China's Xi Jinping opens 19th Communist Party Congress with 'new era' speech

By Sara Shayanian  |  Oct. 18, 2017 at 7:19 AM
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Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping gave an opening speech on Wednesday at the country's 19th National Congress announcing a new chapter for the country.

Xi, in a speech that lasted for nearly four hours, noted a two-stage development plan that would help propel China into becoming a "great modern socialist country."

He said the two-part plan has a first stage projected to occur from 2020 to 2035, where the Communist Party of China will ensure that socialist modernization is realized. The second stage, from 2035 to the middle of the 21st century, builds on modernization and develops China into a "great modern socialist country".

Beijing's leader also spoke at the Congress about a "new era" for China where the country should take "center stage in the world."

Xi spoke about issues such as the economy, which he noted is transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to one of high-quality development. His take on foreign policy mentioned China not closing its doors to the world while not seeking "hegemony."

The Chinese president cemented himself as the most powerful man to rule the country in a generation, as he is expecting to remain party chief for a second five-year term.

Under Xi's leadership, China's economy has grown and standards of living are improved. He also built up the nation's military and influence in national affairs -- including transforming Beijing's relationship with the United States by both vowing to restrain North Korea and by flexing military might in Asia.

Xi, however, has also cracked down on certain democratic measures like freedom of expression and imposed greater censorship in the media and the internet, making it difficult to say if he has vast popular support of the Chinese people.

Although Xi mapped out a plan for China's future development, he made sure to note that the country was still the world's largest developing country and would long remain in the primary stage of socialism.

"Achieving national rejuvenation will be no walk in the park," Xi said. "It will take more than drum beating and gong clanging to get there."

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