The Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of China has begun and will continue until October 22. Experts estimate that it will be one of the most important meetings in the history of the party that has ruled the country since 1949. The congress will select the most important organs and make changes to the party statute. Leader Xi Jinping is expected to assume a third five-year term as general secretary. Western commentators note that the deliberations are “shrouded in secrecy”.
The world will be looking for hints about Beijing’s policy directions regarding its strained relations with the West, its economic difficulties, and the previously stated intention to control TaiwanOr a strict zero-COVID strategy. Personnel changes will be approved in the most important organs of the party and, de facto, the entire state.
According to the conference spokesperson’s announcement, delegates will also ratify changes to the statutes of the Communist Party of China, the party’s most important document. Observers expect a further strengthening of the position of the Xi Doctrine as the basis of the ideological party.
Xi on Taiwan: We reserve the right to use all necessary measures
In his report at the beginning of the conference, Xi referred to the situation in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Found that in recent years China They controlled “anarchy” in Hong Kong and vigorously fought against “interference and secession” in Taiwan.
“We will fight for a peaceful union with full sincerity and effort, but we will never promise to give up the use of force and reserve the right to use any necessary means,” Xi said, speaking of Taiwan. – This is only aimed at the interference of outside forces and a small number of Taiwan independence separatists and their separatist activities. He said that he is in no way targeting our Taiwanese compatriots.
He stressed that “the complete unification of our country must be achieved without any doubt.”
Chinese Communist Party Congress
Today, the CPC national congresses are held every five years. This year’s twentieth conference is of particular importance, and at the same time more than previous conferences shrouded in mystery.
Chinese politics has always been opaque, but it seems that there is absolutely no light coming out of this black box. That’s why there is so much less speculation compared to previous shifts in leadership, said Scott Kennedy of the US Center for Strategic and International Studies, quoted by CNBC.
In the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, 2,296 carefully selected delegates from all over the country were to meet, who, according to the official version, represented all party members – 95 million. Most deliberations take place behind closed doors for about a week, and the most important decisions are announced after the conference ends.
“A show for better or worse”
A reunion of recent decades is like a better or worse theatrical show. Real decisions have already been made before the conference, and now they will only be “formulated”. We do not know the program of the congress, except, of course, the iron point, i.e. reporting on the work of the organs of the CPC since the last congress – confirmed in an interview with PAP an expert from the Center for Oriental Studies, Dr. Misha Bogosh.
The party’s top organs, including the Central Committee’s 25-member Politburo and its Standing Committee, now numbering seven, will be approved at the top of the CPC’s power hierarchy. Xi is expected to remain number one on the committee, general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and chairman of the Central Military Commission.
This means a departure from the agreement established in recent decades, according to which leaders transfer power after 10 years to their successors. Xi, who has ruled the country since 2012, is seen as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.
According to Bogos, in 2012, Xi secured permission from party elders to rule for 15-20 years in order to fight loosening of discipline and “more or less re-pacify the People’s Republic of China.” – if Xi Jinping You will remain in the position, as we expect, it means that the direction of these changes has not changed and will continue. If you leave, it will be a sign that there is some internal evaluation – an evaluation by an OSW expert.
The most important discussions
According to Bogoch, the most important discussion will concern the direction of changes in the social and economic model, especially – as the Chinese authorities call them – “co-prosperity” and “two-trading”. The former means increased redistribution, and the latter seeks to reduce economic and technological dependence on the world.
Observers will also hear Xi’s words on Taiwan. The New York Times reported that even a vague reference to the time frame for the attempt to take control of the island by Beijing authorities could negatively affect financial market confidence in both Taiwan and mainland China.
As usual, before the conference, the Chinese authorities further tightened censorship and tightened control over the media and the Internet. Under these circumstances, observers received a lot of publicity at a protest Thursday in Beijing, where – according to social media reports – on one bridge someone hung banners calling for the overthrow of Xi Jinping and an end to the “zero COVID” policy.
Hopes to lift ‘zero COVID’ policy
Most countries in the world have eased restrictions imposed on the spread of the epidemic, but the Chinese authorities are still locking up entire cities, reducing factories and ports, and sending millions of residents into compulsory searches. This is reflected in Businesscontributes to unemployment and causes social discontent, but according to the authorities it is necessary to prevent millions of potential deaths from COVID-19.
There were hopes in China that restrictions would be eased after the conference. However, those hopes were largely dashed by recent comments in the party’s official newspaper, Renmin Ribao, which called for “increased confidence and patience” in the anti-epidemic legislation.
Main image source: Environmental Protection Agency / Mark R. Christino
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