"Albania Should Present Suitable Projects of Cooperation with China"
By Genc Mlloja
Albanian Daily News
Published October 31, 2017
"The Albanian state and government should follow attentively this new stage of China's development and the program of the new leadership elected in the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). It is very good that we have joined the important platforms launched by China as "One Belt, One Road" and "16+1" initiatives. But much concrete work is also needed. Neither the above-mentioned initiatives, nor the traditional bilateral cooperation offer "presents" to Albania, anymore," has said the Albanian Ambassador to Beijing, Selim Belortaja.
The 19th National Congress of the CPC was held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing between 18 and 24 October 2017. 2,280 delegates represented the party's estimated 89 million members. During the Congress, a new guiding ideology, labeled Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, was written into the party's constitution. As expected, Xi Jinping duly renewed his term as General Secretary of the Communist Party, the party's top position and the de facto top office of China.
In an exclusive interview with Albanian Daily News Ambassador Belortaja, who followed closely the deliberations of the Congress, gives an in-depth assessment of some of the key points raised by President Xi Jinping in his Report presented to the Congress, focusing on the future objectives and ambitions of the new guiding ideology, labeled as 'Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era', which was enshrined in party's constitution.
In the new circumstances, Albania should take very seriously especially the introduction of the packages of special projects which are suitable for Albania-China cooperation. "Certainly, this is not an easy work, because Albania is not "the pre-selected" country, anymore. We should compete firmly with the others, with our neighbors and beyond," noted Ambassador Selim Belortaja in the interview which follows:
- Mr. Ambassador you have followed closely the deliberations of the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China. Which have been some of the special highlights of this Congress?
- There are certain special issues: firstly, this was the Congress where the power and potential of China as state, economy, model of the social system and even as a military force were unveiled openly and without any reservations. For many decades, China has maintained a reserved profile of its pretensions with regard to its stature and power at international level. Earlier it had chosen the way of looking after its own affairs, rolled up its own sleeves to overcome the modest development stage and resolve the most sensitive problems of its daily life.
It had focused on the domestic reforms and good-governance, the strengthening of the economy, science, technology, culture, and it made that without much noise and pompous statements. It happened differently in this Congress. Since the very first day of the opening of the Congress, Mr. Xi reflected an unprecedented pride and self- security, which had not been seen since many decades, conveying power and potential of China and the Chinese development model. Secondly, the Congress projected the vision for the future. Differently from before, this Congress set great, ambitious and long-term objectives.
Schedules of the stages of the rapid development were set not only within the five- year limits, rather there are forecasts for some decades until 2050. The target of the first stage is "the development of moderately prosperous society" and then the building of China of "the new era" whose target is the advancement of the country towards "the center of the scene", which will make possible "greater contribution towards humankind". The major long-term target remains the national reinvigoration of China in order that it takes its deserved place in the family of nations. Another peculiarity is the confirmation of the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as a successful and functioning model, which has been demonstrated clearly in the reality of the development of China and the preservation and strengthening of these features in the future.
The moral purity of the leadership, the uncompromising fight against corruption and the absolute dedication towards the interest and needs of the ordinary people remain a fundamental thesis which was strongly highlighted by the Congress.
Whereas the aspiration for a new proactive role of China on the global scene was a thesis which characterized all the Congress. All of these were accompanied by a broad package of more concrete directives. And probably the most significant special issue was not simply the reconfirmation of Mr. Xi Jinping as General Secretary (no one doubted on this within and outside China), but the solidifying of his stature as a special leader with vision, qualities and other leading dimensions.
The climax of this is the enshrining of the reference on the " Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a New Era" in the Statute of the Party. This has not happened before with the chairmen on duty since the time of Chairman Mao.
- What was significant with regard to the coverage of the Congress by the outside world was the great interest of the international media. Mr. Belortaja, we have seen rarely such views with hundreds of reporters covering everything with an unusual attention...
- This was another special feature of this event, which will have a long-term echo. The extraordinary attention with which the 19th CPC Congress was followed and reported was an expected thing. It shows at least three or four things: 1- China is being seen even by the most skeptical analysts as a powerful country with a functioning state and efficient governance. 2- Even though it is presented as a developing country by statistics, it is admitted by all that the Chinese economy is super productive, competitive and especially dynamic. 3- China has undoubtedly become not only a reality of its presence, not only important, but even dominating in many aspects on the global scene. And lastly, it showed that specifically President Xi Jinping has already been affirmed fully not simply as the most powerful political figure, but also as a leader with a great transforming personality.
The analysis of the international media was focused more on the formal aspect of the use of the key terms of the Congress unveiled especially in the all-inclusive report of President Xi Jinping as the entering of China into a "new era", " the national reinvigoration of China", "success of Socialism with Chinese characteristics", "the building of a moderately prosperous society", China as a "great power", "the central role" on the international scene etc. But I think that they should be considered in face of the reality of China, its potential and real role today. And if they are seen as such, this terminology is quite normal.
- The main focus of the Congress, however, was the unveiling of the so far achievements of China, especially in the economic and social fields, starting with the technological modernization and poverty reduction. Isn't this an executive theme more than a party one?
- I maintain that at least for us, Albanians, due to our history, this situation is quite meaningful. The Communist Party of China is not simply a force of ideas, education and inspiration. It is both the engine and the system of leading the Chinese society. For a party which has the undisputable dominating role in the life of China in its development politics and after all in its obvious successes in many aspects, it is difficult to separate the relationship and analysis of the Party from those of the executive governance and achievements.
This merge is obvious even by the title of the report of Xi Jinping: ""We will unite the Chinese people of all ethnic groups and lead them to a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and in the drive to secure the success of Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era."
- Which are some of the major achievements of today's China which have been evidenced in the Congress?
- Figures can speak for themselves better than anything. China is a country, which in the midst of the global crisis, has achieved to maintain a 6-7 per cent economic growth. The GDP has doubled every ten years, and China has created annually 13 million job places (urban jobs) for 5 consecutive years, and 60 million people have been lifted out of poverty line, according to Chinese standards, over the last five years.
As about 300 million people are part of the " middle strata" guaranteeing a colossal domestic market, with extraordinary export capacities and domination of some markets, with natural resources and endless human capacities, China cannot fail to draw also the special international attention and respect.
On the other hand, it seems that the results are being sensed by any individual and the Chinese citizens are feeling the dominance of growth, rapid development and the result is materialized in employment and higher incomes. The people are feeling the dominance of public services as health security and easy payment through cellular everywhere and "shared services" like the various means of transportation which anyone can choose.
- Is everything 'rosy' in China, and how much is the leadership of that country open to make public the problems worrying broad segments of a population mounting to 1.4 billion inhabitants?
- Certainly, international views, assessments and interpretations are different. Without doubt, there are inherited development problems. But it is interesting that the Chinese leadership itself accepts to be sufficiently realistic on the problems. It does not say that China has no problems. On the contrary, the leadership accepts that changes are needed even to the theoretical basis. Such a change was, for example, the identification of the fundamental contradiction in today's China and the need for a balanced development. Even before, President Xi Jinping himself in some speeches, including the one in Seattle of the US last year, has dwelt on these economic and social handicaps which continue to be priorities of the government. President Xi did not 'paint' the future as a field full of flowers.
He said these are their objectives and ambitions, but added that their achievement in the stages from 2021 to 2049 requires great sacrifices, untiring work by everyone and particularly it calls for unwavering fight against corruption and deviation from the mission by government, party officials and other leaders.
- Mr. Ambassador, you mentioned the fight against corruption. Is there evidence how corruption is fought in China?
- It should be stressed that there is transparency in the uncompromising fight against corruption which has got significantly stronger under the leadership of President Xi, and has been open for the local and foreign public opinion. It is obvious that things are said concretely.
Different sources says that over 1 million low and high-ranking officials have been punished, 18 officials of the CPC Central Committee or 9 percent of the entire Central Committee have also been arrested and six of them have been given severe sentences. Xi's Report guarantees that no one will be spared in the anti-corruption fight, and "tigers" and "flies" and "foxes" will be hit mercilessly. This is seen as a necessary precondition to guarantee a moral and dedicated governance and achieve the very difficult and ambitious objectives.
- How should Albania see this new phase into which China has entered with regard to the economic cooperation when it is already known its great potential, but even its 'aggressiveness' to invest in important projects in Europe, especially in the Eastern part of the Continent, but also in the Western Balkans?
- I hold that we, the Albanian state and government, should follow attentively this new stage of China's development and the program of the new leadership elected in the 19th Congress of CPC.
It is very good that we have joined the important platforms launched by China as "One Belt, One Road" and "16+1" initiatives. But much concrete work is also needed. Neither the above-mentioned initiatives, nor the traditional bilateral cooperation offer "presents", anymore.
The profit from them can be achieved only through the "win-win" pattern, that is through plans of businesses and projects which have mutual interest. And this stands not simply for the two governments but also for the operators of the concrete businesses.
We should take very seriously especially the introduction of the packages of special projects which are suitable for Albania-China cooperation. Certainly, this is not an easy work, because Albania is not "the pre-selected" country anymore. We should compete firmly with the others, with our neighbors and beyond.