Xi Jinping spoke for nearly two hours and the transcript of his speech translated into English adds up to almost 25,000 words. Faced with growing threats on multiple fronts, especially the economy, Xi sidestepped some of the pressing issues and instead chose to highlight primarily security issues and standard Party rhetoric. Here are few key takeaways:
Xi and CCP’s draconian enforcement of Zero-COVID policy has turned lives upside down for Chinese people and for Tibetans and Uyghurs. However, there is only one small paragraph dedicated to the pandemic and the word COVID is only mentioned twice. There is no acknowledgement whatsoever of the social and economic devastation triggered by the policy and nothing in the speech indicates that the policy will be eased anytime soon. So, Chinese people and those living under its rule will have to continue to endure more lockdowns, mass testing, health code scanning, quarantine, and travel restrictions.
Hong Kong and Taiwan figure prominently in the speech. Hong Kong is mentioned 27 times and Taiwan is mentioned 21 times. Xi claims order has been restored in Hong Kong” now that “Hong Kong is governed by patriots” and operating under the National Security Law which as the Congressional-Executive Commission on China states in its recent report has transformed “Hong Kong’s Civil Society: From an Open City to a City of Fear.”
The delegates were roused to action at the mention of Taiwan. Though China’s so-called One Country, Two Systems is looked at skeptically by the world especially after Hong Kong, yet Xi continued to present this framework to realize his dream of bringing Taiwan under China. Xi said he would strive for peaceful unification but warned that the Party would “never promise to renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary.”
While there was no mention of Tibet, East Turkistan and other non-Chinese areas, Xi referenced these communities by reiterating that he would “continue to take the correct and distinctively Chinese approach to handling ethnic affairs.” “We will remain committed to the principle that religions in China must be Chinese in orientation and provide active guidance to religions so that they can adapt to socialist society.” All this indicates that the current hardline policy of assimilating the non-Chinese population, which represents nearly 9% of China’s population, and repression of Tibetan Buddhists and Uyghur Muslims will continue.
Full Transcript of Xi’s Speech: