China: how will Xi Jinping use his power?

The National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing has confirmed that Xi Jinping will continue as General Secretary of the Party for a third term. The new party leadership also consists solely of Xi loyalists. Former head of state Hu Jintao was unexpectedly led out of the hall during the closing ceremony - apparently against his will. Europe's press examines what the new era in Chinese politics means for people in China and abroad.

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Fokus (UA) /

All power resides with the emperor

With Xi's sole rule a dangerous new era is dawning, Fokus fears:

“After the former Chinese leader (2004-2012) Hu Jintao was publicly led out of the hall, an era in which China was ruled by opposing clans came to an end. Now all power is in the hands of the current Emperor Xi and his friends. All those who had any influence even during Xi's rule have been disempowered. ... A new China has appeared on the horizon. And this China does not bode well for the world.”

Libération (FR) /

A critical mass under the surface

Xi Jinping will not necessarily remain as unchallenged as he is now, sinologist Jean-Philippe Béja writes in Libération:

“Although the official media praises the head of government to the skies, there is much dissatisfaction. Not to mention that in the higher echelons of the party many politicians would welcome a return to collective leadership. ... No one inside or outside the CCP is in a position to organise a political force that could pose a threat to the new helmsman - although it cannot be ruled out that potential rivals could try to seize on frustrations in society to challenge him during a third term.”

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

A key challenge for the future

Relations with China will become even more fraught, predicts the Aargauer Zeitung:

“A compromise between the West and China will continue to be painstakingly sought in the coming years - indeed, it will have to be. For economically, but also in terms of climate policy, China is too important to be written off completely. However, the balancing act is becoming increasingly delicate: finding a fair balance between naivety and demonisation in dealing with China is likely to be one of the key foreign policy challenges of the coming years.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

With Xi through wind, waves and storms

Security was the key word of Xi's speech, La Repubblica notes:

“Xi Jinping repeated it no less than 83 times. As a justification not only for foreign policy but also for economic and public health policies. China must prepare for 'strong winds, high waves and dangerous storms', he warned (without mentioning the war in Ukraine or the partnership with Putin). He also stressed that it can only survive this 'critical moment' if it remains loyal to its helmsman and the party he holds ever more tightly in his grip. ... The West has been warned. Xi also reiterated his line on Taiwan. Without setting out a roadmap or a timetable, however. Compared to the rather bellicose statements of the past, this indicates a certain restraint.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Opening-up policy in jeopardy

China is facing a fundamental decision, Rzeczpospolita believes:

“In the context of this 'new cold war' and a 'new era' in domestic politics, will the Middle Kingdom close itself off to the outside world once again, as some in China suggest? Or will it try to continue its policy of opening up? The latter would not be easy, because one of the overarching goals Xi Jinping has set for himself, the party and the state is the unification of all Chinese territories. Vladimir Putin has not quite succeeded in his unification of Greater Russia. How will the Chinese go about achieving an analogous goal? This is the greatest external and internal challenge Xi Jinping will face.”

Le Temps (CH) /

This doesn't bode well for the Chinese

Le Temps warns of the consequences of a policy of isolation:

“For two years Xi Jinping has locked up 1.4 billion Chinese at home in the name of fighting a virus. This confinement has had disastrous economic and social consequences. Above all it has been useful for a government which, after a phase of openness, is once again shutting itself off. This new major mental closure imposed by the dictatorship does not bode well for the Chinese. After all, hasn't history has shown that China prospers when it dismantles its walls and declines when it rejects foreign countries?”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Out of touch with reality

The alleged external threat to China that Xi spoke of misses the point, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“It is the party itself that is making its own country its enemy by narrowing and controlling it. Already, resentment is growing over the irrationality of the zero-Covid policy; already the private sector's bullying is robbing China of innovations. So Xi Jinping didn't make a great speech - just one that demonstrates his resolve and how out of touch with reality he is. The General Secretary is leading his country into a massive social experiment - and the rest of the world along with it.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Also a message for Washington

Xi is also preparing his country for a confrontation with the US, Večernji list warns:

“In future the world will have to deal with an even more authoritarian and aggressive China. Based on its readiness to resolve the Taiwan issue militarily, as Xi announced yesterday, his China is clearly also preparing for a conflict with the US, one which will not only be about Taiwan but about control over the entire Asia-Pacific region. The future world order depends on the outcome of this conflict. Washington is also using every means possible to block China's rise - so far only politically, diplomatically, economically and technologically, but tomorrow perhaps also militarily.”