Xi Jinping’s expected coronation begins as China’s Communist Party Congress gets underway | CNN

Hong Kong

Anticipated coronation for China’s Supreme Leader Xi Jinping It has officially begun as the ruling Communist Party convenes a week-long meeting to celebrate its first decade in power – and usher in a possible new era of strong rule.

Amid heightened security, heightened zero-covid restrictions and a frenzy of propaganda and censorship, the party opened its most impactful national congress in decades in Beijing on Sunday morning.

here 20th Party CongressXi, who came to power in 2012, is poised to seek a third term as party general secretary, breaking recent precedent and paving the way for a possible lifetime rule.

The expected anointing will mark the 69-year-old as China’s most powerful leader since the late Chairman Mao Zedong, who ruled China until his death at 82. It will also have a profound impact on the world, as Xi redoubled his determination. foreign policy to boost China’s international influence and rewrite the US-led world order.

In the heart of China’s capital, nearly 2,300 elected party delegates from across the country have gathered in the Great Hall of the People for a highly choreographed event.

Sitting in neat rows with face masks, they await Xi to deliver a lengthy work report that reviews the party’s performance over the past five years and lays out in broad strokes the policy priorities for the next five years.

Observers will be closely watching for signs of the party’s policy direction as it emerges from its uncompromising zero-covid policy, handling acute economic challenges and its aim to “reunify” with Taiwan — an autonomous democracy Beijing claims as its own. Never controlled.

Meetings will be held mostly behind closed doors throughout the week. When delegates reconvene at the end of the congress next Saturday, they will formally vote to rubber-stamp Xi’s work report and approve changes to the party’s constitution – which will give Xi new titles to further consolidate his power.

Delegates will also elect the party’s new Central Committee, which will hold its first meeting the next day to appoint the party’s top leadership – the Politburo and the Standing Committee, following a decision taken behind the scenes by party leaders ahead of the congress.

The congress will be a major moment of political victory for Xi, but it also comes at a time of potential crisis. Xi’s insistence on an uncompromising zero-covid policy has fueled public frustration and Economic growth slowed down. Meanwhile, politically, their “No limits” friendship Beijing’s relations with the West have been further strained since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Under the leadership of Congress, officials in China have ramped up restrictions to contain minor Covid outbreaks, imposing massive lockdowns and repeatedly conducting large-scale Covid testing in a handful of cases. However, infections caused by Omicron, a highly infected variant, continued to flare up. On Saturday, China reported nearly 1,200 infections, including 14 in Beijing.

Public outrage over Zero-Covid came to the fore in an incident on Thursday An exceptionally rare protest Against Xi in Beijing. Photos online showed two banners protesting Xi and his policies being hoisted over a busy overpass before being taken down by police.

“Say no to covid testing, yes to food. No to lockdown, yes to freedom. No to lies, yes to honor. No to cultural revolution, yes to reform. No to a great leader, yes to voting. Don’t be a slave, be a citizen,” read one banner.

“Go on strike, remove dictator and traitor Xi Jinping,” read another.

The Chinese public has paid little attention to party congresses in the past – never mind the reshuffle of the country’s leadership or the making of major policies. But this year, many are pinning their hopes on Congress for a turning point in easing China’s covid policy.

A series of recent articles in the party’s mouthpiece, however, suggest that may be wishful thinking. The People’s Daily hailed zero-Covid as the “best option” for the country, insisting that it is “sustainable and must be adhered to”.

On Saturday, on the eve of the congress, party spokesman Sun Yeli told a press conference that China’s Covid measures had ensured extremely low infection and death rates in the country and enabled “sustainable and stable operations of the economy and society”.

“All things considered, China’s epidemic prevention measures are the most cost-effective and effective,” Sun said.

“Our prevention and control strategies and measures will become more scientific, more precise and more effective,” he said. “We firmly believe that the dawn lies ahead and that perseverance is victory.”

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