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Xi Jinping Rallies Communists in Three-Hour Speech: ‘Time for Us to Take Center Stage’

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the 19th Party Congress held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. Having bested his rivals, Xi is primed to consolidate his already considerable power as the ruling Communist Party begins …
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

China’s Communist Party opened its once-every-five-years Congress on Wednesday with an extensive speech from President Xi Jinping, who debuted plans for the nation extending into 2050 that include extensive military buildup, economic hegemony, and “sweeping victory” against “corruption,” often interpreted as any dissenting thought within the party.

“It is time for us to take centre stage in the world and to make a greater contribution to humankind,” Xi declared, according to the BBC, as he welcomed over two thousand Communist Party delegates to Beijing.

He added a promise to turn China into a “prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful” country between 2035 and 2050.

Prior to the opening of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Congress, outside observers noted that Chinese state-run media had begun laying the groundwork for the debut of “Xi Jinping Thought,” a new philosophy towards China’s role in the world that would seek to centralize power in Xi’s person and elevate him to greater status within the party. Experts already consider Xi one of the most powerful leaders in modern Chinese history, but reports in outlets like Reuters suggest Xi may be seeking to elevate his position to that of “chairman”—a title no president has held in decades—and to introduce a “Xi Jinping Thought” doctrine into the Communist Party Constitution, immortalizing him within the party.

Xi appeared to avoid any specific power-grabs in his speech, judging from extensive coverage in the state-run outlets Global Times and Xinhua. Instead, Xi repeatedly called for a “new era” in Chinese history, one in which the communists could promise the Chinese people “moderately prosperous society in all respects and of moving on to all-out efforts to build a great modern socialist country.”

Xi’s speech introduced to the party the doctrine of “Xi Jinping Thought,” debuting a report titled “Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” Xi’s tenure has been marked by an emphasis on the “Chinese Characteristics” part of that title, heavily invoking nationalist sentiments and a brand of Chinese exceptionalism meant to elevate him and justify the hallmark mass arrests of “corrupt” officials and repeated invasions of neighboring territories that have defined his tenure.

The report itself offers vague descriptions of Xi’s vision for the future, summarized by the Global Times as:

In the first stage from 2020 to 2035, the CPC will build on the foundation created by the moderately prosperous society with a further 15 years of hard work to see that socialist modernization is basically realized.

In the second stage from 2035 to the middle of the 21st century, the CPC will, building on having basically achieved modernization, work hard for a further 15 years and develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful.

The principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved to be that between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.

Among other contradictors are Xi’s insistence in the speech that “China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion,” coupled with his promise to use a fully modernized military to assert Chinese dominance in the region and eradicate separatist movements in breakaway regions like Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“We will never allow anyone, any organisation, or any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate any part of Chinese territory from China,” Xi vowed while adding, “No political party or group in Taiwan will have any difficulty conducting exchanges with the mainland.”

For Hong Kong, Xi promised that Beijing would work to reap the benefits of their capitalist system without allowing for capitalism in mainland China. “We will continue to support Hong Kong and Macao in their own development into the overall development of the country,” he asserted.

In addition to imposing Xi’s personal philosophy, the CPC serves as a marketing tool to entice Western leftists to support the unilateral autocracy of the Communist Party over free societies. This the government articulated in a column in Xinhua, where the publication declares, “Chinese-style democracy has never been healthier and China has absolutely no need to import the failing party political systems of other countries.”

Xinhua refers to competitive republics as “confrontational” and claims the West has been engulfed in “crises and chaos” due to its embrace of classical liberal values. “Endless political backbiting, bickering and policy reversals, which make the hallmarks of liberal democracy, have retarded economic and social progress and ignored the interests of most citizens,” the article claims.

The Communist Party Congress is expected to continue through next Wednesday.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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