Xi becomes China’s most powerful leader in historic third term


A somber Xi Jinping walks past the red plush stage in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People and takes center stage. A group of people silently followed behind him, falling on both sides of him.

On such a short, stiff walk, Xi Jinping was anointed on Sunday Five, if not more, years as China’s undisputed leader as he concentrated power to a level not seen since the Mao era and pitted his country against the West.

At a plenary session after the biannual Communist Party Congress, Xi Jinping introduced the people around him — the newly elected seven-member Standing Committee, the party’s highest authority. Xi Jinping is at the top of the list.

In his speech, Xi said that under the leadership of the party, the Chinese people have paid “sweat and hard work” to “blaze the path of China’s modernization” and that “this is a great and arduous undertaking.” The enormity of the task makes it great And infinite glory. “

A week ago, he delivered his victory report to more than 2,000 delegates at the opening ceremony of the 20th National Congress, emphasizing the party’s mission to transform China into a socialist superpower and a “new choice” for humanity.

Xi Jinping’s quest to take full control of China is just beginning

Xi Jinping has not stepped down after a decade as general secretary and chairman of the Central Military Commission, two of the party’s most important posts, overturning norms that previous leaders hoped to institutionalize the peaceful transfer of power and prevent a return to one-man rule. Xi Jinping, 69 – who removed presidential term limits in 2018, signaling he would not follow unspoken principles – did not designate potential successor

“There is no bottom line. There are no rules. All the rules have been broken,” said Cai Xia, a former professor at the Central Party School who was expelled from the party in 2020 for criticizing Xi Jinping. “There was resistance before, but this time you can see from his report that China’s future is entirely driven by his will.”

When Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, he was seen as a low-key pragmatist, and some hoped he would become Mikhail Gorbachev or at least his own father – helping to liberalize the economy under Deng Xiaoping the revolutionary leader – the reformer.

But he moved decisively in the other direction. He called Gorbachev a coward and ordered cadres to study the fall of the Soviet Union. The party has expanded its surveillance state and has overseen a mass detention campaign in Xinjiang, which the United Nations says could amount to crimes against humanity. Authorities cracked down on Chinese civil society, while lawmakers imposed draconian national security measures in Hong Kong to thwart anti-Beijing protests.

as As a paramount leader demanding absolute loyalty, Xi Jinping has undermined the system of collective rule and power-sharing between factions within the party—a practice the party has instituted since the 1980s to counteract the cult of personality. Before the Kremlin invaded Ukraine in February, he announced an “unrestricted” partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Under the banner of nationalism promoted by Xi Jinping, a “wolf warrior” army seems increasingly willing to defy diplomatic norms and appear more patriotic at home.At the Standing Committee unveiled on Sunday, the seven members are his closest ally.

“He will be a very strong leader in his third term. He has consolidated power and put his own people on the standing committee,” said Zhang Yang, an assistant professor at American University’s School of International Service.

There are few signs that China is trying to escape the ‘zero epidemic’ trap

By stacking standing committees, Xi Jinping is removing age norms that have largely existed since the 1990s. Jiang Zemin, the party leader at the time, used the unofficial deadline of 68 to force the old leader to step down and push for a successor. Over the next three years, this trigger drove turnover at the top of the party. no longer.

Xi is expected to ramp up his ambitions in a third term, with a particular focus on national security, upgrading the country’s technology sector and Seek to put China at the top of the global order.

Still, his grip on power is not limitless. He must pass a strict zero-coronavirus policy that hampers the economy and leaves large populations vulnerable to the more transmissible omicron variant of the coronavirus.

China’s increasingly acrimonious relationship with the U.S. and a slowing Chinese economy, coupled with rising unemployment and a deteriorating housing market, will present further challenges. In his speech at the opening of the National Congress last week, Xi warned that the party must be prepared to oppose “blackmailing, containment, and pressure” on China, and be prepared to weather a “dangerous storm.”

With the departure of economic czar Liu He and former Guangdong party secretary Wang Yang — who are seen as helping smooth relations with the United States — Xi is likely to take a tougher stance toward Washington. China is also expected to become increasingly inward-looking as Beijing renegotiates its relationship with the West.

Eswar Prasad said: “Xi Jinping stressed that China’s economy is on a path to realize his vision that a state-led and self-reliant economy will continue to engage with the rest of the world, but do so entirely on its own terms. ,”​​​​Professor of Economics at Cornell University.

However, Xi will face risks in his third term, from divisions within allies to the danger of excessive centralization of power.

“When all the power is in the hands of one person, all the responsibility has to be with that person,” said the former professor Cai. “If he makes a catastrophic mistake, it’s not just 1.4 billion people who will suffer the consequences of this catastrophe. The man himself will pay the price.”

Pei-Lin Wu in Taipei contributed to this report.

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