Political speeches and documents are known to provide valid clues to future developments in the PRC. Analysts therefore try to extract priorities and orientations from the phraseology, word choice, and frequency of terms related to the 20th Party Congress. In doing so, they also take into account minor changes in phrases that have appeared at previous congresses. For example, previous work reports spoke of an “important period of strategic opportunities,” but this year’s congress focused on “strategic opportunities, risks and challenges.”
According to analyses by the Berlin-based China think tank MERICS, the terms security and modernization were mentioned most frequently at this year’s party congress. The terms science, technology and talent were also used much more frequently than at the previous party congress in 2017, and a new section of Xi Jinping’s work report is even dedicated to innovation in science and technology, underscoring Beijing’s desire for technological independence. The party will set the concrete goals and improve the framework conditions for innovation; the companies will have to implement them. To do this, they need knowledge.
Against the backdrop of China’s ongoing decoupling from the West, it is to be expected that there will be more unwanted or illegal know-how transfer. This is especially true for the strategic technology areas defined as priorities by the Chinese government in the Five-Year Plan, for example 5G and 6G, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), quantum technology, virtual reality and cloud technology, semiconductors, neuroscience, genetics and biotechnology, health sciences, and space and earth exploration. Companies operating in these fields should professionally protect their know-how now. They must assume that China is now playing harder ball. Xi Jinping has not sworn the CCP to tough battles without reason.