When you hear the stories of Chinese traveling abroad to buy luxury goods, like watches and designer bags, as if they were filling a grocery cart, or the stories of politicians’ kids driving Ferraris, it’s difficult to imagine that the same Communist Party is ruling China that was born out of Marxism-Leninism revolutionist ideals some 60 years ago.
Clearly, there have been many redirections during those six decades.
The country now faces a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots. Some can buy champagne like it’s water, others are struggling to find safe drinking water.
Like most of the world, China’s economy has stalled. What’s most important for the country now is to focus on domestic consumption. They need to capitalise on that massive consumer market many countries around the world are salivating over.
This is all going to change, according to Xi Jinping, the new leader or the party and the nation. He is already the head of the Communist Party and the military, and will officially become president at the end of the National People’s Congress (NPC) that begins on Tuesday and runs for about two weeks.
Xi rode into office on an “anti-corruption” platform and wasted no time in restructuring and putting curbs on extravagant spending by the party and government – the two are essentially the same. He streamlined the ministries right down to the point of slashing the budget for flowers on banquet tables.
And Xi has a dream. His “China dream” is for the party and country to get back to their roots. Unlike the American Dream, which is all about the individual, Xi’s dream is all about the country as a whole.
The 100th anniversary of China’s Communist Party falls within his 10-year term, so his focus will be to make the party appear ready to lead for another century. It could be a tough haul, as one expert we spoke with this week said the party is facing an existential crisis.
Most of the NPC is expected to be rubber-stamping of budgets and plans, but there will be announcements of reform. As Fu Ying, the spokeswoman for the NPC, put it, that’s reform China-style.
When a Western journalist asked her about transparency within government and the changes to come, she said China will reform in its own way and it is inappropriate to view the country through any other lens.