CPC Congress key to understanding world

By Yu Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/24 19:58:39

Employees at a local mining company in Huaibei, East China's Anhui Province take their noon break on Tuesday to read news on the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Photo: IC

 Editor's Note:

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is not only a focus for Chinese domestic politics, but also closely watched by international scholars. Martin Jacques, currently a senior fellow at Cambridge University and a visiting professor at Fudan and Tsinghua universities in China, shares his views with Global Times reporter Yu Xi.

Martin Jacques Photo: Chen Xia/GT

GT: Xi Jinping mentioned "new era" in his report to the 19th CPC National Congress for many times. What weight does the "new era" carry for China and the world?

Jacques: The "new era" essentially means a world in which China is very much more influential. That process started five years ago. I think it's now absolutely obvious that we are in a new era. The new era does not just consist of China's transformation and its ability to exercise that influence, but also its function of what's happening in the West, particularly in the US, and the decline of American influence. The new era consists of two components, not one.

GT: How will the 19th National Congress of the CPC lay the ground for China's development in the next five years?

Jacques: First, it tries to consolidate what's happening in the last five years, to consolidate economic changes and drive forward and [consolidate] the internationalization of China. Anti-corruption is a good example [of what the country will do] in the next five years. I think it has the full weight of the law and legal institutions. I think that's very important. While it's basically a Party thing, it also tended to be a campaign. If you treat anti-corruption as a campaign, when you stop campaigning, it all comes back. If you can give it a legal sanction or punishment, you stand a much stronger chance of it becoming institutionalized and therefore permanent.

GT: Many Westerners say the Chinese economy will suffer an impending crisis or a hard landing. You have refuted such views. Could you explain why?

Jacques: I'm still waiting for the hard landing (laugh), there's been no sign of it. Westerners have long believed China would suffer an economic crisis. But the hard landing never happened. The problem is the way they [the Westerners] see China, and the way they see the Chinese economy. They got their analyses wrong for so long. I think it's time for some humility for them.

GT: You always say that the traditional Western thinking modes are not suitable to understanding the real China. What do you think is the right way to understand the real China?

Jacques: China is so different from most of the countries in the world. It's constituted over a very long historical period in such a different way to Western countries. You know there is a mentality in the West that everyone should be like us. So we are the templet, and you will be like us. Well, you know it's never going to happen. Actually the process of Westernization has peaked, which is now in quite rapid decline. And this enormous transformation happening across much of the developing world is creating new forms of modality. China is a classic example. China comes from a very different tradition, which is based on very formidable contribution of Chinese scholars like Confucius. You cannot understand China through a Western prism. Why do Westerns get China so wrong so often? Because they see it through a Western prism.

GT: China has been enhancing its regional leadership and global standing. How do you evaluate its role?

Jacques: China's influence is most felt in East Asia, but it happens around the rest of the world as well because China is so big. It is a country with one-fifth of the world's population. When a country as vast as China demographically and geographically rises, then the gravitational pull of China is felt everywhere. But it's most strongly felt in the region. The rise of China is creating new relationships, and all sorts of connectivity with the world. This is happening at an extremely rapid pace since it started.

GT: Some believe the congress is not only a Chinese one, but a global one. Do you think so? How will it affect global issues?

Jacques: I think the congress is not simply for China, because China becomes so important in the world. The most important political event in the Chinese calendar is at once both a huge national event and a major international event. Most people around the world probably don't really appreciate that, certainly not in the Western world. So the amount of the attention they will give to the Congress, their understanding of the Congress will be very limited. But the process is happening. This 19th CPC Congress will have a lot more influence globally, and will be reported more widely than the 18th Congress was. The difficulty is Chinese Communist Party is still seen in terms of the hangover from the Cold War. If you want to understand what are the most important forces to change the world in the next five years, you need to understand what's happening in the 19th CPC congress.

GT: What's the prospect of Belt and Road initiative being accepted in the Western world?

Jacques: The Belt and Road [initiative] is an idea which is about four years old. It has grown not just in the region. In European terms, it has been East and Central European reaction. In my own country, if you mention the term, to be frank with you, most people will not know what you are talking about. But there are, nonetheless, significant initiatives taking place in the UK, which are seen as part of the Belt and Road [initiative]. It's like throwing a pebble into the water, and steadily the ripples get bigger and bigger. I think it's what is happening. I expect the Belt and Road [initiative] to have a very big impact on the world. If it's going to change the world, we should think of what effect it will [bring to the world] in 10 years, 20 years and 50 years. If it is really going to have a huge impact, we will talk about it for a century.

This article is an excerpt and was not reviewed by Martin Jacques.

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