The corona crisis, high youth unemployment and China’s economic downturn have raised doubts as to whether Xi Jinping can remain in office. Now it turns out that all crises seem to bounce off the head of state.
China’s regent Xi Jinping assumed power before the XX. Party congress, which will start on October 16, consolidated. Observers and China experts assume that Xi has managed to eliminate internal opposition to his political course.
He has at least five more years in office ahead of him. As early as 2018, the Secretary-General of the Chinese Communist Party cleared the way for such a third term by amending the constitution accordingly.
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The corona pandemic and the economic downturn in the country associated with Xi’s “zero Covid” strategy had previously raised doubts as to whether Xi would be able to stay in office.
In Henan Province, corruption and mismanagement have caused many thousands of Chinese people to lose their life savings across the People’s Republic.
A runaway, speculative real estate industry has also wiped out assets from the new middle class. Protests followed, a rare sight in China.
The police violently suppressed these demonstrations. Protests by Shanghainese against the draconian anti-corona measures taken by those in power this spring were also suppressed.
Fenced-off houses, sealed doors, and government-sent thug squads beating up quarantine breakers showed across the country just how much the CCP can harass and deprive the population of their rights.
In addition, the scandals in Henan have revealed that the corruption that Xi Jinping set out to end in 2013 is still thriving. Without the knowledge of the local authorities, the fraud scandals in the banking and real estate sectors could not have taken place.
But that’s not all of the bad news: at 20 percent, youth unemployment is higher than it has been for a long time, consumption has collapsed and there is no recovery in sight due to the corona measures.
In the run-up to the party congress, it was also said that not everyone in the CP liked the confrontational course that Xi is pursuing with his regional neighbors and with the United States of America, and that an internal opposition could therefore form.
And yet, the many crises that have loomed in front of him in recent months have not affected Xi. He will push them onto the squads who will have to relinquish their positions in October.
The leader cult that he has established over the past few years will help him in this, because it makes him appear like a shining light and a savior in the eyes of many of his followers in China.
The consequence of this is that Xi, his Politburo and the party, which comprises only around 95 million of the 1.4 billion people in the People’s Republic, will continue to hold the reins of the country firmly and ironically in their hands.
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The announcement of the date of the party congress was used as a yardstick. Because if there had been disagreement about the vacancies, for example (apart from Xi, all other officials have to clear their desks after two terms), the party meeting might have had to be postponed to a later date because of these internal differences.
A key figure will be the new prime minister. If the Xi critics were able to prevail in the end and win a points victory, this would be most likely to be seen in this personality.
So far, however, Xi has filled all important positions that were open during his term with his candidates. There is currently no name of a potential prime minister circulating on the western internet.
The speculation will come to an end on October 16th, when the choreographed XX. party congress begins. Nothing will be left to chance when 2000 admitted party members will speak about the 200 members of the Central Committee.
Some will move up to the 25-strong Politburo, a central body whose members will be handpicked by Xi.
No elections will be held at the Assembly in a democratic sense. Acclamations staged as election processes replace the core element of every liberal democracy in the People’s Republic.
Xi Jinping will not be confirmed as president until March next year, at the National People’s Congress. Until then, he will also continue to be the commander-in-chief of troops and general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.
What his rising power will mean for the countries and people in the region will be known soon after the party congress. Xi Jinping is believed to be planning to fly to Indonesia for the G20 summit in November after almost three years without traveling abroad.
Alexander Görlach is Honorary Professor of Ethics at Leuphana University in Lüneburg and Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York. The PhD linguist and theologian is currently working on a project on “digital cosmopolitanism” at the Internet Institute of the University of Oxford and the Faculty of Philosophy at New York University.
Alexander Görlach was a Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Harvard University in the USA and Cambridge University in England. After stints in Taiwan and Hong Kong, he has focused on the rise of China and what it means for East Asian democracies in particular. He has recently published the following titles: “Red Alert: Why China’s Aggressive Foreign Policy in the Western Pacific Is Leading to a Global War” (Hoffmann
From 2009 to 2015, Alexander Görlach was also the publisher and editor-in-chief of the debate magazine The European, which he founded. Today he is a columnist and author for various media such as the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and the New York Times. He lives in New York and Berlin.