Chinese President Xi Jinping On Sunday, he vowed to lead China through tough challenges towards national rejuvenation, advancing a nationalist vision that is on a collision course with the West.
He speaks openly 20th Party CongressUnderscoring China’s growing strength and rising influence in his first decade in power, Xi is poised to secure a norm-breaking third term in power with an optimistic tone.
But he repeatedly underlined the risks and challenges facing the country.
Describing the past five years as “very extraordinary and extraordinary”, Xi said the ruling Communist Party has faced China in a “severe and complex international situation” and that “great dangers and challenges have come one after another”.
The first challenges Xi listed were the Covid-19 pandemic, Hong Kong and Taiwan – all of which China has shied away from, he said.
The Chinese government has “protected people’s lives and health” from Covid, transitioned Hong Kong from “chaos to governance” and staged “massive protests” against “independence forces” on the self-governing island of Taiwan. Democracy Beijing claims as its own territory despite never controlling it.
Wen-Di Chung, a political scientist at Australia National University’s Taiwan Studies Program, said Xi’s decision to flag the Taiwan issue at the start of his speech was a departure from previous speeches, “expressing a new urgency to make progress on the Taiwan issue.”
When Xi spoke about Taiwan again later in the speech, he received loud and prolonged applause from the 2,300 elected representatives.
He said China would “strive for peaceful reunification” – but then issued a stark warning, saying “we will never give up the use of force, and we reserve the option to take all necessary measures”.
“The wheels of history are rolling towards the reunification of China and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Our country must be completely re-integrated,” said GG.
Xi underlined the “rapid changes in the international situation” – which have thinned ties between China and the West, further strained by Beijing’s tacit support for Moscow following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He said China has “taken a clear stand against hegemony and power politics” and has “never wavered” against unilateralism and “bullying” — an apparent jab at what Beijing sees as a US-led world order. dissolved.
Laying out broad directions for the next five years, Xi said China would focus on “high-quality education” and innovation to “revive growth” in the country’s crisis-hit economy. China will “accelerate efforts to achieve greater self-reliance in science and technology,” he said, comments that come months after he cracked down on the country’s private sector and major tech companies.
He pledged to accelerate efforts to build the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into a “world-class army” and improve the PLA’s ability to defend national sovereignty and build strategic deterrence. He urged the PLA to strengthen its training and improve its “capability to win”.
Xi’s speech was laced with the Chinese word for “security” — which was mentioned about 50 times. He called national security the “foundation of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and urged increasing military, economic and “all aspects” of security at home and abroad.
Another point to focus on is Marxism and ideology. “I don’t think there will be an easing of the ideological climate in the next five years,” said Victor Shih, an expert on elite Chinese politics at the University of California, Berkeley.
Dali Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, said the directions outlined in Xi’s inaugural speech were a continuation of his previous policies. By emphasizing the challenges and struggles, he said, it justified “the need for a strong party and its best leader”.
The week-long conference began on Sunday morning amid heightened security, increased zero-covid restrictions and a frenzy of propaganda and censorship.
The most regular meeting of the Communist Party in decades, the congress is set to cement Xi’s status as China’s most powerful leader since the late Chairman Mao Zedong, who ruled until his death at age 82. China is doubling down on assertive foreign policy to boost its international influence and rewrite the US-led global order.
Meetings are often held behind closed doors throughout the week. When delegates return at the end of the congress next Saturday, they will hold a formal vote to rubber-stamp Xi’s mission statement and approve changes to the party’s constitution.
Delegates will also elect the party’s new Central Committee, which will hold its first meeting the following day to appoint the party’s top leadership – the Politburo and its Standing Committee – following decisions already announced behind the scenes by party leaders before the congress.
The congress will be a major political triumph for Xi, but it also comes at a time of potential crisis. Xi’s insistence on an uncompromising zero-covid policy has fueled growing public frustration and Stifled economic growth. Meanwhile, diplomatically, his Friendship “without limits”. Russian President Vladimir Putin has further strained Beijing’s relations with the West following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Here’s why Xi’s subtle gestures during the speech are making people nervous
Ahead of the congress, authorities across China sharply increased restrictions to prevent even small Covid outbreaks, imposing widespread lockdowns and, in a few cases, increasingly mass Covid testing. Infections caused by the more virulent omicron variant continue to expand. As of Saturday, China had reported nearly 1,200 infections, including 14 in Beijing.
Public anger over zero-covid came to the fore on Thursday Exceptionally rare resistance Against Xi in Beijing. Online photos show two banners were erected on the busy flyover before being removed by police, condemning Xi and his policies.
“Say no to covid testing, yes to food. No lock-in, just freedom. No lie, yes to dignity. There is no cultural revolution, there is a need for reform. The big boss has to vote no. Don’t be a slave, be a citizen,” read a banner.
“Go on strike, remove dictator and traitor Xi Jinping,” read another.
The Chinese people have not paid much attention to party conventions in the past – they have had little to say about reorganizing the country’s leadership or formulating key policies. But this year, many are pinning their hopes on Congress for a breakthrough in China easing its Covid policy.
However, a recent series of articles in the party’s mouthpiece suggests that this may be wishful thinking. People’s Daily hailed it as the “best choice” for a zero-Covid country, stressing that it is “sustainable and should be followed”.
On Sunday, Xi defended his highly controversial and economically damaging zero-covid policy.
“In responding to the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, we prioritized people and their lives above all else and diligently pursued a dynamic zero-covid policy in launching the people’s war against the virus,” he said.
Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said Xi’s words indicated that it was “impossible for China to change its zero-covid strategy in the near future”.
“Lifelong social media lover. Falls down a lot. Creator. Devoted food aficionado. Explorer. Typical troublemaker.”