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Chinese history lesson lays the groundwork for Xi’s third term

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Xi Jinping has summoned hundreds of senior Chinese Communist party officials to Beijing for a meeting that is expected to pave the way for his unprecedented bid for a third term in power next year.

The annual autumn meeting, or plenum, of the party’s Central Committee will review and approve a rare “resolution” on Chinese history, and comes just four months after Xi presided over an elaborate celebration of the 100th anniversary of the party’s founding.

Both Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, the party’s two other transformational leaders to whom Xi compares himself, secured such resolutions at the beginning of their long tenures in power.

Mao was the party’s unchallenged revolutionary leader for more than three decades and Deng reigned for about 15 years, steering the country away from Maoist autarky and opening its economy to the outside world.

While Deng used his resolution to criticise the later years of Mao’s rule, and justify his bold new economic programme, analysts said Xi’s resolution would ignore controversial episodes in the party’s history and present him as their natural heir, guiding China to its rightful place as a first-rank global power by the middle of the century.

In approving the plenum’s agenda last month, the party’s 25-member politburo alluded to what Chinese officials argue is the historical continuum linking Mao, Deng and Xi while disregarding interim figures such as former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. Mao, they said, unified China, while Deng made it rich and Xi has made it strong.

“The Chinese nation has ushered in a great leap from standing up and getting rich to becoming strong,” the Politburo said. “The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process.”

Ahead of this week’s plenum, which will conclude on Thursday, state media has been even more effusive in its praise of Xi, who is now often referred to not just as president and party general secretary but “the people’s leader”.

A long article published by the official Xinhua news agency at the weekend called Xi “a man of determination and action, a man of profound thoughts and feelings, a man who inherited a legacy but dares to innovate, a man who has forward-looking vision and is committed to working tirelessly”.

Xi has made clear his admiration for Mao and rejected many of the institutional reforms championed by Deng, including a clearer separation of party and government roles and a regular transfer of power every decade. He is now widely expected to remain party and state head for five to 10 more years, and the country’s de facto ruler for as long as he lives.

“Mao is the benchmark for Xi,” said Steve Tsang, director of the Soas China Institute in London. “The resolution is likely to cover the whole duration of the 100 years of the party and will project a much more positive assessment of the party — nearly always right if not right all the time, and certainly central to the achievements of China today,” he added.

“In this sense Xi is setting the scene for his third — and the beginning of his indefinite — term as top leader next year,” Tsang said.

The fact that it took Xi almost a decade to secure an official party resolution on history is a sign of how sensitive his bid for lifetime rule remains, despite the absence of any effective internal opposition.

Wu Qiang, a former lecturer at Tsinghua University and outspoken party critic, said the resolution was intended to “prepare China for even more of Xi’s personality cult”.

He added: “The resolution is about self affirmation. It will turn a blind eye to negative parts of the party’s history and will damage the country. Xi has used institutional and non-institutional methods to centralise all power around himself.”

Another potential threat to Xi’s hopes for a smooth transition to a third term will be his government’s gamble on a “zero Covid” policy. The policy has essentially closed the world’s second-largest economy to inbound and outbound travel and could remain in place until after Xi is sworn in for his third presidential term at the March 2023 session of the National People’s Congress.

“Xi must be aware of resistance to this approach and thus a wish among some of his ‘comrades’ [for him] to fail spectacularly just prior to [next year’s] Congress,” said Tsang.

“But is Xi someone [who seems] worried about China being cut-off from the rest of the world? Unless he sees an enormous economic catastrophe brewing, I am sure he is relaxed about the restrictions in place for travel between ‘Covid-free’ China and the rest of the Covid-infested world.”

Additional reporting by Xinning Liu in Beijing



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Bloomberg names Green ME of finance for Americas

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Rick Green

Rick Green has been named managing editor for finance in the Americas at Bloomberg News, effective July 11.

He is currently senior editor for markets at Bloomberg.

Green was previously a team leader for distressed company news. He was also corporate finance editor and a senior editor on the U.S. finance team.

Before Bloomberg, Green was assistant managing editor for business and technology at Newsday. He also worked at BusinessWeek magazine as a senior editor and at SmartMoney magazine.

 





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Liberty Steel secures time with Greensill as debt rstructuring continues

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Liberty Steel Group has entered a standstill agreement with Greensill Bank.

It pauses all enforcement actions between the South Yorkshire headquartered business and the subsidiary of the collapsed financial institution as it focuses on recovery.

Greensill Bank, part of Greensill Capital, is Liberty’s largest creditor on the business’s debt facilities, provided in 2019.

Read more:£26m British Steel Special Profiles upgrade given the go-ahead

The agreement lasts until October 31, with potential to extend until the end of the year.

Liberty said it will enable the company to develop a longer term sustainable financing structure, with detailed due diligence and information exchange continuing between the two parties.

A Liberty spokesperson said: “Today’s standstill agreement with Greensill Bank demonstrates we are getting close to a consensual debt restructuring that is in the best interests of all our stakeholders.

“We are working intensively towards a settlement with our major creditors in a timeframe which would obviate the need for a legal battle. Our core businesses continue to perform well and are operationally strong despite some economic headwinds.”

HMRC had filed then withdrew a winding up petition for Liberty earlier this year as progress with creditors was made.



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At Close of Business: Jordan Murray talks an Australian republic

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Journalist Jordan Murray discusses revived debate over the possibility of an Australian republic.



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