Explained: Xi’s Power Consolidation Ahead of His Historic Third Term

Chinese President Xi is poised to secure a historic third presidential term at the Communist Party Congress that is set to start on Oct. 16, cementing the party’s influence across all aspects of China, and placing himself at the core. While the exact make-up of the next Politburo Standing Committee will give clues as to just how much Xi has neutralized what is left of opposing factions, not many expect significant change in direction or approach.

On the contrary, Xi is set to maintain or tighten his control on the party. His concentration of power has seen increasingly dogmatic policies, which have risked unintended results as opposing views and feedback are either discouraged or suppressed.

Those risks include Beijing’s COVID approach, an aggressive diplomacy or a crackdown on China’s once-vibrant “platform” economy, all of which point to an increasingly authoritarian rule.

While some think China may slightly change some policies following the Congress, they expect Beijing to maintain its broad direction in the coming years under Xi.

As there is also an absence of a clear successor, Xi’s rule will likely resume unchallenged but also potentially increases risk the longer he stays in power.

Analysts suggest that Xi’s reluctance to nurture a younger successor and moves to break norms of collective leadership have made China less resilient as it set to face an increasingly uncertain future.

Despite strong headwind, Xi’s power consolidation appears to be unimpeded by challenges that have coalesced in a chaotic year, from a stumbling economy to an increasingly out of step zero-COVID policy and support for Putin.

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