- Security Watch – BRICS: symptom of an emerging multipolar world ? - September 9, 2023
- Security Watch: What implications does the Niger coup d’état have for the Sahel? - August 21, 2023
- Security Watch: Can Riyadh and Tehran Achieve a Lasting Détente? - August 7, 2023
On Sunday, Xi Jinping clinched a historic third term as the Communist Party’s leader, ending decades of political precedent in the world’s second largest economy.
Xi, who ascended to power in 2012, was elected by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as its general secretary for another five-year term. The party also appointed a seven-person Politburo Standing Committee, dominated by Xi proteges and allies.
China initially imposed a two-term limit on its leader enacted under Deng Xiaoping’s mandate. However in March 2018, Xi got the National People’s Congress to abolish the institutional check. This way Xi effectively established his third term in power as a fait accompli and entrenched himself as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.
Xi’s policies, nonetheless, have faced serious headwinds this year. The relentless enforcement of the zero COVID-19 policy, an ever-expanding property debt crisis, the crackdown on the tech sector and unprecedented heatwave and drought have led the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to forecast full-year growth of 3.2 percent for 2022 – the lowest rate in four decades. Soaring commodity prices from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and continuous trade tensions with the U.S. have equally contributed to the weakness in the China’s economy.
Under Xi’s leadership, the CCP has rigorously defended the “One China” policy and resisted Western accusations of human rights violations in its autonomous regions and special administrative divisions. During his decade in power, Xi has crushed the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, suppressed ethnic resistance in Xinjiang and Tibet. China’s military also regularly threatens Taiwan.
At the opening of the 20th CCP congress, Xi paid tribute to the party’s nationalist credentials, eliciting a thunderous applause from some 2,300 delegates: “We have resolutely waged a major struggle against separatism and interference, demonstrating our strong determination and ability to safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity and oppose Taiwan independence”.
As the Chinese leader enters his second decade in power, China watchers will now be keen to assess how Xi will guide the economy in the face of burgeoning economic challenges. If he fails to get the economy back on track, China will witness a slowdown in innovation and prosperity, which could spark social discontent.
Questions for future analysis:
Will Xi Jinping succeed in moving China to economic and technological “self-reliance”?