The announcements of 2013 sounded ambitious, raising hopes in Western observers that we would see greater economic and social openness in China: the market was to be given a “decisive role”, unprofitable state-owned enterprises were to be made more efficient, corruption in the state and Party was going to be rooted out and greater transparency was going to be achieved in the judiciary and state machinery. Those were the key resolutions made at the Third Plenum of the 18th CCP Central Committee on 12 November 2013.
Two years after this crucial meeting under the leadership of General Secretary Xi Jinping, Matthias Stepan, researcher at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), draws an interim balance. His conclusion: not only has party leader Xi Jinping consolidated his own power base, but he has also made it clear in which direction he intends to steer the country. Under his leadership, the Chinese Communist Party has implemented a large part of the reform agenda. Western hopes of a more open China have been dashed.