Intelbrief / IntelBrief: The 20th Party Congress: Opportunities and Challenges for Xi Jinping in China
AP Photo/By Han Guan
October 16, 20eThe National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) will open. The week-long gathering that takes place every five years will determine China’s direction for the next term, including the likely re-election of Xi Jinping as CCP leader and the potential replacement of current prime minister Li Keiqiang. . During the 19eParty Congress in 2018, Xi originally selected to serve from 2013 to 2023 eliminated the two-term limit, essentially paving the way for his re-election for a third term in 2022 and possibly for life. Xi is expected to use this upcoming Party Congress to further consolidate power and eliminate opposition, which will have implications for China’s domestic and foreign policy and the geopolitical landscape of neighboring regions from Central Asia to Asia. Indo-Pacific. Xi’s quest for centralized power will certainly take center stage at the Party Congress, but there are also several opportunities and challenges for Xi as he seeks to continue ruling China. Domestically, the faltering economy and the implementation of the CCP’s aggressive zero COVID policy are at the forefront. The aggressive foreign policy promoted under Xi has taken US-China relations to a nadir, with uncertainty over whether or how China will seek reunification with Taiwan, which will impact the security situation in Indo- Wider Pacific.
While propaganda banners fill the streets of Beijing, the usually carefully scripted and planned Party Congress, void of public debate, hides the years of political maneuvering, guanxi (alliance) building and lobbying that led to the selection of officials for key party positions during the event. . Critically, the Party Congress will give the composition of the 20ePolitburo and its Standing Committee (PSC), the latter being the most powerful decision-making body in China. While it is commonly accepted that Xi cedes ultimate decision-making power in government, the composition of the 20eThe Politburo and its standing committee will report on Xi’s success in his endeavor to weed out the opposition and promote protections that would support his ambition for lifelong rule.
China’s economic slowdown, accelerated by prolonged shutdowns due to the CCP’s aggressive zero-COVID policy, is the main domestic problem facing the Xi regime. The World Bank forecasts China’s GDP growth in 2022 to be 2.8%, significantly below the PCC’s March forecast of 5.5%. Observers continue to look for signs of whether Xi will ease the zero-Covid policy after the Party Congress; however, other economic issues are also plaguing the Chinese economy, including the ongoing real estate crisis. Additionally, domestic and foreign policy decisions appear to have made economic engagement with China less attractive to Western markets and businesses. In September, the president of the European Chamber of Commerce in China noted that no new European companies had entered the Chinese market since 2020, with many European companies losing interest in pursuing investment in the country instead of seeking elsewhere in Asia.
If Xi consolidates his power, the aggressive foreign policy that characterizes his tenure is likely to continue. It is expected that after the Party Congress, Xias, the chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), will continue pushing ahead with the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). With four of the six current CMC members likely to retire, the composition of the CMC after the Party Congress will provide important insight into Xi’s priorities for China’s armed forces, including the Eastern Theater Command (Taiwan Straits). . Last week, Chinese government officials hailed progress in Chinese foreign policy and diplomacy under XidubbedWolf Warrior diplomacy, exemplified by cheeky statements, including on social media, by Chinese diplomats. The most recent example of China’s wolf warriors was in full swing over the weekend, building on Russian disinformation stories insinuating that the United States orchestrated the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the Baltics.
With war raging in Europe and an undeterred revanchist Russia, Xi’s planned consolidation of power presents geopolitical challenges in the Indo-Pacific for the United States and its allies, particularly related to the freedom of navigation, international trade and the uncertainty of military conflict in Taiwan. Detroit. Furthermore, throughout his rule, Xi has capitalized on nationalist sentiments at home to bolster his support, including criticizing the US-led world order and Western attempts to thwart China’s power. With an economic slowdown in China, Xi and the CCP will likely continue to appeal to nationalist sentiments, an unpredictable force that cannot always be controlled by the political elite.
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