Xi Jinping reasserts his control of the CCP, on the eve of a 3rd term


Chinese President Xi Jinping assured himself of full control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Saturday, during a ceremony disrupted by the unexpected exit of his predecessor Hu Jintao.

« Dare to fight for victory, » said Xi Jinping triumphantly after the closing ceremony of the CCP Congress at the People’s Palace in Beijing, a Soviet-style building with an interior decoration dominated by the red.

The composition of the new Central Committee, a kind of « Parliament » internal to the party, was unveiled there.

Four big names in the CCP, including the current Prime Minister, Li Keqiang – who will leave office next March – no longer appear on the list published by the official New China agency.

China’s number three, Li Zhanshu, Vice Premier Han Zheng, and Wang Yang, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (an assembly without decision-making power), are also bowing out.

Considered one of the most liberal voices in the Party, Wang Yang was a favorite for the next premier.

According to AFP calculations, this new Central Committee is 65% overhauled compared to the previous version of 2017.

This group of 205 people, including only 11 women, a long list on state television, is to meet on Sunday for the first time. He will appoint the 25 members of the PCC’s decision-making body (the Political Bureau) as well as its Standing Committee.

This all-powerful, seven-member body currently holds the real power in China.

Quack in the choreography

The new Standing Committee, largely overhauled, will be composed in “majority of personalities loyal to Xi Jinping”, subodores Nis Grünberg, of the Mercator Institute for Chinese Studies (MERICS) in Berlin.

Many sinologists believe that no potential successor should emerge.

Xi Jinping will most likely be reappointed as CCP General Secretary. This procedure should allow the strong man of Beijing to win an unprecedented third presidential term of five years next March.

“This third term will put an end to three decades of transition [encadrée] of power” in China, notes Neil Thomas, an analyst at Eurasia Group.

To stay in power, Xi Jinping had the two-term limit removed from the Constitution in 2018. Aged 69, he can therefore in theory preside over the People’s Republic for life.

On Saturday, the Communist Party incorporated into its charter « the central role of comrade Xi Jinping », a resolution adopted unanimously which seems to further strengthen its internal power.

During a highly choreographed ceremony, former President Hu Jintao, who appeared weakened during the congress, 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 highly unusual scene was neither explained nor reported by state media. AFP’s requests to the authorities went unanswered.

In its evening edition, the state television newscast also did not mention the incident.

“It is not yet clear what caused this, whether it was to counter the power of Xi or an unpleasant moment for an elderly person,” commented analyst Neil Thomas. « In the absence of additional information, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the connection between this incident and Chinese politics. »

“Whether deliberate, or [Hu Jintao] has been suffering, the effect is the same. Complete humiliation for the last generation of pre-Xi leaders,” tweeted Alex White, a British analyst who lived in China.

Light on Taiwan

This congress, the 20th since the creation of the CCP in 1921, was held in a delicate context for China, faced with a slowdown in its growth due to repeated confinements and diplomatic tensions with the West.

For a week, some 2,300 delegates chosen by the various authorities of the Party had met behind closed doors, with the mission of reshuffling the management team of the party, and therefore of the second world economy, and to chart the future directions of the country.

Since coming to power in late 2012, Xi Jinping has accumulated power at China’s summit and presided over a strengthening of the regime’s authority.

Party leader, army chief, head of state… the leader pleaded for the continuity of his policies during a speech at the opening of the congress.

The « zero COVID » strategy should thus continue despite its harmful consequences on the economy and the growing exasperation of the population with the confinements.

Far from the cautious diplomacy of his predecessors, Xi Jinping should make China’s voice heard even more. Even if it means increasing tensions with the great American rival, in particular around the question of Taiwan.

For the first time, the CCP has also decided to include in its charter a specific mention of its « opposition » to the independence of the island of 23 million inhabitants.

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