Xi heralds "new era" for China during Communist Party congress
The Communist Party congress, China's largest political event, is underway in Beijing. President Xi Jinping heralded the dawn of a "new era" for China while addressing over 2,000 delegates at the summit, which takes place once every five years. The summit determines China's leadership and its policies. Xi, who became president in 2012, is expected to remain party chief for a second term.
Xi said: "The Chinese nation ... has stood up, grown rich, and become strong - and it now embraces the brilliant prospects of rejuvenation ... It will be an era that sees China moving closer to centre stage and making greater contributions to mankind."
In his address to the summit, Xi outlined a two-stage plan for China's "socialist modernization" to be fulfilled by 2050. He warned against separatist movements, a reference to Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. He also reaffirmed that self-ruled Taiwan is a part of China. He vowed that China would continue with its economic reforms and "not close its doors to the world."
The Communist Party has decked up Beijing with banners and festive displays for the summit, many of which tout Xi's leadership. Beijing remains on high alert prompting some restaurants, gyms, nightclubs and karaoke bars to remain shut due to tightened security. However, as per Xi's austerity drive, the celebrations for the Congress have been pared down with delegates' hotels providing lesser free frills.
Chinese state media reported that the Communist Party is expected to rewrite its constitution to include Xi's "work report" or political thoughts. This would elevate Xi to a status held by previous leaders like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Xi has consolidated his control over the Party and the country since becoming president. Experts believe Xi is the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao.