China sets October date for Xi Jinping ‘coronation’

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China’s ruling Communist Party has announced the dates for its five-yearly congress session, which is expected to see president Xi Jinping securing a historic third term as the country’s leader.

The party’s politburo said in a statement on Tuesday that the congress will begin on 16 October.

The session usually lasts about a week and is held behind closed doors at the Great Hall of the People on the western side of Tiananmen Square in central Beijing.

It is meant to bring in a new batch of leaders, including those who will become a part of the all-powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee.

The session is likely to see Mr Xi, 61, secure his position as the country’s longest-serving leader after Mao Zedong.

Mr Xi has steadily consolidated power since becoming party general secretary a decade ago, getting rid of any known factional opposition to his rule.

In 2018, he amended the party constitution to remove all limits on presidency.

He presently serves as the head of the state as well as the chief of the country’s military. While Mr Xi is likely to retain these roles, the session will be important as it will include decisions on who will join him in the Politburo Standing Committee.

It will also decide on a replacement for premier Li Keqiang, who is set to retire in March.

Contenders for Mr Li’s post include Wang Yang, 67, who heads a key political advisory body, and Hu Chunhua, 59, a vice premier.

Chen Min’er, 61, who is viewed as a protege of Mr Xi is also a contender, though he has not yet held a national post.

The session is unlikely to see any changes in the country’s broad policy objectives. The congress has been likened to a coronation by many who analyse China’s politics.

State news agency Xinhua said the congress is of “great significance to be convened at a crucial moment, as the whole party and the entire nation embark on a new journey toward building a modern socialist country in all respects, and advance toward the Second Centenary Goal”.

“The congress will thoroughly review the international and domestic situations, comprehensively grasp the new requirements for the development of the cause of the Party and the country on the new journey in the new era, as well as the new expectations of the people,” it said.

On Wednesday, People’s Daily, the party’s official website, posted an infographic including Mr Xi’s signature pronouncements: “Party, government, military, people, education; east, south, west, north, central: the party leads everything.”

Additional reporting by agencies