Trade Wars

Security at the heart of the concerns of political decision-makers at the Party Congress

More than 2,000 Communist Party delegates are gathering in Beijing this week at the 20th Party Congress, to deliberate on a new leadership, adopt a new charter for the party and agree on its mission for the next decade and beyond.

Ensuring the security of energy, food and other key supplies that fuel the Chinese economy at a time of great uncertainty has been a central message emerging from high-level speeches and press conferences of these last days.

A simple word count Comparing Party Secretary Xi Jinping’s speech at the Party Congress this time with Secretary Hu Jintao’s speech at the 18th Party Congress 10 years ago shows the elevation of security and stability in the party priorities. This reflects a hardening of worldview caused by trade wars, geopolitical tensions and the pandemic. The concept of “holistic national security” was a keyword in Xi’s speech, with particular emphasis on food, energy and supply chain security, among others.

At the press conference on Monday, October 17, journalists bombarded ministers with questions about how this security will be provided.

In response to an on energy security, after severe power shortages last summer, Ren Jingdong, vice-minister of the National Energy Administration, highlighted the strengthening of power generation capacities and emphasized the “orderly” replacement of fossil energy by renewable energies. He also underscored the importance of risk management, through the strengthening of early warning capacities in the event of disruptions in the supply of coal, oil, gas and electricity.

Responding to another question along the same lines, Ren clarified that the government intends to avoid any power shortages this winter by increasing coal stocks at power plants, which are currently at a record high of 170. million tons, and by adding production capacities in coal mines and production capacities everything sources of energy. He said that since the start of 2021, China has added 270 GW of power generation capacity. Improving the flexibility of the network to distribute electricity between provinces was another key point.

Ren’s colleague Cong Liang of the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration also addressed issues of food security and the supply of key minerals. The first is to protect China’s arable land and boost domestic production of staple crops combined with measures against food waste. The latter involves bolstering China’s strategic reserve system for minerals critical to supply chain security.

Read the dialogues about China 14th five-year plan front cover which also has energy security at its core.