EXPLANATORY: What to expect from the Chinese Party Congress

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BEIJING (AP) — China’s ruling Communist Party is holding its twice-a-decade national congress starting Sunday, during which Xi Jinping should receive a third five-year term as the undisputed leader of the party, government and army of the world’s second largest economy.

The proceedings surrounding the event are shrouded in secrecy, as is typical in China’s authoritarian one-party state. But the congress, the 20th in its more than 100-year history, is expected to produce a new group of leaders hand-picked by Xi, who faces no term limits and has yet to indicate a successor after a decade. in first place.

The 96 million member party is run by a Central Committee and a Politburo. Their senior staff, now numbering seven, form the powerful Politburo Standing Committee.

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WHAT ARE THE ISSUES OF THIS YEAR’S MEETING?

No significant change in the political or economic system is expected. Using a broad anti-corruption campaign and a relentless crackdown on dissent and free speech, Xi has eliminated virtually all opposition and placed loyalists in most key positions.

Yet his hardline “zero-COVID” policy that has placed tens of millions of people in quarantine, severely restricted travel and imposed a growing economic cost has sparked rare protests, including the appearance of anti-Xi banners in Beijing Haidian high-tech business district this week.

Authorities have declined to comment on the incident and have shut down all discussion of it on the internet – the only sphere of public life where criticism of the regime is possible, at least until party censors intervene.

Xi’s administration says such tight COVID-19 controls are the only way to prevent a wider outbreak in the world’s most populous country.

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HOW WILL CONGRESS AFFECT CHINA WORLDWIDE?

China’s more assertive foreign policy, sometimes described as the “wolf warrior” approach based on the name of a popular action movie, has provoked a backlash from the United States, Europe and regional neighbours. China’s claim to nearly all of the South China Sea raised tensions with fellow claimants, the United States and others, as his forces clashed with Indian troops along their disputed border.

Beijing’s close foreign policy alignment with Russia and refusal to criticize Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine have also heightened tensions with the West.

It also drew attention to China’s threat to invade Taiwan’s self-governing island democracy to bring it under its control, a decision that would attract the United States and allies like Japan and Australia.

Xi has shown no signs of changing his foreign policy focus, although China’s sharply reduced economic growth rate and challenges facing its “Belt and Road” foreign investment program are seen as reducing its influence. The internment of more than a million Muslim minorities in Xinjiang and the stifling of opposition voices and freedom of expression in Hong Kong have also drawn widespread criticism abroad, placing many local leaders under travel and financial restrictions in the US, UK and EU.

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WHO IS REPRESENTED AT THE CONGRESS?

State media reports that 2,296 representatives were “elected” to the congress. All candidates are carefully screened and no open campaigning is allowed. Of these, 771 are described as frontline party members who hold jobs outside the party bureaucracy, either in the armed forces, which function as the military wing of the party, or in agriculture or technical professions. .

The party and congress membership remains heavily dominated by men from China’s main Han ethnic group. Women and members of minority groups make up 27 percent and 11.5 percent of the representatives respectively, according to the official state news agency Xinhua.

After what is expected to be a lengthy political speech on Sunday, the convention will mostly take place behind closed doors.

If past protocols are followed, the new leadership will be unveiled at its closing session, with its most senior members emerging from behind a curtain to take their place in the hierarchy based on their distance left and right of Xi. .

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