The Chinese Communist Party in readiness for its next congress
The Chinese Communist Party announced on Sunday that it had elected all of its delegates to its next congress, which will start on October 16 and is expected to allow President Xi Jinping an unprecedented third term at the helm of the country. This five-year conclave, the 20th since the Chinese Communist Party was founded in 1921, should also result in a reshuffle of the standing committee of the all-powerful Politburo, which charts the reality of power in China.
“Every constituency across the country called a party congress or representative party meeting and elected 2,296 delegates to the 20th party congress,” state broadcaster CCTV reported. The delegates, including women, ethnic minorities, and business, science and sports experts, must adhere to Xi’s ideological alignment and the party constitution, CCTV said.
The Congress, the most important date in China’s political calendar, will provide clues as to the direction the world’s most populous country and its second-biggest economy will take in the coming years as it faces many political and economic problems today. It will also give an idea of the level of control Xi Jinping exercises over the party.
2,300 delegates expected at the congress
At the previous party congress in 2017, the strong man from Beijing entered his “thoughts” in the founding documents of the party. A few months later, the constitution was amended to remove the two-term presidential limit. Xi Jinping can therefore theoretically preside over the People’s Republic for life.
The planned duration of the congress organized in Beijing has not been specified. The approximately 2,300 delegates, representing all provinces and regions of the country, will appoint nearly 200 delegates from the party’s Central Committee, who will in turn appoint the 25 members of the Politburo, including its all-powerful Standing Committee (now seven members). the true center of power in China. Votes that look like formalities, the composition of the Politburo and its Standing Committee appear to have been decided in advance.
While the communist regime appears to be uniting, behind-the-scenes rivalries are rife and the president is still trying to consolidate power, analysts say. Since Xi Jinping took over the leadership of the party-state in late 2012, more than 1.5 million cadres have been punished as part of a sweeping anti-corruption campaign, according to official figures dating back several years. The Chinese number one has long been suspected of targeting its internal opposition with this campaign.
China in trouble
The Congress opens at a time when China is facing many difficulties, including a sharp slowdown in its growth and unemployment, which has risen sharply to nearly 20% among 16-24 year olds. However, the party derives its main legitimacy from the increase in the purchasing power of the population. The zero-Covid strategy, defended tooth and nail by President Xi, is also increasingly being challenged by the general public, and particularly the business community, who are concerned about the threats that lockdowns pose to activity.
Internationally, too, the points of contention between Xi Jinping’s China and its great American rival have multiplied: trade and technology, the fate of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang, repression in Hong Kong, but also tensions around Taiwan. This perceived aggressive Chinese foreign policy worries the West and some of China’s neighbors as Beijing moves closer to Russia, which Westerners have ostracized since invading Ukraine.
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