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Chinese President Xi Jinping laid out his plans for China’s future during the Communist Party’s 20th congress in Beijing Sunday, where thousands of delegates are expected to extend the incumbent’s rule for another five-year term despite constitutional term limits, NPR reported.

More than 2,300 party delegates from around China converged for the week-long event, which will set the tone for policy in the coming years and reshuffle the country’s top officials.

Xi is set to defy decades-old leadership and succession rules by taking a third term as party chief. Since he came to power in 2012, Xi has consolidated his authority within the party and removed retirement practices to allow himself to stay in office indefinitely, the Wall Street Journal added.

His predecessors had previously implemented term limits to avoid the return of a dictatorship style similar to the rule of Mao Zedong – who ruled China for 27 years.

During his nearly two-hour speech, Xi highlighted the achievements of the party since he came to power a decade ago, while also outlining the principles for the Communist Party’s rule and policies over the next few years.

He praised China’s strict “zero Covid” strategy to curb the spread of the coronavirus and did not signal any intention to end measures anytime soon. At the start of the pandemic, China implemented restrictive pandemic control policies including tight border controls, mandatory mass testing, invasive digital surveillance, forced quarantines and snap lockdowns – often of entire cities.

While Covid-19 cases and deaths have been kept in check by official counts, the strategy has affected the domestic economy and frustrated many Chinese – some participated in rare protests against Xi’s policies just three days before the party congress.

On China’s economy, Xi reiterated his pledge of a new era of “common prosperity,” in which the party exerts stronger control over private capital and more equitably shares China’s resources. Some of these policies, however, refer to recent regulatory crackdowns on Chinese tech giants and private businesses that have unnerved investors.

The president also reaffirmed China’s support for globalization and adherence to a decades-old national policy of “reform and opening up”, but stressed the country’s need to become more self-sufficient in different sectors, including food production.

Regarding Taiwan, he reiterated the party’s goal to unify the self-governed island with mainland China, adding that Beijing will not renounce the use of force in its goal for unity.

Xi also made mention of China’s global ambitions, saying the party should foster a sense of “purpose, fortitude and self-belief … so that we cannot be swayed by fallacies, deterred by intimidation or cowed by pressure.”

Meanwhile, he said, as he often does, that China now has a historic chance to improve its global stature and influence.

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