The 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party will be held on 16 October. China calls the UN report on Xinjiang ‘disinformation by the US’ and maintains silence on the news inside the mainland. The third most powerful Chinese leader, Li Zanshu, is set to travel to Russia, Mongolia, South Korea and Nepal. Foreign minister S. Jaishankar turns down Beijing’s offer. The US is to sell more than $1 billion worth of arms to Taiwan. Chinascope dives into what happened in China — and the world — this past week.
China over the week
The Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee has finally decided on a date to kickstart its 20th National Congress — 16 October. The delegates will gather in Beijing where President Xi Jinping will likely be appointed for a third term.
Alfred Wu Muluan of the National University of Singapore has a bold prediction about a fourth term for Xi. “He will increase the percentage of his supporters, particularly from Fujian and Zhejiang [where Xi previously held top positions], in the politburo … He can then count on their support for his fourth term in five years’ time,” Wu said in an interview.
During the 19th National Congress, Xi introduced face-to-face meetings to pick the new leadership and chucked out the straw poll process, which was introduced during the 17th congress in 2007. According to Wang Xiangwei of South China Morning Post (SCMP), we know from mounting evidence that past conventions matter less. But those past conventions have been completely overhauled by Xi. I wrote a column about the new style of promoting his friends that Xi prefers.
The National Congress, though subject to speculation, will be symbolic as leaders are likely to have cut deals before they meet in Beijing on 16 October. SCMP has published an interactive multimedia graphic about how close the top Chinese leaders are to Xi. It’s worth taking a look.
Chinascope will continue to bring you the news and rumours about elite Chinese politics in lead-up to the National Congress.
If we point the finger at the topic which put China’s new nationalism and Xi Jinping’s national security-driven state identity on a global stage, the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang would come up first.
The much-awaited Xinjiang report by Michelle Bachelet, the former UN high commissioner for human rights, was released on 31 August, the day Bachelet retired from her position. The missing report on Xinjiang after her visit to the province had raised questions. Some would argue that the evidence for human rights abuses and even genocide began emerging back in 2016-17.
The Chinese state media didn’t directly mention the UN’s Xinjiang report. Instead, it criticised the US for ‘disinformation’ against China. The state media have called the publication of the report “coercive diplomacy”.
“This so-called assessment is orchestrated and produced by the US and some Western forces and is completely illegal, null and void. It is a patchwork of disinformation that serves as a political tool…to strategically use Xinjiang to contain China,” its foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.
China has consistently called for following the UN-led international order but ignored the UN’s criticism of its Xinjiang policy.
On 18 August, the Chinese state media criticised the US Special Rapporteur, Tomoya Obokata, a Japanese academic based in the UK, for allegedly lying about forced sterilisation in Xinjiang.
The publication’s report doesn’t mean Bachelet has put out everything her team learned during their investigation.
According to Politico, which cited diplomatic sources, the report’s section on the forced sterilisation of Uyghur women was “watered down” at the last minute. The subject of forced sterilisation irks Beijing as the evidence provided in testimonies by Uyghurs has supported claims of genocide, something Chinese state media has denied.
CCP’s third most powerful leader, Li Zanshu, will begin his multi-nation trip on 7 September. He will travel to Russia, Mongolia, Nepal, and South Korea during his 11-day tour, according to Xinhua News Agency. In Moscow, Li will attend the 7th East Economic Forum chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Li is a member of the Politburo Standing Committee and chairman of the 13th Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament. He is set to retire from his party position, but may keep his position in the NPC.