China’s Xi lays out vision for ‘new era’ led by ‘still stronger’ Communist Party

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Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday laid out a confident vision for a more prosperous nation and its role in the world, stressing the importance of wiping out corruption and curbing industrial overcapacity, income inequality and pollution.

Opening a critical Communist Party congress, Xi pledged to build a “modern socialist country” for a “new era” that will be proudly Chinese and steadfastly ruled by the party but open to the world.

The twice-a-decade event, a weeklong, mostly closed-door conclave, will culminate in the selection of a new Politburo Standing Committee to rule China’s 1.4 billion people for the next five years, with Xi expected to consolidate his control and potentially retain power beyond 2022, when the next congress takes place.

The 64-year-old Xi, widely regarded as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, spoke to more than 2,000 delegates in Beijing’s cavernous, red-carpeted Great Hall of the People, including 91-year-old former president Jiang Zemin. Security was tight on a rainy, smoggy day in the capital.

As expected, the speech was heavy on aspiration and short on specific plans.

On the economy, Xi said China would relax market access for foreign investment, expand access to its services sector and deepen market-oriented reform of its exchange rate and financial system, while at the same time strengthening state firms.

During Xi’s first term, China disappointed many investors who had expected it to usher in more market-oriented reforms, especially in the debt-laden state sector.

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said it welcomed commitments to open wider the door and treat all companies equally, but said European companies operating in China continued to suffer from “promise fatigue”.

In what was probably an indirect reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy, Xi promised that China would be fully engaged with the world, and reiterated pledges to tackle climate change. Trump this year opted to withdraw the United States from

Xi set bold long-term goals for China’s development, envisioning it as a “basically” modernised socialist country by 2035, and a modern socialist “strong power” with leading influence on the world stage by 2050.

But he signalled there would be no significant political reforms, calling China’s system the broadest, most genuine, and most effective way to safeguard the interests of the people.

Xi has overseen a sweeping crackdown on civil society, locking up rights lawyers and dissidents and tightening internet controls as he has sought to revitalise the Communist Party and its place in contemporary China.

 

 

 

Source:  News agencies