China’s Communist Party Congress ends with Xi’s third term

China’s Communist Party Congress ends with Xi’s third term


China’s Communist Party Congress ends with Xi’s third term

Beijing (AFP) –

Laurie CHEN, Matthew WALSH

China’s five-year Communist Party Congress concludes on Saturday, and President Xi Jinping is likely to seal a norm-breaking third term in power.

The closing ceremony at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People caps a week of largely post-official meetings of 2,300 party delegates who will approve a reshuffle of party leadership that is likely to have been decided well in advance.

Xi is widely expected to be unveiled as general secretary on Sunday, shortly after the first session of the newly elected Central Committee, a 200-member body of the party’s top officials.

This will allow Xi to sail through to a third term as China’s president, to be announced during the government’s annual term in March.

Earlier in 2018, Xi scrapped the presidential two-term limit, paving the way for him to rule indefinitely.

Over the weekend, the new Central Committee will also approve a newly formed 25-member Politburo, as well as a permanent Politburo – China’s top power – of about seven people, which analysts expect will be full of Xi allies.

At the opening ceremony of the congress on Sunday, Xi presented a 105-minute “work report” in which he praised the party’s achievements and whitewashed domestic problems such as the faltering economy and the damage wrought by his harsh zero-Covid policy became.

Strong on ideological rhetoric and reckless politics, a defiant Xi also urged Communist Party members to brace themselves against numerous challenges, including a hardening geopolitical climate.

“We must be… ready to withstand strong winds, choppy waters, and even dangerous storms,” ??he said.

“Faced with drastic changes in the international landscape, particularly external attempts to blackmail, contain, (and) block China… China, we have put our national interests first.”

Security was also a key focus of the speech, in which Xi hailed Hong Kong’s transition from “chaos to governance” and vowed to “never commit to abandoning the use of force” to conquer the self-governing island of Taiwan.

The work report “is a carefully written drama designed to increase and enhance the power of the party, its leader and its ideas,” wrote David Bandurski, editor of Hong Kong University’s China Media Project.

– power grip –

This week’s Congress is likely to further cement Xi’s position as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, with analysts predicting he is virtually certain to be reappointed to a third term.

But some key questions remain unresolved, including whether Xi, 69, will appoint a potential successor to the Politburo Standing Committee and whether a more succinct form of his distinctive political philosophy will be enshrined in the charter of the 96-million-strong party.

The latter would make Xi Jinping Thought “the latest rendering of Marxism (and) Chinese state ideology in the 21st century,” said Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London.

“Xi’s power will be similar to that of the dictator of China and there will be almost no room for anyone to advise him to correct course,” Tsang told AFP.

“This will increase the risk of policy mistakes as everything will depend on Xi getting it right.”

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