How Important is the Chinese Communist Party Congress?

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping bows before delivering his speech during the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

 

The National Congress of the Communist Party of China, a meeting widely covered yet very secretive, began in Beijing this week. It is the 19th Communist Party Congress, with the first being held in 1921. They have been held every five years since the 11th Congress in 1977. The event is not merely an election, nor is it simply an outline of policy, but rather a chance for chosen delegates close to the party to discuss political ideologies.

While changes of leadership within the party have seldom occurred during the assemblies, it has happened, such as Deng Xiaoping taking over at the 12th Congress in 1982 and subsequently transforming China into a global socialist power. While the 1982 Congress was certainly one of the more interesting and progressive meetings in the party’s history, current President Xi Liaping took control after 2012’s Congress, and is expected to firmly consolidate his power and remain in control. In fact, some are predicting that President Xi will usher in the next great era of Chinese power, as observers describe the 65-year-old as the most powerful Chinese official since Deng Xiaoping, or maybe even since Mao Zedong.

On Wednesday, President Xi opened the Congress with a speech in front of the 2,287 chosen delegates, which was promptly entitled, “Secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.” The current President delivered his address in a manner that lived up to its title, taking no shorter than three hours and twenty-three minutes.

In this speech, President Xi strongly outlined the success of his five-year regime, stating China had “become a great power in the world” and played “an important role in the history of humankind.” He then used this to turn towards the future, getting the delegates excited for the next five years under Xi, stating, “It is time for us to take center stage in the world and to make a greater contribution to humankind”. Amidst uncertainty of Western democracies, President Xi affirmed his ideological confidence in the communist party and said they look strong and unified in comparison. Additionally, he said China would not close its doors to the world, and promised lower barriers for foreign investors, hoping to further grow the economy.

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Over 2,200 delegates were in attendance during the opening day of the 19th Congress.

If you had only heard Xi Linping’s speech, you would not be mistaken in thinking the entirety of the country was unified and resolute in its growth. Chen Daoyin, a political scientist from Shanghai, believes this very Congress will usher in the third great political regime since Mao Zedong brought communism to China. According to Daoyin, Mao, the revolutionary figure, represents the first epoch and Deng Xiaoping, the reformer, further strengthened China in helping it become wealthy. Now, according to Daoyin and other Chinese analysts, Xi Liaping is bringing in the third. Xi has been tightening his control over the party for the last five years, and now has the most power any Chinese leader has had in decades, perhaps even since Mao Zedong. While this is shown in positive light at the Congress, it could also be interpreted as negative.

President Xi spoke of measures to increase party discipline, and brought up a corruption crackdown that has punished more than a million Chinese officials. Additionally, he warned against separatism, affirming that Taiwan is a part of China and referencing recent political movements in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong.

So how important is the 19th Congress? I believe it is massively significant, especially given the time period. Chinese officials make it seem like the gathering is a mere celebration and outline of Chinese strength and unity; however, I believe it is a move to tighten grip amongst fear of party separation. In recent months, independence movements have become very relevant worldwide. In September, Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence from Iraq in a controversial referendum. Days later, on October 1st, Catalonia voted overwhelmingly for independence from Spain in a controversial referendum. Both were met with violence and push-back from their respective countries. President Xi is well aware of these movements across the world, and used the Congress to deliver a warning to Taiwan, and other regions like Hong Kong, stating that Beijing has the will and power to stop any attempts at independence.

With the meetings only just the beginning, the Chinese Communist Party Congress will run until next Tuesday. Given the global influence China has, the rest of the world will be anxiously waiting to see what happens, not just in the next week, but in the next decade, as one of the world’s most powerful leaders attempts to bring China to its greatest height.

Sources:

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/16/chinese-communist-party-congress-what-you-need-to-know.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/18/xi-jinping-speech-new-era-chinese-power-party-congress

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-41647872

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/china-ready-to–defeat–taiwan-independence–xi-9320852

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/27/middleeast/kurdish-referendum-results/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/03/europe/catalonia-general-strike-protests-barcelona/index.html

 

Delaware: A State that has More Business Entities than People

“What is equity? The word of course means simply fairness.” – The Honorable Sam Glasscock III, Vice-Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery

Would it surprise you that Delaware has more corporate entities than people? How about the fact that 66% of Fortune 500 companies have incorporated in Delaware? With over a million corporations, why choose Delaware? While seemingly simple, Delaware combines legal, business, historical, and many other factors to attribute to its corporate prestige.

Entering my freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh, my friends would playfully joke about Delaware’s size and supposed lack of importance. Being a Delaware native, I have heard everything from, “Delawhere” to “isn’t that next to New Hampshire?”. As a state, Delaware offers everything from luscious beaches to family fun at the Wilmington Waterfront. However, nobody stops to look at a court of equity erected when George Washington was re-elected in 1792, the Chancery Court of Delaware.

If you were like me, before I began to enjoy and pursue law, you probably had no idea that a Chancery Court existed, let alone what it actually did. At this point, you are probably wondering, what even is a Chancery Court? With a bit of history, it is simple to see the main concepts of what  a Chancery Court is and the purposes it serves.

Back in feudal England, the King’s Chapel served as an entity issuing official documents that functioned as a legal foundation. Eventually, the Chapel evolved from check marks on documents such as royal writs to a Court of Chancery that allowed for a “remedy” despite not having procedural or practical problems. Basically, if there was an issue at hand, there was now a remedy from the rigid, corrupt common law courts to provide fairness or, in a more accurate term, equity. This fairness relied upon the English Chancellor’s ethical conscience on a case by case basis in deviation from the common law, of which he relied heavily upon. For instance, while extreme, if there was an issue determining a murder, the Chancellor would not simply apprehend and punish the criminal but would take into mind the situation at hand and other factors in determining his ruling. Eventually, with increasingly complex doctrines like the trust, the English Court of Chancery developed into an intricate and rigid entity, much like the common law courts it separated itself from to establish a flexible and equitable legal structure. Due to a lack of preservation of equity, the English Parliament dismantled the High Court of Chancery in 1875. However, Delaware’s Chancellors preserved the broad, while seemingly complex, remedies that favored the equitable standpoint of the initial English Chancery Court.

 

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Front Row (Seated Left to Right): Vice Chancellor Laster, Chancellor Bouchard, Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III Back Row (Standing Left to Right): Vice Chancellor Tamika Montgomery-Reeves, Vice Chancellor Joseph R. Slights III

 

Delaware represents equity through the moral sense of fairness, the recognition that universal rules must be taken on a case by case basis, and that the equity is flexible in application to specific situations. With its evolution today, the Delaware Chancery Court relied upon corporate entities to build and retain its prestige among the legal world of Business. Inversely, having a corporate backbone, like the Chancery Court, provides corporations the incentive to incorporate within Delaware, thus utilizing the equitable remedies for resolving corporate litigation and other related controversies.

Out of the three Chancery Courts throughout the United States (Mississippi and Tennessee are the others), Delaware’s court is premier to the rest. As a court of equity, the Chancery Court hears cases concerning both equitable rights and equitable remedies; in layman’s terms, they are along the lines of fiduciary duties, injunctions, suits related to business entities, and corporate documents (Mergers, Bylaws, and Charters). Another determining factor of Delaware’s prominence as a Court of Chancery is the fact that case results are determined on the basis of merit and not of politics. For instance, every decision, order, and so forth is released publicly for critique, in addition to the fact that the entire Delaware legal code is provided by the state online for free, baring one’s ability to access the internet. The “judges” of the Court of Chancery, known as the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellors, uphold the duty of law above all else, hence why the outcomes of cases are not determined by a jury but instead by the sheer law. To refer back to the 2005 decision on Cox Communications, INC. v. Shareholders Litigation, Former Vice-Chancellor Strine’s Decision on the case moved to “reform and extend Lynch” (a standard of review worded in Kahn v. Lynch Communication System, INC.). Basically, the review standard

“makes it impossible for a controlling stockholder ever to structure a transaction in a manner that will enable it to obtain dismissal of a complaint challenging the transaction, each Lynch case has settlement value, not necessarily because of its merits but because it cannot be dismissed” (Strine).

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The New Castle County Courthouse: Home to the largest portion of the Delaware Chancery Court

 

Fairly expanding this concept imposes the value of equity that the Chancery Court upholds to corporations incorporated in the state of Delaware. Thus, with incorporation in Delaware comes the entitlement to litigation in the Court of Chancery. For this reason, corporations want the complexity and equity that the Delaware General Corporations Code offers.

To this day, the state of Delaware accepts these generally looser platforms of incorporation in order to provide benefits to not only the state itself, but to the market and proper functions of business within the United States. While Delaware is small in size, the corporations indirectly (through taxes and related revenues) provide 40% of the state’s budget. For instance, the only things separating me from my dream of organizing my own corporation are the fees of incorporating and putting pen to paper my details for the Articles of Incorporation of my corporate entity. This is why large companies like J.P. Morgan Chase, Alphabet (the firm that owns Google), more than 50% of publicly traded companies on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, and 66% of fortune 500 companies have chosen to incorporate in Delaware; not to mention that 75% of initial public offerings occur in Delaware as well. All this and Delaware does not even have a million citizens. However, it certainly has more than a million corporations.

The North Shore Development Project Revisited


It has been sixteen years since two professional sports stadiums opened their gates in Pittsburgh’s North Shore. Those stadiums, Heinz Field and PNC Park, have played host to Pittsburgh’s respective National Football League and Major League Baseball franchises. Since the sports complex in the North Shore was completed, the city of Pittsburgh has enjoyed multiple championship parades (two of those stemming from the Steelers’ victories in 2006 and 2009 – respectively.) However, the joys of hosting the local teams in state of the art facilities comes at a price to citizens in both Allegheny County and the state of Pennsylvania.

In August of 1994, it became public that the Pittsburgh Pirates were for sale. When this  announcement came to light, Major League Baseball disclosed that a new ballpark was a requirement for this sale to occur. A little over one year later in October of 1995, Steelers president Dan Rooney publicly announced that Three Rivers Stadium needed to be extensively renovated or replaced for the team to be able to “remain competitive.” Later on in 1996, the Pirates were sold to Kevin McClatchy, with the stipulation that a new stadium would have to be constructed for the team by 2001. As all of these pieces of information come to light in the late nineties, it starts to become very apparent that there is going to be a big push by several powerful players to get these new facilities built. These press releases, quotes and plans culminate in late 1997 and early 1998 as the preliminary plans for financing these facilities were announced. 

 

In November of 1997, several key pieces of information regarding how this developmental project is going to be financed were announced. They included a 1% increase in county sales tax beyond the 6% base sales tax, a 7% tax on hotel and motel rooms rented in Allegheny County as well as revenue generated from parking and a payroll tax on athletes that are not residents. In short, the contributions from local and state residents in addition to federal and state funding amounted to 72% of the costs associated with this plan.

This is an oft-debated about issue in today’s society, but it was also highly contested in 1998, when this plan was being voted on. The decision to back the billionaire owners of sports franchises were not anywhere close to unanimous. When meetings were held on the matter of this plan, public opinion was incredibly split. Local sports fans opined that the construction of these stadiums was vital to the city’s future as a host to professional sports teams. However, there were many angry local residents who expressed their displeasure towards the fact that their tax dollars will, in part, be going towards the construction of this stadium. In fact, even before this public funding was committed, voters in Allegheny and surrounding counties voted 530,706 votes against and 281,336 votes in favor of the plan to construct these new facilities.

In the end, however, the plan was approved 6-1 by the Regional Asset District Board (RAD) and the local funding was approved to build these two stadiums and expand the convention center. Ralph DeStefano, the outlier on the RAD board who voted against the plan was very outspoken as he opined that it was time to “stop the insanity with sports salaries” as he likened the decision to use public funds as contribution to these stadiums as “corporate welfare.” Though many have their opinion over whether this was a decision that was right or just, the stadiums certainly do create both positive and negative externalities on the public.

The city kept their teams. Whether you are a sports fan or not, this is something that certainly adds to the cultural dynamic of a city. Having two of the most recently successful sports franchises (Penguins and Steelers) in your city attracts a lot of fans and tourists to the area. They go to the games at these stadiums, they populate local bars, restaurants, shops, hotels, etc. The North Shore has undoubtedly felt incredible economic growth since the early 2000’s, and the stadium project undoubtedly served as a direct catalyst.

The main issue that many take with cases like this is how these stadiums are funded. Certainly, in the case of this developmental project, there is a dangerous line that now exists due to the precedent that has been set with the public contributions towards funding these stadiums. Just this past March, the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority board approved nearly $300,000 in reimbursement payments for inspection services and structural steel painting. Though this payment was unanimously approved, there is currently a heated debate over who is going to pay for twenty-five million dollars in upgrades to the stadium (such as installing new Wi-Fi systems, an expansion within the stadium, and the purchase of a new scoreboard in the south end zone.) Obviously, it is troubling for the future if billionaire sports ownership groups are able to strong arm the local and state governments into forcing local residents to pay for their investments.

We are not yet at the point where public outcry against the use of public funds has led to notable drops in attendance across professional sports, but the general population is certainly becoming more aware. In recent years, there have been many people across the nation pushing for owners of franchises to finance their own stadiums. However, we probably won’t be seeing this type of debate come up in Pittsburgh anytime soon, barring any drastic expansions or renovations to these local stadiums. It seems as if Art Rooney and Kevin McClatchy had just enough time to work with to get these stadiums built – just like Ben Roethlisberger had for his game winning drive in Super Bowl XLIII.