Srikanth Kondapalli – Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies of JNU talks to RSTV’s Neelu Vyas on the recently held 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China. He also talks on the election of Xi Jinping as Communist Party head for the second term.
Here is the Full interview
Q: What is the significance of the 19th party congress?
Ans: 19th party congress a significant event unlike the 18th party congress it lays down the long-term planning till 2050. This plan comes at a time when countries are planning for one or two years. There is a concerted action for the 100th anniversary. There has been a medium-term planning till 2020 where they wanted to build a well-off society on European standards.
Q: Can you compare Xi Jinping with Mao Zedong?
Ans: When Xi Jinping took over in 2012 he hardly had any position. Today he is the chairman of everything party, central security commission, deepening reforms as well. He is on other bodies as well. He has full control. He has amassed many powers he has pushed the party constitution with his thoughts and doctrines, this is remarkable.
Q: Is it a clear signal to officials across China that you cannot contradict his doctrines, it will almost be like an ideological heresy?
Ans: Xi Jinping once gave an interview he said I am taking over as a party secretary in the early nineties and I will follow the processors for two years. In the Leninist practice, there is a continuity of the previous leaders. The party line follows the democratic centralism
Q: What about the red book of quotations like during the Mao era, by enshrining his thoughts wha5t about his doctrinal status? Will his ideology enthuse the media, govt agencies in China
Ans: I think yes. When Mao was alive these red books glorified Mao. Hu Jintao speeches were never published. Xi Jinping got his governance model published. Across the board, it’s being published.
Q: Does Xi Jinping get a doctrinal status?
Ans: Some of the ideas like governance, poverty alleviation, anti-corruption, cyber warfare reforms are like songs … you have to sing them to get a promotion. Specialist with Chinese characteristics says that we need to have our own kind of socialism, unlike the Soviet Union.
It increases the productive forces and market mechanism with party control. At the top is communist party controlling everything? In China, communist party admitted capitalist in China. Capitalist represent the productive forces.
Q: Do you see Xi Jinping going beyond his usual two terms?
Ans: Xi Jinping followed the party norms broadly. If you look at the standing committee of the politburo, most of the leaders are in the sixties. So to that extent, he will continue. Like Mao. Most of his loyalists are part of the politburo. Seven members of the politburo are supportive of Xi Jinping. Out of seven votes, five belong to Xi Jinping.
Q: If he doesn’t get the third term, will he wield the same kind of influence?
Ans: Yes. Xi Jinping thought in the party constitution can drive legislation like any party leader does. He will get legitimacy till eternity. Communist party will be eternal in China
Q: Do you see the party system changing in China on the lines of Singaporean stole of democracy?
Ans: Party has changed substantially than what we saw in Mao’s times. The Communist party represents the broad masses. Earlier it represented the dictators. The Communist party represents the capitalist class. It also represents the advanced culture Party has changed colour . Village level elections across the board have their own elections. Party not represented at the village level. The trick is elected sarpanch will automatically become the communist party member. Party is renewing itself. Singaporean model is authoritarian. Here in China, there is capitalism as well. My hunch is there will be social democrats that will retain Stalin and Leninist features.
Q: How do you see the freedom of expression unfolding?
Ans: Freedom of expression is granted by the constitution. Thumb rule is anything published has to go through censorship. Speaking has some amount of liberalism. As long as you are not criticising the party, its fine. It’s an absolutist state. With the growth of middle class, demands of freedom have increased. Under this pressure, the party is trying to accommodate things. The majority can clamp down things in the country. There are 8 million netizens social sites are closely monitored.
Q: In the days to come are we going to see a new wave of international Chinese polices?
Ans:2050 roadmap is the book to follow. There 36000 Chinese companies which have to be protected. 160 million Chinese are working abroad, their security is paramount. There are investments abroad, some 800 billion dollars their protection is key. The multipolar world through G20, svco etc there will be more thrust. IMF reorganization Chinese voting rights were jagged up.
Q: An aggressive Xi Jinping how healthy is it for India?
Ans: Xi jinping talked about new kind of international relations in the 19th party congress. If china flexes its muscles other countries including India will get marginalized.
Chinese interlocutors anyway don’t consider India as a major power. India will have to revisit its polices. China has been taking of protection of core interest. China has to come to terms with India in terms of power and also opportunity. China sells 6 to 7 billion dollars of mobile phone. China cannot have a militaristic approach. Pragmatically china will approach its neighbors, develop interdependence. When Xi Jinping came to India in 2014, Modi and Chinese president developed bonhomie. He even said in Hamburg that Doklam should not impact the bilateral ties.
Primarily china will protect its interest like manufacturing companies. Their state owned companies will become globally competitive. Expanding the economic ambitions definitely will not be a cake walk. State owned enterprises are in debt. Chinese will have problem any company having seven employees should have a communist party cell. So entities are more like party loyalists. There is grouse amongst the plan Xi Jinping because of his ante corruption drive. So definitely it’s not going to be easy.