Continuity and change at the 19th Party Congress
There are many different ways to observe the 19th Party Congress.  Is there anything new? And if so, what is it? Certainly, are there things inherited and how does the meeting carry them forward? In another word, we could study the meeting from two sides—things that have changed and things that are constant.

We can see there are innovations. In President Xi Jinping's report, new concepts, ideas, strategies and actions could be found everywhere. The most significant innovation is the Party's conclusion about the times we now live in and strategies that derive from it.

In the morning of October 18th, Xi said in his report addressing the 19th Party Congress that “after long-term efforts, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new period, which is the new historical positioning in our country's development history.”

The Communist Party usually puts forward the new period idea, based on its judgement of China's national conditions and basic social contradictions. People who are familiar with the Party's history would know the 8th Party Congress decided the basic contradiction to be between advanced socialist system and backward social production forces. The conclusion was found to be not true, although it had led the country onto a winding and torturous road.

The resolution of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in 1981 proposed the major contradiction was between people's growing material and cultural needs and backward production capabilities, thus the top priority of the country was to develop production power. We know the observation had led China onto the road of reform and opening up.

Now, when China is no longer poor and backward, the main problem is imbalance and insufficiency. So, the principal contradiction now is between people's improving lives and imbalanced and lopsided development. In the context, the top task for the country is to pursue more balanced and comprehensive development.

Another innovation is in international perspective. Xi's report presents a broad international view. It not only promised to open China's door continuously, it mentioned new concepts including “common destiny” and “new order of international relations”, which signals a significant transformation in China's relations with the world—China will change from a participant to advocate and guide.

New findings coming from nowhere is like water with no source. We could also see inheritance everywhere at the national congress. Former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao attended the opening ceremony and Xi's report also elaborated on the ideas of “Three Representatives” and “Scientific Outlook on Development”. The “Beautiful China” ideas put forward at the 18th Party Congress has been restated and elaborated.

People could also see continuity in the 19th Party Congress report. For example, China remains to be identified as a developing country.

So there is both continuity and change at the 19th Party Congress. Overall, the congress would be documented in the party's history as something reformative. 

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