The Taiwan issue is likely to hang over the Congress with speculation rife about Beijing’s future steps on reining in the breakaway island, reports Mukesh Sharma
As the Communist Party of Chinas (CPC) formidable administrative machinery prepares for the 20th Congress which will start on October 16 this year, the eyes of the major world powers will be set on what President Xi Jinping speaks from the lectern on stage at the Great Hall of the People at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
The Politburo of the CPC announced the date of the start of the conclave of arguably the largest political party on earth earlier this week. The conclave will see Xi start a precedent-defying third term after he quashed term limits for the presidency in an earlier Congress, which is a twice-in-a decade event.
The key meeting comes in the aftermath of a slowdown in the Chinese economy which, observers say, is a result of the country’s zero-Covid policy that has drawn the world’s attention as a controversial step by the Chinese president.
The top leader of the planet’s largest manufacturing hub has always a lot at stake ahead of this major meeting that sets out the agenda for the next five years in the nation of 1.5 billion.
“The pandemic has badly hurt the economy as China’s supply chain has been disrupted. This has led to the country’s buyers finding alternative sources for their purchases. It is most likely that Xi will tell policymakers to try to revive the supply chains so that the economy is back on track,” says Pankaj Srivastav, an Indian journalist who had a long stint with China Radio International in Beijing.
Xi is well aware that if remedial measures are not taken, the economy that is largely dependent on exports will collapse, adds Srivastav.
CPC mouthpiece People’s Daily has been frequently quoting Xi ahead of the impending event.
The newspaper’s English edition said that Xi has been emphasizing the importance of the upcoming 20th CPC National Congress to be held at a crucial moment on the new journey to build a modern socialist country in all respects. Xi said goals, tasks and policies for the cause of the Party and the country for the next five years and beyond will be made at the congress.
It is of key importance to building on past successes to further advance the cause of the Party and the country, to the future of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, Xi was quoted as saying by the People’s Daily.
Against the backdrop of accelerating global changes unseen in a century, and more complex risks, challenges, contradictions and problems, the fundamental task is to run our own affairs well, Xi said adding that the past five years since the 19th CPC National Congress have been extremely extraordinary.
The Taiwan issue is likely to hang over the Congress with speculation rife about Beijing’s future steps on reining in the breakaway island.
“The Taiwan issue is likely an Albatross around Xi’s neck. He does not want it to snowball in the interest of political expediency, but at the same time he cannot ignore it and wants it resolved. He would definitely be under pressure from influential delegates to the Congress to lay down a concrete plan on resolving the Taiwan question,” says a former Chinese journalist requesting anonymity.
Taiwan or supply chain problems or the tensions with India, the impending Congress will be a test of Xi’s mettle and the latter weeks of October will show how he fares.