The 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party will be held in Beijing from 16th October 2022. 2,300 delegates will represent the Chinese Communist Party's estimated 90 million members.
There probably has not been a more important or challenging congress since they started in 1921 when The 1st National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was held in Shanghai and Jiaxing between July 23 and August 2, 1921. That Congress established the Chinese Communist Party.
The President of the PRC, Xi Jinping, will no doubt be re-elected for a third term but it is unlikely to be plain sailing. Xi is near the end of his second 5-year term but presidential terms were removed in 2018 so he can in theory be elected for several terms.
China today is a complex animal with numerous issues currently in play for the CCP to contend with. In short, these are the primary issues that will no doubt be debated at the 20th Congress:
China’s economy is declining
30 million people in lockdowns or similar – Chengdu locked down 21 million.
Major property collapse
Xi has lost around 20% support – especially from young people who see themselves as the Last Generation
US sanctions have taken effect and impacted China’s exports
Facing it’s lowest GDP growth in 40 years
20% youth unemployment in cities (the highest on record)
Apart from these, there is the record heat and worst drought in decades plus a population that is beginning to decline.
Xi Jinping has been responsible for a major jump in China’s international profile but generally with an arrogant and non-conciliatory approach to every conflict. Especially when it comes to Taiwan.
To make matters worse, Xi has refused to decry Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has instead shown support and solidarity with Putin. Now Xi is sending troops to Russia for joint exercises! Well, what better way to get a first-hand picture of Russia’s capabilities – especially since they have experienced considerable losses in Ukraine.
That move also makes you wonder whether Russia would come to the aid of China in any territorial conflict that it initiates – eg. an invasion of Taiwan.
Xi’s performance internationally does not meet with universal support or pleasure at home within the CCP which makes the upcoming Congress all the more interesting. As the Foundation for Defense of Democracies wrote in January this year, in real life, Xi has all but vanished from the world stage. He has been hunkered won in Beijing nearly 2 years: he was a no-show at the 2021 UN General Assembly, the G-20 Summit in Rome, the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow and more.
Xi clearly wants to remain at home to keep on top of worsening conditions. The pandemic however does not explain Xi’s reluctance to travel. As FDD reported, he is more likely concerned with growing fears about resistance to his rule from factions within the CCP.
Xi has waged a loyalty push for ages and has vowed “no mercy” for CCP officials who put themselves before party unity. The fact seems to be that Xi recognises that he is becoming increasingly vulnerable!
If Xi’s future is all but assured, why is it then that he often calls on the party leadership to declare their personal loyalty to him? And often in public? He must surely be uncertain of how the next Congress handles his aspirations.
It would be fair to say that Xi’s fortunes have followed the success of China on the world stage. When its economy was going gang-busters, Xi’s global prominence was at its height and party support was visible due to Xi’s performance. But then in late 2021, things began to change.
Since then, China’s ascendancy has stalled and its performance on various fronts has declined. With it, has come Xi’s withdrawal from the world stage. His economic stewardship has become increasingly questioned along with his entire governing philosophy. Xi’s anti-corruption drive has been as much about self-preservation as it has been about removing corruption from Chinese life. As a result, many of his would-be opponents and other high-level officials, even some that were hand-picked by Xi himself, have been ‘removed’.
Xi’s demise is no surety and while any conspirators may be praying for a major misstep by Xi, they will need to rally many to their cause before Xi is replaced and China has some chance of restoring its rightful place in the world order.
October 16 2022 will see the 20th Congress get under way. The days following will be eagerly watched by the world for some positive outcomes and an improved prospect of regional peace. In the meantime, the US would do well to get on with their China policy given that Biden will have been President for 2 years in November 2022 – half way through his term.
GB / AB