As we await Sunday’s introduction of the official lineup for the 25-person Politburo, the 7-person Standing Committee, the Premier and the President over the next five years, what has already become clear is that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has gone all in on Xi Jinping. While the field might possibly look somewhat different at the next Party Congress, the broad contours for the global picture for the coming five years are becoming clear. The bold brushstrokes were drawn by Xi during his nearly two-hour speech delivered last Sunday. Since then, there have been ample signs of what’s to come. The team being assembled around Xi will be made up of apprentices filling in with finer brush strokes for Xi, not near-peers willing to argue for painting a different landscape.

“Dystopia with Chinese Characteristics” (my title). Original print artwork by Yang Yongliang

So what are the big takeaways from the Congress so far for the global community to consider?

  • The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” is the goal for the CCP and Xi alike. There’s no daylight between Xi Jinping and the Party on this point. China wants back at the center of the world.
  • Zero-COVID policy can only change marginally. It bears the weight of Xi’s claim that “Chinese-style democracy” is superior to traditional Western-style democracy. Look, fewer people died, right?
  • Whatever the economic headwinds, the ship of state will stay “secure” and on-course as long as Xi is at the helm. (Translation: state security and ideology to be prioritized over Deng’s economic reforms)
  • Taiwan’s incorporation into China — which, post-Hong Kong, is now only feasible by outright coercion or military force — is the sine qua non of the full achievement of China’s great rejuvenation

And what are some key things that we’ll be watching in this this space in the weeks and months ahead to gauge Xi’s and the CCP’s success in making progress toward this vision:

  • Fall-out from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (neither of which were mentioned once in Xi’s speech)
  • Performance of China’s economy in light of Covid lockdowns, real estate sector implosion, regulatory crackdown on tech firms, and the drag of Belt & Road Initiative debt burdens
  • Push-back from the U.S. and Europe, from non-aligned nations and the developing world, and from China’s own citizens as Xi pushes dictatorship with Chinese characteristics as his “new choice for humanity.”
  • And, most crucially from my individual perspective, the “tech-tonic” shocks upending global economies as competition over microchip innovation, production and supply continues to ramp up