October 18, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether Xi Jinping is losing his grip on the Chinese Communist Party. We also look at Gulab Nabi Azad’s plans for Jammu and Kashmir, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Is Xi Losing His Grip On The Party?
Possibly the most significant political event commenced this weekend – the assembly of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) week-long Party Congress. The 20th edition of the event began on October 16 and is expected to reveal what happens for China and, subsequently, the rest of the world.
President Xi Jinping’s now decade-long rule has led to a dramatic change in China. Leader of the world’s second-largest economy and one of the biggest military forces, is Xi losing his grip on the CCP, or will he continue to wield power over the country for the rest of his life?
Xi Jinping, who first took office in 2012, is the leader of the one-party state governed by the CCP. The party is expected to hand him a third five-year term after the two-term limit was abolished in 2018. He currently holds three top positions – General Secretary of the Central Committee, Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), and President of the People’s Republic of China. The 20th party congress will see about 2,300 delegates gather in Tiananmen Square’s Great Hall of the People, where appointments to top positions will be made.
The 69-year-old president kicked off the 20th party congress with a speech outlining the successes of the CCP. He said that China, after achieving comprehensive control over Hong Kong, turned it from chaos to governance. He also lauded China’s Covid policies stating that the heavy curbs on people’s lives were for their safety. Additionally, he vowed a struggle against “separatism and interference” in the self-ruled island of Taiwan.
Mao Zedong, the founding father of Communist China following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, ensured that the party, and not the state, would control the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Ever since then, the CCP leader has also been the chairman of the CMC. Xi Jinping, unlike his predecessor Hu Jintao, became the CMC chairman instantly and wasted no time in dismantling the opposition within the armed forces. By accusing former CMC Vice Chairman Xu Caihou and former PLA General Guo Boxiong of corruption in 2014, he strategically reduced the lingering influence of former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin in the PLA.
Xi also restructured the military by abolishing the four military headquarters – staff, politics, logistics, and armament – and replaced them with 15 smaller agencies. Under the new structure, the CMC can issue orders directly to different branches of the military as they have to report directly to the CMC. Xi made it clear that those currently serving as military officers are not immune from harm if they resist his control.
VIEW: Xi will maintain his grip on the party
Set to secure a historic third term in power, Xi Jinping has revolutionized the course of China. Not only has his administration successfully ended extreme poverty, it has also taken substantial steps to tackle climate change. China lifted over 100 million members of its rural population out of poverty through its Poverty Alleviation Drive. Since starting the campaign in 2015, the Chinese government has spent over $80 billion to end poverty. Xi committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2060 after experiencing the most catastrophic summer this year. The country has already invested heavily in clean energy and plans to discontinue financing coal-fired power plants abroad.
He also played a crucial role in elevating China’s economic growth in the world over the past decade. According to the World Bank’s international comparison program, the Chinese economy overtook that of the US in 2014, and it continues to be one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. He also transformed China’s foreign policy with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – a massive infrastructure and development investment strategy that funded bridges, ports, railways, tunnels, and power plants. The BRI increased China’s influence in global politics significantly, especially among the Global South nations.
Xi further cemented his legacy when “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” was enshrined in China’s constitution in 2018. The only leader who was able to achieve this before he was Chairman Mao. Xi furthered his grip on the country with his signature anti-corruption campaign. With this campaign, not only have 4.7 million people been investigated by the authorities, his political rivals have been eliminated.
COUNTERVIEW: Xi’s grip on the party is slipping
While China’s development has happened in leaps and bounds under Xi’s leadership, it is difficult to turn a blind eye to the looming adversaries in his wake. During his term, China has become more nationalist, authoritarian and repressive. The government has engaged in what’s being termed as genocide of the Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in the country. They were subjected to forced labour and sterilization, and mass detention.
Despite leading its acceleration, Xi was also responsible for the economic disruption that haunted the country during the Covid-19 pandemic. To add to this, fears of a global recession resulting from the Ukraine war have further slowed down China’s economy. By implementing its “zero-Covid” policies, the world’s second-largest economy shrank 2.6% in June this year. Widespread lockdowns due to the virus disrupted global trade and manufacturing.
China’s agitation with Taiwan does not paint Xi in a good light either. He has reiterated that the “reunification” with Taiwan must happen by 2049. In August of this year, China displayed its biggest show of military force when it fired live ballistic missiles around the island of Taiwan. This was subsequent to a visit to the island by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. China views self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province that will be under Beijing’s control eventually.
- China’s Communist Party Congress: Everything you need to know – The Guardian
- China’s Communist Party Congress: A really simple guide – BBC
- Climate change has come for the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter – Vox
- This decade belonged to China. So will the next one – The Guardian
- What you need to know about China’s 20th Communist Party Congress – Aljazeera
- Biden’s latest global infrastructure plan is all about competing with China. That’s a problem. – Vox
- How Xi Jinping made himself unchallengeable – BBC
- Xi Jinping opens historic Communist Party Congress, lauds ‘transformation’ of Hong Kong – The Telegraph
- What Xi Jinping’s third term means for China and the world – Vox
- China’s economy contracts as Covid lockdowns curb business – NBC News
What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) Xi Jinping will maintain his grip on the Chinese Communist Party.
b) Xi Jinping’s grip on the Chinese Communist Party is slipping.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
India Needs To Play A Big Role To End Ukraine War
For the Left:
Hindu Economics: ‘Third Way’ Is Only Way To Permanently Avert Global Economic Crisis
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Gulab Nabi Azad outlines his plans (Jammu & Kashmir) – Azad and his party, the Democratic Azad Party (DAP), outlined three goals to achieve if he came to power. They are to restore statehood, reserve rights to purchase land for locals only, and reserve employment rights only for locals. He urged party members and activists to mobilise the public and gather support for statehood. He said the BJP shouldn’t delay the decision and should happen before the assembly elections.
Why it matters: Azad left Congress in August to launch his own party, the DAP. Recently, PDP General Secretary, G N Lone Hanjura’s son, Advocate Muzaffar Nabi Lone, joined the DAP. He said Azad is the only person capable of filling the political vacuum in J&K. Prominent parties have taken their stand on statehood. The BJP government at the Centre has reiterated the fulfilment of restoring statehood and holding assembly elections.
Vacant engineering seats (Tamil Nadu) – There are about 50,000 general category candidates eligible to participate in the third round of the TNEA counselling. However, only about 35,000 have filled their choices. Experts say there could be 60,000 – 65,000 engineering vacant seats in colleges across the state this year. This year, out of 446 engineering colleges, 80 weren’t able to fill a single seat. Students have become more careful about the courses and want colleges with good facilities and placement programmes.
Why it matters: So far, only 19.9% of the seats have been filled in the general category, with 1.39 lakh available. Last year, universities were more optimistic. After a five-year lull, private engineering colleges filled almost 60% of their seats. Only about 58,000 were vacant. Students aren’t interested in streams other than IT and computer science.
Panchayats back to school (West Bengal) – Due to alleged corruption in local panchayats, the Centre has withheld funding under the MGNREGA scheme. The state government has decided to include malpractice and its consequences in the training syllabus for those elected in the three-tier panchayat elections next year. They’ll be directed to operate with transparency and be educated about the consequences. They’ll be taught about project costs and floating e-tenders.
Why it matters: The state has been facing a shortage of funds under the MGNREGA scheme. The Centre stopped releasing money last December and hasn’t yet approved the state’s labour budget for 2022-23 fiscal. For the TMC, allegations of corruption by elected panchayats are an embarrassment.
Modi to increase visits to the state (Gujarat) – Since March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been visiting the state at least once a month. As the state gears up for assembly elections, he’ll increase the frequency of his visits. Earlier, he was on a three-day visit and will soon visit for two days using official programmes like inaugurations of projects to address rallies. Despite Congress not being in serious contention, the BJP is looking at the AAP as a potential competitor.
Why it matters: The BJP and Modi are intensifying their Gujarat strategy as there’s some buzz that the AAP could make inroads. In 2017, Modi frequently travelled to the state before the assembly poll dates were announced. Once they were declared, he increased his visits with large election rallies. The party managed to win 99 of the 182 seats as the Congress came within striking distance of capturing power.
One District One Product (Assam) – The state government is ready to implement the One District One Product (ODOP) initiative to help increase procurement of inputs, avail common services, and market products. It’s part of the government’s plan to develop the state by 2026. The initiative includes perishable agricultural products produced in a district and its allied sectors. Products like mangoes, potatoes, poultry, fish, etc will be included.
Why it matters: The Department of Commerce is focussing on agriculture for exports. The ODOP scheme will help provide common services and support facilities. Earlier this year, Assam Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary asked district collectors to identify and promote products that had export potential through the ODOP scheme.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
$1.2 billion – The amount pledged by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to end polio worldwide. The money will be used to implement the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s strategy through 2026.