The four-day plenary of the Chinese Communist Party signed off on President Xi Jinping’s plan to put innovation at the heart of China’s modernisation drive to develop the country into a powerhouse riding on the strength of domestic spending and tech self-reliance. But it was once the party’s odd decision to report its vision for 2035 that has renewed buzz around President Xi’s plans for himself.
President Xi has never spoken approximately his plans but dropped enough hints over the previous few years that he does not intend to walk absent after completing his two terms that end in 2022. One of them was once the decision to scrap a constitutional bar introduced by Deng Xiaoping in 1982 that prevented China’s president from serving more than two terms. That move had sparked off hypothesis that 67-year-old Xi Jinping could end up fitting China’s President-for-life.
The 67-year-old Chinese President has already emerged as the communist party’s most powerful leader after its founder Mao Zedong, holding the posts of party General Secretary, head of the military but even so the Presidency.
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In October 2017, Xi was once only the second one Chinese leader after Mao to have had an eponymous ideology included in the party’s constitution while in office. President Xi firmly established his stamp of authority at that party plenary when he got the party leadership to end the system of collective leadership, a safeguard introduced by Deng Xiaoping to offer protection to Chinese people from an autocratic regime very similar to Mao Zedong’s years in power.
This year, he had the Xi Jinping Research Center for Diplomatic Thought opened that elevated his philosophy on par with Mao.
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The 2017 plenary assembly that surrendered the leadership’s powers to Xi Jinping had been preceded by another purge of rivals in the party and the army, mostly by filing corruption cases against them. According to one analysis, commander-in-chief had purged 73 general-rank officers by 2016 and elevated officers loyal to him.
The CCP’s closed-door plenum consisting of approximately 204 full central committee members and 172 alternate members is held yearly to review the policies of the party and the government. Preceding plenums – the party’s name for these key meetings – have been used to sign personal moves, indicating leadership succession plans. But, there were none in the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in its fifth plenary session’s document, which included a longer-term focus to 2035 by which time Xi would be 82, the same age as Mao Zedong when he died in 1976.
China watchers link Beijing’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and at the Indian borders to Xi Jinping’s superpower ambitions vis-a-vis america that come across in his signature projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), upgrading Chinese cities into smart cities through 5G and man made intelligence, and pulling more countries into the ambit of the Chinese financial system.
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The success of this strategy was once on display this week when america secretary of state Mike Pompeo attempted to turn Sri Lanka into a partner in its alliance against the Chinese. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is reported to have told the United States team approximately the island’s reluctance to take sides, especially in light of the billions of dollars that Beijing had poured into the island for years.
China watchers said the distinct opportunity that President Xi Jinping could remain in power would be a key factor that countries would be mindful when dealing with Beijing. “This isn’t a democracy where there’s a opportunity that the leadership can change after a sure period,” one of them said.
Like in the United States where Donald Trump faces a challenge from Joe Biden, who is expected to be less unpredictable whether he reaches the White House. Most observers imagine that Biden was once unlikely to be as shrill as Trump on China but it will be difficult for any US president to adopt a very different approach provided President Xi’s ambitions.