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IFANS Focus An Overview of the 20th CPC National Congress: Issues and Implications PYO Nari Upload Date 2022-12-29 Hits 481
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The 20th CPC (Communist Party of China) National Congress was held from October 16 to October 22, 2022. The Congress is known as the most important political event in China’s “Party-State” system. In addition to the announcement of the new party leadership, the Congress has unveiled  China’s new national strategy and policy direction that will likely shape the next five years of Chinese politics under Xi Jinping’s third term. At the Congress, President Xi Jinping cast aside succession norms and secured his third term ruling China. Many domestic, as well as international observers, closely watched the process and the deliverables of the 20th Congress to find out whether the event would mark the end of succession politics and usher in an era of one-man rule in China. 
    The Communist Party has released what was discussed at the Congress to domestic and foreign audiences, and the three most high-profile outcomes were: (1) General Secretary Xi’s work report; (2) the adoption of the revised Constitution of the CPC; and (3) the list of the newly elected members of the Central Committee. While the Party Congress unleashed sweeping changes to the political power structure in China,  it will take some time for these changes to have an actual impact on Chinese foreign policy since the Congress is, by nature, a political gathering. For this reason, it is hard to find out how the outcomes of the Party.
   Congress would shape and affect the direction of China’s foreign policy at the moment. That said, the tendency of the newly appointed top foreign policy personnel and their positions toward foreign policy issues might shape China’s stance going forward. With Xi Jinping set to further concentrate his power, China’s foreign policy under his third term is highly likely to be guided by his personal preference and ideas. It is forecast that Xi Jinping’s perception of the global political landscape and foreign policy vision articulated in his work report and the revised version of the Party’s constitution will be deeply woven into Chinese diplomacy in the years ahead. 
    A reflection on the outcomes of the elite political gathering offers some insights into how the Communist Party will steer China’s diplomacy forward. First, the Party Congress heralded a consolidation of China’s hard-line foreign policy stance. The new lineup of foreign policy leaders is stacked with officials who perceive the political landscape surrounding China as a “threat,” including Foreign Minister Wang Yi(王毅, Politburo member), China’s ambassador to the U.S. Qin Gang(秦刚, Central Committee member), Director of the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party Liu Jianchao(刘建超, Central Committee member), and Executive Deputy Director of the Office of the Central National Security Council Liu Haixing (刘海星, Central Committee member). With this significant changeover of top foreign policy officials, China will take an approach based on Xi Jinping’s “fighting spirit” vision for Chinese diplomacy. The Party’s renewed focus on a hard-line foreign policy approach could also be harnessed to achieve political gains at home, given the latest surge of nationalist sentiment among the Chinese people. Nevertheless, some China watchers view that the party officials intentionally used tough words in the outcome document and their public remarks to impress the Chinese public, which, ironically, is an indication of China’s growing fragility as the country’s rulers are increasingly fearful of domestic instability and threats from outside their borders. With many China watchers having mixed views on the outcomes of the recent political gathering in China, it remains to be seen how China’s foreign policy will unfold in the wake of the 20th Party Congress. 
    Second, it should be noted that President Xi toughened his tone on Taiwan issues at the Party Congress. He has long identified Taiwan issues as China’s core national interest and sees seizing Taiwan as the Communist Party’s ‘historic mission’ and a requirement for China’s “national rejuvenation.” At the Congress, Xi even stressed that he will “never promise to renounce force” to resolve the Taiwan question. But neither the U.S., China, nor Taiwan desires a formal declaration of Taiwan’s independence; therefore, the Communist Party under Xi’s third term will likely put pressure on Taiwan to bring Taipei to the negotiation table to discuss a peaceful reunification, while stepping up efforts to advance China’s military capabilities as part of its long-term strategy. 
    Third, the CPC’s long-standing priority on economic growth appears to be overshadowed by the new leadership’s focus on national security issues with a cursory glance. But the new party is also tasked with keeping up its policy efforts to quench the Chinese people’s yearning for “high-quality development,” which is a critical factor determining regime security and stability. Therefore, it is forecast that the new party will steer its foreign policy, aligning relevant efforts around forging and advancing economic cooperation with foreign counterparts. What’s most noteworthy is that the 20th Party Congress proposed a plan to stay the course in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has formed the backbone of President Xi’s foreign policy aimed at deepening China’s engagement in regional and global affairs by leveraging its economic power, and incorporate such efforts into crafting better responses to the pressing issues. In particular, observers forecast that He Lifeng (何立峰), who engineered the BRI and is in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of the CPC, will assume a leading role in formulating and implementing the party’s macroeconomic policy and advancing the BRI.  
    Fourth, amid the ongoing U.S.-China competition and economic downturn, the 20th Party Congress underscored the need to join hands with major powers, neighbors, and developing countries as its major diplomatic counterparts to cement President Xi’s grip on power, win more allies, and create an environment conducive to modernizing socialism with Chinese characteristics. It should also be noted that this policy initiative could lead the CPC to draw on multilateral consultative bodies and the BRI to win developing countries over to China’s side to leverage against the decoupling from China led by the U.S. 
    Fifth, with a wave of anti-China sentiment around the globe and China’s weakening soft power capabilities prodding the CPC to shore up efforts at public diplomacy, it is anticipated that the party’s new leadership will allocate more resources and double down efforts at advancing Diaspora diplomacy as the 20th Party Congress called for support and level-headed political maneuver targeted at overseas Chinese to build a Chinese world beyond China and the Sinosphere. 
    And if the situation unfolds as anticipated, ROK-China relations will face various challenges. First, Seoul and Beijing could lose momentum for maintaining amicable relations forged around economic gains if the CPC’s new leadership veers from China’s long-standing national policy priority on economic growth initiated by Deng Xiaoping under the slogan of Reform and Opening-up (改革開放) toward a renewed focus on national security and the sharing economy based on the principle of equitable distribution of wealth. And it is also worrisome that the CPC’s pursuit of strengthening social and political solidarity by raising awareness of shared ideologies could cause the Korean people to harbor grievances toward China. 
    In contrast, it is forecast that the party’s new leadership will bring Beijing closer to Pyongyang as the 20th Party Congress called for scaling up efforts at strengthening relations with neighboring countries and developing countries, and crafting a more encompassing ideology. Beijing’s recent support for Pyongyang at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) despite the North’s multiple provocations appears to corroborate this forecast. As these developments could signal closer relations between Beijing and Pyongyang, Seoul needs to formulate relevant responses.  
    Taken together, it is advised that Seoul step up efforts to strengthen ties with the CPC’s new leadership, improve and even rebuild its diplomatic capabilities on multiple fronts, and facilitate cooperation with Beijing to face down various security threats complicating the regional security landscape.

*Attached the File #China #XiJingping #CPC #20thCPCNationalCong #Centralized #Leadership
IFANS FOCUS 2022-33E(표나리).pdf
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