Region/Countries: Asia, China Industry: Multiple Sectors Date: October 2017

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: President Xi Jinping outlined plans to focus on sustainability and environmental protection, reducing dependence on exporting, and taking a leadership role on the world stage.

One of the biggest news stories of the month in China was the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), held from Oct. 18-24 in Beijing, with 2,300 delegates in attendance.

Representing the highest body within the CPC, the National Congress is in a period of leadership changes and personnel reshuffling. The 19th National Congress elected 25 members of the Political Bureau, and seven members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, of the CPC Central Committee. Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, China’s president and premier respectively, are the only two remaining members of the previous Standing Committee of the Political Bureau elected by the 18th National Congress, with Xi Jinping reelected as party chair for the second term. New faces joining the Standing Committee are Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng. The meeting also elected members and alternate members of the CPC Central Committee, as well as members of the Central Military Commission and other leadership organizations.

The theme of the 19th National Congress is “Remain true to our original aspiration and keep our mission firmly in mind, hold high the banner of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, strive for the great success of Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, and work tirelessly to realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.” In the opening ceremony, President Xi Jinping gave a three-hour speech in which he expressed his thoughts on “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” analyzed the international and domestic environments and conditions for China’s development, and presented a two-stage development plan from 2020 to the middle of this century.

The speech demonstrated the vision and governance philosophy of the CPC leadership, and has some important political and economic implications:

  1. To build a “strong and beautiful” society, which means China will keep focusing on economic and social development for the next few decades, based less on quantitative measures and more on quality and long-term sustainability, striving to beat poverty and unbalanced development in the country, investing more resources into poor areas and supporting the low- to moderate-income population.
  2. To emphasize domestic consumption in promoting economic growth, to stimulate China’s domestic market and reduce its dependence on exports.
  3. To develop a “modernized economy” that focuses on high-tech/innovative industries instead of benefiting from cheap labor, and thus helping China narrow the gap with the developed Western economies.
  4. Instead of keeping a low profile, China will take a proactive role in global leadership, with efforts such as the “Belt and Road” initiative.
  5. To emphasize the importance of environmental protection and encourage investment in environmentally friendly and clean energy technologies, as well as international collaboration and exchange in the related fields.