The Shocking Truth Behind Xi Jinping’s Latest Power Move

The upcoming National People’s Congress marks the peak of Xi Jinping’s ambitious power consolidation, as he has transformed the Communist Party by placing himself at its core, leaving no one with even a remote chance to challenge his authority. The annual political meeting, attended by around 3,000 delegates, will reveal the personnel shift that best represents this shift in power dynamics.

This includes the premier’s position, which is responsible for managing the world’s second-largest economy and, in theory, is second only to Mr. Xi in the power hierarchy. On the first day of the Congress, outgoing premier Li Keqiang will take the center stage, followed by his replacement, who is most likely to be Li Qiang, a person who differs significantly from his predecessor in terms of loyalty to Xi. Over the past decade, Xi has made a significant impact on the Communist Party by launching an anti-corruption crackdown that uprooted rival party factions.

At the previous Communist Party Congress held in October, only Xi loyalists were appointed to the seven-man Politburo Standing Committee, the most powerful group in the country. In this Congress, various departments and ministerial positions heads will be replaced, and they are expected to align with Xi’s camp. Although they may be competent, it remains to be seen if they will offer candid and unbiased advice to the leader who placed them in their positions.

According to an experienced business figure who spoke to the BBC, Xi may be able to accomplish a lot with his new leadership team, but there is also a risk of him being isolated in an echo chamber. So, what impact will these appointments have on China’s future direction?

Assuming Li Qiang becomes the new premier and participates in the annual press conference to answer screened questions, it will be a remarkable ascent for him. As the Shanghai party leader, he was in charge of the catastrophic two-month lockdown of the country’s financial center last year. Many were surprised when he was elevated to the second position in the Communist Party hierarchy, not so much because of the lockdown but because of how badly it was handled. Due to the lockdown, food, and medicine could not be efficiently transported to millions of people who were forbidden from going outside, resulting in serious food shortages and rotten vegetables. Toward the end of the city-wide shutdown, people had enough and rebelled against the guards put in place to enforce the unpopular zero-Covid approach.

Critics have questioned how the individual in charge of such a massive logistical failure could be entrusted with running the entire country. However, some in the business community saw him as an innovator who was able to circumvent Party rigidity in years gone by.

Joerg Wuttke, the president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, who has been conducting business in China since the 1990s and has had dealings with the upper echelons of the Communist Party for years, says, “He’s intelligent and a good operator, but he undoubtedly got the job because of his loyalty to Xi. When the president instructs him to jump, he asks, ‘how high?'” According to Mr. Wuttke, the zero-Covid strategy’s negative effects are still being felt by companies and ordinary consumers, causing caution in spending and decision-making.

Nevertheless, Mr. Wuttke believes that this is not solely Li Qiang’s fault, and other businesspeople share his view. Li Qiang is credited with bringing Tesla to Shanghai, and it was the company’s first factory outside the United States, allowed to establish its own venture without being forced to partner with a Chinese company, as other foreign car manufacturers had been required to do.

He praised the virtues of Shanghai’s pilot Free Trade Zone in 2019, claiming that it would become an area open to international competition, serving as a “significant carrier for China to become deeply integrated with economic globalization.” He is considered a more liberal figure in some circles who is willing to bend the rules.

It is unclear whether Li Qiang, with Mr. Xi’s support, will now become a rule-breaker who takes necessary actions or a former pragmatic who falls in line with Mr. Xi’s agenda. Li Qiang previously served as party secretary for Jiangsu province, home to numerous technology companies. However, Mr. Xi has recently ordered the regulation of tech firms, resulting in the disappearance of company leaders for questioning by discipline inspection officers.

Despite this, Li Qiang and Mr. Xi have a longstanding relationship, having worked together in Zhejiang province. In contrast, outgoing Premier Li Keqiang and Mr. Xi did not share a background and competed for the top position. Li Keqiang is remembered for his strong economic track record but faced difficulties during the zero-Covid crisis, where Mr. Xi’s policies overrode his economic concerns.

Despite the success of Mr. Xi’s leadership, his reputation has been affected by issues such as the tech crackdown and property crisis, causing concerns among the middle class. The upcoming NPC meeting will be closely watched to see where China is heading economically. If Mr. Xi’s policies succeed, China will thrive, but if not, difficult questions will arise.

Liam | Contact

Liam is a news writer and editor from the United States. He has been working in the field of journalism for several years and has a passion for uncovering the truth and sharing it with the world. He is dedicated to providing accurate and unbiased coverage of current events, both locally and internationally.