China’s President Xi Jinping addressed the 19th Communist Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 18, 2017. In his nearly three-and-a-half hour speech, which had a correspondingly long title, “Secure a Decisive Victory in Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects and Strive for the Great Success of Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” it included certain components that are customarily expected in presidential speeches. From economic improvements and military innovations, to protecting its territory and maintaining national security, the president recapped his past five years in office and described his plans for the next five years (Buckley, et al., 2017).
Yet the emphasis of his speech that has attracted much attention is his allusion to China’s expanding global influence. “Xi declared that China is at a ‘historic juncture,’ entering a ‘new era’ that will be marked by the country becoming a ‘mighty force’ in the world” and “asserted that ‘China’s political system… is a great creation’ that offers ‘a new choice for other countries.’ (Zakaria, 2017)”
“It will be an era that sees China moving closer to center stage.” (Xi Jinping, as quoted by Buckley, et al., 2017).
Closer to center stage.
A look at Hofstede’s six dimensions of culture can provide some insight into China’s ever-expanding influence and the key foci of Xi Jinping’s report. China’s power distance score of 80 puts it nearly one standard deviation about the world average; therefore, the people in general do not mind inequality between the powerful and the less powerful. Uncertainly avoidance is low for China, with a score of 30 as compared to the world average of 67.64, which means that they accept uncertainty. A higher masculinity score and lower individualism score indicates a more somewhat more assertive and collectivistic society. (Penn State, n.d.)
All of these factors align not only with China being a communist state but also the president’s priorities over the next five years in furtherance of that state. Xi’s proposed economic changes include strengthening state-owned enterprises; other priorities included continued control of Hong Kong and a return to control of Taiwan; and the use of censorship and strict controls regarding protest and dissent (Buckley, et al., 2017).
Perhaps most striking, however, are China’s long-term orientation and indulgence versus restraint scores. China’s long-term orientation score of 87, compared to a world average of 45.48, indicates a very extended view of time. Additionally, China’s indulgence-restraint score of 24 suggests the culture displays a great deal of restraint rather than seeking instant gratification (Penn State, n.d.)
China’s ascent has not happened over night, but rather has been a slow and steady climb. For decades, China was content with its lesser role. Highly long-term oriented and willing to delay gratification, Chinese chose the role of the tortoise to the U.S.’s hare.
And now, China’s closer to center stage.
Buckley, C. and Bradsher, K. (October 18, 2017). Xi Jinping’s marathon speech: five takeaways. The New York Times. Retrieved October 29, 2017 from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/18/world/asia/china-xi-jinping-party-congress.html?_r=0
Penn State World Campus (n.d.). Leadership in a Global Context. Retrieved October 29, 2017 from lecture notes online at https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1867265/modules/items/22824773
Zakaria, Fareed (October 26, 2017). While we obsess over Trump, China is making history. Retrieved October 29, 2017 from https://fareedzakaria.com/2017/10/27/while-we-obsess-over-trump-china-is-making-history