There is no doubt that the 20th Congress conferred special status on Xi Jinping. At 69 years old, he is advancing to a third term and some say that, given his choices for the Standing Committee, he is already thinking about the fourth.
Structural changes were expected, not least because several leaders were at “retirement age”. However, no one anticipated that the change would go this far.
Some of the so-called “opponents” of Xi have been removed from the Politburo board, giving their place to figures closer to the leader. Among them, Li Qiang, appointed as the next prime minister, despite not having fulfilled all the steps traditionally taken to reach the position.
This strongman of Xi is unequivocally linked to the pandemic runaway in Shanghai, which began in February and lasted for more than two months. In the West, this promotion is interpreted reductively, in black and white. It can be deduced that Li Qiang translates the insistence on a rigid Covid-19 policy, with successive confinements.
In the East, the strategy is better understood: Li stands out in the field of industrial development, new technologies and the digital economy.
And at the Politburo, he is not alone: at least five other personalities have this résumé. This means that China intends to reinforce its commitment to new technologies to boost the economy.
Obviously, troubled times are going through, not only in China but throughout the world. The reason why this Congress is so publicized has to do with the influence that China has – and must have – in the economic recovery and in the balances of the global geostrategy.
In the latter field, the messages are different: the promotion of figures such as Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, particularly focused on the conflict with the United States; or the maintenance of a 72-year-old general, Zhang Youxia, in charge of military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, shows commitment to the most nationalist faction of the CCP.
*Executive Director of PLATAFORMA