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Opinion
Pool of Thoughts
Experts offer their views on the 19th CPC National Congress
 NO. 50 DECEMBER 14, 2017

An International Think Tank Symposium themed 19th CPC National Congress: Implications for China and the World was held on November 16 in Beijing. More than 240 scholars and former political heavyweights from China and 31 other countries, regions and international organizations exchanged views on the major achievements of the Party's national congress, which closed on October 24. Edited excerpts of their opinions follow:

Inspiration from the report

Fernando Reyes Matta, Director of the Center for Latin American Studies on China, Universidad Andrés Bello, Chile, and former Chilean ambassador to China

The most important achievement in the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was the defining of medium and long-term strategies for the future of China. This is important not only for China, but also for the rest of the world.

The achievements of the Congress defined four key issues: first, the country's progress will depend on how it identifies the new demands that come from a society with a higher quality of life; second, development is directly related to superior knowledge, more innovation and more training of high-level cadres; third, never again can growth and development be achieved by punishing the environment and the lives of people; last, the ideological bases underpinning the People's Republic of China are in need of a new reading consistent with the national and global realities of the 21st century.

It is a new time for China, but at the same time, this process is looked at with special interest by socialists and progressives from the rest of the world. Here is a path that the theoreticians of Marxism did not imagine. It is an original path, where modernity and tradition go hand in hand. A space where market instruments and collective political work can open theoretical windows for new currents of socialist thought.

It's another path that can lead to a world with more equality, more development, and more opportunities for the participation of all sectors of society in the construction of a better future.

Peter Kagwanja, Chief Executive of the Africa Policy Institute of Kenya

China has been modest about its growing international influence and power as a new global power. However, in President Xi Jinping's report to the 19th CPC National Congress, he acknowledged the "rise in China's international influence, ability to inspire, and power to shape," which has greatly contributed to "global peace and development" in the last five years.

Driving China's diplomacy is the vision to "champion the development of a community with a shared future for mankind, and encourage the evolution of the global governance system." China is pursuing new "soft power" diplomacy to allay the world's fears of a "clash of civilizations" with the West resulting from its rise as a power with a view to creating "a favorable external environment for [its own] development" and realizing the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation. China's new diplomacy, based on the idea of "developmental peace" to build "a moderately prosperous society" and rid the world of poverty, is ushering in a new dawn for Africa-China strategic partnership as part of the shared dreams of two ancient civilizations.

Elena Avramidou, Former Educational and Cultural Attaché of the Greek Embassy in China

China is entering a new era in which it pays more attention to the gap between rich and poor and how to narrow it, as well as how to address imbalances and inadequacies and give priority to the spiritual and cultural needs of the people. Thus, a new awareness and sensibility for sustainable development is emerging, and also a new approach to the needs of a civil society that is growing rapidly.

These principles, however, are not only related to the protection of the natural environment and transformation of both the modes of production and the development model. They also require changes of lifestyle, worldview and values; hence, they are also related to education and culture.

Culture is an effective tool to give Chinese soft power a greater profile, though it depends on how China communicates its message to the world. Indeed, if we want to succeed in delivering a good narrative, it is important to first understand the characteristics of the local culture in each country where we aim to spread our message. Then, it is essential to find a proper way to communicate it; a way that at times is completely different from one country to another.

It is a way to support China's culture and also extend the nation's influence and boost cooperation in ambitious projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative. Indeed, misunderstanding, fears, and scarce communication, all due to cultural differences, can do serious harm, while understanding and admiration of values produce attraction and success in both world politics and business investment.

Shared future

Sergei G. Luzianin, Director of Institute of Far Eastern Studies of Russia

President Xi's idea for building a community with a shared future contains several new approaches to comprehending global and regional development and security.

At the global level, having taken important foreign policy steps including the Belt and Road Initiative, China was able to launch a new Eurasian wave of globalization based on the principles of mutual benefit and co-development.

In the future, the updated, Eurasian version of globalization within the Belt and Road Initiative can replace the deadlocked Western globalization model of the 1990s. The Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union project offer an opportunity to activate the processes of economic integration, opening up and liberalization, through the recently established Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

China's intensified diplomatic activeness clearly signals to the world that it intends to facilitate the building of a closer community with a shared future along the Eurasia corridor. In the current complicated situation, Eurasia finds itself at a new crossroads. All Eurasian countries should understand better the opportunity to unify within the framework of the "shared future" concept and, by making joint efforts, counter the risks of the continuing economic recession as well as properly settling conflicts and problems so as to avoid repeating past mistakes.

Rudolf Fürst, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Czech Republic

The Chinese "going global" shift, which has been attracting attention everywhere, is a crucial theme of domestic policy, as confirmed recently at the 19th CPC National Congress by President Xi's declaration of the new era under the current political leadership.

In Europe, China is becoming an economic priority, even though the existing EU-China strategic partnership to date remains behind expectations.

However, globalization brings about positive opportunities for China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC).

China is a latecomer and a new stakeholder in the whole of Europe. In the Czech Republic the Chinese investment flow soared five times in 2016 (according to Rhodium Group statistics) on an annual basis compared with 2015.

The booming agenda of China and the CEEC is being observed there as a testing period which will show to what extent the prospects and plans come true. This is a comparative advantage of China, as it has so far no tradition of playing a game-changing role in either regional or domestic policy in the CEEC, and people there have no direct negative experience [of China], as they did in the past with Russia and Germany.

China represents a new moderate opportunity for economic stimulation both as an additional source of investment and by providing access to an alternative trade destination beyond the EU, U.S. and other BRICS markets.

Pan Wei, Director of Center for Chinese & Global Affairs, Peking University

The concept of building a community with a shared future is a view raised by the CPC to the world in recent years. The concept indicates China's call for opening up and inclusiveness of the whole world, a basis on which peace and development can be achieved. It also shows China's call for dialogue between members of the international community, instead of confrontation, as well as for establishing partnerships rather than military alliances.

We should have the consensus that to build a community with a shared future and promote world peace, we should not impose one nation's social values on other countries, a practice which has resulted in several wars since the end of the Cold War.

Copyedited by Chris Surtees

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