World awaits major outcomes of 19th CPC Congress

By Ei Sun OH Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/19 18:48:39

As the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China convenes, worldwide attention is once again trained on Beijing as China's ruling party gathers its delegates to take stock of the nation's accomplishments over the past five years and also to chart the nation's course for the next five years.

The past half decade has indeed witnessed China's peaceful rise to take its overdue place among the major powers of the world. At the home front, China's enormous economic engine has entered into a "new normal" stage, with slower but steadier economic performance figures becoming the new normal. It is no secret that many commentators criticized this recent economic trend and reminisced about the double-digit growth in the earlier years after the reform and opening-up process. I am perhaps one of the few who actually saw the new normal figures as being a very positive development for China. For it allowed China to gradually wean from the hot and often hapless pursuit of quantitative growth of yesteryears, sometimes at the cost of heavy pollution and wanting health. Instead, China took advantage of its steadier economic growth over the last five years to try to improve the qualitative aspects of its many goods and services.

And the result? Even short- and medium-term ones are nothing less than spectacular. China now leads the world in green and renewable energy production, and is committed to the Paris climate-change prevention accord, as opposed to the US denouncement of the same. Public transport, ranging from the world's largest high-speed train network to electric cars, are the preferred modes of getting around. And the quality of the Chinese people's daily lives has also tremendously improved.

Many parts of China's vast territory are now virtually cashless communities, with the tapping of smartphones or scanning their screens being sufficient to make a payment. Electronic commerce has also blossomed, enabling people to purchase daily goods and services with high efficiency.

On the international stage, the strategic "tango" between China and US has evolved into what is known as a "new type of major-power relations," occasionally differing in opinion and action when their respective core interests dictate so, but more often joining hands in devising and implementing solutions to some of the world's most pressing geopolitical challenges. The Belt and Road initiative (BRI) that has gradually been rolled out over the last few years also allow China and its neighbors to deepen their ties.

It is perhaps only natural that the international community looks upon the 19th CPC Congress with heightened expectations. The first is, of course, that the continuance in China's top political leadership should usher in yet another period of stable and prosperous socio-economy for China and beyond. Despite China's new normal economic development stage, the world's second largest economy still operates as the world's undisputed growth engine. We welcome China's aforementioned qualitative economic transformation, and hope that it can be replicated elsewhere at an acceptable pace and mode.

The second is also economically related, namely the salient aspects of BRI, such as trade facilitation, infrastructure connectivity and people-to-people bonds that could be hastened and deepened, paying special attention to the particular needs of countries along the way. For example, while high-speed rail would be preferred in some countries, many developing countries need the even more basic double-tracked rail, both of which China is well positioned to build.

And even the third expectation is an economic one, for now that the US is reverting back to economic isolationism, the world is looking to China to take the lead in pushing the free trade agenda. The advantages of free trade should have been plain for all to see, and China has indeed been a main beneficiary.

The fourth expectation relates to China taking a more positively proactive approach to fulfilling its duties and obligations as one of the major powers of the world. Terrorism, for example, is one of the modern man-made plagues that continues to haunt the globe. China should and must continue to be one of the lead countries to combat terrorism.

The world awaits the various imaginably major outcomes of the 19th CPC Congress, which hopefully would match the expectations.

The author is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

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