China’s five year plan – consolidating power, revitalizing ruling party


The strategy underpinning China’s 13th five-year plan – outlined in an impressive report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies – is about consolidation of power and party revitalization, notes Robert Zoellick, a former president of the World Bank and US trade representative. He stresses six points, writing for The Financial Times:

  • First, President Xi Jinping’s primary goal is to preserve the party. The general secretary has assumed ownership of the plan and the party expects success to add to its legitimacy. Yet internal conflicts over the roles of markets and politics could spill over into a mixture of market and bureaucratic competition, making officials more cautious.
  • Second, the outlook is clear in two areas. Macroeconomic and tax reform policies directed from Beijing will rely more on markets. ….
  • Third, there appears to be uncertainty about the best ways to deal with industrial overcapacity, state-owned enterprises, thehukou household registration system limiting benefits for migrant workers, and rural land reforms. ….
  • Fourth, the plan offers a vision for Mr Xi’s “One Belt, One Road” project, reaching across Eurasia and surrounding seas, as well as the development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei economic zone.
  • Fifth, Mr Xi is focused on a shift from a middle income to a “moderately prosperous society” through innovation, and his plan lists priorities and new tools. This is an area that will generate internal tensions and debates with foreign partners…..The party will look to Chinese ownership, whether state or private. Chinese companies will probably push for favoured positions and less transparency. But those steps could cut the country off from global innovation and markets. ….
  • Finally, the plan breaks ground by encompassing areas beyond the traditional economic focus, such as party-building, civil-military relations, global governance, international public goods and even international security. Mr Xi sees a revived party, stronger and free from corruption, as the vanguard of his economic transformation…..

“The 13th five-year plan reflects Mr Xi’s consolidation of power and party revitalisation. The strategy appears to be to strengthen China Inc rather than to transform it, notes Zoellick (right), a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy.

China will stumble if Xi stalls on reform, Zoellick has warned:

If its government retreats to reliance on state-owned enterprises for “stability”, China will be favouring special interests that are less efficient, less transparent, and less disciplined by markets. Deng, and former premier Zhu Rongji, used foreign competition to drive Chinese companies and workers to world class performance. If the party now protects national favourites and shelters indigenous innovators — while blaming problems on foreign interference — China’s market will lag, not lead. RTWT

The Long Arm of China

Capitol Visitor Center, Room HVC 210 Washington, DC 20515 | Tuesday, May 24, 2016 – 12:00pm to 2:00pm

A hearing of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China will examine the Chinese government’s reach beyond its borders to stifle critical discussion of its human rights record and repressive policies. China has long used its visa denial and censorship policies to muzzle discussion of the Tiananmen protests and their violent suppression by punishing and marginalizing the former student leaders and encouraging self-censorship among academics and foreign journalists writing about “sensitive” topics, including the events of 1989. Twenty-seven years after Tiananmen, these heavy-handed tactics are global in reach as China uses its diplomatic relationships and rising economic and trade clout as a means to achieve its aims.

Recent cases represent an escalation of China’s efforts to blunt scrutiny of its rights record and criticism of government policies. These efforts include pushing neighboring nations to crack down on dissidents who offer a critique of Beijing or to forcibly repatriate Uyghur refugees and Chinese asylum seekers; the disappearances and alleged abductions of five Hong Kong booksellers; clandestine efforts to discredit the Dalai Lama through a Communist Party-supported rival Buddhist sect; harassment of family members of foreign journalists and human rights advocates; and threats to the operations of non-governmental organizations engaged in work in China through the newly passed Overseas NGO Management Law and other means. Witnesses will discuss their own experiences with the “long arm” of the Chinese government and offer recommendations for Congressional and Administration action.

The Long Arm of China: Global Efforts to Silence Critics From Tiananmen to Today

Capitol Visitor Center, Room HVC 210 Washington, DC 20515 | Tuesday, May 24, 2016 – 12:00pm to 2:00pm This hearing will be webcast live here.


Su Yutong: Journalist, Internet activist, human rights defender, and former news broadcaster, the Chinese service of Deutsche Welle

Angela Gui: Student and daughter of disappeared Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai

Teng Biao (above left): Chinese human rights lawyer, Visiting Fellow, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, NYU Law School, and Co-founder, the Open Constitution Initiative.


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