Thursday, December 8, 2022

Chinese President Xi tightens grip on power

China’s Communist Party on Saturday endorsed Xi Jinping’s “core position” in the country’s leadership, all but assuring he will be handed an unprecedented third term in power.
At the end of the week-long gathering in Beijing, China’s ruling party approved a sweeping reshuffle that saw a number of top officials — including Premier Li Keqiang — step down, allowing Xi to appoint new allies.
The largely rubber-stamp meeting of among 2,300 party delegates was meticulously choreographed, with Xi determined to avoid any surprises as he enshrined his leadership for the next five years.
But in an unexpected move that punctured the proceedings at the Great Hall of the People, former leader Hu Jintao was led out of the closing ceremony. No official explanation was given.
Delegates then approved a call obliging all party members to “uphold Comrade Xi Jinping’s core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole”, according to a unanimously passed resolution on changes to the party charter.
Xi is now all but certain to be unveiled as general secretary on Sunday, shortly after the first meeting of the new Central Committee.
This will allow Xi to sail through to a third term as China’s president, due to be announced during the government’s annual legislative sessions in March.
A new Central Committee of around 200 senior Party officials was elected shortly after before the closing ceremony.
A list of officials of the newly elected group revealed that four out of seven members of the Party’s Standing Committee — the apex of power — would retire.
Among them was current Premier Li Keqiang, as well as fellow Politburo Standing Committee members Wang Yang — who was touted as a possible successor to Li — Han Zheng, and Li Zhanshu.
Han and Li Zhanshu were widely expected to step down, having surpassed the informal age limit of 68 for Politburo-level officials — a requirement not extended to 69-year-old Xi. Wang and Li Keqiang, both 67, could still have continued in the Standing Committee or 25-member Politburo for another five-year term.
Other high-profile Communist Party top brass absent from the new Central Committee include high-ranking diplomat Yang Jiechi and economic tsar Liu He.

Chinese leader Jinato led out of Congress

Chinese former leader Hu Jintao has been led out of the closing ceremony of the Communist Party Congress.
The frail-looking 79-year-old was sitting beside President Xi Jinping when he was approached and led away by officials. No explanation was given.
After its week-long congress, the party is expected to confirm Mr Xi, 69, for a historic third term.
Hu Jintao, who held the presidency between 2003 and 2013, was on stage when two officials approached him. He said something to Xi Jinping, who nodded back. Then Mr Hu was escorted out of the Great Hall of the People.
Footage of Hu Jintao being asked to leave the stage is drawing global attention, as people try to work out what has just happened. There are a lot of questions and no answers so far from the Chinese government.
The country’s former leader, at one point, appeared reluctant to move. If that is the case, why? What did he say to the man who replaced him, Xi Jinping, which prompted a nod from China’s current leader and what did he say to his protégé Li Keqing as he tapped him on the shoulder before being ushered off stage?
The two most likely reasons for his departure are that it was either part of China’s power politics on full display, with a leader representing a former time being symbolically removed, or that Hu Jintao has serious health problems.
If he was led away because of ill-health why did this happen so suddenly? Why in front of the cameras? Was it an emergency?
A longer edit of footage taken today shows Xi Jinping turning to the former Party Chairman and also, to Mr Hu’s left, senior figures Li Zhanshu and Wang Huning appearing concerned.
The Communist Party’s mass meetings are normally highly scripted events, leading to speculation that the timing of Hu Jintao’s departure might not have been an accident. He attended the earlier closed-door session on the last day of the Congress, then cameras were allowed in for the final portion of the day. It was just after the cameras had set up that officials approached Mr Hu and indicated that he should go.
Hu Jintao represents a very different China to that of Xi Jinping. He ran a much more collective leadership and had to balance various factions represented on the Politburo Standing Committee. The Hu years were seen as a time of opening up to the outside world and increased tolerance of new ideas.
As general secretary of the Party, Xi has taken the country in a very different direction with him at the “core” and unable to be challenged.
The new Central Committee does not include Li Keqiang or Wang Yang, both seen as economic liberals, both linked to the ideas of the former administration. This points to a new Politburo Standing Committee stacked with Xi loyalists.

SourceAFP
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