The third historical resolution approved by the Communist Party of China (CPC) during its 19thCentral Committee’s Sixth Plenary Session in Beijing from November 8 to 10 has significant political implications for Hong Kong and Macau. For the first time in the history of the resolutions approved by the CPC, Hong Kong and Macau are not only mentioned explicitly but also emphasized in the implementation of the “one country, two systems” toward the direction of stable governance, especially in the case of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).
The historical resolution, which was passed by 197 members of the Central Committee and its 151 supplementary members together with the presence of the members of the Standing Committee of the Central Discipline Inspection Committee, representatives from the grassroots level and academic experts, is the third one in the history of the CPC following the 1945 and 1981 CPC Central Committee’s resolutions. The 1945 resolution affirmed the importance of the Sinification of Marxism in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), while the 1981 resolution affirmed the leadership and core positions of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping in the history of China.
The 2021 CPC resolution is historically and politically significant in several aspects. First and foremost, it came up with a detailed delineation of the four historical period of the CPC and its achievements. Specifically, the first period was the new democratic revolution during which the CPC was anti-imperialistic, anti-feudalistic, anti-bureaucratic, and striving for national independence, liberation as well as establishing the “basic social conditions” of “the realization of the Chinese national renaissance (Wen Wei Po, November 12, 2021).” The second period was the socialist revolutionary construction during which the Mao Zedong thought represented the “creative application and development” of Marxism-Leninism. In other words, the Sinification of Marxism was “the first historical leap” in China. The third period was the reform opening and modernization during which Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao as the CPC leaders “liberated and developed the social productive forces, rendered the people escape from poverty, made them get rich as soon as possible, and provided the material conditions for the realization of the Chinese national renaissance and the rapid development of the systemic vitality and guarantee.” The fourth period is the new era of the Chinese style of socialism during which Xi Jinping “as the core representative of the CPC persists in the convergence between the basic principles of Marxism and the Chinese practical circumstances.” Moreover, the Chinese style of socialism during the Xi Jinping era is entrenched, realizing “a new leap in the Sinification of Marxism” and making the people self-confident, self-strengthening and innovative.
Ideologically speaking, the 2021 CPC resolution sums up the historical achievements of the Party and legitimizes the historical status and position of the key CPC leaders, ranging from Mao Zedong to Deng Xiaoping, from Jiang Zemin to Hu Jintao, and from Xi Jinping currently onwards. The wordings and tone of the CPC resolution are laying the political underpinning of the 20thNational Party Congress in 2022, when the CPC will enter its second 100thanniversary and continue to lead the PRC toward the Chinese national renaissance. In short, the 2021 CPC resolution reviewed the past contributions, establishes the legitimacy of the present leadership, and paves the way for the future directions and leadership of the CPC from 2022 onwards.
Another political significance of the 2021 CPC resolution is to affirm the thirteen contributions of the Party since the 18thNational Party Congress in November 2012: (1) the persistence of the CPC’s “comprehensive leadership,” (2) the serious management of the Party, (3) the balanced and coordinated development of the Chinese economy, (4) the deepening of reform and opening processes, (5) the development and institutionalization of the socialist political system, (6) the emphasis on national governance in accordance with the law, (7) the stress on cultural and ideological construction, (8) the improvement of the people’s livelihood and social governance, (9) the construction of ecological civilization, (10) the consolidation of national defense and the military, (11) the protection of national security, (12) the persistence in the implementation of “one country, two systems” and the promotion of national reunification, and (13) the promotion of “great power diplomacy” with Chinese characteristics.
Again, the affirmation of the CPC’s tremendous contributions to China’s political, social, economic, cultural, military, national security and diplomatic developments sets the tone for its future directions. The 2021 CPC resolution can be seen as a landmark one not only legitimizing the Party and its leaders, but also reaffirming its policy directions and achievements, especially the leadership of the CPC in all aspects of life in the mainland and in China’s international status and foreign policy. Diplomatically, the 2021 CPC resolution states that while China’s “great power diplomacy” is to be fully promoted, the construction of “a common destiny for the human mankind” remains “a clear and fresh flag” representing how China is carving out a new path in the global world order, how the PRC “turns crises to opportunities,” and how China is exerting and increasing its international influences.
Objectively speaking, based on the communique of 6th plenary session of 19th CPC Central Committee, the tone of the CPC resolution on China’s foreign policy is to lay out an image of a peaceful China. However, under the circumstances in which the so-called “China threat” has been perpetuated by some people in various countries in the world, the socialist mission of creating “a common destiny for the human mankind” will by no means be an easy path. It will likely be filled with suspicions from some foreign countries, politicians and critics hostile to the PRC.
The most important section related to Hong Kong and Macau is how the CPC resolution discusses the two special administrative regions – a section that could not be seen in the 1945 and 1981 CPC resolutions. The 2021 resolution states that “the Party center adopts a serious of measures to tackle the root problems, insisting on the need to implement ‘patriots ruling Hong Kong’ and ‘patriots ruling Macau,’ establishing a firm foundation of governing Hong Kong and Macau, and promoting Hong Kong’s conditions from chaos to stable governance as an important watershed.”
Clearly, the political developments of Hong Kong in 2019 undermined the national security of the PRC. As such, the promulgation of the national security law for Hong Kong in late June 2020 and its implementation aim at restoring “stable governance” from political and social chaos. Similarly, Macau must follow the same principle of stable governance, although Macau was far more politically and social stable than Hong Kong in the past decade.
On the question of Taiwan, the 2021 CPC resolution states that it insists on the principles of one China and the 1992 consensus, that it is “firmly against the separatist action of ‘Taiwan independence,’ that it is “firmly against the intervention of external forces,” and that it is “firmly grasping the leading right and initiatives of cross-Strait relations.”
It remains to be observed how the PRC will “grasp the leading right and initiatives of cross-Strait relations,” but the tone and the policy directions toward Taiwan remain consistent with what Beijing has announced in public in the recent years. Objectively speaking, the wordings on the question of Taiwan appear to be politically moderate.
In short, the 2021 CPC resolution delineates the roadmap and achievements of the Party in the past, legitimizes the Party’s leadership and policy measure at the present, and delineates the tone and the policy directions of the Party in the future. The sentences on Hong Kong and Macau are politically and historically significant, emphasizing the paramount importance of implementing the principle of maintaining stable governance. The sentences about Taiwan are politically moderate and consistent with what Beijing has been dealing with Taipei. The 2021 CPC resolution is clearly paving the way for the Party Congress in the next year during which its leadership will certainly not only become the centre of media spotlight but also represent another watershed in the political history of the PRC.