What We’re Watching: China’s Communist Party Congress kickoff, fire at notorious Iranian prison
Xi’s security signaling
The long-anticipated 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress kicked off Sunday with a two-hour speech by President Xi Jinping, who is all but assured to secure a norm-defying third term that could see him lead the party and the military until at least 2027. At the conclusion of the plenum on Oct. 22, the party will tap a new 200-member central committee, a politburo, and a seven-member Politburo Standing Committee. Xi, who for years placed China’s economic agenda at the heart of public pronouncements, focused much of his address on China’s security standing. Indeed, he doubled down on commitments to reunify Taiwan with the mainland, saying that “resolving the Taiwan issue is the Chinese people’s own matter,” adding that Beijing wouldn’t tolerate “protectionism and bullying” by other nations – widely seen as a nod to Washington. What’s more, Xi called on the Chinese to “be ready to withstand high winds, choppy waters and even dangerous storms,” a reference, some analysts say, to Xi’s anticipation of an eventual military confrontation with Washington over Taiwan. Crucially, Xi also said that he’ll keep in place – at least for now – the zero-COVID policy, which is partly responsible for sending the global economy into a tailspin. Decisions made during the event will tell the world what signal Xi wants to send about his future plans for the country.