at the congress. Most analysts say the revision will see more of Xi’s governance philosophy and ideology incorporated into the party’s constitution.

This will further strengthen Xi’s position in the organisation – he is already the most powerful political leader since Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. It will also help to ensure his legacy will stay and guide the party.

Experts also say the article was republished now to serve as a reminder to party members of the challenges they faced and the consequences if they failed.

Xie Maosong, a senior fellow with the Taihe Institute and a senior researcher at the National Institute of Strategic Studies at Tsinghua University, said the next few years under Xi would be crucial, as China continued to face a difficult external environment, with the US leading a Western bloc to contain it “in almost every possible way”.

“The message to the party is that it needs to stay vigilant and alert, quickly learn from past mistakes and adapt, encapsulated in the party lingo as ‘self-revolution’, to prevail from the long marathon competing with the West,” Xie said.

“It is important for Xi to share his long historical perspective with all the party members ahead of the major party conference, and convince them that he will lead them to conquer all the adversities.”

Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, agreed.

“It is very clear that Xi firmly believes that China is the flag bearer of the world’s socialist movements to counter the West after the demise of the Soviet Union. The Qiushi article shows that his worldview has not changed since 2018 and likely will stay the same in the future.”