[Viewpoint]Glory daysThe 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China ended on Sunday. The Scientific View of Development, reflecting the vision of Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, was inserted into the party’s charter. The Central Committee, which will lead China during the next five years, constitutes 371 representatives.
The committee elected nine Politburo Standing Committee members, the party’s supreme leadership, at the first general meeting on Sunday.
Four members of the committee are exiting, including retiring Vice President Zeng Quinghong. New faces include Xi Jinging, the party secretary of the Shanghai Committee, and Li Kequing, the party secretary of Liaoning Province. People say they will compete to become the next leader.
The election of the standing committee members is the biggest political event in China every five years.
The congress adopted new policy guidelines in advance and introduced the leaders they wanted elected. Nothing unexpected took place.
There are two things that we should pay attention to regarding the 17th National Congress.
One is the new lineup of Politburo Standing Committee members, which has the noteworthy inclusion of people who majored in the humanities and social sciences. Previously, all nine committee members were technocrats who had majored in science and engineering.
This time, however, they include Xi Jinping who holds a doctorate in law, and Li Keqing, who holds a doctoral degree in economics.
As China moved down the road to reform and an open-door policy, the country needed technocrats devoted to economic development, following the slogan, “technology will save the nation.”
Now that China has become the fourth-largest economy in the world, it is facing new problems.
The country now demands a leader who can cure the social conflicts hidden in the shadow of rapid growth, such as the wide gap between the haves and have-nots.
To coordinate the interests of different social strata, China needs a politician who can make political decisions. China has decided to find that leader among people with an educational background in humanities or social sciences.
To select the new leadership, China used the United States as a model. More than 60 percent of the 43 presidents who have led the United States so far have been lawyers.
China seems to have noticed that one of the reasons the United States has not experienced any major internal conflicts since the American Civil War that ended in 1865 was because its leaders were lawyers who knew how to mediate social conflicts.
Another noteworthy point is the word “revival,” which appeared frequently in the address Hu made to the national congress.
Hu emphasized the revival of China 11 times, using a word seldom heard in the previous party congresses.
What does the word mean? To better understand its meaning, consider a recent Chinese television program.
The Chinese Central Television broadcast a six-part special program called, “Road to Revival,” to mark the 17th National Congress. It was broadcast via CCTV-1 from Oct. 5 to 10, starting at the golden hour of 8 p.m. They replayed the same program on CCTV-2 from Oct.10 to 15, the opening day of the National Congress.
“Road to Revival” divided the modern history of China, starting in 1840, into six periods.
The first depicts the period from the time Sun Yat Sen tried to save the nation from national ruin and the birth of the Chinese Communist Party.
The second part is on Mao Zedong and the birth of the People’s Republic of China. Then the program describes Deng Xiaoping’s reform and open-door policy efforts; the decision of Jiang Zemin to join the World Trade Organization; and the effort of Hu Jintao to build a harmonious society.
The “Road to Revival” provided a visual to the contents of Hu’s address.
Hu wanted to emphasize revival in the two-hour, 20-minute long report.
Which period does he want to revive? Considering that the program, “Road to Revival,” starts with the Opium War in 1840, we can presume that China wants to return to is the pre-Opium War era, when the Chinese people believe China was the center of the world.
Deng Xiaoping’s previous advocacy of silently nurturing the country’s natural power seems to be turning into a faded relic. The call for “revival” is an expression of self-confidence.
To reflect that self-confidence, China plans to soon launch its first moon explorer, Ching’e-1.
It will become more and more difficult to deal with a China that has openly declared the desire to revive its old glory.
*The writer is the director of the China Research Center of JoongAng Ilbo. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by You Sang-chul
More in Columns
Tales of Chairman Lee
Chinese way of tackling challenges
Time to step up climate action
Finding our place
Diplomacy is about trust