China set to crown President Xi Xinping as ‘Great Leader’, 1st since Mao

BEIJING: China’s ruling Communist Party will begin its 20th Party Congress on October 16, state media reported on Tuesday, a landmark meeting in which President Xi Jinping is expected to be anointed as the country’s most powerful leader in decades.
The Communist Party Congress (CPC) in Beijing comes as Xi faces significant political headwinds, including an ailing economy, deteriorating relations with the US and a strict zero-Covid policy that has accelerated China’s inward turn from the world.
It is widely expected to see Xi reinstated as president for a third term – unprecedented in the contemporary era. It will also see the unveiling of a new top leadership line-up, as Xi consolidates his grip on the party and his position as the most powerful Chinese leader since the country’s founder Mao Zedong.
The meeting – held every five years – will be “extremely important”, according to a report by state broadcaster CCTV on a Monday meeting of the country’s politburo.
The event will see about 2,300 Communist Party delegates descend on Beijing in a highly choreographed exercise to pick members of the party’s central committee of around 200 members. The final meeting of the current central committee will take place in Beijing from October 9, the report said.
The central committee will then vote for the 25-person politburo and its all-powerful standing committee – China’s highest leadership body, currently comprised of seven people. Voting is mostly a formality – the pecking order of the politburo and its standing committee is likely to have been decided well in advance. Analysts predict “no surprises” in terms of format and timing. “Most people will not be surprised to see that Xi will have a third term,” said Alfred Wu Muluan, a Chinese politics expert.
It is likely that Xi will be anointed the honorific title of “Great Leader” at the Congress, Wu said, a term last used to refer to Mao Zedong. Wu added that the top leadership lineup was most likely set during the secretive two-week conclave of Communist Party leaders held at the seaside town of Beidaihe in August.
Analysts predict that Xi will be looking to shorten the name of his official political philosophy in the party constitution to the pithier “Xi Jinping Thought”, putting him on a par with Mao.

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