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Xi tightens grip on power as China’s party congress ends in dramatic fashion

President Xi Jinping seized power on Saturday as the 20th Communist Party Congress concluded with Premier Li Keqiang’s premature retirement as party leader and a “surprising” spectacle of Xi’s predecessor being escorted off the main stage. strengthened.

“Past achievements of the party 100 years In his closing remarks, President Xi Jinping said, “Incomparably brilliant.” “The party is thriving and we are fully confident that we can create new and greater miracles.”

Over 2,200 delegations at the week-long conference approved a series of party constitutional amendments that effectively declared Xi Jinping as the most important leader of the Chinese Communist Party since revolutionary hero Mao Zedong. . The revised bill recognizes Xi as “the nucleus of the entire party”, who will continue his reign as party leader and military commander-in-chief for at least another five years. He is also set to enter his unprecedented third term as president of the country.

But the carefully choreographed event was initially interrupted by the abrupt exit of the stage by Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao.

Hu, 79, was escorted from the podium by two officials before Xi spoke. The former party general secretary and president, who resigned from his party post in 2012, at times seemed hesitant to leave.

He sat next to Xi and walked cautiously as he left, pausing to exchange words with Xi and Li.

Hu sat until the end of Xi Jinping’s nearly two-hour opening speech at the party’s congress on Oct. 16.

Victor Shih, a China politics expert at the University of California, San Diego, said Hu’s resignation was “just amazing.”

The meeting also strengthened Xi’s already iron wall grip By signaling the retirement of Li and Wang Yang, former members of the Politburo Standing Committee headed by President Xi, the party’s most powerful body. Neither man is listed as a member of the party’s new 205-member Central Committee, according to a list released by the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Under current party precedent, Li and Wang, who were seen as potential Li successors as prime ministers, were young enough to be reappointed to the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee. The re-election of President Xi Jinping and the identity of the next prime minister will not be confirmed until the Chinese parliament convenes its annual meeting in March.

Their departure will allow President Xi Jinping to appoint more supporters to the Politburo Standing Committee, whose members will be announced on Sunday.

The new Central Committee also signaled a review of the key positions that run the world’s second-largest economy. Besides Li, Xi’s economic emperor Liu He and bank chief Guo Shuqing were also removed from the list.

Congress declared that Xi Jinping’s leadership had “removed a grave danger within the party, government and military.” Decade And it will “ensure the realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

Officials under the age of 67 are eligible to serve an additional five-year term on committees, and those over the age of 68 must resign, according to the informal party convention on age.

Hu succeeded Jiang Zemin as the party’s supreme leader in 2002, marking the party’s first orderly change of leadership since it took office in 1949.

But Xi did not name a successor at the last party congress in 2017, and a few months later China’s parliament scrapped the two-term limit. This could allow Xi Jinping, who turns 69 this year, to stay in power as long as his health allows.

Additional reporting by Nian Liu and Xinning Liu from Beijing and Eleanor Olcott from Hong Kong

https://www.ft.com/content/d8db9b5b-7968-4147-9b3c-d688cac45b58 Xi tightens grip on power as China’s party congress ends in dramatic fashion

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