19th CPC National Congress begins in Beijing

The Communist Party of China (CPC) opens the 19th National Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, October 18, 2017. Photo: Xinhua

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), regarded as the most vital annual event in China, has begun in Beijing under tight security.

Party leader and Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed more than 2,000 delegates in the capital on Wednesday.

In his work report to the 19th CPC National Congress on behalf of the 18th CPC Central Committee, Xi listed China's achievements during his term and called on all members of the CPC to "secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era."

Despite the progress in the past five years, Xi cautioned that "we must be clear there are still many inadequacies in our work and many challenges ahead".

He said that the country is still at the preliminary stage of socialism and China, the world's second-largest economy, remains "the world's largest developing nation".

Xi outlined a two-stage development plan - 2020 to 2035, and 2035 to 2050 - with the aim of turning China into a "great modern socialist country".

Xi said that China is now a major innovation country, with many technological breakthroughs, and its soft power has increased in the past five years.

In his address, Xi also said that China "resolutely opposes" any actions that undermine its leadership, or attempt to separate the country.

"We must do more to protect our people's interest and firmly oppose all moves that damage their interest or put distance between the Party and the people," he said. He also said that China had firmly opposed and prevented independence for self-ruled Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as its own, over the past five years.

Xi also spoke about the success of his wide-reaching corruption crackdown within the Party that has punished more than a million officials. "The fight against corruption has formed an overwhelming posture and strengthened in development," Xi said.

While the speech will be high on aspiration and short on policy specifics, its language will be parsed for signals or policy directives, including on the direction of reforms for the world's second-largest economy.

Xi has consolidated power swiftly since assuming the Party leadership in 2012, locking up Party and government officials for corruption, restructuring the military and asserting China's rising might on the world stage.

Under Xi, China's modernization and reform has also accelerated. He continues to enjoy widespread support among ordinary citizens in China.

Many observers believe that Xi will further cement his position within the Party during the congress.

State media have said that the Party is expected to rewrite its constitution to include Xi's "work report" or political thoughts, which would elevate him to the status of previous Party giants Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

Xi's theories and vision formulated based on his major's address include two centenary goals of making China into moderately prosperous society by alleviating poverty by 2021 and to convert China into a modern socialist country by 2049. Similarly, his vision also includes the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation and his thought on diplomacy of seeking win-win outcomes and building a community of shared development. The Belt and Road Initiative is the manifestation of his vision of the win-win cooperation.

The 19th National Congress of the CPC, which takes place once every five years and determines the country's direction for the next term, is expected to finish next week.

Shortly after the congress ends, the Party is expected to unveil the new members of China's top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee, who will steer the country.

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