On Saturday, the Communist Party Congress of China will close, with President Xi Jinping expected to secure an unprecedented third term in office.
2,300 party delegates will ratify a reorganization of the party’s senior leadership during the closing ceremony in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, capping up a week of essentially rubber-stamp sessions.
Soon after the first meeting of the newly elected Central Committee, a 200-member assembly of the party’s most senior leaders, Xi is generally anticipated to be introduced as general secretary.
As a result, Xi can easily win re-election to a third term as China’s leader, which is scheduled to be revealed in March at the government’s annual parliamentary sessions.
To be able to reign forever, Xi already scrapped the two-term limit for president in 2018.
This weekend will also see the new Central Committee adopt a reorganized 25-member Politburo and a Politburo Standing, which is China’s highest authority and will likely include mostly Xi friends.
Xi gave a 105-minute “work report” at the Congress opening ceremony on Sunday, praising the party’s accomplishments but ignoring internal issues, including the stagnant economy and the harm caused by his strict zero-Covid policy.
A defiant Xi also exhorted Communist Party members to arm themselves against multiple difficulties, including a tightening geopolitical environment, in a speech heavy on ideological rhetoric and low on policy.
He remarked, “We must… be prepared to resist strong winds, rough seas, and even deadly storms.
“We have prioritized our national interests in the face of dramatic changes in the world scene, particularly foreign efforts to blackmail, confine, (and) blockade… China.”
The address also had a vital security component, as Xi praised Hong Kong’s transformation from “chaos to government” while pledging to “never commit to renouncing the use of force” to annex the independent island of Taiwan.
According to David Bandurski, editor of the University of Hong Kong’s China Media Project, the work report “is a meticulously planned scenario through which the power of the Party, its leader, and its beliefs are designed to be exalted and reinforced.”
Analysts believe that Xi will almost certainly be reappointed for a third term in office, further solidifying his status as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.
But there are still some critical issues that need to be addressed, such as whether Xi, 69, will name a potential successor to the Politburo Standing Committee and whether a more moderate version of his distinctive political philosophy will be incorporated into the party charter of the 96-million-strong organization.
In the latter case, Xi Jinping Thought would become the Chinese government’s official philosophy, according to Steve Tsang, head of the University of London’s SOAS China Institute.
According to Tsang, “Xi’s authority will be comparable to that of China’s ruler, and there will be little room for anybody to counsel him to try course correction.”
“This will raise the possibility of policy errors since everything would depend on Xi making the correct decision,”