Chinese President Xi Jinping signals continuity at Communist Party Congress

Chinese leader Xi Jinping signaled Sunday that his government would maintain policies that have put it at odds with the United States and other nations and deepened the Communist Party’s control over the economy and society.

Mr Xi, speaking at the opening of the two-decade congress that is expected to give him a third five-year term, praised the achievements of the past five years and said the party would strive to achieve what it calls “rejuvenation”. ” of the nation.

“Our future is bright, but we still have a long way to go,” he told the more than 2,000 delegates attending the opening, which was held in the huge Great Hall of the People overlooking Tiananmen Square in central Beijing.

“We must foster a firmer sense of purpose, courage and self-confidence in the entire Chinese party and people so that we cannot be swayed by mistakes, deterred by intimidation or intimidated. by pressure,” he said.

President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the Communist Party Congress in Beijing (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

A third term for Mr. Xi would break with recent precedent and further establish him as the most powerful Chinese politician since Mao Zedong.

The president called for further investment in the party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, and reiterated that China would not rule out using force to bring the self-governing island of Taiwan under its control.

“Reunification absolutely must be achieved and reunification will definitely be achieved,” he said.

Taiwan and China separated in a civil war in 1949 that brought the Communists to power in China. Many Taiwanese reject the term “reunification”, saying they were never part of communist China.

With Xi set to stay in power, little change is expected in China’s economic and foreign policies, as well as its intolerance of criticism and hardline approach to Covid-19, including quarantines and travel bans.

Mr Xi defended the pandemic response, saying it “puts people and their lives above everything else”.

Chinese Party Congress
The twice-a-decade congress is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

The week-long convention, the 20th in the centenary party’s history, comes as the economy faces major headwinds from a sharp downturn in real estate, the war in Ukraine and the economic toll of the tourism, retail and manufacturing from Covid -19 restrictions.

As with most Chinese political events, little information has been released in advance and the outcome will not be announced until next weekend, after days of closed sessions.

Congress is expected to approve an amendment to its charter that could further elevate Mr. Xi’s status as a leader.

Congress spokesman Sun Yeli gave some details at a press conference on Saturday. He said the changes “will meet new requirements to advance the party’s development and work in the face of new circumstances and new tasks.”

The previous congress in 2017 incorporated Mr. Xi’s ideology, known as Xi Jinping Thought, into the party’s constitution. The ideology is vague but emphasizes reviving the party’s mission as China’s political, economic, social and cultural leader and its central role in achieving national rejuvenation.

Xi, who has been in charge for 10 years, has already gained great power, placing himself in charge of domestic affairs, foreign policy, military, economy and most other key issues through the working groups of the party he leads.

Chinese Party Congress
Delegates at the opening ceremony of the 20th National Congress of China’s ruling Communist Party (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

Under his leadership, the country expanded its global footprint while tightening already tight controls on news and dissent.

A rare public protest last week, in which banners attacking him and the politics of Covid-19 were hung in Beijing, was quickly scrubbed from the internet and any discussion about it quashed.

Xi touted as achievements China’s policies toward Taiwan and semi-autonomous Hong Kong that have been harshly criticized by the United States and other democracies.

He said actions taken after major protests in Hong Kong in 2019 had restored order and ensured it was ruled by patriots. His government imposed a national security law imposed on the city that virtually eliminated opposition voices and demands for democracy.

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