Xi Jinping will remain in power in China after his third term

  • Xi Jinping will get a new five-year term as general secretary of the Communist Party of China.
  • During his decade in power, Xi Jinping has had considerable influence at home and abroad.
  • Since Xi came to power, there have been notable changes in China, from demographics to foreign policy.

Xi Jinping will upend China’s political traditions, cementing its status as one of the world’s most powerful leaders – and conquer the United States to become the dominant superpower – when members of the country’s ruling Communist Party extend a third term as as General Secretary to the 20th National Party Congress.

The conclave begins on October 16 and lasts about a week.

Xi, 69, rose to China’s highest post in 2012. During his decade in power, he has had considerable influence at home and abroad. He centralized power and relentlessly suppressed dissent. It poured billions into international infrastructure projects and aggressively pursued the construction and militarization of islands in the South China Sea.

What is the Chinese Communist Party Congress and what is happening now?

  • Xi is already poised to stay in power for the rest of his life after Chinese lawmakers abolished the two-term limit on the presidency, a largely ceremonial title. Xi will be reconfirmed as president next March.
  • About 200 high-level Party members will be supported to join the Central Policy-Making Committee. The Central Committee, in turn, will select 25 people to join the Party’s Politburo, a kind of inner circle of this executive branch. Those 25 people will then determine who makes up the Politburo Standing Committee, a group of seven elite Party members led by Xi, in the role of general secretary.
  • Geremie Barmé, an Australian academic, once called Xi the “president of everything.”

Here are several ways China has evolved since Xi took over.

Shanghai, China.

China has experienced slower economic growth

When Xi became leader, China’s economy was growing at an annual rate of 7.9%, according to World Bank data. The country’s economic growth rate has declined every year since, until bottoming out with a 2.2% increase in GDP in 2020 (largely due to the coronavirus pandemic). China’s economy grew by 8.1% in 2021. Overall, the size of China’s economy in terms of GDP has doubled from about $8.5 trillion in 2012 to nearly $18 trillion dollars in 2021. The United States remains the largest economy in the world, but for how long?

Is the Chinese army powerful?

Chinese military vehicles drive past the Tiananmen Gate during a military parade in Beijing on September 3, 2015.

At $240 billion, China spends more on its military than any other country except the United States, which spent $801 billion in 2021, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates. China has opened its first overseas military base, in Djibouti, in 2017. At sea, the United States has 11 aircraft carriers. China has two.

‘A settling of scores is near’: America has a vast military empire. Does he still need it?

American opinion on China has changed

President Barack Obama, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping toast during a luncheon banquet at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014.

When Xi took office during President Barack Obama’s second term, negative American views of China were high amid trade friction and China’s land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea, where it built militarized outposts on small islands claimed by other nations. Relations improved under President Donald Trump as he praised Xi, then soured over renewed trade hostilities, China’s human rights record and global spread of COVID-19 from its alleged origins in a Chinese market. In 2012, 40% of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of China, according to Research bench, a political institute in Washington. In 2022, this figure was 82%.

Population growth in China has continued to slow, maintaining a trickle

Since 2013, a year into Xi’s term, China has been in the process of ending its one-child policy limiting population growth. Currently, families can have up to three children. A decade later, it has all but stabilized, with a growth rate of 0.07% in 2021, revealing that China’s birth rate is now too low.

The Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences predicts that China’s population will soon begin to decline by around 1.1% each year, bringing its population down from 1.4 billion to 587 million in 2100. The researchers believe that the lower population growth rate could mean higher labor costs, suppressing the Chinese economy.

China’s human rights record: Limited space for more limited dissent

USA TODAY and other global media have reported on a wealth of secret files and photographs that paint a grim picture of China's detention and internment of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities.

Human Rights Watch reported that the limited space there was to express dissent in China ten years ago had all but disappeared, noting that since Xi came to power, “authorities have decimated Chinese civil society, imprisoned many government critics, severely curtailed free speech and deployed surveillance technology mass to monitor and control citizens”. Cultural persecution by authorities, the arbitrary detention of one million Uyghurs and other Turkish Muslims, and other abuses since 2017 constitute crimes against humanity.”

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