China: Xi defends his anti-Covid policy at the opening of the Communist Party Congress

China: Xi defends his anti-Covid policy at the opening of the Communist Party Congress

President Xi Jinping defended his draconian policies to combat COVID-19 and his offensive against corruption by opening the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress on Sunday, which should see him win a historic third term as head of state within a week.

Barring one dramatic change, this new coronation, scheduled to take place on October 23, the day after the end of the Congress, will make Mr Xi the most powerful leader since the regime’s founder, Mao Tse-tung (1949-1976). ).

The 20th CPC National Congress comes “at a critical time when the entire Party and people of all ethnicities are on the path to building a modern socialist country,” Xi said in his opening speech to around 2,300 delegates gathered at the vast People’s Palace , on Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

Arriving on the podium to thunderous applause, Xi Jinping, 69, spent more than an hour and a half taking stock of the past five years and presenting his roadmap for the next five years.

“We will strive to pursue the prospect of peaceful reunification with the utmost sincerity and effort, but we will never commit ourselves to renouncing the use of force and we reserve the option to take any action necessary.” , he threatened.

He also said Hong Kong had “moved from chaos to government” after Beijing’s heavy takeover of the territory, where huge pro-democracy protests took place in 2019.

– Protect the “health of the people” –

In particular, while one of the main questions revolved around whether or not to maintain the strict “zero-Covid” strategy inseparable from the Chinese president, Mr. Xi claimed that thanks to this policy, China privileges human life above all else have.

China has “highly ensured people’s safety and health and achieved significant positive results by coordinating epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development,” he said.

This “zero Covid” policy has strengthened social control over citizens, whose movements are now all computerized, in this country already criticized on the international stage for human rights violations.

The country’s near-shutdown and repeated restrictions have halted growth, which this year should be the weakest in four decades, barring the Covid period.

The People’s Liberation Army Orchestra listens to President Xi Jinping’s speech at the opening of the Chinese Communist Party Congress in Beijing on October 16, 2022 (AFP – Noel CELIS)

If the official press hammered this week that it was “irresponsible” to “bend down” in the face of the virus, the economic cost of this strategy and the popular discontent it generates are undeniable.

Anger that sometimes goes beyond social media: This week, and despite increased security measures in the capital, a man hung two banners hostile to the Chinese leader and Zero Covid on a bridge in Beijing. One called on citizens to go on strike and oust “the traitorous dictator Xi Jinping.”

– “Dangers of graves” –

In his speech, Xi Jinping also defended his fearsome anti-corruption campaign in response to critics who accused him of using it to bring down rivals and consolidate power.

“The fight against corruption has won a landslide victory and has been comprehensively consolidated, eliminating the serious latent dangers in the party, state and army,” he said.

According to official figures, at least 1.5 million people have been sanctioned during this campaign, which Mr. Xi launched as soon as he came to power in 2012 to bring down the “tigers” (top leaders) and the “flies” (petty officials). ) eager for bribes. The offensive accelerated as Congress drew near.

Finally, the Chinese president assured that his country, one of the world’s biggest polluters, would “actively promote” the fight against global warming.

The approximately 2,300 delegates of the CCP, who have traveled from all federal states and are partly dressed in their traditional costumes, will appoint the new Central Committee by next Saturday, a kind of party parliament with around 200 members, including the Politburo and its party, which has 25 heads decision-making body.

Opening of the 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress on October 16, 2022 at the People's Palace in Beijing (AFP - Noel CELIS)
Opening of the 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress on October 16, 2022 at the People’s Palace in Beijing (AFP – Noel CELIS)

In reality, they will only confirm the decisions made by the various factions of the party: this is how Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, chosen as a man of compromise between the factions, before asserting his control over the years.

A crucial point will be the composition of the future Standing Committee, that group of seven or nine figures at the highest level of power. But Mr Xi is unlikely to give any hints about a possible successor, according to analysts.


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