China's 19th Party Congress opens

The 19th National Congress of the Chinese Community Party has begun and will finish on Tuesday. 

More than 2,000 Communist Party members from across the mainland have convened for the party congress to discuss China’s plans for the next five years and select its leadership.

The meeting, which takes place every five years, is billed as China’s most important political event. In the run up to the meeting, state control of the media has tightened – the internet is in lockdown, WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook have all been blocked.

In a three-hour speech in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Xi said that China has now “become a great power in the world” and has played an “important role in the history of humankind.”

President Xi Jinping said that China has entered “a new era” where it should take centre stage in the world.” Since Xi’s leadership, China has gone through sweeping economic and financial transformations, which he called “truly remarkable.” He also detailed a plan to lift 60 million people out of poverty, improve living standards, education and enhance the law.

He also mentioned his crackdown on corruption as a trademark of his leadership. His anti-graft campaign has brought down more than a million officials.

The phrase “national rejuvenation” was repeated during the three-hour speech. Xi made it clear that China’s future will not emulate the West, saying that he wouldn’t “mechanically copy the political systems of other countries.”

Xi did not address the tensions between its ally North Korea and the U.S. However, he did mention the dispute with Hong Kong and Taiwan, saying that he oppose any moves towards independence. He also promised to step up ideological guidance within the party and strengthen its anti-corruption campaign.

China’s ideological guidance, said Xi, is “socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.”

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