Nationalist fervour ratcheted up in lead up to China’s communist party congress

Chinese authorities are ratcheting up nationalistic sentiment in the run up to a key meeting of the country’s ruling party where party leader Xi Jinping is expected to gain an unprecedented third term.

In recent weeks, state media has amplified the patriotic themes of “struggle” and “red heritage” while warning of internal and external threats ahead of the Chinese Communist party’s most important political meeting.

On Monday Xi was quoted in a front page article by the People’s Daily newspaper as saying, “we must continue our ‘red blood heritage,’ inspire the fighting spirit and lead the way with the party’s history of struggle and great achievements.”

Exhibitions have been held at many “red heritage” sites across the country, telling the story of how the Communist party fought and won the civil war in the 1940s. In the Museum of the Communist party of China, large portraits of Xi that harked back to images of Mao as a supreme leader featured prominently.

People stand in front of images of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Museum of the Communist party of China in Beijing on 4 September 2022.
Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Museum of the Communist party of China in Beijing on 4 September 2022. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

All members of the party’s top decision-making politburo Standing Committee, including Xi and Premier Li Keqiang, presented a united front last week while attending one such exhibition in Beijing, quashing rumours of a “coup” circulating on the internet.

Over the past weeks, official media has been drumming up patriotic rhetoric, building a picture of China’s escalating national strength and glorious achievements during Xi’s decade in power, but also warning of the need to struggle amid a hostile political environment.

In the latest issue of the Communist party journal Qiushi, Xi stressed the need to “struggle” and bolster the “combat capability” of the party through leadership in politics and ideology.

“The whole party must fully understand the protracted, complex, and arduous nature of this great struggle, carry forward the fighting spirit, improve the fighting ability, and continuously win new victories in the great struggle,” he warned.

The article is part of a speech Xi made to the last party congress in 2017, republished on the 1 October National Day. Analysts say it has set the tone for the upcoming party congress and indicates a continuation of Xi’s current political line.

In the article, Xi reiterated that his “greatest dream” was to rejuvenate the Chinese nation and that the realisation of communism was the party’s ultimate goal.

Demonstrating an awareness of domestic and international threats, Xi stressed that “all viruses that erode the party’s health” must be eradicated. He called on party members to “safeguard our country’s sovereignty and security”, “resolutely oppose all acts that split the motherland, undermine national unity and social harmony and stability,” and to “consciously guard against various risks.”

Xi is widely expected to be re-anointed as the country’s most powerful leader at the 20th party congress, which starts on 16 October. The twice a decade meeting comes as Xi faces significant political challenges, including deteriorating relations with the US and the western world, as well as an ailing economy amid a strict zero-Covid policy that has also fuelled domestic discontent.

The Guardian

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