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China abandons 'common prosperity' plans as Xi seeks re-election: Report

Xi's "common prosperity" marketing campaign is a pledge to close the country's widening wealth gap

China | Xi Jinping


Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping | File photo

As Chinese President seeks a historic third term in power, the country's officials who till a few months ago were ferociously advertising a new era of "common prosperity," slapping penalties on tech behemoths and wealthy celebrities, have shifted their focus to keeping the economy stable and growing, for now, a media report said.

The Communist Party is now putting its advertising campaign on hold, the Hong Kong Post reported, saying, Beijing implies that Xi's push to redistribute wealth has unnerved the private sector, a pillar of development and job creation when China's financial outlook is bleak.

As Xi prepares to get re-elected for a third five-year term later this year, he has attempted to portray as more prosperous, influential, and stable under his rule, the report said.

Officials have been scrambling in recent months to reverse a slowdown in development, which rising global oil prices have exacerbated, uncertainty over the Ukraine conflict, and Chinese lockdowns, which have included an unrelenting surge in coronavirus cases, the report added.

The postponement is more of a tactical retreat than a complete abandonment of Xi's plans, which the Chinese Communist Party continues to portray as a long-term goal, the report further said.

Xi's "common prosperity" marketing campaign is a pledge to close the country's widening wealth gap and build a middle class capable of driving domestic consumption and reducing reliance on debt-fueled development.

It also serves political goals, such as bolstering public support for Xi's leadership and promoting China's centralized management system as superior to the West, the report said.

Regulators had focused on what they called "disorderly capital expansion." They cracked down on various businesses that they saw as widening the gap between the rich and the low-income strata, such as after-school tutoring, online financial products, and online shopping, the report said, adding, the strikes wiped more than USD 1 trillion off the value of Chinese corporations, forcing many to lay off workers and even file for bankruptcy.

Because the economy was slowing, the social gathering's management began signalling that the marketing campaign would be delayed, the report further said, adding, the Politburo didn't use the phrase "common prosperity" in its official abstract when it met that month to decide on financial priorities for 2022; instead, it emphasized stability as the top priority.

Beijing also sought to reassure stakeholders such as investors that it was still open for business, the report said. However, Beijing's crackdown on the personal sector has continued to rattle traders both at home and abroad.

As imposed strict lockdowns to combat COVID-19 outbreaks and Russia's invasion of Ukraine raised commodity costs, confidence in China's economic system has waned.

In order to secure his third term, Xi would be looking to not rock the boat on the economy too much, lest he draws into a financial cesspool given the volatile economic situation worldwide.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Thu, May 05 2022. 08:10 IST