100 years ago, on July 23, 1921, 12 of the approximately 50 members of the Chinese Communist Party gathered in Shanghai for the Party’s First National Congress – an episode which is considered by experts to be the actual founding date of the Party. acronym that has ruled China for 100 years, seven decades.
And in 100 years, where will the party be? It will depend on a complex scenario that ranges from growing external pressure against China to the economic challenges of indebtedness and an aging population, according to specialists consulted by Folha.
“If we were in Shanghai in 1921 and tried to play this game of predicting the next 100 years, no one would have been right,” jokes Mauricio Santoro, professor of international relations at the UERJ (RJ State University).
This is because the party that rules one of the most powerful countries in the world has had a particularly troubled century.
He won a conflict with Japan, went through a civil war against nationalist forces, faced a hunger crisis in Mao’s government that killed tens of millions of people, overturned his bases and beliefs during the Cultural Revolution and lifted 800 million people out of poverty. since the late 1970s, with the reforms led by Deng Xiaoping. As if that weren’t enough, it was still the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The economic boom of the last decade, the rise to the position of the second largest economy in the world and the expectation to overtake the United States in the coming years have placed China in the crosshairs of the West.
How countries deal with this must be decisive for the future of the Chinese Communist Party, according to international relations professor Gustavo Feddersen, who holds a doctorate from UFRGS (Federal University of RS).
For him, the party will grow stronger “and will certainly remain in power for more than 100 years” if the people of the country perceive the pressure led by the United States as “an attack on the Chinese people and the possibility of Chinese civilization being rebuilt. and resumes his role. like a great world power, ”he said.
The observation comes from the fact that one of the points on which the CCP bases its legitimacy comes from the restoration of the dignity of the country after the century of humiliation, as the Chinese call the period between the middle of the 19th and the 20th century when the powers foreigners introduced opium and occupied and sacked China.
In the researcher’s opinion, a threat of further subjugation of the Chinese people could give more power to the CP, which still holds the so-called “heavenly mandate,” a concept in Chinese political philosophy that governments are legitimate (or “Blessed by heaven”) while fulfilling their goals and are righteous.
Another opinion has strengthened among analysts that international pressure will be more effective if it changes its strategy: not to attack the people, the culture or perhaps even the party itself, but specific targets, such as Xi Jinping and the corruption of the political class.
“A large part of the middle class supports and recognizes the importance of the party, but they are not satisfied with the advantages and the advantages of politicians, they want more transparency and accountability, they question corruption and abuse of power, ”Feddersen said.
This strategy of attacking specific targets was laid out in a study by the Atlantic Council, a US think tank focused on international relations, which says the target should be “Xi and his entourage, aiming to change their objectives and their behavior, ”because“ The party elites are much more divided over Xi’s leadership than is openly said.
Xi Jinping has returned to the concentration of power in his hands, “much more than his predecessors, who ruled essentially as a collective authoritarian regime, with the ruling party at the top of the country,” Santoro said. This concentration of power could have effects in the future, with the party bureaucracy creating mechanisms to prevent the emergence of a new leader as powerful as the current one.
Analysts considered the country’s giant middle class to be decisive for China’s future – projections indicate that by 2030, more than 70% of the population could be considered a middle class and 35% a class upper average, more than 500 million people.
It is a group which, “with better levels of education, tends to have dictatorships questioned by other countries”, explains Santoro. On the other hand, “many Chinese associate the brief democratic flirtation of the turn of the last century with the fragmentation of the country, so there will be historical and cultural caution about it,” he said.
Santoro believes that, in order to appease the desires of this group, it is possible that the party will try to adapt its system at least in the big cities. “But what we’ve learned from China is that nothing happens overnight.”
A political opening does not mean that it would bring the democratic groups which oppose the Chinese CP to the system, says Santoro. “It is perfectly possible to see hypernationalist parties, exploiting xenophobia and conflicts with foreign peoples,” he said.
Another point of attention that may influence the future of the party in China is the aging of the population, which has increased at the lowest rate since at least the 1950s, after decades of birth control with the policies of the ‘only child, suspended from 2015. This brings two direct challenges, the labor shortage on the one hand and the issue of social security on the other.
“The retirement problem will still cause a lot of headaches, because the country has not become rich enough to afford this aging population, like Japan and other countries in Europe,” explains the professor. Projections from the Chinese Academy of Sciences estimate that by 2035, the country’s pension fund will not have the resources to pay pensions for the elderly.
Still in the economic field, public debt, which increased especially after the 2008 crisis, associated with a drop in the growth rate, could bring more difficulties.
After growing 14.2% in 2007, China’s GDP has decelerated, although it has maintained sustained growth between 7% and 6% over the past decade. “It’s one thing for you to keep control of society in the name of prosperity and grow above 10% per year, it’s another to grow 6%, 7%,” concludes- he.