On Sunday, October 16, Beijing hosted the 20th Chinese Communist Party National Congress. The twice-a-decade gathering involves speeches, secret meetings, and changes to powerful positions and committee memberships. And Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term as head of the Party.

During the meeting’s opening, Xi Jinping read for two hours. Then, media, experts, and intellectuals evaluated Xi’s report.

According to the German media outlet Deutsche Welle, Xi Jinping emphasized the sense of urgency as China deals with major tests and various difficulties and challenges.

In an international framework, China has to deal with U.S. penalties on high-tech businesses, doubts about its debt-trapped Belt and Road Initiative, and criticism of its human rights conditions in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. 

At home, China has been struggling with harsh criticism from mass testing under its strict “zero-COVID’ policies. China’s economy has slowed down as many cities have been placed under lockdown time and time again.

Chinese political scientist Wu Qiang believes that blocking borders to end COVID thoroughly has made China increasingly isolated. 

He thought that 40 years of reform and opening up had ended.

Wu Muluan is an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He said that the Chinese regime’s legitimacy is partly based on its ability to provide economic growth.

Chen Zhiwu is a finance professor at the University of Hong Kong. He said that the meeting put too little focus on economic development and economic reform this time. That contrasts with the period from the 14th to the 19th National Congress, whereby economic growth was the essential task. However, Xi did not mention this core goal at all. 

Furthermore, China currently seems to be headed toward a more authoritarian regime. It goes against the trend of a free society. 

DPA media said Xi’s speech marks the end of the CCP’s reform and opening-up policy. And it would be replaced by authoritarianism, party influence, and ideology. They called it “Chinese-style modernization.”

Scott Kennedy is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)—a Washington-based think tank. According to Reuters, he said Xi’s “most significant theme was his emphasis on developing a unique ‘Chinese style’ in many elements of public affairs, from modernization to diplomacy to socialism.’”
He added: “Xi wants the CCP, China and the international system to go in a very different direction than that laid out by the United States and the West over the last century.”

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