Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Ryoichi Hamamoto

【#851】Xi Failed to Get His Way in History Resolution

Ryoichi Hamamoto / 2021.11.18 (Thu)

November 15, 2021

The Sixth Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th Central Committee adopted a history resolution praising President Xi Jinping’s rule at its four-day session held November 8-11. It is the third such resolution in the CCP’s 100-year history. Xi, who seeks to get his unusual third term as CCP general secretary at next autumn’s 20th party congress, attempted to elevate his status as he took advantage of the party’s centennial and summed up the party history. But we should note the resolution was not necessarily satisfactory to Xi.

Complaints from Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao factions

The first CCP historical resolution came under Mao Zedong in 1945 to expel pro-Soviet cadres. The second was passed under Deng Xiaoping in 1981 to break away from the cultural revolution line i.e., the Mao dictatorship. The purpose in common was to enhance prestige of the CCP top leader who instigated adoption of the resolution.

The latest resolution included nearly nothing new but the point was it clearly described the achievements of former General Secretaries Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.

Xi has stuck to dividing the 100-year CCP history into four periods. He mobilized the CCP Central Research Institute of Culture and History to designate the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and the launch of reform and opening up in 1978 as two pillars of the history. The first period is between the CCP creation in 1921 and the PRC founding in 1949 and the second period is between the PRC founding and 1978. The two periods represent the Mao era. The third period brackets Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao eras. The fourth period after Xi’s election as general secretary in 2012 was designated to emphasize the Xi leadership. A CCP history museum opened in June displayed a panel dividing the 100-year history into these four periods.

It can be imagined that Jiang and Hu factions as well as Deng supporters might have complained about the division when the history resolution was drafted. They might have asserted that not only Deng’s laying of a solid foundation for a wealthy and powerful China but also achievements of Jiang and Hu should clearly be written in the resolution. There might also be complaints about the deletion of former top leaders Hua Guofeng, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang from the history. We can easily sense strong dissatisfaction within the CCP against Xi’s aggressive interpretation of the history.

China to remain offensive until 2049

As for diplomacy, the history resolution praised China, saying, “we have advanced major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics on all fronts. The concept of a human community with a shared future has become a banner, leading trends of the times and human progress.” It indicates no regret on the heavy-handed “wolf warrior” diplomacy that has led China to be isolated internationally. The word “major-country diplomacy” indicates the continuation of the hardline foreign policy. Given the intensification of power struggle within the CCP toward a party congress in the past, Japan could become a scapegoat in such struggle. We must be alert to China’s handling of bilateral issues including its territorial claim to Japan’s Senkaku Islands.

Around the Sixth Plenum, China and the United States abruptly announced their agreement on cooperation in tackling climate change and set an online meeting between Xi and U.S. President Joe Biden. Japan cannot be insulated from China’s recent application for accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and recent U.S. and Chinese movement surrounding the Taiwan Strait.

The CCP defined the next party congress as very significant toward goals for the centennial of the national founding in 2049. Japan should be prepared to face days of challenge.

Ryoichi Hamamoto is a journalist and a visiting research fellow at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals. He served as editorial writer and Beijing Bureau chief for the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper and professor at Akita International University.