The “Communist” Party of China’s (CCP) 17th Congress on October 15 was scheduled to discuss its program for the next generation of leaders as put forward by Hu Jintao, CCP General Secretary and the country’s President and commander-in-chief. The Congress is occurring during China’s emergence as a more powerful imperialist country challenging the U.S., Japan and India. The Congress will concretize a “new stage” of China’s reforms, which — according to Hu Jintao — will generate a new model of “harmonious” and “scientific” development.
Jintao, in control since the 2002 Congress, will remain in power for a second and final term. His second in command, Wen Jiabao, will also retain his post. But a shake-up looms in the Politburo’s Permanent Committee, with Jintao possibly reducing the top leadership group from nine to five. Even Jintao is trying to avoid a bitter power struggle with those in other top leadership factions. The NY Times (9/14) quotes China expert Bo Zhiyue of St. John Fisher College: “I think he knows that real power lies in his position….He also knows how to balance different groups.” Jintao is bringing to the top leadership Li Keqiang, Party chief in the Northern province of Liaoning, who might succeed Jintao after 2012 when he steps down. (Secretary-Generals can only serve two terms.)
In a June 25 speech at a Party Central School, Jintao outlined the second important aspect of the Congress. He stated that China is in a “new phase” of its reform process, having great strategic opportunities while confronting many internal and external challenges. China’s “reforms” began with Zhu Enlai following defeat of the Cultural Revolution, helped by the Gang of Four, which later paid for its opportunism. Deng Xiaoping, considered a capitalist roader by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, accelerated the capitalist reforms in 1978 after Mao died and the Gang of Four was crushed.
U.S. imperialists were delighted with these “reforms,” seeing China not only for its investment potential but also as a counterweight to the former Soviet Union. In a way, China was the great savior of world capitalism. However, China’s new bosses would not be content to forever play second fiddle to U.S. or Japanese imperialists. China is now a more powerful imperialist country, with much money to invest in Asia, Africa, Latin America and even in the U.S. and European Union. It’s also developing its own military power, including a “blue water” navy to challenge U.S. naval power in Asia and eventually beyond. It’s also becoming a major player in space technology, just behind the U.S. and Russia.
Domestically, China is moving beyond being the “world’s workshop,” whose industries are just mainly used for cheaply-produced consumer goods for the world’s major imperialist corporations. The Congress will discuss “scientific development” to turn Chinese industry into leaders in the hi-tech, heavy industry (auto, steel, etc.) and military fields.
The Congress will also try to deal more with localized corruption, which alienates many workers and peasants — one of the main causes of protests and struggles by workers all over China. Already thousands of corrupt local leaders have been jailed. Of course, corruption and China’s gross inequality won’t be solved by capitalist reforms.
Finally, China’s main challenges include Taiwan and the need for secure oil supplies, not controlled by Exxon-Mobil, BP, et al. This will intensify inter-imperialist rivalry and will eventually impel direct military confrontation with the U.S., Japan or India.
The “C”PC doesn’t represent the class interests of China’s workers and peasants, but rather of the capitalist class enemy. There are now thousands of those enemies, bosses who are members of the Party. China’s workers need another revolution, not more reforms, but this time to eliminate all forms of capitalism.