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Why the world is enchanted with CPC Congress

By Siva Sankar | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-21 06:58

Since the world's media has descended in unprecedented fashion on Beijing to cover the quinquennial national congress of the Communist Party of China, it is worth attempting to understand the significance of an essentially internal political event in the global context.

Typically, media covers big-ticket spectacles in the fields of international politics (summits), economics and trade (agreements or conferences), culture and entertainment (music or film events) or sports (Olympics, World Cups).

Clearly, the world looks at the 19th National Congress as much more than a mere Party reunion, so it has synced itself with Beijing, implying something has happened over the last five years to warrant intense global attention.

Since 2012, China, led by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has crossed the global politico-economic stage like a colossus. The world, particularly those parts desperate for development, is in no doubt that China should be understood and, perhaps, emulated.

Why the world is enchanted with CPC Congress

That understanding will not come from deep study of how gigantic infrastructure projects are implemented in a timely and meticulous manner or how technology is innovated to make it citizen-friendly and supportive of an economy.

Instead, insight will come from study of the hitherto political system that makes such seemingly impossible achievements attainable.

In China, that system is the CPC. For many nations ravaged by political instability, ideological uncertainty, corrupt governments, bungling bureaucracies, economic crises, corporate excesses or financial messes for decades, all of which produced - either separately or in combination - the same result of civil disgruntlement, China seems like a fairy tale indeed.

In 20 to 25 years, China has transformed itself. In a few years, its economy is forecast to overtake that of the US and emerge as the world's largest.

"If China can do it, can't we, too, develop our way out of poverty and underdevelopment?" Such questions are piquing nations' interest.

From their perspective, the answer lies in the CPC National Congress because the blueprint for the stupendous achievements of the last five years - tech innovations, entrepreneurialism, infrastructure, manufacturing upgrades, sporting excellence, clean governance, to name a few - was unveiled in 2012. They ignore 2017 at their own peril.

It is not so much the tangible symbols of development as China's textbook (or back-to-basics, no nonsense) approach to development that has captured the world's imagination.

It's all the more so because for a long time, the world's leading nations as well as development aspirants focused far too much on personalities, politics, ideologies, slogans, regime changes and the like. Some of their older political parties even celebrated centenaries, in a rather pompous way.

Yet, they don't have much to show for their exertions, in terms of economic muscle and social progress. Worse, the sense of disillusionment and despair is growing after repeated failures to usher in development and prosperity.

As people the strife-torn world over grapple with impatience, anxiety and a sense that time for a turnaround is fast running out, cynics in many countries are scripting elegies and requiems for failed states, ideologies and systems.

China stands head and shoulders above this backdrop. The CPC swears by austerity, probity and single-minded focus on nation building, with the only grandeur flowing from the stately venues of the congress.

The 20th CPC National Congress in 2022 would follow the CPC's centenary in 2021. It's time to look forward to it. At least for the global media, it's time to check out the real China.

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