China: Xi opens CCP Congress by defending anti-Covid, anti-corruption record
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, set to take place on October 23, the day after the end of the Congress, will make Mr Xi the most powerful Chinese leader since the regime’s founder, Mao Tse-tung (1949-1949). . 1976).
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 to the approximately 2,300 delegates who had gathered in the large People’s Palace at the Palace Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
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 has put human lives ahead of everything else.
– Protect “people’s health” –
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. And the country’s near-shutdown and repeated restrictions have halted economic growth.
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.
The anger 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 Beijing bridge. One called on citizens to go on strike and overthrow “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.
The Chinese president also criticized interference from “external forces” from Taiwan, an island that the Chinese regime considers part of its territory. “We will never commit to renouncing the use of force and reserve the option to take any necessary action,” 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.
In his speech, which was mainly devoted to domestic issues, Mr Xi assured that his country, one of the world’s biggest polluters, will “actively promote” the fight against global warming.
While saying that China is “firmly opposed to any form of hegemony” and “against the Cold War mentality,” Xi refrained from mentioning tensions with the United States and the war in Ukraine.
The 2,300 or so delegates from the Chinese Communist Party, some of whom are wearing their traditional costumes, will appoint the new Central Committee by next Saturday.
In reality, they will only confirm decisions made upstream 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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