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“Yes men” reshuffle in Chinese Communist Party has all the arms targeted at India, Taiwan and Tibet

“Yes men” reshuffle in Chinese Communist Party has all the arms targeted at India, Taiwan and Tibet

“Yes men” reshuffle in Chinese Communist Party has all the arms targeted at India, Taiwan and Tibet
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By Ashutosh Patki  Nov 6, 2022 6:01:15 PM IST (Updated)

The unexpected structural changes in the Chinese Communist Party ranks announced at the 20th party congress have not only consolidated the position of Xi as the unquestioned premier of the party but also clearly spelt out the country’s agenda towards securing dominance at the borders of India; Sinicization over Tibetan culture and ethnicity; and the ‘unification’ move targeted at Taiwan. Srikant Kondapalli, Dean, School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, decodes the words– “security”, “safety” and “national rejuvenation” in Xi’s speech at the CCP Congress. However, the imminent retaliation within the party or in the domestic politics will make things difficult for the official faction, he feels.

It was when Li Zhanshu, the outgoing chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, pulled documents from Hu Jintao, the former general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, and tried to conceal them under a red folder that things started getting a little uneasy at the 20th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress. The events became dramatic when Hu — once a prominent face of the Communist Youth League — was forcefully evacuated from the stage. But this incident was just a start before the bigger surprise was unveiled: the reshuffle.

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One of the most surprising appointments announced at the CCP was that of Li Qiang at the second rank of the standing committee. "Everyone thought that the second-in-command would be Chen Min’er, who is now the Chongqing Party secretary," said Kondapalli. He explained that even in the 19th party congress, Chen was supposed to be made a politburo standing committee member, but he didn’t make it.
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No one thought that Li would shake off all the chaos he had created in Shanghai by implementing the grinding zero COVID  policy to become the country’s next premier. "In fact, considering the backlash his policies invited, everyone was thinking that he should resign from the party secretary position in Shanghai," said Kondapalli.
Commenting on the way through which the Xi-Li equation can achieve success on the global front, especially with Li’s limited international exposure, Kondapalli said that a suggested compromise solution is to make Li vice premier immediately and groom him until the National People’s Congress meets in March. He will continue as premier after the announcement in Congress. "Li Qiang can only be made premier in March and not now," added Kondapalli.
There were another two important appointments. The first was Wang Huning, an architect of neo-authoritarian policies and scriptwriter for the regimes of Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and now Xi. Experienced Wang is known for all the conservative programmes. For instance, the social credit system. Under this programme, individuals were credited for moral behaviours like helping, greeting, etc. by monitoring them extensively with the help of QR codes, artificial intelligence, and satellites. He is a proponent of such stringent laws.
The second appointment was of General He Weidong as vice chairman of the Western Theater Command, the largest military command under the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Konapalli stated, "As a theatre commander, he has gone close to the areas near Doklam and Aksai Chin." According to him, He is well aware of the ground realities, and that will have a larger impact on India’s security. Along with him, other generals like General Wang Haijiang and General Xu Qiling, who are experts on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), were also promoted.
Xi’s "yes men" selection criteria and possible backlash
Deng Xiaoping, former chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, had proposed 68 as the age limit for becoming a member of the Politburo Standing Committee to promote young leaders. But all such rules were broken during the selection process. For instance, the Communist Youth League (CYL), a youth movement of the People's Republic of China for youngsters between the ages of 14 and 28, was not considered in the selection process.
While commenting on the possible backlash from these factions, Kondapalli said, "They will not sit quietly because all of them were removed from the highest decision-making processes." A well-known leader like Li Keqiang, a hardworking centrist and, in Kondapalli’s words, "the darling of the small and medium enterprises," was also dropped. Therefore, there will be retaliation, but it will be implicit and not explicit. Hu Jintao's reaction on the stage stands as a testament to it.
Xi’s speech and an open agenda
Words like "security,"  "safety,"  "national rejuvenation," and most importantly, "sinicization of religion" were mentioned in Xi’s speech. These words show the continuation of the Chinese president’s agenda against minorities.
"Sinicization of Tibet, sinicization of Xinjiang are the words mentioned for the past two years. I think they will suppress the ethnic minorities further as part of the sinicization of these regions," mentioned Kondapalli. According to him, sinicization means establishing the dominance of the Han community by replacing the local culture, religion, ethnicity, etc.
Another noteworthy sentence from Xi’s speech was "the wheels of history are rolling towards China’s unification and rejuvenation." While explaining if this sentence had certain indications for Taiwan, Kondapalli said, "Unlike Ukraine, Taiwan is a better equipped military power." Therefore, it won’t be a cakewalk for Xi. The country’s reunification will mean a bloodbath, and Chinese leaders are aware of it.
The way forward
The structural changes announced at the 20th CCP Congress will have wider implications for China’s domestic politics and also for the world. "All loyalists in the Politburo Standing Committee will provide some elbow room for Xi Jinping in terms of policy coordination,", said Kondapalli. In a nutshell, Xi’s grip over power has become tighter than ever.
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