Xi Jinping signals continued iron fist control during Communist Party Congress speech today

Chinese leader Xi Jinping signaled Sunday that his government would maintain policies that have put it at odds with the U.S. and other nations and deepened Communist Party control of the economy and society.

Many people in China normally don’t pay much attention to these set-piece, long, predictable speeches from their leaders. However this year they were looking for any indication that the country’s strict Covid amelioration measures might be eased after the Communist Party Congress. The short answer from Chinese leader Xi Jinping: no. He said that there would be no wavering on zero-Covid because of the need to prioritise saving people’s lives. The lockdowns, the mass testing, the health code scanning, the quarantine, the travel restrictions are all here to stay for the foreseeable future.There was not even the slightest acknowledgement of the social and economic pain being caused by the policy. Other massive challenges being faced by the government but which didn’t get a mention include: soaring youth unemployment and the property crisis.

Xi, who has been leader for 10 years, has already amassed great power, placing himself in charge of domestic affairs, foreign policy, the military, the economy and most other key matters through party working groups that he leads.

—Under his leadership, the country has expanded its global footprint while tightening already strict controls on information and dissent. A rare public protest last week, in which banners attacking Xi and the COVID-19 policy were hung in Beijing, was quickly scrubbed from the internet and any discussion of it quashed.

—Xi justified the demolition and alterations to many mosques in the northern Chinese provinces of Ningxia and Xinjiang – home to a mostly Muslim population – by saying that religions here must be “Chinese in orientation”. 

—Xi also vowed to speed up efforts to build the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into a “world-class military,” pledging to improve the PLA’s ability to safeguard national sovereignty and build strategic deterrence. He also urged the PLA to strengthen its training and improve its “ability to win.”

—He said China would “strive for peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, a Democracy, — but then gave a grim warning, saying “we will never promise to renounce the use of force and we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary.”

In the full work report, Xi used the terms “security” or “safety” 89 times, up from 55 times in 2017, according to a Reuters count, while his use of the word “reform” declined to 48 from 68 mentions five years ago.In his decade in power, Xi has set China on an increasingly authoritarian path that has prioritised security, state control of the economy in the name of “common prosperity”, a more assertive diplomacy, a stronger military and intensifying pressure to seize democratically governed Taiwan.


BBC and NPR and CNN