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18/10/17 | 13 h 29 min par Frédéric Schaeffer

« Xi Jinping affirme sa suprématie sur la Chine »

Le leader chinois va encore davantage consolider son pouvoir lors du 19 ème congrès du PCC qui s’ouvre ce mercredi à Pékin. Tandis que Xi Jinping va être adoubé pour un deuxième mandat, une large partie de la nouvelle garde va être renouvelée.

Rien ne doit venir perturber l’événement. Absolument rien. Police sur les dents, palpations à l’entrée des métros et des gares, fermetures de cafés-concerts, livraison de certains colis suspendue, interdiction des ventes de couteaux dans les supermarchés etc., l’appareil sécuritaire du régime communiste n’a pas lésiné pour s’assurer que rien ne trouble le 19e Congrès du Parti communiste chinois (PCC) qui s’ouvre ce mercredi à Pékin. Même le site Airbnb a été prié de retirer toutes ses offres d’appartements dans la capitale chinoise et d’annuler les réservations.

Avec ses 2.287 délégués venus de toute la Chine, ce  19e congrès est le grand rendez-vous quinquennal du Parti au pouvoir. Au terme d’une semaine à huis clos dans l’imposant Palais du Peuple longeant la place Tiananmen, sera officialisée la liste des hommes qui dirigeront le Parti à l’avenir, en particulier celle composant le comité permanent du bureau politique, véritable coeur du pouvoir chinois. Si les spéculations vont bon train, un point ne souffre d’aucun suspens : à soixante-quatre ans,  Xi Jinping sera adoubé pour un deuxième mandat de cinq ans à la tête du Parti, et donc du pays.

Apothéose

« Ce Congrès est le sacre de l’empereur Xi ! », avance Willy Wo-Lap Lam, professeur de sciences politiques à l’université chinoise de Hong Kong. Depuis 2012, l’homme a déjà centralisé bien plus de pouvoirs que ses deux prédécesseurs, élargissant ses prérogatives et s’efforçant d’éliminer nombre d’ennemis et rivaux potentiels à travers une campagne contre la corruption sans précédent. « Ce Congrès est l’apothéose de sa montée en puissance », juge Jean-Pierre Cabestan, directeur du département de science politique de l’Université baptiste de Hong Kong.

Toute la question est de savoir jusqu’à quel point Xi Jinping va consolider son pouvoir durant ce Congrès. Cela dépendra notamment de sa capacité à nommer des alliés à des postes clefs. Mais si le leader chinois a rendez-vous avec l’histoire, c’est aussi parce que la « pensée Xi Jinping » pourrait être inscrite dans la charte du Parti. L’inclusion du nom même de Xi Jinping hisserait alors le leader chinois au niveau de Mao Zedong et Deng Xiaoping, les deux seuls dirigeants chinois à être jusqu’à présent nommément cités. Les observateurs suivront également de près si un successeur potentiel se détache parmi la nouvelle garde impériale alors que la rumeur – moins forte ces derniers temps – prête à Xi Jinping l’envie de se « Poutiniser » en se maintenant au pouvoir plus de dix ans, contrairement aux usages précédents.

Superpuissance

Reste aussi à savoir quel usage fera Xi Jinping de cette superpuissance. Après avoir consolidé son pouvoir et placé ses hommes, va-t-il infléchir sa politique et se poser enfin en réformateur ? Ce dernier doit profiter de l’ouverture du Congrès pour dicter un certain nombre de priorités pour les prochaines années. « Je ne m’attends pas à ce que le Congrès amorce de grands changements de politique économique, estime Louis Kuijs, en charge de l’Asie chez Oxford Economics. Renforcer le système (politique et économique) actuel et la stabilité de la Chine demeurent des objectifs politiques clefs et ne sont pas compatibles avec des réformes audacieuses et potentiellement perturbatrices ». Le développement effréné de la Chine a pourtant fait émerger de nombreux défis (financier, environnementaux…). Et le pays doit maintenant gérer un ralentissement de son économie.

Frédéric Schaeffer

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BEIJING — As Xi Jinping’s first five-year term as China’s leader ends, he gave himself a shining report card on Wednesday — and a big to-do list for his next five years. Speaking at the start of a Communist Party congress in Beijing, Mr. Xi gave a work report that summed up his achievements so far, while also laying out where he wants to take China in his second term, which starts after this congress. Sitting on a podium before 2,300 delegates, he spoke for 205 minutes, long enough that his predecessor, Hu Jintao, pointed at his watch when Mr. Xi finally finished.

Mr. Xi did not mention Donald Trump or North Korea or other specific policy headaches. Party congresses are held every five years, and always start with China’s leader giving a work report that is a broad outline of policy, not a detailed blueprint. Even so, Mr. Xi’s priorities shone through. This is a leader who believes China is on the cusp of greatness, but who worries about domestic security threats and maintaining ideological control. Here are some key takeaways from Mr. Xi’s report:

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Communist Party delegates applauding Mr. Xi on Wednesday. CreditAndy Wong/Associated Press

Economic Changes, Not Market Reforms

Mr. Xi said he would put China on a sounder economic footing by containing financial risks, encouraging innovation and increasing consumer spending. But he also refrained from calling for the liberalizing overhauls that earlier leaders like Deng Xiaoping used to bring China roaring growth in the 1980s and ’90s.

Since then, the Chinese leadership’s enthusiasm for allowing market forces to pick winners and losers has wilted as social inequalities have grown, and Mr. Xi’s speech confirmed that trend. He used the word “market” only 19 times, compared with 24 times by Mr. Hu at the previous congress in 2012, and 51 times by then-President Jiang Zemin at the congress in 1997.

Mr. Xi emphasized making state-owned enterprises stronger and bigger, yet more efficient. He also called for stricter regulation of banks and other parts of the financial system amid a surge of borrowing by companies and local governments. But he did not mention using market tools like improving the disclosure of information by banks and companies alike, which many economists advocate.

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Still, Mr. Xi did raise some points dear to economic reformers. He called for breaking up monopolies, even though he oversaw the merger of the two largest rail equipment manufacturers to prevent them from competing against each other for overseas projects. And he made a fleeting promise to “support the growth of private businesses.”

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Former President Jiang Zemin, left, and Premier Li Keqiang listening to Mr. Xi’s address.CreditNicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Foreign Policy and Military Modernization

Throughout his speech, Mr. Xi described China as a “great power” or a “strong power” 26 times, a clear departure from the days when leaders in Beijing depicted their country as a poor, modest player abroad. “China will continue to play its part as a major and responsible country,” Mr. Xi said.

Mr. Xi said China was committed to supporting international cooperation, global economic integration and the developing world. He also highlighted his trademark “One Belt, One Road” initiative to build roads, railways and other infrastructure projects that solidify Chinese economic and political influence.

But Mr. Xi also took a hard line on some issues. Near the start of his report, he called China’s building of artificial islands in the South China Sea a highlight of his first five years, despite the fact that they have raised tensions with other Asian countries, and the United States Navy.

Mr. Xi also warned that China had to gird for possible conflict. Having reorganized China’s military during his first term, Mr. Xi promised more changes in the next five years, including greater professionalization of officers and more innovation in weaponry. By midcentury, he said, China’s military would be first class in every way, though he did not give details of what that meant.

“A military is built to fight,” Mr. Xi said. “Our military must regard combat capability as the criterion to meet in all its work, and focus on how to win when it is called on.”

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An usher at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. CreditAndy Wong/Associated Press

Taiwan and Hong Kong

Just days ago, soccer fans in Hong Kong angered many in mainland China by turning their backs to the Chinese national flag during the playing of China’s national anthem. The show of disrespect was the latest sign of the deep unhappiness at Beijing’s opposition to full-fledged democracy in the former British colony, where there are even calls for independence from China.

In his speech, Mr. Xi said that Hong Kong and nearby Macau, a former Portuguese colony, could govern themselves, but only “with patriots playing the principal role.” He also called for the return of Taiwan, a self-governing island, to mainland Chinese control, before delivering the line that won the loudest applause of his marathon speech: “We will never allow anyone, any organization, or any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate any part of Chinese territory from China.”

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A group of women at the Great Hall of the People before the opening ceremony. CreditRoman Pilipey/European Pressphoto Agency

Security at Home, Too

While Mr. Xi’s report described a more confident, engaged China abroad, it also dwelled on the risks from social tensions created by decades of rapid growth. While Mr. Xi has tightened China’s already strict controls on protest, dissent and unrest, he warned that the sources of social discontent were changing in ways that demanded new responses.

“What we now face is the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life,” Mr. Xi said. He said improving people’s lives included reducing pollution, improving schools and health care, and ensuring fairer access to courts and the justice system.

But keeping China under control requires sticks as well as carrots, Mr. Xi told delegates. Mr. Xi has already established a National Security Commission, a secretive body that helps steer domestic security. China would further “improve the national security system, and strengthen national security capacity,” he said.

To do that, Mr. Xi promised more efforts to control the internet, including the use of censorship to “clearly oppose and resist the whole range of erroneous viewpoints.”

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A bird perching on a flagpole outside the Great Hall of the People. CreditTyrone Siu/Reuters

Leading China Into a New Era

Among the many slogans used by Mr. Xi, one stood out. Time and again, Mr. Xi said China had entered a “new era” under his stewardship, and the phrase also featured in the long-winded title of his report: “Secure a Decisive Victory in Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects and Strive for the Great Success of Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.”

 

“It will be an era that sees China moving closer to center stage,” Mr. Xi said.

Mr. Xi also made clear that he was the best leader to guide China into this new era. By using that phrase and others like it, Mr. Xi appeared to be making the case that he was to this new era what iconic Chinese leaders like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping had been in their times.

Mr. Xi also held out China as a model for the new era, saying his country had developed its economy without imitating Western values. “It offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence,” he said.