Xi Jinping gives himself a pat on the back for ‘five extraordinary years’

President says China’s achievements are the result of strong leadership

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 March, 2018, 11:08pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 March, 2018, 11:22pm

President Xi Jinping gave himself a pat on the back on Sunday, attributing China’s achievements in the past five years to the party’s strong leadership ahead of a parliamentary gathering that is set to clear the way for him to stay in power beyond 2023.

Xi’s close ally Wang Qishan has meanwhile taken a seat on the presidium of the legislative meetings and featured prominently on the state broadcaster’s evening newscast – the latest sign the former anti-corruption tsar will remain in the power circle to aide Xi for the coming years.

“The five years since the 18th party congress have been five extraordinary years,” Xi told a meeting of political advisers who were not Communist Party members.

The president went on to list improvements in areas ranging from the economy, science and technology and defence to global influence.

“These achievements have been hard-won and are the result of the strong leadership of the party’s Central Committee,” said Xi, who was elevated as the “core” of the party’s leadership in 2016.

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It was the first time Xi has spoken in public since the party announced its plan to scrap the term limit on the presidency, potentially allowing Xi to extend his rule indefinitely.

The controversial move, which has sparked fears that China is veering back to one-man rule, is set to be rubber-stamped by the country’s top legislature, the National People’s Congress, whose annual session opens on Monday.

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At the meeting on Sunday, Xi also called on the country’s other political parties and groups without affiliation to support the Communist Party’s absolute hold on power.

Although the party has a monopoly on power, China has eight other legally registered parties that are a facade for its “multi-party cooperation democracy”. Leaders of these parties join the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the top advisory body, and convene in Beijing every year to “advise” the parliament.

Without naming the West, Xi said China’s “multiparty cooperation” system meant it had avoided the drawbacks faced by other countries where different parties compete to take turns to rule.

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On Sunday, the NPC also selected its presidium for the annual meeting. Wang, who was earlier made a delegate to the NPC, was among the senior leaders in the presidium line-up.

Having stepped down from the pinnacle of power – the Politburo Standing Committee – in October, Wang is tipped to make a comeback and be appointed vice-president at the parliamentary session.

State-run CCTV included a close-up of Wang in a report on the evening news, following shots of Xi, Premier Li Keqiang and other leaders on the Standing Committee.