May 28, 2023

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Xi Jinping, at the end of the Chinese Communist Party congress: “Dare to fight for victory”

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) concluded its congress in Beijing on Saturday, which would crown President Xi Jinping with a third term and chart China’s political future for the next five years.

“Dare to fight for victory,” Xi Jinping said with a triumphant air at the end of the closing ceremony at the Palace of the People, a huge Soviet-style building that dominates Tiananmen Square.

This congress, the 20th since the founding of the CCP in 1921, took place in a delicate context for China, which is faced with slowing growth due to repeated quarantines and diplomatic tensions with the West.

For a week, around 2,300 delegates elected by the various Party bodies met behind closed doors in Beijing, with the mission of reshuffle the party’s leadership team, and thus of the second world economy, and chart the country’s future directions.

The composition of the new Central Committee, a kind of internal “parliament” of the party, was adopted, according to Xinhua, which has not yet presented the list of around 200 members.

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Unusual scene in a ceremony where everything is set in detail, former president Hu Jintao was escorted to the exit, AFP journalists found, according to Agerpres.

Visibly against his will, the 79-year-old, who was China’s president from 2003 to 2013, was urged by staff to get up from his seat next to Xi Jinping’s. The scene was neither explained nor immediately reported by Chinese media.

On Sunday, Xi Jinping will most likely be re-elected as general secretary of the CCP, at the end of the first meeting of a reshuffled Central Committee, which has about 200 members.

A simple formality, the procedure will allow Xi Jinping to obtain a third five-year presidential mandate in March of next year, an unprecedented fact.

“This third term will end a three-decade period of (regulated) power transition” in China, said Neil Thomas, an analyst at Eurasia Group.

In order to stay in power, the strongman from Beijing had to remove the two-term limit from the Constitution in 2018. Xi Jinping, aged 69, can therefore in theory preside over the People’s Republic for life.

A new prime minister

Analysts and the media are speculating on Xi Jinping’s will to change the title of his post to “Chairman of the Party”, the title held by the founder of the Mao Tse-Dung regime (1949-1976).

A change could also be made to the PCC charter. In 2017, she integrated a reference to “Xi Jinping’s thinking on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era”.

This mention was added the following year in the country’s constitution.

This congress should have led to an extensive reshuffling of the standing committee of the Politburo.

The new composition of the now seven-member all-powerful body – which actually holds power in China – will be unveiled on Sunday.

According to unwritten traditions, some of the current members reach the age at which they must retire.

According to custom, the members of the Permanent Committee will be announced in order of importance, number one being the general secretary.

Number two or number three will be the future prime minister who will succeed Li Keqiang in March next year.

Among the names evoked to replace him are Wang Yang, considered one of the most liberal voices of the Party, or the current vice-premier Hu Chunhua.

Li Qiang, party leader in Shanghai, is also in a good position, despite his chaotic handling of the quarantine in the spring.

What’s next

The new permanent committee will be made up of “mostly personalities loyal to Xi Jinping”, says Nis Grünberg, from the Mercator Institute for Chinese Studies in Berlin.

Numerous sinologists estimate that no potential successor would appear.

Since coming to power in 2012, Xi Jinping has amassed power at the top of the world’s second largest power and presided over a strengthening of the regime’s authority.

Head of the party, head of the army, head of the state… The leader pleaded for the continuity of his policies in a triumphant speech on Sunday, at the opening of the congress.

The “zero COVID” strategy would thus continue, despite its dire consequences on the economy and the growing exasperation of the population against repeated lockdowns.

Far from the cautious diplomacy of his predecessors, Xi Jinping would make China’s voice heard even more. Even with the risk of increasing tensions with the great American rival, especially around the issue of Taiwan.

Xi Jinping is mainly “very concerned about the security of the regime”, underline the analysts of the SinoInsider cabinet, specialized in Chinese politics. They reveal that this term was mentioned 91 times in his speech last Sunday, more than any other topic.

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