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VOA: 2017 Will Be the Year for Xi to Shake off His Predecessors’ Control and Carry out His Plan

VOA published an article about Liang Hui (the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) which ended on March 15. It also quoted the comments that Douglas H Paal, Vice President for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, made predicting that Xi Jinping will play a greater world leadership role in 2017.

According to the article, Liang Hui ended quietly on March 15 partly because Xi does not want to make any changes prior to the 19th National Congress which will be held later this year. The article further indicated that Xi has further consolidated his power. It stated that 2017 will be the year for Xi to shake off the control of his predecessors while carrying out his plan.

The author also interviewed and quoted Douglas Paal’s comments. According to Paal, 2017 is the year that Xi Jinping enters into phase II of his era. Below is the translation of part of his comments:

“During phase I, Xi had to work with the people from various backgrounds in leadership. Those people had their own opinions. They represented the results of the negotiation between Xi and his predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin. They did not agree with Xi on the key issues including reforms and the policies that Xi has been promoting. I believe, during phase II, most of the members in the politburo standing committee and the central party committee will be his people who support his policy.”

“There are two issues that are worth noting. First, Xi might further reduce the number of members in the politburo standing committee, possibly from seven to five, in order to reduce the differences between the members. Second, the issue is how to retain Wang Qishan, a key supporter of Xi. Wang will be 69 in July. Based on an unwritten age limit policy for senior leaders, Wang has to retire from his current position. I think he will find a way to keep Wang Qishan as a consultant or in other roles within the politburo standing committee. The world will see this as a positive signal. Therefore this decision will benefit Xi.”

“In 2017, Xi Jinping will play a greater world leadership role. In January 2017, Xi spoke at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland and said that if the U.S. withdraws from its world leadership role, China is more than willing to replace it. There will be a “One Belt, One Road” forum to be held in May in Beijing. It will be the stage for Xi to show the world his foreign policy. Moreover, Xi will have a further political impact this year on the upcoming 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover.”

“In the short term, Xi will have a positive impact on the world, but in the long run, it might not be the case. Once Xi gains political power, he will more actively protect China’s so called “national interest.” For example, if President Trump decides to impose a penalty tax on China and build trade barriers, Xi will be fully against it. He will also resist on issues such as the East and South China Sea and Taiwan.” {Editor’s note: While VOA reports Douglas Paal’s interview and quotes him, Paal’s exact wording could not be located in English.}

Source: Voice of America, March 17, 2017