Xi Jinping’s vision for China’s next five years: key takeaways from his speech

China’s president, Xi Jinping, walked into the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sunday to open the Communist party summit and lay out his vision for the next five years. He is expected to be formally returned to power this week, and over 104 minutes his speech gave a foretaste of what is in store for the next half decade.

There were no bombshells. His address paid tribute to the party’s achievements under his rule in the last decade and pledged more of the same. Aggression abroad and control at home remain the heart of those plans.

Surrounded by party elders, the oldest of them 105-year-old Song Ping, he presented a vision of continuity even though he has moved China away from the collective rule most of them worked for.

Xi’s speech will be examined in depth by analysts monitoring China’s path, and Chinese officials for whom the text will be compulsory study. Here are five key takeaways:

Hong Kong and Taiwan

One of the most bellicose sections of Xi’s speech covered Hong Kong and Taiwan. Xi praised the CCP’s intervention on Hong Kong, a crackdown launched with the support of the local pro-Beijing elites, targeting pro-democracy advocates and political dissent.

It had achieved “a major transition from chaos to governance”, he said. “Thanks to these moves, order has been restored in Hong Kong, marking a turn for the better in the region.”

In a sign of growing focus on Taiwan, Xi brought up the “Taiwan question” far earlier in the almost two-hour long speech than he did on the two previous occasions he opened a party congress (in 2017 and 2012).

“If you’re putting it in the section when people still have an attention span, it means you’re putting it under the microscope,” says Sung Wen-ti, a political analyst at the Australian National University.

Xi didn’t make any significant change from Beijing’s long-term position that China seeks “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, but will use force if necessary. But he used aggressive language to make a barely veiled attack on US “interference”.

“Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese, it is a matter that must be resolved by the Chinese.”

The longer party congress work report – of which the speech is an excerpt – said “reunification” remained a requirement for Xi’s dream of the “great rejuvenation” of the Chinese nation, which he aims to complete by 2049.

The economy

China’s economic growth, turbo-charged for decades, has begun to dramatically slow, leaving officials worried about social unrest and trying to shift focus to the quality of growth.

Xi’s speech took aim at China’s vast inequality gap, with a promise to step up regulation on income distribution and wealth accumulation.

As US sanctions and restrictions on Chinese tech manufacturing start to bite, Xi also pledged innovation and investment in key technological areas to “to achieve greater self-reliance”.

But Xi doubled down on one of the biggest temporary drivers of China’s economic woes, its commitment to his “zero Covid” policy. It has kept China’s borders all but sealed as the rest of the world opened up again, and random lockdowns have been crippling businesses overnight.

He lauded China’s “all-out people’s war on the virus” as a success which had “protected the people’s health and safety to the greatest extent possible”.


Xi’s signature anti-corruption campaign resulted in millions of officials being investigated, and many senior figures punished or jailed on graft charges.

The crackdown is thought to be popular among citizens fed up with pervasive graft – although it is virtually impossible to do accurate polling on issues like this in China. Conveniently for Xi, some of the targets have been current or potential political rivals.

Xi said the campaign was a battle against “corruption on a scale unprecedented in our history”, and would continue. “Corruption is the biggest cancer that harms the vitality and combat effectiveness of the party, and anti-corruption is the most thorough self-revolution. As long as there is the soil and conditions for corruption, the fight against corruption will not stop for a moment.”

Foreign policy

These speeches are usually a domestic affair, and Xi did not refer to any individual nations, even with the intense international interest in China’s relationship with Russia and its potential influence over the Ukraine war.

But in a signal Xi is likely to continue with an aggressive, expansionist foreign policy, he celebrated China’s growing global clout. “China’s international influence, appeal and power to shape the world has significantly increased,” he said. “Confronted with drastic changes in the international landscape, we have maintained firm strategic resolve and shown a fighting spirit.”

He also warned other countries against “interfering” in international disputes that China considers internal issues.

He did not mention one of the most internationally contentious issues of his term: government policies of religious, social and cultural repression in Xinjiang, which the UN has said are likely to be crimes against humanity.

Perhaps the only relevant mention was a commitment to “the principle that religions in China must be Chinese in orientation” – a policy of secularisation and religious oppression that applies to several regions including Tibet and Inner Mongolia.

The environment

China is highly vulnerable to climate change and pollution It has 6% of global water reserves and 20% of the global population.

Reversing the damage done by decades of breakneck economic growth has been one of China’s major policy objectives during Xi’s decade in power. China has pledged to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2060, it has also invested heavily in renewable energy.

Xi pledged environmental protection and promoting green lifestyles. “We must remember to maintain harmony between humanity and nature when planning our development.”

In his speech the president pledged China would support low-carbon industries, ensure conservation of its diverse ecosystems, pursue an “energy revolution” and promote the “clean and efficient use of coal”.

Reuters contributed to this report


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