At the time of the high-level transfer of power at the 20th National Congress of the CCP, Premier Li Keqiang in one day emphasized three times, “reform and opening-up” is the CCP’s basic policy, attracting public attention.
On September 30, Li reiterated the need for “reform and opening-up” during his speech at the National Day Dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. That afternoon, during a meeting with newly appointed special envoys and representatives of 42 countries, he stressed that China would “persist with the policy of reform and opening-up, and continue to commit extensive cooperation and win-win cooperation.” He also met foreign experts who had won the Chinese Communist Party’s Friendship Prize 2022 and he emphasized that China’s rapid development is being brought about by the Reform and Opening-Up Policy. Therefore, the supposition is that in the future, China will continue to deepen reform and opening-up, creating a strong impetus for development.
Some commentators pointed out that Li’s statement on reform and opening-up completely contradicts Xi Jinping’s speech published in the Party’s Qiushi magazine on the September 11, insisting on persevering in “the great struggle.”
Li Yuanhua, a former associate professor at Capital Normal University, told Sound of Hope that there is a difference between the top leaders of the CCP and Li when it comes to economic development. While Li emphasized reform and opening-up, Xi emphasized maintaining political power. After the financial political turmoil in 2015, he did not feel secure about the private economy. Li Yuanhua said, “So what he wants is for state-owned enterprises to play a leading role in the economy, and he has always wanted to return to the planned economy. Reform and opening-up is actually the private economy, such as the internet, and some other ‘giants,’ he doesn’t feel secure about these people. The more money these people have, the more dangerous he feels.”
Professor Xie Tian at the University of South Carolina, believes that Xi and Li Keqiang are in conflict, but not to the point of direct confrontation. Li emphasized reform and opening-up as a reluctant measure.
Xie said, “Li Keqiang, who is in charge of the economy, may have to resign as prime minister this time. Either way, he has to take responsibility for the economic situation. He has seen people in Zhongnanhai trying to reverse the political flow and bring negative effects to the Chinese economy, and international capital flows are rapidly leaving China. To stay in this game, he has to emphasize ‘reform and opening-up.'”
Xie pointed out that although Xi believes that the growth of foreign and private capital is a threat to his regime, he has taken a lot of national seclusion actions to strengthen the CCP’s control over Chinese society as Mao Zedong did, but in reality Xi could not close the country completely.
The professor said, “No matter what, China still needs to do a lot of trade with the West, to get foreign currency and foreign capital, especially technology. China also needs to buy large amounts of foreign technology, medical products, as well as chips and power.”