This paper sets out the core issues for the Xi leadership, and focuses on what these might mean for the UK, particularly in the post-Brexit world and with the election of Donald Trump as US president.
In 2017 Xi Jinping will complete his first full five-year term as China’s leader. Towards the end of the year, in autumn, the country is due to hold its 19th Party Congress. This major meeting usually marks the moment when the Communist Party of China (CPC) assesses its performance over the previous five years, sets out political goals for the coming five-year period and makes new appointments.
Xi Jinping’s leadership has been characterized by a number of significant domestic and international policy strategies. China’s economic growth rate is slowing, and the country’s economy is undergoing major restructuring. Export-led manufacturing growth and capital investment in fixed assets are now being replaced by consumer-led and service-dominated expansion. Meanwhile, the role of the CPC has been rearticulated with a major anti-corruption struggle since 2013 that has sought to clear away a raft of different networks and senior officials and connected business people. Xi has proved a more communicative, more populist and more nationalistic leader than his predecessors. He is also crafting an image of himself as a more visionary leader.
Internationally, China is striving for a relevance and role that it has never had before. Its reach is felt in international organizations, regionally, and through its economic and resource needs. It has a role in global affairs that embraces places once considered on its periphery, such as Latin America, the Arctic and Antarctic Circles, and the Middle East. Its impact in Asia is particularly striking, marked by activity in the South China Sea, and a new kind of relationship with Russia, India and the US. The major Belt and Road Initiative, in particular, has started to outline a new expansiveness in China’s relations with the outside world, despite the largely abstract nature of its overall shape and form at the moment.
The themes and viewpoints in this collection of essays are particularly geared towards those with an interest in policy engagement with China. While setting out the core issues for the Xi leadership, it also focuses on what these might mean for the UK, particularly in the post-Brexit world and with the election of Donald Trump as US president. As the UK seeks a new kind of relationship with a rapidly changing China, this group of expert opinions maps out the key markers in the run up to 2021, when China is due to celebrate achieving the first of its centennial goals: the delivery of middle-income status and a moderately prosperous society.