This week’s Chinascope looks at the new historic resolution passed at the 6th Plenum, the spectre of strain between India and China, and how the US finds it difficult to get insights into Xi Jinping’s inner circle.
China over the week
Chinese President Xi Jinping swiftly passed a historic resolution on 10 November at the 6th plenary session of the Communist Party’s 19th central committee.
Xi’s thoughts and persona are now enshrined in the pantheon of CCP’s history.
“Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is contemporary Chinese Marxism, 21st-century Marxism, and the essence of Chinese culture and Chinese spirit. Xi has advanced the sinicization of Marxism,” said the communique issued after the meeting.
Mao’s legacy during the Cultural Revolution is whitewashed in the communique, issued by the Chinese state media on the last day of the four-day Plenum in Beijing. The resolution elevated Xi to the status previously only enjoyed by Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
“The party established Comrade Xi Jinping as the core of the Party Central Committee and the core position of the entire party, and established Xi Jinping’s guiding position in the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It is of decisive significance for advancing the historical process of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” said the official communique.
Besides Xi’s place in the party’s history, the communique also underscored the role of security in China’s future development.
“We need to balance development and security imperatives, move faster to modernise national defence and the armed forces, and take well-coordinated steps toward making our people prosperous, our nation strong, and our country beautiful,” said the communique.
China continues to modernise its national defence with the US being its primary target. The United States Naval Institute (USNI) revealed that China had built mock targets shaped like a US navy aircraft in the Xinjiang desert.
The mock targets sit close to the former range where China has tested its DF-21D anti-carrier ballistic missile. The discovery suggests that China continues to enhance its capability to target US military vessels in its immediate vicinity.
In another development, US lawmakers visited Taiwan on 9 November. The delegation includedSenators John Cornyn, Tommy Tuberville, Mike Crapo, Mike Lee, Representative Jake Ellzey, and another representative whose name wasn’t revealed. The purpose of their visit was kept secret. The lawmakers were seen visiting the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s headquarters in Taipei.
The US heavily relies on Taiwan for its strategic supply of semiconductors. The visit may have been related to ensuring TSMC continues to operate as supply chains worldwide face severe difficulties.
The glitz around the Singles’ Day, an annual event when Chinese people splurge on luxury items by shopping on e-commerce platforms, was rather dim in China this year.
Though e-commerce platforms reportedly did a business worth $139 billion on the Singles’ Day, companies have sought to strike a balance with the common prosperity campaign this year. E-commerce giants like Alibaba and JD.com have spoken about ‘social responsibility’ to align with Xi’s common prosperity campaign. T-mall marketplace encouraged people to “contribute to an environmentally friendly lifestyle” ahead of Singles’ Day.
Even Alibaba refrained from organising large events to kick-off Singles’ Day. In the past, celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Katy Perry have been part of the Singles’ Day events.
China in world news
If you thought the US had deep insight into Chinese politics, you might want to think again. Senior officials in the Joe Biden administration have told Bloomberg the US is struggling to get access to the inner circle of Xi Jinping, which presents a challenge in understanding the direction Chinese politics is taking. The US suffered a major setback in 2017 when its network of sources in China was either executed or jailed.
Despite current tensions, both countries are finding ways to manage the risk of conflict.
President Biden and Xi Jinping will hold a virtual summit Monday evening, according to Politico. The two leaders are also likely to discuss easing visa restrictions, bilateral nuclear weapons, and trade friction between their economies.
In addition to the planned talks, CNBC reported that Xi may invite Biden to attend the Winter Olympics. “I don’t comment on speculative media reports,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in response to a question on the veracity of the report.
Despite the overtures, the tensions between US and China aren’t going to disappear anytime soon.
Meanwhile, in India, Ministry of External Affairs said China’s illegal occupation of Indian territory isn’t acceptable. “India has neither accepted such illegal occupation of our territory nor has it accepted the unjustified Chinese claims,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.
Tensions over the border stand-off continue to simmer behind the scenes. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently asked the army to prepare to respond at short notice. Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat has also added that China has emerged as the biggest security threat for India, and the border issue is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
What you must read this week
Did China Create New Facts on the Ground Along the LAC With India? – Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan
An Uncommon Theory for Common Prosperity – Damien Ma
India in China
A Chinese vlogger’s video about the cheap, lifesaving drugs received in India was viewed 153,000 times this week. The vlogger spoke about the strengths of India’s pharmaceutical industry.
Experts this week
“I hope that our country’s Internet governance policy will become more open while ensuring national political security, so that ordinary people can increasingly communicate with the outside world about which they only know through pictures, videos, music, text, etc. Everyone can talk about the fun and troubles in your own life, about Chinese food and leisure, about the city and the countryside in which you live. There are many common people’s topics,” wroteZhang Weiwei, professor of international relations at Fudan University.
The author is a columnist and a freelance journalist, currently pursuing an MSc in international politics with focus on China from School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He was previously a China media journalist at the BBC World Service. He tweets @aadilbrar. Views are personal.
This is a weekly round-up that Aadil Brar writes about what’s buzzing in China. This will soon be available as a subscribers’-only product.
(Edited by Prashant)
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.