China’s Xi Jinping further consolidates power as party congress closes

  • Li Keqiang and Wang Yang were not elected to the Party Central Committee
  • Lee, Wang omissions seen as laying the groundwork for promoting Xi’s allies
  • Hu Jintao escorted off stage at the closing ceremony
  • Amendment to party constitution further demonstrates Xi Jinping’s grip on power
  • The new standing committee will be introduced at 0400 GMT on Sunday

BEIJING, Oct 22 (Reuters) – China’s ruling Communist Party wrapped up its twice-a-decade national congress on Saturday, cementing Xi Jinping’s iron-fisted grip on power and revealing that the new central committee lacked two people with little ties to the leader. key officials.

Xi, 69, is on track for a third five-year term as party general secretary, breaking precedent and cementing his status as China’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong, the founding leader of the People’s Republic of China.

The new leadership will be unveiled around noon (0400 GMT) on Sunday, when Xi will walk into a press room in the Great Hall of the People, followed by the rest of the new Standing Committee in descending order of rank.

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In an unusual moment at the closing ceremony, former President Hu Jintao, who was sitting next to Xi, was escorted from power. Hu, 79, looked distressed and appeared to refuse to leave as the housekeeper escorted him away. He looked a little shaky last Sunday when he was helped to the same stage.

At the end of the week-long national congress, the party’s new Central Committee, elected by delegates, did not include outgoing Premier Li Keqiang or former Guangdong party secretary Wang Yang, who was seen as a potential replacement for the premier.

Analysts said their omission suggested that the powerful Politburo Standing Committee, due to be unveiled on Sunday, is likely to be close to Xi.

“It can be seen from the constitutional amendments and the report that the theme of this conference is to highlight Xi Jinping’s centrality,” said Chen Gang, a senior fellow at the East Asian Institute in Singapore.

“Through this congress, Xi Jinping’s authority has been further enhanced. Going forward, we will see more concentration of power around Xi Jinping and around the central government,” he said.

Li and Wang Chu

Li, who will step down as prime minister in March, and Wang Du, the chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, are 67 and are therefore eligible under China’s age standards to serve another five years on the standing committee, which currently has seven members.

Both are believed to have no long-term relationship with Xi, who could bring four new faces to the Standing Committee, analysts and media reports.

Both Li and Wang have ties to the Communist Youth League, a once influential group that has lost power under Xi Jinping.

The prime minister oversees the world’s second-largest economy, although the position’s influence is widely seen to have waned as Xi Jinping steadily consolidated control during his decade in power.

A Beijing-based political scientist, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said Li was the only dissenting voice on the standing committee.

“On the surface, Xi Jinping can do whatever he wants. This means that he no longer faces any resistance or checks and balances in the PSC. All future policies will be implemented according to his wishes,” the academic said.

PSC members Wang Huning, 67, and Zhao Leji, 65, were both re-elected members of the central committee and are expected to be re-elected members of the standing committee.

Two other standing committee members have passed the retirement age.

raise your hand

The party, which has about 96 million members, passed constitutional amendments aimed at cementing Xi Jinping’s centrality and the guiding role of his political ideas within the party.

Among the amendments, “Liangli” defines Xi Jinping as the party’s “core” leader, and Xi Jinping’s thinking as a guideline for China’s future development. The “two guarantees” guarantee Xi Jinping’s “core” status within the party and the party’s centralized authority over China.

Another amendment included “carrying forward fighting spirit and enhancing combat effectiveness” into the party constitution, and for the first time proposed to oppose and contain “Taiwan independence” separatist forces.

Voting was held by show of hands in Beijing’s sprawling Great Hall of the People, and much of the week’s events took place behind closed doors.

The conference ended with a military band playing the socialist national anthem “The Internationale”.

At its first plenary session on Sunday, the party’s new Central Committee will elect the next Politburo (usually 25 members) and a new standing committee.

Xi’s power does not appear to have been weakened by the events of a turbulent year, including a sharp economic slowdown, frustration with his zero-coronavirus policy, and China’s growing alienation from the West, and his disapproval of Russia’s Vladimir Putin’s support exacerbated this.

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Reporting by Yew Lun Tian and Eduardo Baptista; Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing by Lincoln Feast and William Mallard

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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