Synopsis

The recently published collection of speeches by China’s leader Xi Jinping offers a rare glimpse into the workings of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and how the country’s leadership sees China’s role in the coming Asian century. Tellingly, the speeches foreground China’s place and role in the development of an integrated and prosperous Asia, but makes little mention of the West.

Commentary

 

‘THE GOVERNANCE of China’ which features around 80 speeches delivered by Xi Jinping, the leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the president of the country, is a hugely important book by any standards. Published recently by the Foreign Languages Press of Beijing (2014) and translated into English, this is obviously an attempt to tell the world how the senior leadership of the country sees itself and its role as the party that will determine the future development of the country and the role that China is likely to play in the Asian region in the coming century.

 

The speeches cover a wide range of topics from China’s need for rapid economic development to the risks and costs of urbanisation and modernisation; from maritime policy to the need to secure China’s land borders; from educational development to the promotion of Chinese cultural identity abroad as a tool of soft power and diplomacy.

 

Little Reference to The US

More than half of the speeches featured in the book were delivered to local members of the CPC, Chinese students, members of the Chinese business community and other sections of the Chinese populace. Interestingly, only one speech obviously refers to the United States and only a handful speak to the powers of Western Europe.

 

The impression gained by the reader is that the leadership of China today is driven by pragmatism and realism above all else. Many of the speeches connect the themes of economic development with the need for national resilience and social security; and in one section there is the frank admission that the ‘Cultural Revolution’ of 1966-76 was a mistake ‘wrongly launched’ (pg. 159, footnote 3.)

 

Far from being revisionist in its reading of history, the book is frank about China’s past shortcomings and what it needs to do to succeed in the future: This is the new China of today, which is the result of a long transformation process that began with Deng Xiaoping’s reform programme that took off at the 11th Congress of the CPC in 1978, and which has led to the hybrid model of a Communist state that has embraced globalisation and market forces.