The Twentieth Congress of CPC
R Arun Kumar
THE 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that was held from October 16-22, concluded successfully on October 22. Given the important position of China in the world economy, the Congress was eagerly watched. In 2021, China's gross domestic product reached 17.7 trillion US dollars, accounting for 18.5 per cent of the world's total. From 2013 to 2021, it grew at an average annual rate of 6.6 per cent, beating the global average of 2.6 per cent. During the 2013-2021 period, its contribution to global economic growth averaged 38.6 per cent, higher than that of the G-7 countries combined. In 2020, the country surpassed the United States to become the world's largest trading country for the first time. It 2021, it retained this place with a foreign trade volume that expanded to 6.9 trillion dollars.
The importance of the Congress grew all the more because China is a socialist country, where the per capita gross national income reached 11,890 US dollars last year, doubling from the figure recorded in 2012. Thanks to the income growth and improvements in education and health care, the average life expectancy of Chinese people reached 77.9 years in 2020, 5.2 years above the global average. All these showcase the superiority of the socialist system and attract attention.
The preparations for the Congress started in September 2021 and delegates were elected between November 2021 to July 2022. Strict criteria in terms of ideology, political integrity, working capability and lifestyle, and performances in their own work were set for the election of delegates. 99.5 per cent of the more than 96 million CPC members and over 4.9 million primary-level Party organisations, participated in the election of delegates. The entire procedure consisted of five parts: nomination of candidates by Party members; a nominee review; public notification of the candidates for feedback; candidate shortlists; and the final vote in each electoral unit. To help in this process, every Party member was given an election flowchart, which was categorised into seven sections and 25 steps. More than 15 per cent of the candidates were eliminated during the process and the elected delegates were vetted by a qualification review committee before the Congress.
Xi Jinping was a candidate nominated by the CPC Central Committee and was unanimously elected as a delegate to the Party Congress from the electoral unit of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. He and other members of the Standing Committee of the Polit Bureau took part in elections in border areas with a large ethnic minority population, old revolutionary base areas, and key regions where national-level development strategies are implemented. These leaders not only got elected as delegates, but also participated in the group discussions of corresponding delegations in the Party Congress.
2,296 elected delegates attended this Congress, of which 771 delegates, or 33.6 per cent, are from the frontline. Among them, 192 are workers, 85 are farmers, and 266 are professionals and technicians. The number of women delegates was 619, or 27 per cent of the total, a 2.8 percentage increase compared to the 19th Congress five years ago. There were 264 ethnic minority delegates, from 40 ethnic minority groups. The average age of the delegates is 52.2, and about 59.7 per cent of them are under 55. 2,224 delegates, or 96.9 per cent of the total, joined the CPC after 1978.
The main agenda before the Congress was adopting the work report of the Central Committee, the report of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), discussions on the amendments to the constitution and their adoption, apart from the election of new leadership bodies – the Central Committee and the CCDI. The Central Committee of the CPC that met days before the Congress commenced on October 16, adopted three documents – report by the outgoing Central Committee, work report of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and amendments to the Party Constitution – to be placed before the 20th Congress.
The report presented by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) noted that the Party is carrying on a resolute fight against corruption, which is yielding results. According to the report, over 74,000 people were investigated and punished for corruption-related cases since the 19th Congress, 48 per cent of whom committed their first violation before the 18th Congress and 11.1 per cent after the 19th Congress. This shows a gradual reduction in the number of cases. Because of the persistent efforts of the CPC leadership, 97.4 per cent of the public surveyed in 2022 believe that the full and rigorous self-governance of the Party is ‘highly effective’, up 22.4 percentage points from 2012. Vigilance over business activities of Party officials and their family members increased since 2015 and more than 4,700 officials’ spouses’ and children’s business activities have been regulated. The next focus was stated to be on ‘key areas and sectors’, to ‘take out tigers, swat flies, and hunt down foxes’ and win the critical battle against corruption.
Amendments to the Party Constitution have become a regular feature in all the Party Congresses since 1982. This is done to meet the ‘needs of theoretical innovation and the evolution of practice’. The amendments suggested were a reflection of the ‘strategic thinking’ as it had evolved and to reflect the ‘latest achievements in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and to the needs of the times’. Advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernisation has been designated as the central task of the Party and was included in the revised Party Constitution.
The Congress approved the incorporation of the Party's original aspiration and founding mission and its major achievements and historical experience over the past century into the Party Constitution. The Congress also added a statement on carrying forward the fighting spirit and building up its fighting ability, to the Party Constitution.
Another major amendment to the constitution is to incorporate the principle that ‘basic socialist economic systems, including the system under which public ownership is the mainstay and diverse forms of ownership develop together, the system under which distribution according to work is the mainstay while multiple forms of distribution exist alongside it, and the socialist market economy, are important pillars of socialism with Chinese characteristics’.
The Party Constitution is revised to include a two-step strategic plan of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects – realising socialist modernisation from 2020 through 2035; and building China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful from 2035 through the middle of this century.
The Party Constitution is also amended to include statements on “enhancing political loyalty in the military; elevating the people's armed forces to world-class standards; fully, faithfully, and resolutely implementing the policy of One Country, Two Systems; resolutely opposing and deterring separatists seeking ‘Taiwan independence’”. It also now includes ‘shared values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom; and advancing the building of an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity’. The CPC stated that this was done to promote the building of a ‘human community with a shared future, and leading the tide of human progress’.
On the duties and responsibilities of Party members, the constitution has asked all of them to work for improving their capacity for political judgment, thinking, and implementation and become more ‘self-motivated and resolute in implementing the Party's theories, lines, principles, and policies; on advancing the adaption of Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of our times’.
Provisions related to Party discipline are amended that directs Party officials at all levels to oppose ‘privilege-seeking mindset and practices’ and for making efforts to ensure that officials do not have the audacity, opportunity, or desire to become corrupt. New obligations and duties are prescribed for the Party members to meet the challenges of the present times. They are: studying the history of the Party; strengthening consciousness to maintain political integrity, thinking in big-picture terms, following the leadership core, and being in alignment with the central Party leadership; having confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics; and upholding ‘Xi Jinping's core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole’ and upholding the Central Committee's authority.
The Congress also added to the Party Constitution statements on developing a broader, fuller, and more robust whole-process people's democracy; establishing sound systems and procedures for democratic elections, consultations, decision-making, management, and oversight.