Xi Jinping concentrates power and calls for more state control in the economy

As expected, Xi Jinping was reappointed to the post of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, after the 20th CPC Congress, which ended Sunday in Beijing after a week of internal meetings. The president strengthened his position to the point where he was able to keep only direct allies in the Politburo Standing Committee, which brings together the seven most powerful men in the country.

Experts around the world have made assessments of what can happen to the Asian economic power with this concentration of power that has not been seen since the leadership of Mao-Tse Tung.

For Kalpit A Mankikar, a fellow in the Strategic Studies program at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), based in India, more than the centralization of power in an individual, the great gap after the Congress is that, so far, no visible success has emerged. to Xi. “A big country like China needs a defined line of succession. And any void could risk the chances of political tensions,” she said in an article.

Xi Jinping’s reappointment to the nation’s top office alone has already broken the unwritten rule that the secretary-general should only be elected for two five-year terms. First elected in 2012, Xi is headed for his third term. The decision also runs counter to the history of leaders retiring after age 68: he is now 69.


In addition, the president also strengthened the so-called “Army of Zhejiang”, the name given to the group of allies and advisors who accompany Xi since he led the Party in that province.

The previous groups that still had some influence in the CCP have totally lost their space. Prime Minister Li Keqiang, who represented the Communist Youth League, will not even be part of the Standing Committee. One of the biggest advocates of modernizing and opening up the Chinese economy, Keqiang was a protégé of former President Hu Jintao – who made a dramatic scene at the 20th Congress on Saturday when he was ushered out of the meeting and appearing to have some degree of mental confusion. He is 80 years old.

The other group that now belongs to the past is the so-called “Shanghai Gang”, whose last exponent was former Secretary General Jiang Zemin, who remained in power until 2003.

Those who rose through the ranks were Xi’s closest allies: Li Qiang, responsible for enforcing the zero covid policy in the country, ordering lockdowns in a row, even at the cost of damaging his public image, is now number 2 in the party.

Also up were Zhao Leji, who headed the feared disciplinary inspection committee, a body that removed several of Xi’s opponents on corruption charges, and Wang Huning, an academic and the party’s main ideologue, who created the “Chinese Dream” slogan of Xi Jinping’s administration. .


The other members of the Standing Committee are Ding Xuexiang, Xi Jinping’s top adviser, and Cai Xi, who will take over the anti-corruption body.

And now?

At the close of the CPC Congress, Xi Jinping said in an interview with more than 600 journalists that China will open its doors more to the rest of the world. “We will be firm in deepening the reform and general opening up, and in the pursuit of high-quality development. Just as China cannot develop in isolation from the world, the world needs China for its development,” he said.

This strengthening of the Chinese position in the world was also the keynote of his opening speech at the meeting, a week ago. According to the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), in that speech Xi combined a confident tone with grim warnings of imminent threats to the country.

The Chinese president said the nation was entering a period “in which opportunities, risks and strategic challenges are simultaneous” and that “uncertainties and unforeseen factors are increasing”. In the full report released after the leader’s brief speech, it was quite clear that he was referring to the blockades created to stop the country’s economic and scientific advances.

The CSIS compared this speech with the one given in 2017, at the opening of the 19th Congress, and reported that the word “security” was used 91 times last week, against 54 mentions five years ago. Mentions of “strategy” or “strategic” also rose, while “military” and “force” maintained almost the same pattern.

The new report, the think tank points out, cites the unification of Taiwan as “a natural requirement to carry out the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and, while it did not provide a reunification timetable, it made clear that it would oppose “foreign interference”. on the subject in question.


On economic issues, a weakness at the moment, Xi Jinping said in the interview that the Chinese economy has great resilience and potential, that its fundamentals are strong and will not change. According to the official Xinhua news agency, he also said that the world’s second-largest economy is moving on a modernization model never seen before.

In the last decade, China’s GDP grew from 54 trillion yuan (about US$7.6 trillion) to 114 trillion yuan, representing 18.5% of the world economy, an increase of 7.2 percentage points. Per capita GDP increased from 39,800 yuan to 81,000 yuan.

“We must ensure that our centenary party becomes more and more vigorous through self-reform and remains the strong backbone that the Chinese people can lean on at all times,” he said.


These statements, according to expert analysis, may point to a strengthening of the State in the economy, to the detriment of the private sector.

Ian Chong, a political scientist at the National University of Singapore, told The Wall Street Journal that the outcome of the party’s congress likely means more Chinese assertiveness on foreign policy and security. “So probably more direct party-state direction in the economy,” Chong said.

Ales Koutny, portfolio manager for emerging markets at Janus Henderson Investors, told Reuters that appointments to the committee showed China was moving “from economic pragmatism to political ideology”.

Fearing the continuation of the strong regulatory policy of recent years, the real estate and technology sectors were the most penalized in Monday’s sessions on the Hong Kong and Shanghai Stock Exchanges.

Earlier, although China announced that its quarterly GDP was up 3.9% (above-predicted), concerns about the housing market increased as home sales fell 28.6% year-on-year between January and September.

(with agencies)

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