President Xi Jinping has addressed the Congress of the ruling Chinese Communist Party which is expected to cement his position as one of China’s most powerful leaders ever.
This week’s event in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing is being closely watched by companies, governments and the public for signs of official direction. It comes amid a painful slump in the world’s second-largest economy and tension with the United States and Asian neighbours over trade, technology and security.
Party plans call for creating a prosperous society by mid-century and restoring China to its historical political, economic and cultural leadership role.
The party’s 20th Congress will install leaders for the next five years. Xi, 69, is expected to break with tradition and award himself a third five-year term as general secretary and promote allies.
During his decade in power, Xi’s government has pursued an increasingly assertive foreign policy while tightening control at home on information and dissent.
The Communist Party leadership agreed in the 1990s to limit the general secretary to two five-year terms in an effort to prevent a repeat of past power struggles. That leader also becomes chairman of the commission that controls the military and holds the ceremonial title of national president.
Xi made his intentions clear in 2018 when he had a two-term limit on the presidency removed from China’s Constitution. Officials said that allowed Xi to stay, if needed, to carry out reforms.
The party is expected to amend its charter to raise Xi’s status as leader after adding his personal ideology, Xi Jinping Thought, at the previous Congress in 2017.
The spokesperson for the Congress, Sun Yeli, said on Saturday the changes would “meet new requirements for advancing the party’s development” but gave no details.