08/31/2022, 15.33
CHINA
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Twentieth Communist Party congress to open on 16 October if COVID-19 allows it

by Li Qiang

Xi Jinping could be picked for a third, historic term, possibly after mediation with factions opposed to him. However, the pandemic weighs on China’s economy, weakening his position.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Political Bureau (politburo) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) announced that the 20th party congress will open on 16 October, state-owned Xinhua news agency reported.

The meeting is seen as a fundamental stage in China’s future since it is expected to confirm Xi Jinping as party secretary general and president of the People’s Republic of China for at least another five-year term.

His reappointment breaks with Deng Xiaoping's practice of choosing new leaders after two consecutive five-year terms.

Xi has been preparing the ground for this since 2018, when he had China’s constitution amended to eliminate term limits. According to most observers, Xi is seeking to become leader for life, like Mao Zedong.

With Xi at the helm, the new seven-member Politburo Standing Committee (the regime's real decision-making body) and the replacement of outgoing Premier Li Keqiang will indicate whether Xi’s triumph is total or the result of mediation with factions opposed to him.

Rising tensions with the United States, Taiwan's status, and the country’s troubled economy could undermine Xi's likely victory.

The government is especially worried about the economic effects of repeated COVID-19 lockdowns. The Chinese president has imposed a policy of zero tolerance, which has been criticised by many in the country.

Tens of millions of Chinese are forced to live segregated at home even though the official number of new daily cases has not exceeded 2,000 nationwide, a figure that is impossible to independently verify.

For China’s economy, the signs are clear: industrial activity contracted again in August. As a result, analysts have lowered GDP growth forecasts to 3 per cent, well below the 5.5 per cent set by the government at the start of 2022.

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