BEIJING (Reuters): China’s 20th Communist Party Congress wraps up this weekend, with Xi Jinping poised to clinch his third five-year stint in charge – a mandate that would secure his place as the country’s most powerful ruler since founding leader Mao Zedong.
* Xi opened the week-long, twice-a-decade session on Sunday with a speech touting China’s fight against COVID-19, the party’s safeguarding of national security, maintaining social stability, protecting people’s lives and taking control of the situation in Hong Kong, which was rocked by anti-government protests in 2019. He re-emphasised the importance of economic development and also called for accelerating the building of a world-class military.
* The big reveal – who will be on seven-member Politburo Standing Committee – will be on Sunday when Xi walks into a room of journalists at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, followed by the other members in descending order of rank.
* Little is known about who will be promoted into which key roles on the PSC or the broader Politburo – although the number of women is likely to remain very small, and there has never been a woman on the Standing Committee. Here are some of the leading contenders and some scenarios to look out for.
* Leaders face a difficult time. The world’s second-largest economy is slowing and facing a potentially painful rebalancing of its investment- and property-led model.
* In a highly unusual move, China delayed the release of key economic indicators scheduled for publication this week.
* Still, the country’s vast financial bureaucracy has been busily tamping down ripples of turmoil across its currency and stock markets, with state banks and companies stepping in to provide support and reassurance to investors.
* China’s approach to foreign policy is also in the spotlight after a Hong Kong protester was dragged into the Chinese consulate in Manchester on Sunday and assaulted in an incident which the police are investigating.
* In his opening speech, Xi said it was up to the Chinese people to resolve the Taiwan issue and China would never renounce the right to use force but will strive for a peaceful resolution.
* China will enact policies to boost its birth rate, Xi said, as policymakers worry that an imminent decline in China’s population could hurt the world’s second-biggest economy.
* China will make its COVID-19 prevention measures more scientific, accurate and effective, a party spokesman.
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