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Xi promotes allies who support his vision of tighter control over Chinese society


President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader in decades, increased his dominance when he was appointed on Sunday to another term as head of the ruling Communist Party, broke with tradition and spurred allies to support his vision of tighter control over struggling societies and economies.

Mr. Xi, who took power in 2012, was given a third five-year term as general secretary, abandoning the partisan customs left behind by his predecessor 10 years later. The 69-year-old leader is expected by some to try to stay in power for life.

On Saturday, Mr. Xi’s predecessor, 79-year-old Hu Jintao, abruptly left a meeting of the party’s Central Committee with an aide holding his arm.

That raises questions about whether Xi can flex his power by expelling other leaders. The Xinhua news agency later reported that Hu was in poor health and needed rest.

VIEW | Former Chinese President Hu Jintao was escorted out of the congress:

Former Chinese President Hu Jintao was escorted out of the congress ceremony

The 79-year-old predecessor of current leader Xi Jinping was led out of the main stage during the closing ceremony of the Communist Party of China Congress.

The party also named a seven-member Standing Committee, the inner circle of power, dominated by Xi’s allies after Premier Li Keqiang, the No. 2 leader and reform advocate. market-style and private enterprise, was removed from the leadership position on Saturday. That’s even though Li is a year younger than the party’s unofficial retirement age of 68.

Xi and other Standing Committee members made their first appearance as a group before reporters on Sunday at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China’s ceremonial legislature in Beijing. Beijing center.

The number 2 head is Li Qiang, a former Shanghai municipal party secretary who has no relation to Li Keqiang. The person who has held that position since the 1990s has been the prime minister, the top economic official. Zhao Leji, a member of the previous committee, was promoted to 3rd position, which placed him at the top of the legislature. Those government posts will be appointed when the legislature meets next year.

No sign of ending with zero COVID strategy

The leadership changes announced as the party wraps up its twice-decade congress are closely watched for signs of initiatives to reverse the economic slowdown or changes. Changes in the “zero-COVID” strategy have resulted in city closures and business disruptions. Officials disappointed investors and the Chinese public by announcing no changes.

The lineup seems to reflect what some commentators call “Xi max”, valuing loyalty over ability. Some new leaders lack the national experience in the role of deputy prime minister or cabinet minister that is often seen as a requirement for the position.

Li Qiang’s promotion seems to support that analysis as it ranks him as a prime minister with no background in the national government. Li Qiang is considered close to Mr. Xi after the two worked together in the southeastern province of Zhejiang in the early 2000s.

A member of security personnel stands guard outside the Great Hall of the People after an introduction by the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China, in Beijing on Sunday. (Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

Li Keqiang has been overlooked by Mr. Xi for the past decade, who has placed himself in charge of policymaking bodies. On Saturday, Li Keqiang was removed from the list of the party’s new 205-member Central Committee, from which the Standing Committee was selected.

Another leader who has left the Standing Committee is Wang Yang, a reform advocate suggested by some as a possible prime minister. Wang, 67, has not yet reached retirement age.

Other new Standing Committee members include Cai Qi, the party secretary of Beijing, and Ding Xuexiang, a career party manager who is seen as Xi’s “alter ego” or chief of staff. Wang Huning, the party’s ideological chief, stayed on the committee. Member number 7 is Li Xi, secretary since 2017 of the southeast province of Guangdong, the heart of China’s export-oriented manufacturing industry.

No women or minorities

None of the members are women or ethnic minorities. The Central Committee consisted of 11 women, about 5% of the total.

The Party’s plans call for the creation of a prosperous society by mid-century and the restoration of China to its historic role as a political, economic and cultural leader.

Those ambitions face challenges from security-related restrictions on access to Western technology, an aging workforce, and tensions with Washington, its European neighbors and Asia on trade, security, human rights and territorial disputes.

Mr. Xi has called for “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and the restoration of the party’s “original mission” as a social, economic and cultural leader to turn back what he did. considered the golden age after taking power in 1949.

During the congress, Mr. Xi called for faster military development, greater technological self-reliance and protection of China’s interests abroad, which increased the likelihood of further conflict.

The party has tightened controls on entrepreneurs creating jobs and wealth, warning that backtracking on market-oriented reforms will hurt economic growth, which has fallen to 2.2%. in the first half of this year, less than half of the official 5.5% target. .

A security guard gestures inside the Great Hall of the People Sunday. (Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

Under the propaganda slogan of the 1950s, “common prosperity”, Mr. Xi is urging entrepreneurs to help close China’s gap between rich and poor by raising wages and paying for rural job creation and other initiatives.

In a pre-congress report, Mr. Xi last week called for “adjusting the mechanism of wealth accumulation”, suggesting that entrepreneurs will likely face more political pressure, but did not elaborate. detail.

“I would be worried if I was a very wealthy individual in China,” said Natixis economist Alicia Garcia Herrero.

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