The Chinese president wants the Guangdong city to be the driving force for new reforms. His southern tour echoes Deng Xiaoping’s 1992 visit. The reformist project remains undefined. It goes against a noticeable centralisation of power at the top of the Chinese Communist Party.
Shenzhen (AsiaNews) – Shenzhen must become the model for a modern socialist society in China, Chinese President Xi Jinping said yesterday, 40th anniversary of the transformation of the city in Guangdong province into special economic zone, one of four such entities.
In his southern tour, seen as a repeat of the one by Deng Xiaoping made in 1992 to promote the liberalisation of the country’s economy and its opening to the world, the Chinese president named the coastal city as the vanguard of China’s new modernisation.
According to Xi’s plans, Shenzhen will be granted more autonomy in areas deemed key to the success of the new reforms.
What is more, Xi notes that, as China faces unprecedented challenges, such as the coronavirus pandemic, it will take even more courage and political wisdom to push the reform agenda forward in the current international climate.
Without saying it openly, he is referring to the geopolitical conflict with the United States, from the trade war to the possible economic and technological decoupling from US power.
In his Shenzhen speech, Xi did not go into detail about his new economic reforms. He spoke of the need to optimise and improve the country’s systems of production, distribution, circulation and consumption of goods and link them more effectively to foreign systems.
To this end, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is set to meet on 26-29 October for the fifth plenum of the 19th Party Congress to approve this “dual cycle” model.
Self-sufficiency and innovation are the key elements in Xi’s plans. “Development is our primary task; talent is our number one resource; and innovation is the top driving force,” he said.
Analysts point out, however, that Xi’s proposed reforms go against recent decisions towards a greater centralisation of power. In fact, last month, the CCP issued a directive placing the private sector under its control, paving the way for a return to a planned economy.
In addition, at the coming plenum at the end of the month, the Central Committee will adopt new internal regulations which, according to observers, will increase Xi's power.
According to the draft proposal presented on Tuesday in state media, the position of the CCP Secretary General will be strengthened over that of other members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo (the main decision-making body in China).
Xi will be much more than just a coordinator, as required by the current party statute, but will be granted the exclusive power to set the agenda for discussions.
The new operating rules of CCP’s political bodies come on top of those introduced by Xi in recent years to control lower party ranks.
In 2018, for example, new rules governing Party groups within ministries and provincial administrations require members to “resolutely safeguard” Xi’s status as the core of the party’s leadership.