China sets Oct. 16 opening date for Communist Party congress

BEIJING (AP) — China says a key congress of the ruling Communist Party at which leader Xi Jinping is expected to be granted a third five-year term will open on Oct. 16.

Such congresses are held every five years and usually bring in a new slate of leaders, particularly on the party’s all-powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee.

Xi, who is also head of state and chief of the powerful military, broke with convention in 2018 by amending the party constitution to remove all term limits on the presidency, essentially making him leader for life.

Xi’s past two predecessors had both served two five-year terms, but Xi has shown no sign of relinquishing power, while taking control over the economy and other fields previously assigned to the premier and others.

The party brooks no political opposition and has increasingly been cracking down on independent actors in the economy, civil society and religious circles.

Xi has also mounted an increasingly assertive foreign policy, raising concerns about a possible confrontation with the U.S., possibly over the self-governing democracy of Taiwan.

He has also waged a wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign that has targeted political rivals, cracked down on democracy and civil liberties in Hong Kong, overseen the detention of more than 1 million members of minority Muslim groups in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, and pursued a hard0line “zero-COVID” policy on the mainland that has exacted a growing economic and social cost.

Xi’s accumulation of power has drawn comparison’s to former dictator Mao Zedong, with his political theories written into the constitution and his cultivation of a cult of personality superseding all other current top Chinese officials.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the date of the congress was announced Tuesday at a meeting of the party’s Politburo.

The congress is “of great significance to be convened at a crucial moment, as the whole Party and the entire nation embark on a new journey toward building a modern socialist country in all respects, and advance toward the Second Centenary Goal,” Xinhua said, referring to a long-standing economic development target.

“The congress will thoroughly review the international and domestic situations, comprehensively grasp the new requirements for the development of the cause of the Party and the country on the new journey in the new era, as well as the new expectations of the people,” it said.

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