China will continue to work towards becoming more self-reliant, but don’t expect the president Xi Jinping To move in Taiwan by force, analysts said.
Their comments follow Xi’s speech at the opening of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Sunday.
Analysts said there were few surprises in Xi’s nearly two-hour speech as he outlined his vision for the country for the next five years. Xi is widely expected to cement his leadership for an unprecedented third term during the week-long meeting.
There was, however, a prominent place in Xi’s speech, said Dylan Lu, a professor of foreign policy and China expert at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. In contrast to previous speeches, Lu said, Xi made it clear that China should prepare to meet the growing external challenges.
In addition, the Chinese leader’s call for the party to “build a modern socialist power by 2049” indicates “his determination to resist external pressures and steer China in the party’s path,” said the Eurasia Political Risk Advisory Group.
The importance of self-reliance was reinforced after Xi reformulated the so-called “two-trading” policy, Eswar Prasad, professor of international trade and economics at Cornell University, told CNBC’s “Squawk Boxes Asia” on Monday.
The double trading strategy It first emerged in 2020 when a Chinese Politburo meeting called for more focus on domestic markets, or “inside trading” to support China’s growth. The strategy involves reducing dependence on export-led or trade-related growth without abandoning it entirely.
In a speech lasting nearly two hours, Chinese President Xi Jinping outlined his vision for the country for the next five years. The Chinese leader is widely expected to consolidate his leadership for an unprecedented third term during the week-long meeting.
Lintao Zhang | Getty Images News
“Sure, Chinese leaders took very careful notes on what was happening in the Ukraine war and what kind of stranglehold the West was able to put on Russia, and of course, there is a sense of great power competition between the United States and China as well.”
“So this idea of self-reliance, especially in the context of technology…is trying to become less dependent on the rest of the world, whether for export markets or technology or imports of any kind. And that is obviously going to be a mainstay.”
To achieve this, Prasad said, Beijing’s control of China’s private sector will intensify rather than go to the other end of the spectrum, i.e. to allow for more market-oriented reforms.
He said Xi’s rhetoric, consistent with Beijing’s comments in recent months, indicates that the government views the state-dominated economy as the path to stability.
“Xi Jinping has made clear what his intentions are: He wants a controllable, controllable private sector.”
This strategy is well underway given Beijing’s past interference in education in China and real estate sectors.
As such, there will likely be a reshuffle of Xi’s cabinet by the end of this week’s meeting, including possible changes to the People’s Bank of China, as well as Expected replacement for Prime Minister Li Keqiang said Prasad, who is due to retire in March.
But it doesn’t matter who the prime minister or the new cabinet members are, as Xi made clear it will be Tighten all the threads, according to Prasad.
Other observers such as Bilhari Koseikan, a former permanent secretary in Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Xi is not keen on taking Taiwan by force, though he said in his speech that China will “never undertake to relinquish the use of force.”
“I don’t really think the Chinese are very eager to start something to reunify Taiwan by force… because if you start that you have to win,” Kosikan said.
“I don’t think any Chinese leader could survive a failed attempt on Taiwan where Putin missed Ukraine. And I don’t think they have the capability yet.”
Lyle J. Morris, senior fellow for foreign policy and national security at the Center for China Analysis of the Asia Society Policy Institute, agrees.
“Xi is not signaling to the international community that he wants to invade Taiwan or that he is running out of patience for political reconciliation,” he said, noting that peaceful reunification remains the utterances used by Xi.
“He referred to outside forces very early on in his speech, so the US factor is clearly front and center in his mind.
Asked if he was surprised that Xi has remained so resolute about China’s non-coronavirus policies to the desperation of businesses hoping to reopen the country, Bilhari said Xi was driven by partisan and political logic secondary to economic logic.
“To suddenly give up on that would be tantamount to admitting that it was a mistake…it will be phased out over the next year or two without ever admitting failure,” Bilhari told CNBC.
Luo from NTU in Singapore said sticking with zero Covid policies has other practical aspects. China’s medical infrastructure needs to be repaired before it can deal with a greater number of infections.
“The easiest, fastest, and in some ways the surest way to prevent Covid deaths from getting out of control is the zero-Covid policy,” he said.