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Communist conclave opens to hand Xi new term

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Beijing :China’s Communist Party opened a twice-a-decade congress on Wednesday expected to enhance President Xi Jinping’s already formidable powers over the world’s second-largest economy. Xi entered a packed chamber in Beijing’s imposing Great Hall of the People, along with his two predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, to roll out the party’s vision for the next five years as he prepares to secure a second term as general secretary. Authorities stepped up policing for the week-long congress, with red armband-wearing “security volunteers” fanning out across the capital, karaoke bars closing and online kitchenware firms even suspending knife sales. The 64-year-old leader, who was to give his speech in front of a huge hammer and sickle in the hall’s chamber, is expected to use the congress to stack the Communist Party’s leadership with loyalists. The CCP will amend its constitution to add Xi’s “new vision and thinking” on governance, congress spokesman Tuo Zhen said, without indicating whether Xi’s name would also be added. The addition would signal Xi’s inclusion in the pantheon of Chinese leadership. Such an honour has only been bestowed upon modern China’s founder, Mao Zedong, and the father of economic reforms, Deng Xiaoping. Xi, considered China’s most powerful leader since Deng or even Mao, could use the congress to lay the foundation to stay atop the 89-million-strong party even longer than the normal 10 years, according to analysts. This would break the unwritten two-term limit accepted by his immediate predecessors Jiang and Hu, and end the era of “collective leadership” aimed at preventing the emergence of another Mao.

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