The Chinese Communist Party is presently having its 19th National Congress. International observers are watching it closely not only for guidance to Chinese politics but also for the ripples the event may generate across the world.
The Congress involves a gathering of 2,300 Communist Party members from across the PRC. The event determines the leadership and policies for the subsequent five years. Since China has substantial military strength, economic clout, and is the most populous country in the world, the agenda set by it will have ramifications not only for China but also for the world.
Observers agree on one aspect: Xi Jinping, the Chinese Premier, will centralize power to himself. What's more surprising is that the members will willingly hand over power to him. The Premier became the Chinese leader post the 2012 party congress. The 2017 one will undoubtedly hand him a new five-year-term for the second time. This is, however, almost a default for the Chinese leaders. Many observers believe that Jinping wants a longer period of time in power.
According to Rana Mitter, a professor at the University of Oxford, Jinping wants to craft a personal leadership style where there could be no alternative to him when it comes to taking China forward. Simon Denyer, a journalist working at a Premier media house, compared him to President Vladimir Putin of Russia. He also has a personalized style of administration.
Other not-so-good reference points exist as well. One seasoned journalist and an author of a well-received book said that Jinping's viewpoint is a Leninist one. A journalist said that the Chinese Premier has fashioned himself as a prime defender of what Stalin has achieved in his lifetime.
For a visitor to China, all these could be surprising. The PRC, to them, seems to be less about ideology, and more about capitalism. Jinping himself presented China as a supporter of global economic cooperation. He said so during his Davos speech during the beginning of 2017. International analysts saw his speech as a strong rebuttal to President Donald J. Trump's protectionist ideas. Jinping said that China is to remain committed to develop free trade and spur investment.
Many observers disagree. They point out that Jinping is moving to make China a totalitarian state. A prime example is the muzzles being put on dissent with the Chinese Communist Party. It is clear that the Premier does not like any opinion being put forward other than his own.