China’s Xi Expands Powers, Encourages Allies

BEIJING (AP) — President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader for decades, increased his dominance Sunday when he was appointed to another term as head of the ruling Communist Party. Society and the struggling economy.

Xi, He came to power in 2012, was given a third five-year term as Secretary-General, rejecting the custom left by his predecessor after 10 years. Few expected the 69-year-old leader to try to stay in power for life.

The name of the party is A A standing committee of seven membersNo. 2 Its inner circle dominated by Xi allies after the leader and Premier Li Keqiang, a champion of market-style reform and private enterprise. He was removed from the leadership post on Saturday. That was despite Li being a year younger than the party’s unofficial retirement age of 68.

“Power will remain concentrated in the hands of Xi Jinping,” said Jean-Pierre Capeston, a China politics expert at Hong Kong Baptist University. The new appointees are “all loyal to Xi,” he said. “There are no counterweights or checks and balances in the system.”

On Saturday, Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, 79, suddenly left a meeting He is holding hands with an aide of the party’s central committee. This has prompted questions about whether Xi is flexing his powers by ousting other leaders. The official Xinhua news agency later reported that Hu was unwell and needed to rest.

Xi and other standing committee members – none of them women – appeared as a group for the first time before reporters at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China’s ceremonial legislature in central Beijing.

The number 2 leader, Li Qiang, was the Shanghai Party Secretary. This makes Li Qiang, unrelated to Li Keqiang, the primary economic official. Zhao Lezhi, who was already a member, was promoted to head of the legislature and became No. 3. The posts are to be allocated when the legislature meets next year.

The leadership changes were announced as the party wrapped up its twice-a-decade convention, which closely monitors economic downturns or initiatives to reverse changes. A strict “Zero-Covid” strategy It closed cities and disrupted trade. Officials have deceived investors and the Chinese people by announcing that there will be no change.

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The lineup appeared to reflect what some commentators call “maximum Xi,” valuing loyalty over ability. Some new leaders lack national-level experience as deputy prime minister or cabinet minister, which is generally considered a requirement for the position.

Li Qiang’s promotion served as an apparent confirmation, as he was supposed to be prime minister without any background in national government. Li Qiang became close to Xi after they worked together in the southeastern province of Zhejiang in the early 2000s.

Li Keqiang has been sidelined over the past decade by Xi, who has put himself in charge of policy-making bodies. Li Keqiang was on Saturday excluded from the list of the party’s new 205-member Central Committee, from which the Standing Committee was elected.

Wang Yang, another defector from the Standing Committee, was suggested by some as a possible premier as a reform advocate. Wang, 67, is just short of retirement age.

Other new standing committee members include Cai Gui, Beijing’s party secretary, and Ding Xuxiang, an industry party activist who is considered Xi’s “alter ego,” or chief executive. Former law school dean Wang Huning, a leader of ideology, stayed on the board. The 7th member is Li Xi, the party secretary of Guangdong province in the southeast, the center of China’s export-oriented manufacturing industry.

The central group consists of 11 women or 5% of the total. Its 24-member Politburo, which has had only four female members since the 1990s, is empty following the departure of Vice Premier Sun Chunlan.

Party plans call for building a prosperous society by mid-century and restoring China to its historic role as a political, economic and cultural leader.

Those ambitions face security-related barriers to access to Western technology, an aging workforce and tensions with Washington over trade, security, human rights and regional conflicts with its European and Asian neighbors.

Xi has called for a “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and a revival of the party’s “original purpose” as a social, economic and cultural leader, throwing off what he sees as the golden age since taking power in 1949.

During the conference, Xi called for rapid military development“Confidence and strength” in protecting China’s interests in technology and overseas, which raises the possibility of further conflict.

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The party has tightened controls on jobs and wealth-creating entrepreneurship, warning that rolling back market-oriented reforms could reduce economic growth to 2.2% in the first half of this year – less than half the official target of 5.5%.

“Clearly, it’s a return to a more state-controlled type of economy,” Capeston said. “This means that, as far as private business is concerned, they will be on an even shorter leash with party groups everywhere.”

Under a revived 1950s campaign slogan of “common prosperity,” Xi has pushed for entrepreneurship to reduce China’s wealth gap by raising wages, paying for rural job creation and other initiatives.

Xi, in a statement to Congress last week, called for “regularization of the means of wealth accumulation,” suggesting entrepreneurs may face even more political pressure, but gave no details.

“I would be worried if I were very wealthy in China,” said Alicia Garcia Herrero, an economist at Natixis.

In his statement, Xi stressed the importance of national security and control over China’s food, energy and industrial goods. He gave no hint of possible changes to the policies that prompted then-President Donald Trump to launch a tariff war on Beijing’s technology ambitions in 2018.

The party is trying to nurture Chinese innovators in renewable energy, electric car, computer chip, aerospace and other technologies. Its trading partners complain that Beijing unfairly subsidizes and shields its suppliers from competition.

Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, this month announced punitive tariff hikes on Chinese goods. Increased restrictions China’s Access to US Chip Technology

The party has tightened control over private sector leaders, including e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. Under political pressure, they divert billions of dollars to chip-making and other party efforts. Uncertainty about their future has sent their share prices down on the foreign exchange.

Garcia Herrero and Gary Ng of Natixis said the party will “step up its industrial policy” to close the “wide gap” between what Chinese technology suppliers can do and what smartphone, computer and other manufacturers need.

Abroad, Chinese efforts to assert leadership could lead to “greater tension and difficulty” because “countries are not going to follow the Chinese model,” said Steve Chang, director of the University of London’s China Institute.

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“There is no one in Beijing who can advise Xi Jinping that this is not the way to go,” Song said, as potential dissidents are pushed out.

Despite public frustration over repeated shutdowns of cities engulfed in protests in Shanghai and elsewhere, Xi has given no sign that Beijing will change its “zero-Covid” strategy.

In a report, Julian Evans-Pritchard, Sheena Yu and Mark Williams said Xi’s priorities for security and self-sufficiency “will drag down China’s productivity growth.” “His determination to remain in power is certainly unlikely to be amended.”

Central bank governor Yi Gang and banking regulator Guo Shuqing were also left off Saturday’s central committee list, indicating they will retire next year as expected.

Xi suspended retirement rules to allow 72-year-old General Zhang Yuxia to continue in the Central Committee. It allows Zhang, a veteran of China’s 1979 war with Vietnam, to be Xi’s deputy on the commission that controls the party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army.

In the 1990s, the party’s elite agreed to limit the general secretary’s term to two five-year terms, hoping to avoid a repeat of the power struggles of previous decades. The president also becomes the head of the military commission and assumes the ceremonial title of president.

Xi presided Anti-corruption action It implicated thousands of officials, including retired standing committee members and deputy cabinet ministers. It fractured party divisions and weakened potential challengers.

Xi is on track to become the first leader in a generation to choose his own successor, but has yet to name potential candidates. Both Hu Jintao and his predecessor Jiang Zemin were elected by then-Supreme Leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s.

Ahead of the congress, banners criticizing Xi and “Zero COVID” were hung above a major road in Beijing. In a rare defiance. Photos of the event have been removed from social media. The popular WeChat messaging app shut down the accounts that sent them.

Xi’s government has also faced criticism for mass detentions and other abuses against mostly Muslim ethnic groups and the jailing of government critics.

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AP video producer Carolyn Chen contributed.

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