A third term for Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping was reappointed as head of the Communist Party on Sunday, surrounding himself with staunch allies to become modern China’s most powerful leader.

“China cannot develop without the world, and the world also needs China,” the leader, also reappointed to command of the Chinese army, told the press.

In a decade at the helm, Xi Jinping has boosted the stature of the world’s second-largest economy and dramatically modernized the military to rival the United States. “We have created two miracles: rapid economic development and long-term social stability,” he said after winning a third five-year term by a vastly revamped Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. .

Russian and North Korean leaders Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un sent him their “warm congratulations”. The first said he was “delighted” to continue a “constructive dialogue and [a] close joint work”, the second wishing “a brighter future” for bilateral relations between Beijing and Pyongyang.

At the People’s Palace in Beijing, the 69-year-old leader with an impassive smile arrived at the platform topped with the hammer and sickle, followed by six other men appointed to the top of Chinese power, all relatives and allies.

Several foreign media, such as the Wall Street Journal, were not invited to this presentation to the press.

Thanking “the whole Party for [its] confidence”, Xi Jinping promised to “work hard in accomplishing” his “tasks”.

Despite an almost total concentration of power, the leader faces headwinds: a sharply slowing economy due to his “zero COVID” policy, an exacerbated rivalry with the United States and international criticism on human rights. .

Even fewer women

The 20th Congress of the CPC closed on Saturday after a week of deliberations behind closed doors, with the renewal of 65% of the members of the Central Committee, a sort of internal parliament within the party.

During their first meeting on Sunday morning, the 205 members of this parliament – including only 11 women – appointed the 24 representatives of the Political Bureau, the decision-making body of the CCP.

This one, for the first time in 25 years, has no women.

“Women continue to be severely underrepresented at the top of Chinese politics,” notes the specialized newsletter Neican China. Their proportion even fell from 5.4 to 4.9% within the Central Committee.

The latter also appointed on Sunday the new Standing Committee of the party, the body that holds the reality of power in China.

Led by its Secretary General, Xi Jinping, the Committee is now exclusively made up of its close allies.

A priori, Li Qiang, party leader in Shanghai, should be the next prime minister, despite chaotic management of containment in the spring. He would then succeed Li Keqiang, who will retire.

The new members of the Standing Committee “are all Xi’s men, it shows that he wants to govern beyond a third term”, so after 2027, underlines Alfred Wu Muluan, an expert in Chinese politics at the National University of China. Singapore.

A break with the past, when the factions of the CCP made compromises to distribute positions, of which Xi Jinping is an illustrious example: he arrived as a consensus candidate in 2012.

But Mr. Xi then surprised everyone by eliminating his rivals to gradually concentrate all the powers at the head of the party and China, while carrying out a severe crackdown on all dissent.

By winning the post of secretary general of the party again, Xi Jinping secures a third presidential term next March.

To stay in power, he had the Constitution amended in 2018, which limited this position to two terms and a total duration of 10 years.

“Xi Jinping’s reappointment is the result of an extreme concentration of his personal power,” a Chinese political scientist told AFP, on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the subject.

And there is “no doubt” that Mr. Xi is now seeking to stay in power for life.

This decision is “catastrophic for China” and harms the CCP, believes this intellectual, because it announces according to him “the decline and stagnation” of the second world economy.

Henry Gao, a law professor at Singapore Management University, predicts that Xi will be “more conservative” in domestic politics, but “more radical” internationally in his next term: he will “try to confront the West”.

The Hu Jintao Incident

At the end of its congress, the CCP on Saturday reaffirmed the “central role” of Xi Jinping. The only significant incident during a highly choreographed ceremony, former President Hu Jintao was escorted out, AFP journalists noted. Visibly against his will, the 79-year-old, who served as China’s president from 2003 to 2013, was pressured by employees to get up from his seat next to Xi Jinping. This very unusual scene was not explained by the authorities, who did not respond to requests from AFP.

The New China Agency said in English that Hu Jintao “did not feel well”. He is “much better” now, she wrote on Twitter, blocked in China. However, no media in the country took up this information.