Xi Jinping has heralded the dawn of a “new era” of Chinese politics and power at the start of a historic Communist party congress on celebrating the end of his first term in office.
Listing China’s recent achievements in his three-hour speech at the start of the week-long 19th party congress on October 17, Xi said that “socialism with Chinese characteristics in this new era” meant China had now “become a great power in the world”, and had played “an important role in the history of humankind”.
“This is a new historic juncture in China’s development,” China’s leader declared in his address outlining the party’s priorities for the next five years. “The Chinese nation … has stood up, grown rich, and become strong – and it now embraces the brilliant prospects of rejuvenation … It will be an era that sees China moving closer to centre stage and making greater contributions to mankind,” he said.
Xi also outlined China’s stance on tackling shared dangers such as climate change. “No country alone can address the many challenges facing mankind. No country can afford to retreat into self-isolation,” he said.
Xi also mentioned Hong Kong, where an independence movement attempted to form during his first term. He vowed that Beijing would not allow the “one country, two systems” model, under which the former British colony has operated with relative autonomy from the mainland since handover, to be “bent or distorted”, nor would independence activists be tolerated.
“We will never allow anyone, any organisation, or any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate any part of Chinese territory from China.” He also reiterated the government’s principle that Taiwan is part of China.
Meanwhile, state media have said the Party is expected to rewrite its constitution to include Mr Xi’s “work report” or political thoughts, which would elevate him to the status of previous Party legendary leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
Xi became the Communist party’s general secretary at the last party congress in 2012. He has been front and centre of China’s push to cement its position as a global superpower, while also launching crackdowns on corruption and freedom of speech.