China: What Really Emerged from the XX Congress

In the end, what really emerged from the PCC XX Congress is that we are in the Xi Jinping's era  

China has definitely embraced the “one man’s rule”. As it was largely predicted, Xi Jinping has been invested of a third term, breaking the past rules and affirming as the most powerful man in the world. The XX Congress will be remembered as a turning point in Chinese politics, maybe for better or maybe for worse. The Chinese Conclave ended with a very peculiar scene: former president Hu Jintao was forced to leave the congress’ room before the end of the session. According to the official Xinhua news agency, Hu’s unexpected exit was due to ill health; no more information was given and, probably, we will never know the real truth. 

The Chinese Dream

Xi Jinping is in charge of refurbishing the Chinese dream. In the last period, due to the Zero Covid policy, economic issues (such as the real estate market crisis) and international instability, China has gone through tough times, not just for the economy but also for its internal stability. We witnessed a very unusual dynamic: people protesting loudly against the government because of its irrational management of the Pandemic; the last episode was right before the Congress, with large banners unfurled on a bridge in Beijing calling for a boycott and removal of Xi Jinping. 

One man's rule

Mr Xi is definitely conscious that China and the PCC are facing a delicate period. For this reason he has chosen to surround himself with loyal people. The risk is to sacrifice competence for loyalty. It might be useful to protect its leadership in the short run, but it might be dangerous in the long run. All future mistakes and problems will be his responsibility. In this delicate period, loyalty is needed to avoid any kind of internal disputes but, on the other side, competence is also needed in order to cope with the many issues Beijing has to deal with to continue its rise. In addition, a “one man’s rule” China is also very dangerous for the rest of the world. If in the last decade we witnessed an increasingly assertive attitude by China, with the consequence of escalating further the risk of a direct confrontation with the U.S, in the next five years it is likely that nothing will change for the better. 

The (almost) new members of the Politburo standing committee

Li Qiang

His one of the closest confidants of Xi and also the most likely to become premier at next March’s legislative sessions. Li becoming premier would be something unusual, since he lacks the experience as vice premier in China’s state council managing central government portfolios. In addition, he has also a non indifferent stain in his curricula related to the management of the Covid Crisis in Shanghai, where Li is the party chief. The lock down in the city was a mess, leading to protests against the party. Nonetheless Li Qiang has been elevated to the number two of the party, showing that loyalty rewards. 

Zhao Leji

He is not a new face in the Politburo Standing Committee and now he is the number three of the party. Zhao Leji has played a crucial role in Xi campaign against corruption (used also to eradicate opponents) being the head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. He is an experienced administrator, who was party secretary of two different provinces and has been a member of the Politburo since 2012. 

Wang Huning

This man deserves particular attention, being the most important political theorist of recent chinese history. He is the architect of the “Chinese Dream”, one of the most famous and representative slogans of Xi's leadership claiming the return of China to its old greatness. Wang is also considered the mind (together with Xi Jinping) behind the assertive attitude in Chinese foreign policy embraced during the last decade. As a consequence, his confirmed centrality in the Politburo Standing Committee means that it is very likely that China will keep its assertive foreign policy and also that the ideology is a crucial part of Xi’s leadership.

Cai Qi

He worked with Xi Jinping in the provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian for more than 20 years, becoming one of the closest allies of the Chinese president. Currently, he is the party chief in Beijing, where he has been able to obtain important results. He carried out the Zero Covid policy while maintaining social stability, differently from what happened in Shanghai and he managed very well the organization of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Ding Xuexiang

Also in this case, as for Li Quiang, loyalty has been main tool for success, given the fact that he has never served as a provincial-level party chief or governor. Nonetheless, since 2017 he has been in charge of one of the most critical and crucial roles, head of the General Office, exercising widespread control over the information and access to officials.

Li Xi

He is the party chief of the Guangdong province, definitely one of the most important drivers of chinese economic development. Li is well known by Xi Jinping because he worked with a close ally of the father, gaining Xi’s trust. He has been confirmed as head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's powerful anti-fraud control body.

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