Xi Jinping defended his hard-line rule on Sunday, portraying himself to a congress of China’s governing elite as the leader whose strong measures had spared the country from the pandemic’s ravages and were now aimed at safeguarding China’s development in the face of growing global dangers.
Mr. Xi, who is likely to claim an unprecedented third term as leader at the conclusion of the week-long Communist Party meeting, said in his opening report that his decade in power was marked by historic achievements. He cited the party’s anti-corruption drive, environmental remediation, and crackdown on antigovernment protestors in Hong Kong as significant accomplishments. Apparently alluding to confrontations over human rights, technology, and Beijing’s claim to Taiwan, he hailed Chinese foreign policy as a series of achievements in fighting off Western “bullying” and protectionism.
However, he tempered his praise with a solemn warning that the people must stay together behind the party in order to face an increasingly volatile and dangerous environment. Even while he did not mention the United States by name, his mistrust of the world’s other major power was evident in the background of his appeal.
Mr. Xi said, “Be wary of hazards in the midst of tranquilly.” Prepare the home for strong winds, waves, and even dangerous, stormy seas by ensuring that it is in excellent condition prior to the onset of precipitation.
Speaking to a room full of masked delegates, he offered no compromises to opponents who have said that his “zero Covid” policies of lockdowns, mass testing, and invasive monitoring have driven China into a dead end of unsustainable restrictions and economic devastation. Instead, he maintained that such harsh measures and the party’s rule over practically all elements of daily life were necessary to safeguard China’s 1.4 billion citizens.
He detailed a vision of the Communist Party bringing China to superpower status, stating that widespread state mobilisation was required to repel the foreign dangers around China. He told the assembly that he will encourage quicker domestic technical innovation and enhance China’s already powerful internal security system.
He urged China to have more influence on international issues both directly and via organisations like as the United Nations, but warned that the future years will provide new difficulties for his nation.
Mr. Xi delivered his keynote address less than a week after the long-awaited release of President Biden’s national security plan, which highlighted China as a danger to American security and global preeminence. Mr. Xi did not name the United States, nor did he address Russia’s flailing invasion of Ukraine, as is customary for party leaders’ major addresses to Congress. However, Chinese officials were likely to interpret Mr. Xi’s address as a warning to stand up to Washington over problems such as recent American export curbs on semiconductor technology to China and American backing for Taiwan.
Mr. Xi also reiterated China’s longtime insistence that Taiwan, a 24-million-person self-governing island democracy, embrace unification with Beijing. He reaffirmed that China desired to acquire Taiwan by peaceful means, but would never rule out the use of force if necessary against foreign meddling – a clear allusion to the United States and its allies. In August, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, visited Taiwan, and China conducted frightening military drills, which heightened tensions dramatically.
Online, the discrepancy between the formal announcement of the congress and the relative quiet of the public was also evident. The official Weibo accounts of the Yunnan police and Shanghai fire departments uploaded images of their staff intently watching the opening ceremony telecast. But space for normal people to express their opinions was severely restricted. A search for Mr. Xi on the popular discussion platform Baidu Tieba returned an incorrect notice.