The countdown has begunPARK SUNG-HOON
The author is a Beijing correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
The 20th National People’s Congress of China that will decide President Xi Jinping’s third consecutive term is just six months away. While people are growing angry over the economic shock resulting from the Shanghai lockdown and excessive zero-Covid policy, Xi’s re-election is steadily being prepared.
On April 18, the state-run Xinhua News Agency started a series titled, “Close-Ups, the Warm Moments,” capturing the “moving moments” of Xi’s 10 years in power: “In the long river of history, there always are moments that determine fate. On December 15, 2012, the world awaited the important moment of Xi Jinping — the new General Secretary of the Communist Party of China [CPC] — meeting with the domestic and foreign media for the first time. The clock read 11:53 p.m. Waving his hand with a smile and confident, determined look, the new leader said, ‘I made you wait too long. I am happy to meet you.’”
Xinhua News Agency reported that Xi mentioned “people” 20 times and “responsibility” more than 10 times. The news agency also added that over the past 10 years, “China parted with absolute poverty and attained a great revival of the Chinese people.” A historic evaluation of Xi’s accomplishments was presented even before his term ended.
On April 20, the CPC started to collect opinions from the people to draft a report for the People’s Congress. It is the first time to openly gather all public opinions for the report. The People’s Daily praised the CPC for its “democratic work process.” In 2017, the CPC sought opinions from 4,700 high-level officials in and out of the party and collected 118 written documents. Party organs viewed Xi’s collection of public opinion as “a vivid practice of displaying China’s unique socialist superiority and promoting people’s democracy in the entire process.”
Before the People’s Congress, local governments began electing their leaders. On April 19, the party committee of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region held a plenary meeting. In the meeting, Liu Ning, Communist Party Secretary of Guangxi, emphasized loyalty for Xi several times. “We must actively promote the outstanding outcomes the people have achieved under the leadership of General Secretary Xi and must enhance understanding of the leadership,” he said.
In the congratulatory address at the Boao Forum for Asia held in Hainan on April 21, Xi said, “We should have a conviction especially in difficult times. We must not back down in the face of repeated challenges and must go forward.” Whether it is related to Covid or U.S. policy, the hard-line stance will be maintained. How will China change after Xi begins his third term six months from now? Changes have already begun.