Yet Chinese leader Xi Jinping's consolidation of power during a twice-a-decade political reshuffle will inevitably intensify competition between the two nations and increase the risk of a cold war, according to Chinese analysts.
The result of this is that the United States and the West face the prospect of an even more aggressive China, according to analysts. This is partly because Xi, the regime's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, now prioritizes ideology over pragmatism.
"When politics and ideology completely trump the economy, the space for cooperation [between Beijing and Washington] shrinks,” Shen Jung-chin, an associate professor at the School of Administrative Studies at Canada's York University, told The Epoch Times. “It means there will be fierce confrontation and competition instead."
Security Over EconomyThe frequent use of the words "security" and "socialism" in the report of the 20th Party Congress reveals that national security takes center stage in China, according to Shen. The report featured a separate section with a focus on national security for the first time ever. According to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the report mentioned the word "security" 91 times, up from 54 times in the 19th Party Congress report.
While the 20th Party Congress report pledged that market reforms are still "basic state policy," Shen said references to "reform," "market," and "economy" were given less emphasis in the landmark document compared with the one from five years ago.
Shen also noted that there was no mention of an easing of the regime’s “zero-COVID” policy during an oral version of the report delivered by Xi at the congress’s opening ceremony on Oct. 16, even though the strict pandemic-handling approach has damaged China's economy.
China's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 3.9 percent year-over-year in the third quarter, which is better than expected but still far below Beijing's official full-year target of "around 5.5 percent"—its lowest goal in nearly three decades. This weak economic performance comes as the country grapples with a property crisis, renewed lockdowns, and COVID-19 curbs, along with risks of a global recession, Shen said.
Despite the country’s sluggish economy, Xi’s speech “reveals that the CCP now puts economic development in second place," according to Shen.
"Ideology, especially the confrontation with the West, is given more prominence in the [policy] framework," he said. "Such a trend is worrying."
In the congress report, the communist regime alluded to Western nations taking increased actions to counter Beijing’s aggressions by warning of challenges from "a grim and complex international situation." Without mentioning the United States or other countries by name, the report states that "external attempts to suppress and contain China may escalate at any time."
"However, now, it seems Xi is walking toward a different direction," Shen said.
One-Man RuleWaving his hands and smiling, Xi led six dark-suited men onto the red-carpeted stage at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 23, sending a message of his tightening grip over the Party and the country.
Xi and the six men form the Politburo Standing Committee, the Party’s pinnacle decision-making body, a group that's now stacked with Xi loyalists.
Following the week-long congress, he confirmed his third five-year term as the CCP’s secretary general, a feat that none of his predecessors have claimed since Mao Zedong, who ruled the country for 27 years until his death in 1976. The lack of a possible successor to the 69-year-old leader suggests that he may intend to further extend his term, which ends in 2027.
Xi's precedent-breaking new term was widely expected. But even veteran analysts were surprised that the Party's new generation of ruling elites was dominated by the 69-year-old leader's allies and protégés.
"Xi has now completely controlled the Politburo Standing Committee," said Li Yuanhua, an Australia-based China expert and a former associate professor at the Capital Normal University College of Education in Beijing.
Except for the two senior officials who retained their positions in the standing committee, Li highlighted that all four newly appointed members are Xi allies.
According to Li, these senior officials were promoted to the Party's highest positions because of their faithful execution of Xi's decisions, regardless of their merits.
Speculation had swirled that Li's political career was doomed. But Li now takes over the Party's No. 2 position and is believed to become the next premier.
"Xi Jinping's criteria [for promoting officials] is their connection to him, absolute loyalty to him, and obedience to him," said Feng Chongyi, a professor of China studies at the University of Technology Sydney.
Thus the political prospects of officials rely on Xi's continued support.
"Now, the power is all in the hands of Xi," said Lu Yeh-chung, a professor and chair of the diplomacy department at National Cheng-chi University in Taiwan.