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Xi Jinping shows the world he is taking a tougher line


Xi opens the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party with a political report which demonstrates both change and continuity in the approach of his leadership.

The 20th Party Congress report is significantly shorter than the 19th, which is a clear indication of Xi’s success in centralizing power. The report acts as a summary of the party’s achievements and its plans – expressed as the lowest common denominator of consensus between competing factions. A shorter political report would seem to represent fewer factions now seeking consensus.

In the 20th Party Congress report, the language on Taiwan has been revised, reflecting the changes in tone and the policies of the CCP senior leadership. In addition to the conventional ‘peaceful reunification’ term, there is also an addition of more hawkish language on Taiwan to ‘not exclude the use of force as a last resort’.

Xi also suggested that ‘resolving Taiwan Question should be in hands of the Chinese’, sending a further warning to the US and other Western allies which are perceived as interfering in Taiwan affairs.

In his remarks, Xi suggested the ‘zero-COVID’ strategy has worked for China although he gave no clear timeline on when the policy will end. He also proposed building a healthcare system able to cope with future pandemics. This implies that China is still in short supply of sufficient healthcare resources to cope with a disease like COVID.

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