As China’s leaders meet behind closed doors this week, they will take stock of how their country has performed during the period of the coronavirus epidemic while simultaneously drawing up a vision for 2035 at the behest of President Xi Jinping who sees that year as the deadline for achieving “socialist modernisation.”
Speculation about challenges to Mr. Xi’s authority are effectively being countered by this move, which many believe is suggestive of how long the 67-year-old President for life sees himself helming affairs.
While there have been reports of some internal criticism of his performance, the fact is that through accident or design, China has emerged as the only major world economy to see both growth and regular signs of an upswing.
On the eve of the crucial meeting of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, the China Fashion Week got underway at Beijing as models without masks walked the catwalk before enthusiastic fashion aficionados who had forsaken all pretence at social distancing.
China’s economy is rapidly bouncing back to pre-Covid levels, with cinemas packed, restaurants rocking and live performances featuring on the entertainment menu.
Consumer goods sales have risen across the board, and on the first day of the Golden Week holiday on 1 October, box office collections at cinemas were at a staggering 745 million yuan, the second best ever for the holiday.
In sharp contrast to the global gloom, China in the first nine months of 2020 created 8.98 million urban jobs, just short of the annual target of 9 million, while household incomes grew by 0.6 per cent.
While the auto sector led the buying boom, even the services sector which had been hit worst by the epidemic is showing signs of a sharp recovery.
Notwithstanding the opacity surrounding official claims, the fact is that signs of a recovery are so evident in China that they cannot be dismissed as propaganda. For China has above all been helped by one factor ~ in sharp contrast to countries around the world, its virus afflictions have shown a steady, unrelenting fall after the initial surge that rocked the world.
There has been no resurgence and only occasional, minor, localised blips that have been swiftly contained. Mystifyingly, not even the relaxation in social contact norms, nor holiday travel (the Golden Week saw 637 million Chinese leave their homes) nor even festival gatherings or falling temperatures have caused fresh outbreaks of the disease.
It is almost as if the virus, after having rocked Wuhan with intensity early this year, packed its bags and bought a one-way ticket out of China. Certainly, during its introspection, the Communist Party of China will pat itself on the back for this remarkable achievement, while cementing plans to increase the country’s dominance of global affairs over the next decade and a half.