Xi Jinping’s New Year Address

Context:

  • President Xi Jinping virtually re-wrote Chinese history by securing a third term and elevating himself to the stature of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
  • Meanwhile, the country struggled with slow economic growth due to multiple Covid-19 outbreaks, power shortages and regulatory crackdown on multiple sectors, for instance technology, real-estate and education.  
  • Likewise at the international level, amidst challenges of international censure over Xinjiang policy and worsening bilateral ties with the United States (US), Europe, India, Japan, Australia and Taiwan, China alarmed the world with its advancements in warfare technology by testing hypersonic missiles and upholding Chinese political system as a true democracy

Objectives:

  • In Xi Jinping’s perception, legitimacy of the “Party-state” is crucial to the stability of the regime.
  • Therefore, since he came to power in 2012, the major objective which surfaced in his New Year addresses was sustaining a high level of political legitimacy for the “Party-state”.
  • To that end, all his previous addresses focused primarily on national rejuvenation being realised by the Communist Party of China (CPC) under his leadership.
  • For instance, the speeches began and delved at length about China’s rapid economic growth, improving living standards, technological scientific advancements, various developmental initiatives launched by the government and China’s increasing international outreach.
  • More importantly, the issues were enunciated in a way to underscore the economic and socio-political vibrancy brought about by the government.
  • For instance, in the 2020 New Year speech he highlighted that “significant breakthroughs” had been achieved by the state in economic, scientific and technological development due to “steady pursuit of high-quality development” and consequently everything was flourishing across the motherland.
  • Similarly, in his 2021 New Year address President Xi emphatically asserted China to be ahead of other great powers in economic recovery from Covid-19.
  • Also, heralding the completion of the 13th Five Year Plan (2016–20) he termed the government’s endeavours as aimed at implementing “high-quality development”.
  • Also, in his 2020 and 2021 speeches, President Xi went a step ahead to create a sense of familial bond with the Party whereby he added personal accounts of inspection of developmental work and interaction with people regarding CPC’s success in eradicating extreme poverty and establishing a moderately prosperous society.

 

Implications 

  • Xi Jinping’s strategy to turn inward perhaps is triggered more by domestic exigencies than by external systemic pressure.
  • However, the implications will be felt both domestically and internationally. On the domestic front, more stringent curbs on expression of public opinion (especially on any perceived dissent), greater internal oversight to make party cadres and private corporations adhere to the party line and nurture of party-centric nationalism, could be seen.
  • Reportedly a communique recently released following the plenary session of China’s top anti-graft group stated that the Party will investigate disorderly expansion of capital, platform monopolies and will show “no mercy” to punish corruption, factionalism and interest groups within the Party.
  • In effect, there will be more concerted efforts to curtail the influence of non-governmental entities to enable CPC to dictate the terms of business.

          Source The Hindu

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