One Chinese Certainty and One Chinese Uncertainty
It is a certainty that Chinese President Xi Jinping is still in absolute control in China. Xi visited an exhibition in Beijing on Tuesday September 27th. Normally that would not have attracted much international attention, but it did, because Xi had been absent from the public eye since he returned to China from the SCO Summit in Uzbekistan the previous weekend. The appearance dispelled unverified rumours that he was under house arrest after a military coup in Beijing.
It is certain that Xi is positioned to secure a third term in power to pursue his grand vision for the “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” for years to come.
Xi’s control has been recently strengthened by detentions of leading officials that amounted to China’s biggest political purge in years. These detentions are crackdowns on corruption within the party – although observers have said they served to take down political rivals. Former vice minister of public security Sun Lijun, former justice minister Fu Zhenghua, and former police chiefs of Shanghai, Chongqing and Shanxi were arrested on corruption charges. “Fu and the police chiefs had been accused of being part of a political clique surrounding Sun, and being disloyal to Xi.”
What is not a certainty is whether Xi will change any of his policies.
- Economic policies. China’s economy is stagnant. “Retail sales and industrial output grew 2.7 percent and 3.8 percent in August, respectively, compared with a year ago, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data showed on Monday, down from the previous month and far short of analysts’ forecasts.” Reuters reported that a top European industry group warned that firms were losing confidence in China and that its standing as an investment destination was being eroded, citing its "inflexible and inconsistently implemented" COVID policy as a key factor. The report said, for example, that China should refrain from "erratic policy shifts", deepen cooperation with the European Union and increase international flights.
- Covid. It is not certain that Xi will backdown from his zero-Covid policies. They are not popular inside China. “Anger flared across Chinese social media recently following the deadly crash in Guizhou of a passenger bus transferring positive Covid cases.” Gao Yu (高昱), a journalist, urged an end to China’s zero Covid policy, which he argued was unscientific, pursued out of unnecessary fear, and out of step with the rest of the world. “We must wake up! We must return to normalcy!” he wrote. “For someone to be afraid of Covid is completely normal, and understandable. But what is not normal, and what is not understandable, is to hold 1.3 billion Chinese people in bondage because an extremely small number of people could contract Covid and die.”
- Treatment of minorities in China. It is not certain if China will modify "its treatment of minorities within its borders, including its resolute rejection of the harsh human rights criticism from the United Nations and the international community for repressive policies in the northwestern Xinjiang region, which have seen an estimated one million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities detained in a sweeping crackdown ostensibly targeting ‘terrorism’.”
- Foreign policy. Nor is it certain if China’s “wolf warrior” aggressive foreign policies will change as it grows in international stature during Xi’s next five - or ten - year term.
Pray for the critical Communist Party Congress that begins on October 16th in Beijing.
Pray for those who are elected to senior positions alongside President Xi.
Pray for the church in China during these difficult times.
Sources Aljazeera; Reuters; The Guardian etc.