China’s Communist Party Congress opens to endorse Xi Jinping’s rule

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday (Oct 16) hailed the Communist Party’s rule and defended its COVID-19 policies as he opened a five-yearly Congress at which thousands of hand-picked delegates are set to rubber stamp his bid to rule for a historic third term.

Xi walked onstage to thunderous applause from the roughly 2,300 delegates who had gathered at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People for the event.

In his opening address the leader hailed the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and said the Congress was taking place at a “critical moment” for the country.

At the start of what is expected to be a lengthy speech, Xi also insisted China’s COVID-19 policies – which are still placing heavy curbs on people’s lives – were for their safety.

He said the policies had “protected people’s safety and health to the highest degree and achieved significant positive results”.

Xi also focused on two of China’s most sensitive security and sovereignty issues at the start of speech – in relation to Hong Kong, after democracy protests were crushed there, and Taiwan.

Xi lauded Hong Kong’s transition from “chaos to governance”, while vowing a “major struggle against separatism and interference” in the self-ruled island of Taiwan.

Should everything go to plan for Xi, the 69-year-old will be reconfirmed as the party’s general secretary after the week-long meeting, cementing his position as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.

If picked as party leader for another five-year term as expected, Xi is almost certain to be elected president at the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress in March.

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