From Hong Kong to the military: the Communist Party’s top new talking points

Kinling Lo

Two weeks after China’s ruling Communist Party held its top policy-setting meeting, a group of hand-picked officials were sent out on a mission to promote the “spirits” of the secretive session to bureaucrats across the country.

While the lectures are expected to be delivered behind closed doors, their content will be based on a key document produced by the four-day plenum: “The Communist Party Central Committee’s resolution on several key issues of maintaining and perfecting the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and promoting the modernisation of the state’s governance system and capacity”.

The title might be quite a mouthful, but it lays out some important policy directions the party has set out for the country. Here are five takeaways:

Communist Party leadership

The document lays out important policy directions the party has set out for the country, the first of which centres on the party’s leadership.

It stresses that country’s strength stems from the “centralised and unified leadership” of the party but there is a need to “modernise” governance, a message that reflects President Xi Jinping’s push to consolidate party and state institutions to centralise authority.

It also underlines that the consolidation must start showing results by 2021 in time for the party’s centenary. Meanwhile, the state governance system and capacity would be “basically modernised by 2035” and reach full modernisation by 2049.

President Xi Jinping is pushing to consolidate party and state institutions to centralise authority. Photo: Xinhua

Boosting economic growth

The country’s economic growth has plummeted to its slowest in nearly 30 years, worsened by a bruising trade war with the United States.

But the document offered no new narrative on tackling the challenges.

Instead, it repeated the party’s well established line that Beijing would adhere to the principle of state ownership as the “primary entity” and resolutely “consolidate and develop the state-owned economy”, while also promising to open up its markets with more foreign investment-friendly policies.

“[We will] implement a more extensive and in-depth opening up … protect the rights of foreign investors, to create a fair competitive environment for domestic and foreign companies, and diversify trade,” it said.

Reforming the military

The document reaffirmed the full control of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) under Xi, the first Chinese leader since Mao Zedong to be chief of both the party and the military.

“[We must] strengthen and affirm the direction of Xi Jinping’s … thoughts on national security and military development,” it said. “[We must] support the unification of the nation’s armed forces under the leadership of the chairman of the Central Military Commission.”

It stressed the need to pass on “red genes”, or loyalty to the party, and to fight “wrong political ideas” that would “nationalise” the military, making it “less aligned with the party and less political”.

Xi Jinping is the first Chinese leader since Mao Zedong to be chief of both the Communist Party and the military. Photo: Xinhua

Turmoil in Hong Kong

Another key element of the document is the section on upholding “one country, two systems” – the principle that grants Hong Kong and Macau a high degree of autonomy.

It is the highest level document on Hong Kong’s future to be issued since anti-government protests erupted in June over a now-withdrawn extradition bill.

“[We will] establish a sound legal system and enforcement mechanism for the safeguarding of national security in the special administrative regions, and support the special administrative regions in strengthening law enforcement,” it said.

It emphasised Beijing’s absolute authority over Hong Kong and Macau, especially over the appointment of principal officials and the interpretation of each region’s Basic Law. It also stressed the importance of stepping up so-called patriotic education in Hong Kong and Macau, especially among civil servants and young people.

Hong Kong has been embroiled in half a year of turmoil triggered by a now withdrawn extradition bill. Photo: Sam Tsang

Handling Taiwan

Beijing also pledged to advance unification with Taiwan using the one country, two systems model.

The document called for “closer integration” across the Taiwan Strait and the rejection of all calls for “Taiwan independence”.

“Under the principle of protection of national sovereignty, security and development, [we will] fully respect Taiwan’s way of life after a peaceful reunification,” it said, adding that the unification remained the “common wish of all Chinese people” and “serves the fundamental interests of Chinese people”.

This article From Hong Kong to the military: the Communist Party’s top new talking points first appeared on South China Morning Post

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