It’s Xi’s party at China’s historic 20th Congress

During the speech, thunderous clapping greeted Xi’s mention of perceived successes, ranging from stamping out COVID-19 outbreaks to quelling unrest in Hong Kong.

The longest and loudest applause came for his comments on Taiwan, as he stated: “Reunification of the motherland must be achieved and will be achieved.”

Xi made no direct mention of the northwestern region of Xinjiang, where Western countries have accused China of widespread human rights abuses against the country’s Muslim minorities, primarily the Uyghurs.

“We in Xinjiang live such happy lives, because our great party is leading us … As a Uyghur person, I am extremely thankful that I can live here in China,” Rehema Awuqi, from the party’s Xinjiang delegation, told AFP after the speech.

In the week leading up to the event, Beijing has been spruced up with banners, exhibitions and flower arrangements extolling the party’s virtues and Xi’s political philosophy, and urging onlookers to “delightedly welcome” the Congress.

A heavy security presence was in place in the capital, with police standing sentry at major intersections and an increased number of personnel deployed on pedestrian bridges around the city.

The mostly closed-door conclave is taking place under China’s strict zero-COVID policy, with journalists and other attendees holed up from Friday in a virus-secure bubble with mandatory mask-wearing and daily PCR tests.

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