Xi secures record third term in power, promotes allies | Latest India News

Xi Jinping was named general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) for a record third time on Sunday, cementing his place as the unrivaled authority on the world’s second-largest economy.

On his way to becoming China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China, Xi, 69, shrugged off internal headwinds marked by a faltering economy and growing frustration with the “zero- Covid” from the country, in addition to a global pushback against Beijing’s aggressive diplomacy under its decade-old rule.

Xi is now set for a term of at least five years, with China watchers saying it is possible for him to remain the country’s leader indefinitely, an observation reinforced by the fact that he has not anointed a successor as he did in the 19th game. national convention in 2017.

Xi filled his team of six new members of the CPC Politburo (SC) Standing Committee, China’s top decision-making body, with loyalists – Chinese politicians known to have close ties to him.

Dressed in his usual black suit and red tie, the CPC general secretary introduced his new team to domestic and foreign reporters at noon on Sunday in the Great Golden Hall of the Great Hall of the People.

Shanghai CCP leader Li Qiang, 63, followed Xi onto the stage as the new Politburo SC was introduced, putting him in line to succeed Li Keqiang as premier when the latter retires in March 2023.

The other members of the seven-man SC are Zhao Leji and Wang Huning, who returned to the elite group of the previous committee; newcomers Beijing CCP chief Cai Qi and Ding Xuexiang, who is considered a close associate of Xi as director of the president’s office; and Li Xi, the party secretary of southern economic powerhouse Guangdong Province.

Ding, 60, is the youngest of the new panel.

The four new SC members have worked with Xi during his stay in Chinese provinces, such as Fujian or Zhejiang or, in Ding’s case, in his office, and the choice of SC membership makes it clear that he is comfortable working with them.

Li Xi from Guangdong did not work directly with Xi, but he is said to have close family ties and is also close to him ideologically.

Although his name has been widely discussed, the inclusion of Shanghai party leader Li Qiang in the SC came as a surprise to many due to his handling of the Covid-19 outbreak in Shanghai, which has recorded hundreds thousands of cases and two contusions. months of lockdown earlier this year.

In the end, Li’s proximity to Xi seems to have secured him the position of strength.

“It is difficult for Xi to go further in terms of centralization and concentration of power. Security will continue to take precedence over everything, including economic growth. Thus, this set of priorities clearly obliges Xi to maintain a high degree of control and centralization,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, professor emeritus in the department of government and international studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.

According to Adam Ni, co-founder and publisher of China Neican, a Chinese news site, for Xi, “control” is the key word, and therefore the centralization of power.

“The economy is a major weakness, but under Xi, economic growth is no longer the first priority, replaced by control,” Ni said.

Speaking to reporters after unveiling the leadership, Xi highlighted the Party’s leadership in “a new journey to transform China into a modern socialist country,” a recurring theme in his speeches.

“We must ensure that our century-old Party, the largest in the world, will become more and more vigorous through self-reform and will continue to be the strong backbone on which the Chinese people can rely at all times. “, Mr. Xi added.

Speaking of the challenges, Xi said, “The CCP will not be intimidated by strong winds, rough waters or even dangerous storms, because the people will always stand behind it and give it confidence.”

The unveiling of the SC and the larger 24-member Politburo – reduced by one seat from the previous one – comes a day after the conclusion of the 20th CPC Congress during which amendments were added to the party charter, cementing Xi’s central status and the guiding role of his political thought within the party.

For the first time in 25 years, after five national conventions, not a single woman has been appointed to the Politburo.

With current member Sun Chunlan retiring, the country’s second-highest decision-making body will not have a woman in office for the next five years.

Xi was also reappointed as chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) which oversees China’s vast military apparatus.

Expectations for the third term

On expectations of Xi’s third term, China watchers had only one thing to say: expect more of the same. Xi’s next term will continue to see aggression in foreign diplomacy and authoritarian decision-making at home.

“I think Xi will be inclined to double down on all his foreign policy decisions. The growing Cold War and decoupling with the United States will help intensify these trends,” Cabestan said.

The clash of ideologies and the struggle for global influence between China and the United States will intensify, agreed Neil Thomas, senior China analyst at Eurasian Group, a geopolitical risk firm.

“Xi is likely to continue to lean into his more assertive ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomacy. He doesn’t want war, but he does want to deploy gray-area tactics to advance China’s interests in territorial disputes with foreign nations. neighbors like India and Taiwan,” Thomas said.

Thomas said Xi’s report to the party congress elevated the concept of modernization with Chinese characteristics, suggesting he is determined to resist external pressure to steer the country on its own path.

“Xi indicated the need to uphold national honor and core interests while engaging in an international struggle for influence with the United States and its allies,” Thomas said.

“Certainly, he will have to deal with an economic downturn immediately after Congress. For him, the challenge is that the slow economic growth is linked to his zero Covid policy, which is a signature policy that is difficult to abandon. It could go on for a few more months until the impact on growth becomes unsustainable,” said Victor Shih, an associate professor at UC San Diego’s School of Global Politics and Strategy and an expert on Chinese elite politics.

“There are signs that Xi has an information deficit, especially in terms of Zero-Covid and the economy. Of the two, the latter is of more concern in the long term. The government’s hostility to market forces and to free enterprise means the country has not had serious economic reforms in over a decade. It increasingly relies on deficit spending to achieve growth. Without a fundamental change in economic policy, growth will will continue to slow,” said Ian Johnson, senior fellow for China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

According to Cabestan, regime security will be at the top of Xi’s list of priorities in the next five years.

It will also have to “get the economy back on track and ensure a better growth rate, improve the redistribution and social protection systems, in particular the health insurance system”, Cabestan said.


  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as China correspondent for the Hindustan Times. He was previously stationed in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several times including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted overseas.
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